Fans pick Richardson to lead offensive players

May, 16, 2011
5/16/11
11:30
AM ET
The fans have spoken (well, clicked) and Alabama running back Trent Richardson has taken the poll to be this fall's SEC Offensive Player of the Year.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWith Mark Ingram gone, Trent Richardson will carry Alabama.
The last poll update showed Richardson taking 33 percent of the vote, with more than 13,800 people voting.

This was a tough one, but I'd have to agree with the people.

Richardson replaces Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in Tuscaloosa, but Richardson could be a more complete back than Ingram. He's a step faster and could be a more powerful runner.

With the Crimson Tide breaking in a new, young quarterback this fall, a lot of what the offense does will go through Richardson. He's rushed for 1,451 yards and 14 touchdowns in his two seasons as a backup. Now, that he's taking the reigns of the running game, Richardson could get close to those numbers in one season.

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore placed second, with 26 percent of the vote. Lattimore was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2010, after gaining 1,197 yards on the ground and scoring 17 touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 412 yards and two scores. Lattimore could be relied on even more if senior quarterback Stephen Garcia doesn't return. Sophomore Connor Shaw would take over the offense and in order to limit mistakes, Lattimore would likely get the ball in his hands more.

Either one of these players would be a great choice.

Behind them, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson grabbed 17 percent of the vote. Murray won't have A.J. Green to throw to, and his other weapons are a bit unproven, but he's got the tools to be a star in this league. He not only improved his game on the field this spring, but he became more of a leader. That will go a long way to shaping the Bulldogs' offense this fall.

Murray still has Tavarres King to throw to and should be able to get a ton of production out of tight end Orson Charles and receiver Marlon Brown seemed to improve this spring as well.

With Wilson's arm and the talent around him, the Razorbacks' offense shouldn't look much different than last year's. It might even be better. Wilson is inexperienced, but he shined this spring and really showed promise last season, when he passed for 332 yards against Auburn after Ryan Mallett went down with an injury.

Gamecocks receiver Alshon Jeffery took 8 percent of the vote. You'd think having Lattimore with him could hurt his numbers, but it didn't seem to matter in 2010. He still led the league in receiving. This season, Garcia's return should keep him near the top of the league in production, but if Garcia is gone, it might be tough for him to duplicate 2010.

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