Feldman touches on SEC in mailbag

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
4:00
PM ET
Last week, my ESPN colleague Bruce Feldman mentioned South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery as an early candidate for the Biletnikoff Award in his mailbag.

Few would argue with this and most have him pegged as the SEC's best receiver anyway. But can Jeffery push himself to the top of the country's receiving list and take home the prize?

Uh, yeah.

He might not have the speed of Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon or Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, but he's a physical freak at 6-foot-4, 233 pounds and out-muscled just about every defender who tried -- and I emphasize tried -- to cover him. He was nearly unstoppable in one-on-one situations and finished 2010 as the top pass-catcher in the SEC.

Last season he caught 88 passes for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns -- all league highs. He's caught a reception in 22 straight games, tied Sydney Rice's school record with 11 career 100-yard receiving games and ranks eighth in career receptions (134) and fourth in career yards (2,280) at South Carolina after just two seasons.

One important thing to remember is that Stephen Garcia is back. We still aren't sure if Garcia will make it through a full season, but he and Jeffery developed a superb field connection last year.

What could hurt his numbers are the added attention he's sure to get and the emergence of running back Marcus Lattimore. The sophomore could be an even bigger part of the offense this season (I know, it sounds hard to believe with the carries he got a year ago) and that could eat into the Gamecocks' passing game. Still, we'd be shocked if Jeffery didn't put himself at or near the top of the SEC in receiving for a second straight season.

Feldman also touched on the top defensive line units in the SEC. What a coincidence: We at the SEC blog actually came up with our early list of top defensive line groups in the league as well!

Anyway, I guess we aren't that crazy at the blog, as Feldman agreed with us and went with South Carolina having the best defensive line in the conference.

Here's what Feldman wrote:
Florida has an intriguing group featuring several really hyped young former blue-chippers, including Dominique Easley and Shariff Floyd. LSU also has an impressive crew of young guys, led by DT Anthony Johnson, although they do have to replace Drake Nevis. But for my answer, I'll go with South Carolina's defensive line.

The Gamecocks led the SEC in sacks in 2010 with 41, and many of them came from defensive linemen. They return two really productive ends in Melvin Ingram (9 sacks, 11 TFLs) and Devin Taylor (7.5 sacks, 13 TFLs). Inside, Travian Robertson (10 TFLs, 4 sacks) is very underrated. Then you add in the nation's top incoming freshman, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is simply too explosive and talented to not contribute this fall, in passing situations at the very least. That's a lot of weapons at defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's disposal.

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