Tuesday, September 13, 2011
SEC's Super Sophomores
By ESPN.com staff
The list of talented sophomores in the SEC was mighty impressive a year ago.
It was headlined by the likes of South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor, Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower, Arkansas running back Knile Davis, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, Ole Miss offensive lineman Bobby Massie and Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb.
All the above showed up somewhere on the preseason All-SEC lists.
If the early returns this season are any indication, the current sophomore class might be just as good, maybe even better.
Here’s an early look at the SEC’s Super Sophomores. They’re listed alphabetically:
Arkansas OG Alvin Bailey: He already has 15 career starts and was named as the SEC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week coming out of last Saturday’s New Mexico game.
Tennessee QB Tyler Bray: One of college football’s hottest quarterbacks, Bray is ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency and has thrown for 698 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions.
Auburn RB Mike Dyer: He was the star last week in the win over Mississippi State and just gets harder and harder to tackle. Dyer has rushed for 207 yards and four touchdowns and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Florida S Matt Elam: It’s an extremely young Florida secondary, and Elam is one of the anchors back there. A big-time hitter, Elam has 11 total tackles to lead a defense that’s yet to give up a touchdown.
Florida DE Sharrif Floyd: Yes, I know he’s yet to play this season, but there was no way I was leaving Floyd off. When it’s all said and done, he’ll be one of the more disruptive defensive linemen in the league this season and he makes his debut this week.
Tennessee WR Justin Hunter: He’s been a blur through the first two games and leads the SEC with 16 catches for 302 yards. Hunter is averaging 18.9 yards per catch and is quickly establishing himself as one of the top deep threats in the league.
Tennessee OT Ja’Wuan James: Already a veteran, James has been starting since he walked onto campus. The Vols start four talented sophomores on their offensive line, and James is the best of the bunch at right tackle.
Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones: The USC transfer has made a big difference for the Bulldogs and showed up several times last week against South Carolina. He has 2.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore: It’s hard to find a running back out there who does more things well than Lattimore. He rushed for 176 yards last week against Georgia and is truly a great football player.
LSU DB Tyrann Mathieu: Somewhere inside him Mathieu has to have a mechanism that takes him to the football on every play. The Tigers are letting him roam this season as a nickelback, and he’s a big play waiting to happen on defense.
LSU DE Sam Montgomery: No team in the SEC has more talented players in the freshman and sophomore classes than LSU. Montgomery is another one. He can rush the passer, and he’s also a force against the run.
Alabama LB C.J. Mosley: Even as a freshman, Mosley had a nose for the ball, and that hasn't changed through two games this season. He's tied for second on Alabama's team with 11 total tackles and has also broken up two passes.
Georgia QB Aaron Murray: He’s thrown a few passes he’d like to have back this season, but Murray is still one of the best young quarterbacks in college football. He’s thrown for 484 yards with six touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Tennessee WR Da'Rick Rogers: It’s a tough call on who’s been better this season: Hunter or Rogers? Easily one of the Vols’ most improved players, Rogers has three touchdown catches and is a physical, menacing presence over the middle.
LSU CB Tharold Simon: He has the size of a safety (6-foot-3, 187 pounds), but plays cornerback for the Tigers. Simon is tied for the SEC lead with four passes defended and also has an interception.