Monday, March 12, 2012
Poll: The SEC's hottest free agent
By ESPN.com staff
With Peyton Manning being wooed by a number of different NFL teams in what's obviously high-stakes free agency, I thought we'd have some fun here in the SEC.
If there were such a thing as free agency in college football (and, please, save the wisecracks), who would be the hottest free agent in the SEC next season among returning players?
Don't look at it so much as you would a draft, where you're selecting a player and hoping to build around him for the next couple of years.
Instead, view it the way teams are with Manning: Which player in the SEC is that missing piece in terms of winning a championship and would have the greatest impact in helping you win that championship next season if you could add him to your roster?
We've come up with our top five choices, and I'm sure there are other players in the league that you think should be among the candidates.
I can tell you that Arkansas running back Knile Davis probably would have been on there. But since he didn't play at all last season after fracturing his ankle, we didn't include him. Even so, he's still a great player and may well prove that he hasn't lost a step in 2012.
On our list, we have just about all of the premium positions covered.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson led the SEC in passing last season and thought about turning pro early. South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is one of the most complete running backs in college football, but he is coming off knee surgery after getting hurt midway through last season.
Alabama's Barrett Jones was the Outland Trophy winner last season and lined up at left tackle against some of the best defenders in college football. He's also started at guard and is poised to move to center next season.
Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones is the best pass-rusher in the league. He had 13.5 sacks last season. LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu is one of the league's best playmakers on defense and had a combined 11 forced fumbles/fumble recoveries last season. He also returned two punts for touchdowns.
So there you have it. Tell us in our SportsNation poll who in the SEC everybody would be rolling out the red carpet for this offseason if free agency existed in college football.