- Edward Aschoff, College Football
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Now that we've looked at five underclassmen's big shoes that have to be filled in the SEC East, it's time to check out five underclassmen leaving big holes for their respective teams in the SEC West:
Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas: Bailey's decision to turn pro early was a bit of a surprise, and he leaves a pretty big hole along the offensive line. He turned into a solid player for the Razorbacks, even though Arkansas' line struggled throughout the year. But the loss of Bailey means the Hogs will be down both starting guards next year. At this point, no one is quite sure who will step up to be the next big guard for Arkansas, but rising junior Luke Charpentier will have the first shot. He was in the three-man rotation at guard last year and has a lot of upside. With what this staff likes to do with the offensive line, anyone could emerge, so keep an eye on the offensive line signees in the 2013 class.
Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn: Losing Lemonier was a big hit to Auburn's defense, but it wasn't a surprise at all. Now, the Tigers will have to turn to seniors Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae. Ford had a strong 2012 season after returning from injury, while Eguae spent the season rotating in and out. Both have good experience, but Lemonier was a very special player up front. If the Tigers can keep current commit Carl Lawson, he will definitely get his shot at Lemonier's old spot and would certainly be in the rotation for playing time this fall.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama: He was arguably the nation's best cover corner by season's end, and losing him will hurt Alabama's secondary, which gave up big plays at times in 2012. There are still some talented bodies in the secondary, but losing Milliner's shutdown ability will hurt. He only grabbed two interceptions on the season, but he defended 22 passes, which tied for first nationally. Geno Smith will get a crack at Milliner's spot, after playing in 13 games last season with two starts. He made strides as a cover man as the season went on and added some much-needed bulk, but the pressure will be on him to make a real jump in Year 2.
Kevin Minter, LB, LSU: Minter was all over the field for the Tigers in 2012. He had a true breakout year with his team-high 130 tackles (55 solo) and 15 tackles for loss. He also tacked on four sacks and defended six passes. Losing all those defensive linemen will hurt, but replacing Minter at Mike linebacker will be very tough because of how versatile he was. Ronnie Feist and Trey Granier, both true freshmen, were behind Minter on the depth chart last fall. Feist played in five games, registering three tackles. Both will have the chance to take Minter's spot, but neither has much experience at all.
Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Losing left tackle Luke Joeckel was tough for the Aggies, but having Jake Matthews coming back helped soften the blow. Losing Moore is a major loss for A&M's defense. Not only is A&M's best defensive player (team-high 85 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks) but the Aggies are also losing Spencer Nealy up front. Tyrell Taylor backed up Moore, playing in 11 games and registering a sack. Julien Obioha also started 12 games up front, but grabbed just one sack on the year. There are young bodies to throw out up front, but any team would have a real problem replacing Moore's production.
Now that we've looked at five underclassmen's big shoes that have to be filled in the SEC East, it's time to check out five underclassmen leaving big holes for their respective teams in the SEC West: Alvin Bailey, OG, Arkansas: Bailey's decision to turn pro early was a bit of a surprise, and he leaves a pretty big hole along the offensive line.