SEC: window of opportunity
Seniors Winston Guy, Danny Trevathan and Ryan Tydlacka, and juniors La'Rod King and Larry Warford were named to the 44-member team. Trevathan earned the Defensive Player of the Year Award by the organization.
This is the second year for the All-Commonwealth Team, which was created "to give recognition to youth at a local level and empower them to develop expectations of greatness." According to the organization’s release, "these athletes represent the best college football players that the state of Kentucky has to offer, while their dedication to the game has contributed significantly to their teams."
- Trevathan led the SEC in tackles for the second straight season, recording 143 stops in 2011. He ranked fifth nationally in tackles with an 11.92 average per game, and led all linebackers in fumbles forced (five), while ranking second among linebackers in interceptions with four. Trevathan finished the season with 11.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, five pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. Trevathan ended his Kentucky career ranked 10th all-time on Kentucky's career tackle list with a total of 374.
- Guy was second in the SEC with 120 tackles. He tied for 22nd nationally, averaging 10 tackles per game. Guy had eight games of double-figure tackles this season, including a high of 14 at South Carolina and against Tennessee.
- King led Kentucky in receiving in 2011 with 40 catches for 598 yards and seven touchdowns.
- Tydlacka ranked fourth in the SEC, averaging 43.6 yards per punt in 2011. He helped Kentucky rank second in the league in net punting with 39.6 yards per punt. Tydlacka had 20 punts of at least 50 yards, leading the SEC, and he also placed 19 punts inside the 20-yard line.
- Warford allowed only one quarterback sack in 2011, and was graded at 87.5 percent for the season. Warford was a second team All-SEC pick, and led the Wildcats with 34 knockdown blocks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Jasper Brinkley holds up his thumb and index finger about an inch apart from each other.
South Carolina fans know the gesture well. So well that they probably see it in their sleep.
The Gamecocks have historically been "that close" to breaking through and being a genuine contender. "That close" to putting together one of those magical seasons. "That close" to being the kind of program their rabid and long-suffering fans deserve.
"Why can't we?" says Brinkley, the Gamecocks' 270-pound middle linebacker and their best player. "We've got the talent. We've got everything you need to win. We've got one of the best coaches in the country. We've just got to go do it."
The mere fact that Brinkley's back, assuming he can stay healthy, greatly enhances South Carolina's chances of finally making a move this season in the SEC's rugged Eastern Division.
Since the conference split into two divisions in 1992, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are the only three teams to have won the East title.
"We've proven we can beat those teams," Brinkley said. "But to win this division, you've got to beat them in the same year. It's the little things that have cost us, like not getting on a fumble or getting a kick blocked or a penalty that calls back a big play. The little things become big things when you're playing in our division."
Brinkley is one of 10 returning defensive starters for the Gamecocks, who also have a new defensive leader in veteran coordinator Ellis Johnson.
Once Brinkley went down with a knee injury a year ago, it was an omen for bad things to come. After starting 6-1 and rising to No. 6 in the BCS standings, the Gamecocks never won again and missed the postseason with a 6-6 record.
More than anything, South Carolina needs to build some early momentum this season. The Gamecocks open at home against North Carolina State on Aug. 28 in a Thursday night game and then go to Vanderbilt a week later for another Thursday night game before coming back home to face Georgia.
12:00 PM ET Florida Tennessee 12:00 PM ET 6 Texas A&M 12 Mississippi State 3:30 PM ET 3 Alabama 11 Ole Miss 4:00 PM ET Vanderbilt 13 Georgia 7:00 PM ET 15 LSU 5 Auburn 7:30 PM ET South Carolina Kentucky