Well its finally here, after spending the last 11 weeks previewing every other conference in America its finally time to break down the granddaddy of them all in the SEC. The SEC is so deep with talent we had to go deeper with our sleepers preview. The article below goes beyond just who some of the starters on and focuses on some of the rotational guys you don’t know yet who should have big years. So sit down, buckle up, and get ready because this is SEC Week and this is how football is meant to be played.
DE Quinton Dial-6’6, 304 lbs.
The senior DE is going to a part of a fierce DE rotation that will be one of the most important parts of the Crimson Tide’s defense this season. Dial is never going to put up numbers like Courtney Upshaw but you better believe that he is an integral part of this team’s success. Dial is a perfect 34 DE prospect with a long frame, a great weight distribution and extraordinary power. He uses his hands extremely well and really controls the offensive lineman. He does a good job pushing the pocket when blocked one on one and has the power to hold the point of attack v. the double team.
WR Kenny Bell*-6’1, 175 lbs.
Kenny Bell was an a rarely seen WR last year for the Crimson Tide but with the exit of Marquise Maze, Darius Hanks, and Duron Carter now is the time for Bell to emerge. He did have a stand out performance in the BCS National Championship game where he ran the Honey Badger off a corner route and make a big catch for the eventual National Champs. Bell has nice size, plus speed, and tracks the ball very well. If he’s given the ball in space he has the ability to make some things happen.
DE Ed Stinson*-6’4, 279 lbs.
Part of the above mentioned DE rotation; Stinson will see the majority of his reps come on passing downs at the Tide look to take advantage of his speed and first step. Stinson does a great job firing off the ball and is a load to handle off the edge as a 34 DE. His blend of size and athleticism is a nice change up from what DE’s like Dial and Damion Square offer.
DE Chris Smith*-6’3, 251 lbs.
Smith will be one of the defenders whose looking to lead a recharged Razorback defenses that will need to step its game up in 2012 with the loses Arkansas suffered at both WR and head coach. Smith will be asked to increase the pass rush for Arkansas this year and lead a very young DL. Smith who we see a more athletic Jake Bequette will need to show more bust off the line and better hand usage if he is to take over where Bequette left off.
DT Bryan Jones*-6’2, 312 lbs.
They may not be a more important player that will be indicative of Smith’s success as Bryan Jones. Jones will be asked to play the Pat Williams role in the Arkansas 43 defensive alignment. His job is to give Smith one on one looks on the outside and push the pocket from the inside. Jones does a great job controlling his blocker and knows how to get off blocks and make tackles (47 last year). He is athletic enough to wash down the line and make plays, and is a more than willing player in pursuit. Smith may be the leader of the line but Jones will be the engine that makes it go.
RB/WR Ronnie Wingo-6’3, 231 lbs.
Last year Wingo was a RB that saw his carries go up after Knile Davis went down in preseason camp for the year. Now Wingo is about to see his catches go way up as the Razorbacks look for ways to replace the loss of Joe Adams and Jarius Wright. Wingo has been moved to slot WR where new coach John L. Smith hopes his unique blend of size and speed will give QB Tyler Wilson a mismatch that he will be able to take advantage of.
CB T’Sharvan Bell-6’0, 185 lbs.
Bell has all the makings of becoming a big play CB in the SEC next season. He has great length, exceptional speed, and some of the smoothest hips in the conference. He can run with any of the WR’s currently in the conference and this year Auburn will ask him to be more aggressive in shutting down the opposing number ones.
DE Nosa Eguae*-6’3, 262 lbs.
Junior DE Corey Lemonier may be getting all the preseason buzz but its fellow junior Nosa Eguae that has us excited to see the Tigers. Eguae is an all-potential prospect that has a great build to go along with fantastic athleticism and knack for getting after the passer. He registered 12 hurries last year and no sacks which may concern some analysts but with the additional attention Lemonier should attract, Eguae should have favorable matchups to take advantage of.
DT Jeffrey Whitaker*-6’4, 301 lbs.
The junior DT will be asked to anchor down on a line that could contend with LSU’s for the most ferocious in the country. With a three deep DE rotation that should play with their ears pinned back at all times it will be up to Whitaker to play with discipline and control as he works in the middle and takes up blocks. Whitaker will play a major role in this front four’s effectiveness even if he doesn’t blow up the stat sheet.
DE Chancey Aghayere-6’4, 268 lbs.
Everybody knows about star juniors Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery but raise your hand if you knew one of their top backups was Chancey Aghayere. We’re willing to best a lot of you didn’t but here is why you’re going to need to know who he is. Last year’s fourth DE Kendrick Adams is now sitting in Jags camp vying for a roster spot and he’s not quite the athlete that Aghayere is. Aghayere is as stout a run defender as Adams was but also is more accomplished at rushing the passer. Should he be able turn it on this year he could easily pass LaVar Edwards as the top DE backup.
CB Tharold Simon*-6’3, 187 lbs.
With Morris Claiborne, Ron Brooks, and now Tyrann Mathieu all gone for the 2012 season it’s all on Tharold Simon to step up and take over that lock down lineage that the Tigers have cultivated for years. Simon is a big CB with long arms and plenty of athletic ability. We do have some questions about his hip stiffness and he’s a bit thin compared to some of the bigger WR’s he’ll see this year. Simon needs to show a lot of growth very quickly though many of the Tiger faithful appear to have nothing but confidence in the rising junior.
LB Tahj Jones*-6’2, 205 lbs.
For as dominant as the LSU defense has been in recent years they have produced few high caliber LB’s that have made huge impacts in the NFL. Tahj Jones is an example of the usually undersize and athletic style of OLB they run with. Jones though is more aggressive in his mentality than some of his predecessors; he attacks the gaps and knows how to get to the ball carrier. He slips blocks very well and does a good job weaving through traffic to get into the running lanes.
WR Chad Bumphis-5’11, 200
Two years ago when Bumphis was only a Sophomore the hopes were high that he would quickly develop into an electric playmaker in the new up tempo Dan Mullen offense. Well two years later and we are still waiting. Bumphis has shown flashes thanks to his deep speed and quick change of direction ability, but he has yet to put it all together. With new starter Tyler Russell at QB the Bulldogs season could hinge on the ability of Bumphis to find a synergy with Russell quickly.
RB LaDerius Perkins*-5’10,190 lbs.
Perkins saw plenty of action last year as one of the feature backups to star Vick Ballard. Perkins has speed to burn on the outside and has the size and strength to also run up the middle. Perkins has the ability to make the catch out of the backfield and was a dangerous weapon on screen passes last season. It remains to be seen whether or not Perkins has the pass protection ability the Bulldogs will need but if he can do that you could be looking at a budding star in the conference.
CB Wesley Pendelton-5’11, 180 lbs
Wesley Pendelton is an aggressive no nonsense CB who is willing to mix it up with any WR in the country. He is the Rebels best cover guy and will be asked to take on the best WR’s in the SEC week in and week out. Pendelton has a strong back pedal and is able to explode out of it and attack short passes. He’s also a very sound wrap up tackler who is physical off the line and is hard to block. Pendleton may never be a big INT guy but he will always bring a consistent level of performance to the field.
SAF/OLB Aaron Garbutt-6’2, 205 lbs
The Rebels playmaker this year will be Aaron Garbutt. Gurbutt is going to again be in the ‘Husky’ role where he plays a hybrid OLB/SAF position. Garbutt is going to be asked to drop into coverage on passing downs often having to go man up v. the TE or slot WR. He a good size to speed ratio and he is able to run with most of his assignments. Where he gets into trouble though are against the super quick slot WR’s who can cut on a dime and shake him.
QB Bo Wallace*-6’5, 210 lbs.
With Houston Nutt gone new coach Hugh Freeze will be hoping to eliminate Nutt’s QB carousel by instituting JUCO transfer Bo Wallace as the starter. Freeze has to hope that Wallace stabilizes the position as he continues to build around him. Wallace is a big prospect with a live arm and some athletic ability. He should be able to buy time for himself behind a leaky offensive line and if he gets to unload the ball he can throw it a long ways. Wallace may not put up great numbers this year but he could go a long way to making Ole Miss compeititve.
DE Demontre Moore*-6’4, 245 lbs.
While Sean Porter gets most of the preseason love from the national media is Demontre Moore that has caught the eyes of numerous draft analysts. Moore is a do everything DE who can blitz, drop, and play the run. He has just as much athletic ability as Porter and quite possibly a more complete array of pass rush moves. The whispers have begun that are comparing Moore to Von Miller, and 2012 should only make those whispers get much louder.
LB Jonathan Stewart-6’4, 237 lbs.
Texas A&M’s tackling machine, Jonathan Stewart is back again to patrol the middle of the field for the Aggies as they move from the Big 12 to the SEC. Stewart is a downhill LB who attacks the line of scrimmage and the ball carrier. He rarely gets caught out of position and does a very nice job wrapping up the ball carrier in the open field. Stewart has great size for the position and could become one of the most rock solid MLB’s in the entire country this year.