NGSC Sports

In talent, SEC runs away from all others

IF YOU EVER doubt the dominance of the Southeastern Conference, take a look at its all-conference teams and apologize.

In the deep and embarrassingly talented SEC, you are headed to the NFL if you make the all-con team in a draft eligible year. Heck, if you’re just standing next to an all-conference selection, you’re probably headed for Sunday football.
Check out the 2013 NFL draft. Of the 254 players selected, 63 came from the SEC. Next best? The ACC with 31.
It’s not even a contest. The SEC lapped the country. And of course, the simple arithmetic reveals the draft pool’s depth went well beneath the first team all-conference surface.
When it comes to the SEC, it’s debatable whether the first team is any better than the second team. Let’s look at that 2012 team, then jump into the way-back machine and check in on the 2008 crew.
In 2012, the SEC first team was dominated by offensive linemen taken high – Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M), Chance Warmack (Alabama) and DJ Fluker (Alabama). Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee), Sam Montgomery (LSU), Dee Milliner (LSU) Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Ace Sanders (South Carolina) were others among the first team selections who nabbed NFL pay days.
But second-teamers Zac Stacy (Vanderbilt) and Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) arguably have made the most noise.
Check out 2008:
Notable first-teamers that season were A.J. Green (Georgia), Mr. Blind Side Michael Oher (Auburn), Andre Smith (Alabama), Knowshon Moreno (Georgia), Rolondo McClain (Alabama) and Eric Berry (Tennessee).
He Who Shall Not Be Named was the offensive player of the year, but was far from the best quarterback in the conversation.
Matthew Stafford (Georgia) was relegated to the second-team by HWSNBN that season. He was joined on the second team by the likes of Percy Harvin (Florida), Julio Jones (Alabama), Dexter McCluster (Alabama), Robert Ayers (Tennessee), Carlos Dunlap (Florida) and Tyson Jackson (LSU).
There even was talent among the honorable mentions that season – Mike and Maurkice Pouncey (Florida) and Greg Hardy (Mississippi).
Let’s finish this with a fun bit of trivia: The kicker named honorable mention was Mr. Irrelevant in the ensuing NFL draft. He has gone on to be the most successful Mr. Irrelevant in league history, has a healthy contract and is a key member of a playoff-bound team.
His name? Ryan Succup (South Carolina).
The SEC’s national title dominance may come to an end next month. Maybe. What will not be changing any time soon is the conference’s dominance on draft day.
Don’t argue. You have no argument to make. Accept the SEC as your college football lord and ruler.
Now, without further ado, here’s the NGN.com all-SEC team.

FIRST TEAM
QUARTERBACK
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)

Well, duh. Perhaps you were looking for Zach Mettenberger or Nick Marshall? Maybe something in an Aaron Murray? Oh, yeah, what’s-his-face at Alabama? The kid dating the hot chick (AJ McCarron)? Bo Wallace threw for more than 3,000 yards at Ole Miss, for cryin’ out loud. Manzeil, of course, is the best of the best. Thankfully, he toned down his D-baggery during the regular season and let his numbers do the talking. In all, his 3,700 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and nearly 700 rushing yards are a cut above the crowd.
Second-teamer: Connor Shaw (South Carolina). Not the guy you were expecting, right? Shaw is here because he’s the toughest cat you or I know. He went down with an injury the week before the game at unbeaten Missouri, was expected to be gone for two more weeks, but came in early and stayed late to hand Mizzou its first loss. Not impressed? How about this touchdown to interception ratio – 22:1.

RUNNING BACKS
Tre Mason (Auburn), T.J. Yeldon (Alabama)

Mason picked up 214 yards on 24 carries just during the time it took you to read this. His performance in the SEC championship game defies all reason and logic. Gus Malzahn’s offense consists primarily of three running plays involving Mason. The Tigers practically yell out the play at the line to opponents who spent the entire week memorizing them. After Mason hits the hole, dodges a linebacker then falls forward for a 13-yard gain, all we can do is shake our heads. He’s the 2013 version of Bo Jackson on Nintendo’s Tecmo Super Bowl. Then there’s Yeldon. I won’t spend much time on him because we’ll be talking about him in this spot again next year.
Second-teamers: Mike Davis (South Carolina), Todd Gurley (Georgia). One of these two will join Yeldon on next year’s first-team, the other one will dry his tears with $100 bills after slipping all the way to 31st overall in the 2015 NFL draft.

WIDE RECEIVERS
Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Odell Beckham (LSU)

Mathews is the receiving version of Tre Mason. Dude caught 107 balls this season. That’s nuts. But you know what’s even nuttier? Evans caught a whopping 42 fewer passes and very nearly surpassed Matthews’ yardage total (1,334 to 1,322). Evans catches everything. And he’s at his best against the best. On Sept. 14 against Alabama, Evans caught seven passes for 279 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown. Against Auburn on Oct. 19, he raised his game to 11 catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns. It was a miracle Auburn survived for the 46-41 victory, yet another mile marker in the Tigers’ near-call run to a national title appearance. As for Beckham? He’s OK, I guess: 57 catches, 1,117 yards, eight TDs. He comes up big when LSU needs it as well, but you know what? It’s a tossup whether or not he’s the best receiver at LSU or even the best Beckham at wide receiver in the SEC. That’s because …
Second-teamers: Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri), Jarvis Landry (LSU), Jonathan Krause (Vanderbilt). We’ll set aside for the moment the fact Vander-Freakin’-bilt has two of football’s best receivers in order to focus on DGB and Landry. Missouri’s finest tied Evans with a SEC-best 12 receiving touchdowns. Landry caught 18 more balls than his teammate.

TIGHT END
Arthur Lynch (Georgia)

Now if the conference has a perceivable weakness, it’s at this position. Lynch is the best of a fairly ordinary collection because he was Aaron Murray’s red zone crutch. He managed to finish with just north of 400 yards and five touchdowns.
Second-teamer: C.J. Uzomah (Auburn). This cat only caught balls in five games, but had a big one in the Iron Bowl.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State), Cyrus Kouandijo (Alabama), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), Greg Robinson (Auburn), Travis Swanson (Arkansas).

Yay, Arkansas! Forgot you guys were in the league. Swanson, of course, may quite possibly be the best center in college football. Actually, now that we mention it, let’s wander over to our friend Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board and see just how well the SEC acquitted itself in his eyes this year. Matthews is Kiper’s top-rated tackle while Robinson is his top-rated underclassman tackle, just ahead of Kouandijo. Swanson is his top center. Who the heck is this Gabe Jackson kid? Just Kiper’s No. 2 overall guard.
Second-teamers: Justin Britt (Missouri), Anthony Stein (Alabama) Reese Dismukes (Auburn) Trae Turner (LSU), Antonio Richardson (Tennessee). And to think, we didn’t even name Ja’Wuan James (Tennessee), La’el Collins (LSU), Wesley Johnson (Vanderbilt), Zach Fulton (Tennessee), Anthony Steen (Alabama), A.J. Cann (South Carolina), Jonotthan Harrison (Florida) or James Stone (Tennessee), all players mentioned by Mel. Yep, IHOP needs to be a league sponsor because nobody sells more pancakes than these linemen.

DEFENSE
LINEMEN
Michael Sam (Missouri), Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina), Kelcy Quarles (South Carolina), Dee Ford (Auburn).

You really can toss these names in a hat and draw out the best. You can’t go wrong with any of these guys. Sam led the conference with 10 sacks and might be the one of this group ready to make a consistent impact on his first day in the NFL. We all know about Clowney, but he might find himself on the Mario Williams Road to Success. He has all the physical gifts in the world and is better than you might think with his technique, but he hasn’t handled the adversity that comes with being the focus of a game plan. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Clowney finding his most success during his second contract. Quarles is much better than you even know as in interior lineman. He’s going to make somebody very happy on draft day.
Second-teamers: Chris Smith (Arkansas), Kony Ealy (Missouri), Dominique Easley (Florida), Alvin Dupree (Kentucky). Shutup. We were feeling sorry for the Wildcats.

LINEBACKERS
C.J. Mosley (Alabama), Lamin Barrow (LSU), A.J. Johnson (Tennessee), Ramik Wilson (Georgia)

You know, Tennessee has a lot of really good players for being a recently-doused dumpster fire. Everyone will be going goony over Mosley on draft day, but for our money, it’s Wilson who really earned his spot here. His 128 tackles (72 solo) were far and away the most in the SEC. He also had 10 tackles for loss as one of only two linebackers to rank among the SEC’s top 10 in that category. It will be interesting to see of Barrow can stick at linebacker in the NFL or if he’ll become a grim reaper at strong safety.
Second-teamers: Avery Williamson (Kentucky), Denzel Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Serderious Bryant (Ole Miss), Andrew Wilson (Missouri). Another Wildcat? Who knew? Is he really better than South Carolina’s Sharrod Golightly? Maybe. Who cares.

DEFENSIVE BACKS
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Alabama), D.J. Gaines (Missouri), Victor Hampton (South Carolina), Cody Prewitt (Ole Miss)

Hampton is a consensus second-teamer on most lists this season. But he makes the grade here due to the Gamecocks’ strong tradition of cranking out talented defensive backs. This is the most interchangeable unit on the honor roll. Let’s rattle off the others right quick. …
Second-teamers: Nickoe Whitley (Mississippi State), Kenny Ladler (Vanderbilt), Vernon Hargreaves (Florida), Chris Davis (Alabama). Prewitt, Whitley and Ladler led the SEC in interceptions. Davis and Hargreaves led the way with passes defended. Clinton-Dix simply is the best NFL prospect. What a group.

SPECIALISTS
K Marshall Morgan (Georgia), P Cody Mandell (Alabama), KR Solomon Patton (Florida), PR Christion Jones (Alabama

Alabama’s special teams units were a cut above the league this season, final play of the Iron Bowl aside (Nick Saban is as much to blame for that as anyone). Mandell is a hidden reason for Alabama’s dominance. He consistently helped the Tide win the field position battle, which is a much bigger deal in the college game than the pros.
Second-teamers: K Coby Delahoussaye (LSU), P Sam Irwin-Hill (Arkansas), KR Odell Beckham (LSU), PR Chris Davis (Alabama). Delahoussaye was 13 of 14 on field goals and finished fifth in scoring as a freshman. That and, doggone it, he has a great Cajun name.

So that’s the crew. Read it and weep if you’re a hater. Read it an nod accordingly if you’re a connoisseur of real college football.

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IN THE COMING weeks, we’ll spend a little more time breaking down Alabama’s game against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and the national championship game pitting Auburn against Florida State. For now, here’s a quick look at the other bowl games:

MUSIC CITY BOWL
Dec. 30
Ole Miss (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
The Super Frosh of Ole Miss pick up a valuable extra month of practice in advance of this game. The Rebels should win, since Georgia Tech doesn’t know what to do with itself when it faces a team that cares.

LIBERTY BOWL
Dec. 31
Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)
There’s no kind way to put this … Rice is going to win. Mississippi State is just glad to be here, having won their real bowl game against Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. Rice clobbered a very good Marshall team last time out.

CHICK-FIL-A Bowl
Dec. 31
Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Duke (10-3)
You saw what happened when Duke had to D-up against Florida State’s passing attack? Yeah … if the surprising Blue Devils win, it’s because these two teams combined for more than 100 points. It will be closer than one might expect, but take A&M in a squeaker, since Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans will be polishing their resumes.

GATOR BOWL
Jan. 1
Georgia (8-4) vs. Nebraska (8-4)
This matchup is a fanbase-generated matchup. The Gator Bowl clearly is hoping for big travel crowds. Won’t happen because neither fanbase seems to give a flip anymore. Georgia’s season was ruined by injuries. Nebraska’s season was blunted by coaching. Who wins? Who cares?

OUTBACK BOWL
Jan. 1
Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3)
Trap, trap, trap, trap. LSU doesn’t play well in non-BCS bowls. Iowa is smart, talented enough and very good at game-planning. Give Kirk Ferentz’s staff a full month to prepare and they will be able to handle any body blows LSU delivers. This will be a better game than you might expect. LSU in a squeaker that leaves them feeling weird about themselves.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Jan. 1
Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)
This will be the fastest game of the bowl season. Wisconsin runs first, runs second, runs third. The Gamecocks run first, read-option second, quarterback-keeper third. Steve Spurrier is a good bowl coach, especially when he has a team he likes. Going to go way out on a limb here to say this: If the Gamecocks win in dominant fashion, Spurrier will walk away.

COTTON BOWL
Jan. 3
Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)
This Big 12 revival should prove to be the exact opposite of the Capital One Bowl. It should go well into the wee hours and feature a final score well north of whatever Vegas says the “Over” should be. That said, if the wrong Oklahoma State shows up, Missouri is going to win 76-13.

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