QB- Aaron Murray, Jr., Georgia
This is really a toss up between Aaron Murray and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. I give a slight edge to the Bulldogs QB due to the fact that Georgia may have to throw the ball more than the Hogs in 2012. With Isaiah Crowell gone, Georgia doesn’t have a proven runner in the backfield. Arkansas on the other hand has potentially the best running back in the conference. Murray threw for just under 3200 yards with 35 touchdowns and 14 picks last season.
RB- Marcus Lattimore, Jr., South Carolina
A scary knee injury cut Marcus Lattimore’s season short after just seven games. In those seven games, he was spectacular with 818 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Lattimore is healthy again and that is bad news for opposing defensive backs. If there are no lingering issues from the injury, Lattimore is a legitimate threat for the Heisman and the Gamecocks are a legitimate threat for the Conference Championship.
RB- Knile Davis, Sr., Arkansas
An ankle injury last August sidelined Knile Davis for the entire 2011 season. Despite that injury, Arkansas’ offense was one of the most potent in the nation. Add Davis back to the mix, and the Hogs are going to be very difficult to keep off the scoreboard. Davis rushed for 1322 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2010. Just like Lattimore, he has to prove he is the same player he was before the injury, but if he does, then watch out SEC.
WR- Ryan Swope, Sr., Texas A&M
This spot belonged to Tennessee’s Da’Rick Rogers before he was indefinitely suspended by head coach Derek Dooley. With that, Texas A&M senior Ryan Swope takes the spot. Swope had 89 receptions for 1207 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Swope should make life a lot easier for freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
WR- Justin Hunter, Jr., Tennessee
Justin Hunter was off to a torrid pace in 2011 before a knee injury in the Swamp against Florida ended his promising season. Hunter had 17 receptions for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns in just over two games played last season. He had 146 yards in the season opener against Montana and 156 yards against Cincinnati the next week. More will be asked of Hunter this season with Da’Rick Rogers’ future up in the air, but he should deliver.
TE- Chris Gragg, Sr., Arkansas
Most pundits like Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen here, and if we are talking strictly as a red zone target, then I would agree. But overall, I give Gragg the slight edge. Gragg caught 41 passes for 518 yards and a pair of touchdowns last season, and with Arkansas losing their top three wide receivers, Gragg should have an even bigger role in the offense in 2012.
C- Barrett Jones, Sr., Alabama
Regardless of position, they don’t get much better than Alabama’s Barrett Jones. The senior has made 36 career starts for the Crimson Tide. Jones made the move to left tackle from right guard in 2011 and won the Outland Trophy. This season, Jones has made the move to center, and is on the shortlist of contenders for the Rimington Trophy.
OL- Alex Hurst, Sr., LSU
Hurst was a first-team All-SEC member last season, and he is entering his third year as a starter on LSU’s offensive line at right tackle. Hurst has started 24 career games in Baton Rouge. At 6-foot-6 and 331 pounds, Hurst is one of the more intimidating offensive lineman in the conference.
OL- Chance Warmack, Sr., Alabama
Few offensive linemen have been as rock solid as Chance Warmack has for the Crimson Tide over the last two seasons as the team’s starting left guard. Warmack has made 26 straight starts for Alabama, and was a big reason for the Tide’s potent rushing offense in 2011.
OL- Luke Joeckel, Jr., Texas A&M
Joeckel was an All Big XII first team member last season as a sophomore, and helped the Aggies set a few offensive records last season. Joeckel was also part of an offensive line that gave up just nine sacks in 13 games, allowing Ryan Tannehill and company to put up nearly 500 yards of offense per game in 2011.
OL- Larry Warford, Sr., Kentucky
Kentucky fans won’t have many things to smile about in 2012, but offensive guard Larry Warford will be one of them. Warford has quickly made a name for himself as one of the top lineman in the conference with 25 consecutive starts for the Wildcats. Warford has led the team in knockdown blocks for the last two years, and was named a member of the All-SEC 2nd team last season.
DL- Barkevious Mingo, Jr., LSU
As a sophomore in 2011, Barkevious Mingo was one of the most feared pass rushers in the conference. His speed off the edge makes him a terror to opposing tackles and quarterbacks. Mingo led LSU with 15 tackles for loss last season, which ranked 3rd in the conference. He was second on the team with 8 sacks, and he only started four games. Expect big things from him in 2012.
DL- Sam Montgomery, Jr., LSU
One of the biggest reasons many think LSU can repeat as SEC Champions and get back to the National Championship game is the depth and talent on their defensive line. Along with Mingo, junior Sam Montgomery is one of the most feared defensive ends in the nation. Montgomery led the team with 9 sacks and was second on the team with 13.5 tackles for loss. The FWAA named him a first team All American in 2011.
DL- Jadeveon Clowney, So., South Carolina
As a true freshman, Jadeveon Clowney lived up to all the hype coming in as the top recruited high school player in the nation. Clowney made a big impact on the Gamecocks last season with 8 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Clowney was tied for eighth in the country with 5 forced fumbles. The league coaches named Clowney the SEC’s freshman of the year, and he is expected to have a huge season in 2012.
DL- Corey Lemonier, Jr., Auburn
Lemonier is a major reason some believe Auburn’s defense will take a step forward this year. Lemonier had a big sophomore season with 9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss, and 15 quarterback hurries. He was named by the coaches to the All-SEC first team for his efforts.
LB- Jarvis Jones, Jr., Georgia
Jarvis Jones was an absolute monster in his first season with the Bulldogs. He was a finalist for the Butkus Award thanks to a season that saw him record 19.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks to go along with 49 quarterback pressures. He lived in the opposing team’s backfield last season and that should not change in 2012.
LB- Nico Johnson, Sr., Alabama
With Dont’a Hightower in the NFL, senior linebacker Nico Johnson looks to take over the leadership role of the Tide’s defense. Johnson is one of the nation’s best linebackers against the run, and has become more reliable in coverage. He had 43 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss a year ago.
LB- Sean Porter, Sr., Texas A&M
Sean Porter should have little trouble making the switch to the SEC this season. Porter led the Big XII with 9.5 sacks and finished tied for third in the conference with 17 tackles for loss. Porter’s season earned him All-Big XII first team honors as a junior and his presence helped mitigate the loss of All American Von Miller.
DB- Eric Reid, Jr., LSU
The loss of Tyrann Mathieu hurts the LSU secondary, but with guys like Eric Reid back there, the Tigers still boast one of the top defensive backfields in the country. Reid is an absolute head hunter and Rivals.com named him a second team All American in 2011. Reid forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes last season, and he was second on the team with 76 total tackles.
DB- Robert Lester, Sr., Alabama
Lester is another one of the veteran leaders on Alabama’s defense, and has the potential to be the ballhawk he was in 2010. Lester picked off 8 passes as a sophomore in 2010, but only intercepted two as a junior last season. Lester started all 13 games at free safety for the Crimson Tide. He also blocked a kick and forced a fumble while being named an honorable mention All American by Sports Illustrated.
DB- Johnthan Banks, Sr., Mississippi State
Johnthan Banks flew under the radar for most of last season unless you were a quarterback trying to throw on him. Banks intercepted five passes in 2011 including a pick-six against Auburn. He totaled 71 tackles with 8 tackles for loss, three sacks, and three forced fumbles on his way to All-SEC second team honors.
DB- Bacarri Rambo, Sr., Georgia
Along with sporting one of the best names in college football, Bacarri Rambo was named a First Team All American by the AP. Rambo led the SEC and finished second in the NCAA with eight interceptions. He also had 55 tackles and a fumble recovery. He returned two INT’s for interceptions last season, and his playmaking ability in the defensive backfield make him one of the most feared defensive backs in the country.
K- Caleb Sturgis, Sr., Florida
Sturgis was a finalist for the Groza award last season connecting on 22 of his 26 field goals with a long of 55-yards. He hit all 31 of his extra point attempts.
P- Brad Wing, So., LSU
Somehow not a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, Brad Wing was the best punter in the nation last season averaging 44.4 yards per punt. He had 27 punts pinned inside the 20 and and 13 inside the 10.
RET- Andre Debose, Jr., Florida
Debose is a home run threat every time he touches the football and has three career kickoff returns for touchdowns.
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