The Southeastern Conference lost some big players to the NFL draft this year. Guys like Amari Cooper and Dorial Green-Beckham will be hoping to light up the biggest stage in football throughout 2015, but the SEC still has a lot of great talent returning for the new season. Let’s look at the top 10 players fans should be watching when the games get underway.
Derrick Henry, Derek Barnett
Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
Alex Collins has managed to run for 16 touchdowns and nearly 2,200 yards in two seasons, despite sharing the backfield with another 1,000 yard back Jonathan Williams.He’s a real all-round player who can adapt well to different situations, making him an integral and essential part of the Razorbacks’ squad.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Alabama fans must have been pleased to hear that Ragland was sticking with them for one more season before seeking his big break in the NFL. Head coach Nick Saban did a good job of convincing the star linebacker to stay with his team and Saban knows how effective Ragland will be in the games to come. He’s a great tackler and a physical specimen who offers a real defensive presence for the Crimson Tide roster.
Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
Cooper had a fantastic 2014 season and is easily one of the hottest prospects in college football right now. Last year he caught 69 passes for 1,136 yards to get himself 9 touchdowns. In addition, he managed 15 punts for 75 yards, 27 rushes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns and completed 5 of 8 passes for another 78 yards and another 2 touchdowns. Those stats are incredible and show what a versatile player South Carolina have on their roster. With some exciting new offensive players arriving on the scene in 2015, Cooper could be set for an even better year.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
People were talking about Fournette this time last year and he certainly showed why in the season that followed, earning 10 touchdowns and 1,034 rushing yards. He was one of the best players in the conference and his performances were even more impressive when you consider that LSU did struggle offensively last season. Fournette will hope that the QB situation at LSU improves this year, but he’ll put up some impressive numbers regardless.
Duke Williams, WR, Auburn
Outside of Jeremy Johnson, Duke Williams may be the most important returning offensive player for Auburn. Johnson will need a big receiver that can make big plays for him throughout the rough SEC schedule. He’s arguably the top receiver and pro receiver prospect in the SEC for the 2015 season.
Laremy Tunsil, OL, Ole Miss
Tunsil is the best OL in the conference and it’s not hard to mount an argument for him being one of the best OLs in the nation as well. Since 2013, he has played a key role in the rise of Ole Miss and will hope to continue his efforts in the new season. An unfortunate leg break has interrupted his development, but Tunsil has all of the tools and skills to have a stellar career. NFL teams are already keeping track of him but he’ll hope to give Ole Miss an even bigger boost before moving on.
Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
After a slow start to the season, Prescott suddenly proved himself as one of the most exciting signal callers in college football. He might even have landed himself a Heisman trophy had it not been for the dip in form of Mississippi State towards the end of the season. He put up some huge numbers, throwing for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns while also rushing for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’ll want to keep this form going in 2015 and Mississippi State fans will be relying on him handling the pressure.
Vernon Hargreaves III, DB, Florida
Undoubtedly the best DB in the SEC, Hargreaves is an incredibly talented young player who looks set for a big career. He only made three interceptions last year, but that stat should speak volumes about Hargreaves’ presence on the pitch. To put it simply, teams did their best to avoid him. His ball and recovery skills are excellent and Florida tend to make use of a solid defensive game, suiting Hargreaves’ skillset perfectly. He’ll be a big player in 2015.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Todd Gurley might have moved on but Georgia fans can look to Chubb as one of their most exciting prospects returning in 2015. He rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns as a true freshman last year and will hope to lead the Bulldogs to glory in 2015. With some other decent RBs coming through the ranks, Chubb will fill Gurley’s shoes with ease and be an impressive player once again in the new season.
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
In 2013, Ole Miss decided to really focus on recruiting some top class talent to push the team up the ranks of the SEC. Nkemdiche was the highlight of that recruitment drive and has been a vital cog in the Ole Miss machine over the last two seasons. A remarkable physical specimen at 280 pounds and 6’4”, Nkemdiche has the speed and strength to strike fear into almost any opponent. He already has the talent and the build to cope with NFL football but will first continue pushing Ole Miss up the ranks with his dominating play.
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