With spring practice now underway across the SEC it is time to see where teams stack up heading towards 2019. I want to know – Who are your Top 5 teams in the SEC as spring practice begins?
#1 – Alabama Crimson Tide
Once again Nick Saban had to rebuild his entire coaching staff in the offseason. However, despite the tremendous turnover the Alabama once again landed the best recruiting class in the country. The Tide must replace a tremendous amount of talent on each side of the ball but will be explosive on offense and loaded with athleticism on defense.
#2 – Georgia Bulldogs
For two consecutive years the Dawgs have been on the precipice of knocking the Tide from atop the SEC only to come up just short. Jake Fromm and Deandre Swift return behind the biggest most powerful offensive line in the country and the defense should be much improved with the experience gained last year and the talent added in the Class of 2019.
#3 – Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies surpassed expectations in year one of the Jimbo Fisher era and 2019 will be an even bigger test due to the loss of major impact players on offense and defense. The receiving corp is outstanding and Kellen Mond should take another step in his development. Mike Elko’s defense will be the difference between another solid season or a potential breakthrough year.
#4 – LSU Tigers
The arrival of Joe Burrow paid tremendous dividends in Death Valley. With competent quarterback play the Tigers suddenly were competitive every week. The loss of Devin White will hurt on defense but as usual the Tigers will be one of the most athletic in the country. For LSU to finish any higher on this list their offense will have to prove it can be more than just ordinary.
#5 – Florida Gators
Dan Mullen did a tremendous job in his first season and the Gators ended the season with tremendous momentum defeating a depleted Michigan team in the Peach Bowl. There could be a quarterback controversy between Emory Jones and Feliepe Franks this spring and the secondary could be one of the best in the country.
#6 – Auburn Tigers
Auburn is one of the most interesting teams to watch in the SEC this spring. The quarterback battle is wide open and Gus Malzahn may be on the hottest seat in the SEC. Does he have the guts to place his career in the hands of true freshmen Bo Nix? Can Kevin Steele rebuild a defense that underperformed in 2018?
#7 – South Carolina Gamecocks
This is a pivotal season for the Will Muschamp and his tenure with the Gamecocks. It began with great promise but they took a step back in 2018. The addition of Zach Pickens and Ryan Hilinski were tremendous coups. They may not be one of the ten most talented teams in the SEC but you know under Muschamp they are going to give 100% effort each week.
#8 – Mississippi State Bulldogs
Despite Nick Fitzgerald being an all-time great for Mississippi State the team may be better off without him. Keytaon Thompson is a better fit in Joe Moorehead’s system with his accuracy as a passer and is underrated athletically. The losses on defense may prove to be too much to overcome but we will get some answers this spring.
#9 – Tennessee Volunteers
The Volunteers showed flashes of potential under Jeremy Pruitt but there is still a severe talent deficiency in Knoxville. It would not be a surprise to see 6 or more true freshmen starters my mid-season including at both offensive tackle positions. Unless Jarrett Guarantano makes tremendous strides its hard to see the Vols surpassing 8 wins in 2019.
#10 – Kentucky Wildcats
2018 was one of the best seasons in Kentucky football history but now they have to move on without two of the greatest Wildcats ever – Josh Allen and Benny Snell. This spring they need new leaders to step up and Terry Wilson to prove that he can be at least a serviceable passer.
#11 – Missouri Tigers
The post Drew Lock era in Missouri will be interesting. Kelly Bryant is a proven winner that brings an entirely different skill set to the table. However, with a post-season bowl ban what motivation will the team have? If they play up to their full potential they could easily jump Tennessee and Kentucky in the SEC East.
#12 – Ole Miss Rebels
The loss of DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown and DaMarkus Lodge at receiver is a tremendous blow to the hopes of the Rebels for a rebound season. Matt Corral showed some flashes in 2018 as did Scotttie Phillips at RB. The defense has talent but their is a tremendous lack of depth.
#13 – Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt will go as far as Ke’Shawn Vaughn can carry them. He is the best player on a team that is severely less talented than the rest of the SEC. Derek Mason is going to have to work miracles with a defense that lost a great deal of experienced players to graduation.
#14 – Arkansas Razorbacks
Chad Morris faces another uphill battle in 2019. His roster still does not match his offensive system and on defense they do not have any difference makers. Unless there are unexpected players who emerge in the spring the Razorbacks appear destined for another season in the SEC West cellar.