2020 Players to watch in the SEC
The SEC lost plenty of talent to the NFL, but, like most years, the argument can be made that it is the deepest, most talented conference. Plenty of 2019 key contributors are returning to help their teams again in 2020. Here are the players to watch in the SEC for 2020.
Joe Burrow is gone from LSU and will be replaced by Myles Brennan. Brennan has played sparingly over the past 3 years in Baton Rouge and will try to keep the Tigers rolling after their National Championship. The conference's 2nd leading passer from 2019, Kyle Trask, is back for Florida. Dual-threat Kellen Mond also returns for Texas A&M. Auburn will be led by SEC Freshman of the Year Bo Nix. Transfers Jamie Newman (Georgia) and K.J. Costello (Mississippi St) add even more QB depth to a strong conference. Feleipe Franks leaves Florida for Arkansas, where he has a chance to make an immediate impact. Mac Jones enters the season as Alabama's starter after a strong showing in emergency duty last year. Kentucky will get Terry Wilson, whowas impressive in 2018, back from injury. Under the radar players include South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski and Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano.
Mississippi State's Kylin Hill is the leading returner here, with Alabama's Najee Harris right on his heels. Arkansas's Rakeem Boyd also returns after a 1000+ yard rushing season. Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller, Missouri's Larry Rountree III, and Kentucky's Asim Rose all ran for over 800 yards last season and will also return for 2020. Zamir White takes over for D'Andre Swift at Georgia, trying to be the next great Bulldog runner.
LSU was stacked at receiver last year and will be again in 2020. Both Ja'Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr. return for the Tigers after each posting over 1000 receiving yards and double digit touchdown catches (Chase 20, Marshall 13). Alabama also returns a great receiving duo in Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith. George Pickens returns to Georgia after an outstanding freshman season. Florida's Kadarius Toney has battled injuries but is a Swiss Army knife speedster capable of making big plays. The Gators will use him as a receiver, running back, and wildcat quarterback. Virginia Tech transfer Damon Hazelton (Missouri) brings more talent to the conference after back-to-back All ACC seasons. Jhamon Ausbon (Texas A&M), Seth Williams (Auburn), and Elijah Moore (Ole Miss) also return after strong seasons.
Florida's Kyle Pitts is the top tight end in the SEC and maybe even the nation. He tied for 12th in the conference with 54 catches last year and led all SEC tight ends in receiving yards. Temple transfer, Kenny Yeboah (Ole Miss), will try to add some life to the Rebels offense under Lane Kiffin. 2019 All- Freshman and All-SEC tight end Jalen Wydermyer is back for Texas A&M, forming a promising, young tandem with Glenn Beal.
The SEC usually has some pretty good offensive linemen. Tennessee has a couple NFL prospects in Trey Smith and Georgia transfer Cade Mays. Ole Miss's Ben Brown is a former all-Freshman honoree. Alabama, as usually, has many offensive linemen to watch, led by LT Alex Leatherwood and center Landon Dickerson. Kentucky returns OT Landon Young and C Drake Jackson. Florida also returns several starters and gets the addition of transfer, Stewart Reese (Mississippi State). Georgia guard Ben Cleveland is also a good player.
While some of the names might be different, there is still plenty of talent on the defensive front in this conference. LSU returns Tyler Shelvin, Glen Logan, and Neil Farrell Jr, all of whom were key contributors to last year's championship defense. Auburn will have DE Big Kat Bryant returning and looking to make up for the losses of Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. Alabama gets starting DE LaBryan Ray back along with All-SEC Freshman Christian Barmore. They will also rely on Phidarian Mathis on the interior. Arkansas benefits from Clemson's loaded d-line by adding DT Xavier Kelly as a transfer. Also watch Georgia's Malik Herring, Vanderbilt's Dayo Odeyingbo, Tennessee's Aubrey Solomon, Texas A&M's Bobby Brown, and Florida's Kyree Campbell.
This group is led by Alabama's Dylan Moses, who could've gone pro but decided to stay in Tuscaloosa because of injuries. The next best is probably LSU's Jabril Cox, a big-time transfer from North Dakota State, followed by Georgia's Monty Rice. LSU also has a promising linebacker in Damone Clark. Missouri's Nick Bolton will return after leading the conference in tackles in 2019. Auburn's K.J. Britt was 1st team All-SEC and is an incredibly fun linebacker to watch if you like the old-school bigger LBs. The same can be said for Mississippi State's All-Conference performer Errol Thompson. Texas A&M gets leading tackler Buddy Johnson back. Hybrid LB/DEs to watch include Florida's Jeremiah Moon, Auburn's T.D. Moultry, and Kentucky's Jamar Watson. A sleeper to watch is Arkansas's Bumper Pool.
The SEC is loaded with players in the secondary. You can really tell just by watching Florida and LSU. Georgia also has a good secondary with Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, and Richard LeCounte. Alabama's Patrick Surtain II returns after earning honorable mention All-America honors from PFF. South Carolina's Jaycee Horn is very impressive player and may be under the radar because of the Gamecocks' overall recent performances. Texas A&M's Myles Jones and Elijah Blades present challenges to opponents with their size and athleticism. Auburn's Roger McCreary was impressive as a backup last year and may get an expanded role. Christian Tutt could also be key for the Tigers after much of their secondary left for the pros.