SEC Player of the Year?


Florida's Tim Tebow is among the candidates for top SEC offensive player.

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

It's now November, yet so much is undecided in the SEC.

Both the Eastern and Western divisions are wide open. And so are the SEC's annual end-of-the-year awards.

It's been several years since the conference has seen so many candidates who are deserving of the SEC's Offensive Player of the Year award. Fitting, because this has become an offensive conference this season.

The front-runner may be Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. The sophomore leads the SEC in total offense with 2,510 yards, more than 200 ahead of Kentucky quarterback Andre' Woodson. Tebow has rushed for 563 yards and passed for 1,947.

But Tebow suffered through a difficult performance against Georgia and his numbers could suffer the rest of the season because of a bruised right shoulder.

Woodson, meanwhile, leads the SEC in passing with 2,431 yards. His 28 touchdown passes are 10 more than the next highest player.

There are many other deserving candidates, as well. Reigning Offensive Player of the Year Darren McFadden leads the SEC with 124.1 rushing yards per game. Vanderbilt junior receiver Earl Bennett became the SEC's all-time leading receiver last Saturday and is regarded as the top wide receiver in the SEC. Of course, Tennessee senior quarterback Erik Ainge (251.6 passing yards per game), Alabama receiver DJ Hall (95.5 receiving yards per game) and even Arkansas running back Felix Jones (167.9 all-purpose yards per game) could receive attention.

The race for Defensive Player of the Year is not as complicated. The clear front-runner is LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. But Mississippi defensive end Greg Hardy is also a strong candidate. Hardy leads the SEC in sacks (eight), tackles for loss (15.5) and fumbles forced (three).

Kentucky senior linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who leads the league in tackles with 92, is also in the mix.

The SEC's Freshman of the Year is almost certainly going to be Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno. The New Jersey native is third in the SEC in rushing yards per game (100.9) behind only Arkansas' McFadden and Jones. Alabama tailback Terry Grant (87.1 yards per game) may also get some consideration.

One award that will certainly be decided in the next three weeks is the league's Coach of the Year award. Nick Saban, who has guided Alabama to a 6-2 mark including a 4-1 SEC record, would emerge as the clear front-runner if he can beat LSU Saturday.

Kentucky's Rich Brooks appeared to be an early front-runner, but back-to-back home losses to Florida and Mississippi State have hurt his cause. The Wildcats must still face Tennessee and Georgia, as well.

Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom could also be considered. The Bulldogs (5-4, 2-3) are one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2000.

Contact Brandon Zimmerman at 352-374-5051 or zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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