Gators a surprise pick to win SEC championship by media


UF's Tim Tebow runs for a touchdown against Alabama on September 30, 2006, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Sun file photo
Published: Friday, July 25, 2008 at 9:16 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 25, 2008 at 9:16 a.m.

HOOVER, Ala. In a bit of a surprise, the Florida Gators are the media's pick to win the SEC championship this season.

Facts

All-SEC

A list of preseason All-SEC picks by league media with total votes in parentheses:

FIRST-TEAM
Offense

TE - Cornelius Ingram (56), Florida
OL - Andre Smith (64), Alabama
OL - Michael Oher (64), Mississippi
OL - Anthony Parker (56), Tennesseee
OL - Herman Johnson (45), LSU
C - Jonathan Luigs (58), Arkansas
WR - Percy Harvin (68), Florida
WR - Kenny McKinley (46), South Carolina
QB - Tim Tebow (64), Florida
RB - Knowshon Moreno (68) Georgia
RB - Arian Foster (50), Tennessee

Defense
DL - Greg Hardy (53), Mississippi
DL - Tyson Jackson (52), LSU
DL - Sen'Derrick Marks (45), Auburn
LB - Brandon Spikes (65), Florida
LB - Rico McCoy (46), Tennessee
LB - Jasper Brinkley (41), South Carolina
LB - Darry Beckwith (40), LSU
LB - Dannell Ellerbe (40), Georgia
DB - Derek Pegues (60), Mississippi St.
DB - Eric Berry (56), Tennessee
DB - D.J. Moore (46), Vanderbilt
DB - Rashad Johnson (43), Alabama

Special Teams
K - Colt David (41), LSU
P - Ryan Shoemaker (40), Auburn
RS - Brandon James (35), Florida

SECOND-TEAM
Offense

TE - Richard Dickson (9), LSU
OL - Ciron Black (12), LSU
OL - Tyronne Green (9), Auburn
OL - Lee Ziemba (8), Auburn
OL - Garry Williams (8), Kentucky
C - Antoine Caldwell (10), Auburn
WR - Mohamed Massaquoi (11), Georgia
WR - Demetrius Byrd (9), LSU
QB - Matthew Stafford (6), Georgia
RB - Anthony Dixon (16), Mississippi St.
RB - Ben Tate (2), Auburn

Defense
DL - Ricky Jean-Francois (18), LSU
DL - Antonio Coleman (10), Auburn
DL - Jeremy Jarmon (9), Kentucky
LB - Tray Blackmon (17), Auburn
LB - Rolando McClain (15), Alabama
LB - Eric Norwood (14), South Carolina
LB - Jamar Chaney (8), Mississippi St.
DB - Captain Munnerlyn (20), South Carolina
DB - Trevard Lindley (15), Kentucky
DB - Asher Allen (13), Georgia
DB - Jerraud Powers (12), Auburn

Special Teams
K - Wes Byrum (16), Auburn
P - Ryan Succop (20), South Carolina
RS - Javier Arenas (20), Alabama

It's surprising because the Georgia Bulldogs have been building momentum since the end of last season and have been a popular pick among the preseason publications.

But the media that covers the SEC likes the Gators.

In a vote of media members covering the SEC Media Days this week, Florida was a solid pick to win the Eastern Division and then defeat Auburn in the conference title game in Atlanta.

In the voting for the predicted SEC champion, the Gators received 36 first-place votes to Georgia's 18 and Auburn's 13. In the division, UF received 45 first-place votes to the 'Dogs' 23. In the West, Auburn had a 48-21 edge over defending conference champion LSU.

The Gators also placed the most players on the preseason All-SEC first team with five quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receiver Percy Harvin, tight end Cornelius Ingram, linebacker Brandon Spikes and return specialist Brandon James. There were no UF players on the second team.

The Gators return the Heisman-winning Tebow and most of their playmakers on offense, including game-changing wide receiver Percy Harvin. UF's defense, however, remains somewhat of a question mark, especially with the recent attrition at the safety positions.

"Everyone in the SEC is talented," Tebow said. "Everyone is highly recruited. But just being talented doesn't mean you've done anything yet. We're trying to take our talent and mold it.

"We can't worry about other things. We have to come together as a team and mold into one. If we do that, we'll be successful. The question is who will be the best team."

SEC PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

League media totaled 70 voters

SEC Champion - Florida (36), Georgia (18), Auburn (13), LSU (1), Tennessee (1), Ole Miss (1).

Eastern Division

No. School Votes

1. Florida (45) 98

2. Georgia (23) 121

3. Tennessee (2) 222

4. South Carolina 266

5. Kentucky 356

6. Vanderbilt 407

Western Division

No. School Votes

1. Auburn (48) 99

2. LSU (21) 120

3. Alabama 228

4. Mississippi State 299

5. Ole Miss (1) 338

6. Arkansas 386

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