SEC's breakout players
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Published: Monday, June 13, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 13, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
At this time a year ago, no one outside of Auburn knew much Nick Fairly and Cameron Newton, other than Newton was a former Florida quarterback who had gotten in trouble in Gainesville and fled to a junior college two years earlier.
Newton and Fairly came out of nowhere to become the most dominant offensive and defensive players, respectively, in the SEC last season.
Will something similar happen again this season in the SEC?
Because it is the summer and we can do these sort of things, I thought it would be fun to take a stab at who might emerge like Newton and Fairly did last year.
Here are my picks:
Offense — Georgia came out of the spring desperately needing a dominant tailback to complement the passing of future star quarterback Aaron Murray. The guy they were looking for was still in high school — stud tailback Isaiah Crowell. Given the lack of depth and talent at the position, Crowell is going to have a chance to step right in this fall and have a huge impact. He's a gifted runner and a real breakaway threat, and he's going to have the ball in his hands with a chance to make something happen this fall. If Crowell comes through big time — and I'm predicting he will — the Bulldogs are going to be a hard team to stop, and a team that will make a serious run at the SEC title.
Defense — Many were thinking a year ago that national high school player of the year Ronald Powell would have a huge impact in his freshman year at Florida, but it didn't happen. He did some good things, but he saw only limited playing time. But this kid is powerful and explosive, and Will Muschamp has put him in a hybrid position (Buck) that should bring out the playmaking ability in Powell. He was dominant at times in the spring. If he continues on his current path, Powell has the potential to be the most disruptive defensive player in the SEC this fall. Let's go ahead and predict that it's going to happen.
So, there you have it. This year's Newton and Fairly in the SEC will be Crowell and Powell.