The Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's best defensive end, just released their 2012 Watch List and, as expected, it reads like the proverbial "Who's Who" of the defensive end position.
Out west, guys like Wes Horton set the pace. In the Southwest, Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor will be pushing for the same hardware. The ACC boasts eight names on the list, second only to the SEC's nine.
Nine guys from the nation's premier conference make the list. Nearly one quarter of the 40 players named are out of the Southeastern Conference, and not a single one of them is from the elite ranks of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Florida, Auburn, Georgia and newcomers Texas A&M and Mizzou each got one name on the list. Both LSU and South Carolina were able to put two players on the vaunted list.
For the SEC, this award has been quite elusive in the last eight seasons. Even as the conference puts a premium on their defensive line talent, the last Hendricks Award winner from the league was David Pollack, the high-motor defensive end from the Georgia Bulldogs.
This year, the conference has as good a shot as anyone to take home the award. Jadeveon Clowney, Corey Lemonier and Sam Montgomery are likely the conference's best shots. However, don't count out Devin Taylor or Barkevious Mingo as players who can sneak their way into the mix.
Taylor and Mingo will be interesting. Much like Bjoern Werner at Florida State, the pair play opposite a truly talented defensive end, and their numbers and the looks they see on a Saturday-to-Saturday basis are greatly shifted by the imposing presence on the opposite side.
With everyone from the little brother of the ACC to the Big Ten and the Mountain West having claimed a winner in the last couple seasons, it is time for the SEC to step up to the plate. The long-time "best defensive linemen" league has to prove it through not just the NFL draft, but also in bringing the hardware back to the conference.