Every August, we're on the lookout for that one player that coaches may not be talking about as much as they should be, in an effort to pinpoint the next big star.
ESPN.com's KC Joyner thinks that player could be LSU cornerback Tharold Simon.
In Joyner's rankings of the most underrated players in college football (insider), five SEC players are listed.
- Missouri quarterback James Franklin
- LSU cornerback Tharold Simon
- Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King
- Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews
- Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers
As quarterbacks, Franklin and Rodgers may get all the pub; and King is going to draw a lot of attention as Aaron Murray's primary target in 2012. However, it's Simon who has the most upside, and also the biggest shoes to fill.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu went to New York last December as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy due in large part to his combination of defense and special teams work. While Mathieu was solid as a cornerback in 2011, the work of Morris Claiborne allowed Mathieu to get more chances.
Now that Claiborne is gone, it's Simon's job to lock down one side of the field.
At 6'3", 193 pounds, Simon is a big cornerback who has established himself as a solid cover corner during his first two years in Baton Rouge. He led the Tigers last season with 12 passes defended, finished third in the SEC with 10 pass breakups and had two interceptions.
He isn't necessarily a household name now because he hasn't had the opportunity, but his time is coming.
His quickness, size, leaping ability and knowledge of the game should minimize the impact that Claiborne's departure has left in the Tigers secondary.
Simon may be considered underrated now, but it won't take long for him to be the next great defensive back to come through the LSU program.