10 College Football Stars That Could Start for Any SEC Team
The SEC is the deepest conference in America, but that doesn't mean other spectacular athletes couldn't start at any of these programs.
With Alabama and LSU leading the way, it's become quite evident that the SEC is the best conference in the nation and it's known for its rich talent pool. So could an athlete such as Tavon Austin start at any school in the league?
College football "superstars" are often over-hyped and overvalued, but there are a few exceptions. Since the SEC is not particularly deep at wide receiver, for example, many wide receivers around the country could start for any team in the league.
But to go along with those spectacular receivers, who else could come in right away and start for any SEC school?
Tavon Austin, WR
Tavon Austin is a game-changer. Just ask Dabo Swinney.
This is the same guy that scored four touchdowns against Clemson's defense in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers flat out couldn't stop him.
If you're still unconvinced that Austin wouldn't make it into the SEC, look at what he did against LSU last season.
Austin had over 187 yards receiving against LSU's defense, which was the second best defense in the nation by the way.
Austin can fly, and if he ever gets an opening, he can take the ball to the house in a heartbeat. No wonder why they call him Tavon Awesome.
Matt Barkley, QB
Oh how the "turn tables." Yeah, Matt Barkley and the USC Trojans lost to Stanford, but it was mostly because they couldn't protect Barkley.
Imagine what Barkley could do if he was protected by Alabama or LSU's offensive line. Perhaps USC should have had Captain Compete protecting Barkley against Stanford.
In sports, many are quick to jump off of the bandwagon when the going gets rough, but Barkley is still the best quarterback in college football. Everyone has a bad game, and even with his two interceptions against Stanford's defense, Barkley has 813 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions on the year.
Granted, Barkley wouldn't have the weapons he has on the outside at USC in the SEC, but the time in the pocket provided by the offensive linemen would certainly make up for it.
Though the Trojans lost, Barkley is still one of the best players in college football.
Sammy Watkins, WR
Sammy Watkins took the college football world by storm last season as a freshman, and it became clear that he was one of the best wide receivers in the game, but Watkins had to sit out the first two games of this season after his arrest for marijuana possession in the offseason.
But Watkins returned to action this past weekend against Furman and he looked just as good as we remembered.
Watkins finished the game with 58 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with his 52 yards receiving.
Keenan Allen, WR
After playing three games with the Cal Bears, Kennan Allen has managed to score a touchdown receiving, rushing and returning a punt.
Furthermore, Allen may have the best hands in college football. Sure, he has the speed, the razzle to go along with that dazzle and great vision with the ball in his hands, but his ability to jump up and snatch the football out of the air is off the charts. He can catch the ball in traffic, make the sideline catches and even make the acrobatic catches that you often see on Sundays.
Make no mistake about it folks, Allen is athletic enough to make plays against the SEC's secondary.
Manti Te’o, LB
Manti Te'o is legit. This guy's a machine, or better yet, he's the baddest machine of all: "The Terminator."
I'll admit that at the beginning of the year I was a bit skeptical about the Notre Dame linebacker and this defense, but the Fighting Irish's win against Michigan State made me a believer.
Te'o led the Irish in tackles with 12 against the Spartans, including two pass breakups and an interception. He and his teammates limited Michigan State's powerful running game to just 50 yards on 25 attempts.
With the shutdown performance, Notre Dame may have put an end to any Heisman talks for Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell, as he failed to come up big in the Spartans' biggest game of the year so far.
As for Te'o, he's an awesome linebacker that should rack up many postseason awards.
Marquis Lee, WR
Marquis Lee can do it all. He's a sure-handed receiver that can serve as a deep threat and utilitarian for his football team. Often times, Barkley just sits back in the pocket (when he has time of course) and throws a jump ball Lee's way, and nine times out of 10, Lee makes the play.
After three games this season, Lee has 363 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions. He's also taken a 100-yard kickoff to the house.
This Trojan horse can start in any conference he pleases.
Tyler Eifert, TE
The SEC's tight ends are far from spectacular. Yeah, Philip Lutzenkirchen and Chris Gragg are talented play-makers, but the SEC lacks a player that jumps off of the chart like Orson Charles did last season.
That's why the best tight end in the nation, Tyler Eifert, could start for any SEC program he'd like to. This is a big, athletic guy that has great hands and could prove to be lethal in the passing game for any team in the country.
So far this season, Eifert only has 120 yards receiving and a touchdown, but if his 1,275 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 have any indication on what he'll do for the remainder of the year, look out.
Conner Vernon, WR
To be considered a superstar at Duke really isn't that big of a deal when it comes to football. But to make yourself well-known across the nation playing wide receiver for the Blue Devils is a completely different story.
If you're not talking about the athletes on the hardwood floor, Duke players are hardly ever mentioned in any conversation, but Conner Vernon qualifies as an exception.
Similar to the way, Wes Welker plays the slot in the NFL for the New England Patriots, Vernon isn't afraid to go across the middle and make big plays for the Blue Devils.
If Vernon had more weapons around him, perhaps he could receive the attention he deserves. But hey, he should get that on Sundays in the NFL.
De'Anthony Thomas, RB/WR
De'Anthony Thomas is the most explosive player in college football.
The "Black Mamba" can turn a relatively small gain into a touchdown with a few sharp cuts. If Thomas reaches the sidelines and turns on the turbo, you can go ahead and chalk up six points for the Oregon Ducks.
That's simply how fast this skill player is, and it's the very reason why Oregon uses him in their rushing game and receiving game, as well as their return game.
In his sophomore campaign, Thomas has 228 yards rushing, 154 yards receiving and seven total touchdowns for the Ducks.
Considering that Oregon has taken their foot off the pedal in some games, his stats are but a shell of what they could/should be.
Robert Woods, WR
Lee's partner in crime at USC is Robert Woods. These two compliment each other well and they create nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators because you have to leave one of them single-covered. And when you leave one of them single-covered, chances are that player is going to burn the defense for a long gain. Just look at some of the games this guy had at USC last season.
In the season opener against Minnesota, Woods accounted for 177 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions. Three touchdown receptions? That's an astonishing stat, but what about his 255 receiving yards against Arizona in 2011?
Get used to seeing that face on the sidelines, because Woods has a long career ahead of him in the pros.