SEC Football: Each Team's 2012 MVP
Now that we are entering the twilight of regular season in college football, let's take a look back. While there are still two weeks remaining, some teams will be or area filled with pride and success, while others are riddled with guilt over another disappointing campaign.
When looking at the SEC, there have been a number of players who have catapulted to the forefront of the college football landscape this season. Each team has had a hero, villain or goat on any given Saturday.
Though many teams possess a number of stars on their respective rosters, some individual performances have truly made the biggest impact on their club. With that in mind, here is a shortlist of each team's MVP for the 2012 season.
Alabama: Barrett Jones / OL
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Let's be real. Alabama is still a top-tier team in the country and loaded with talent. A.J. McCarron has had a solid year, T.J Yeldon and Eddie Lacy have contributed in a major way, and while the defense does have flaws, Dee Milliner is a star.
With Bama, it all comes back to the offensive line, and in particular this player. A true leader, Barrett Jones is playing his third position on the offensive line in three years, and he has never been more effective. After stints as a left guard and left tackle, Jones has been a stalwart at center and a huge reason for McCarron's success.
In the next couple of weeks, he will take on a more prominent role as the offense will focus more on the ground game.
Make no mistake, Jones is the catalyst for this group and will be a first-round pick in April.
Arkansas: Cobi Hamilton / WR
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Arkansas football just wants this nightmare of a season to be over. Few would have thought that at this point of the season the Razorbacks would be 4-6 and 2-4 in SEC play.
One of the lone bright spots has been the play of wide receiver Cobi Hamilton.
Currently, Hamilton leads the SEC with 1,149 receiving yards while registering four touchdowns. The senior has already hauled in 73 passes, a quantum leap over his career-high of 34 in 2011.
Auburn: Emory Blake / WR
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While we are on the subject of nightmare seasons, Auburn is winless in the SEC a mere two years after winning a BCS National Championship.
While Gene Chizik has been busy praying to hold on to his job, senior wide receiver Emory Blake has been doing all he can to get enjoyment out of his final season as a Tiger.
Blake is sixth in the SEC with 713 receiving yards on 45 receptions, with three scores.
Other than Blake, Auburn is downright awful. Watching fans file out in the second quarter of a 38-0 thumping at home last weekend was a sad sight to see.
Florida: Josh Evans / DB
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The Florida Gators' defense is a main reason that they are 9-1 and sit sixth in the BCS standings.
On that side of the ball, senior defensive back Josh Evans has has a stellar campaign. Evans currently leads the Gators with 67 tackles, 12 more than any other player on the squad.
He also has two sacks and two picks on his resume on 2012. Evans should be highly sought after come the NFL draft this spring.
Georgia: Todd Gurley / RB
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A tough call on this one as the Bulldogs are very deep. At first instinct Aaron Murray could run away as the team MVP, and he is well deserving of the honor.
But I'll go with Todd Gurley on this one.
Gurley has taken the edge off the Bulldogs' passing attack, has provided an additional weapon for the offense and taken pressure off Murray.
The freshman leads all SEC running backs with 12 total touchdowns and 973 yards on the ground. The SEC should be on notice. Gurley is a force that will continue to produce next fall and is a major reason why the Bulldogs are a Top Five team.
Kentucky: DeMarcus Sweat / WR
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Let's tone it down a notch and head back to the basement for a moment. If one was forced to chose an MVP for the 1-9 Kentucky Wildcats, it could be this guy.
And again, stress on the "forced" as there is not much to like about a team that lost 40-0 to Vanderbilt its last time out.
As a freshman, DeMarcus Sweat is second in the SEC with 512 return yards and is averaging 20.5 yards per return.
And that's it. That's all I have.
LSU: Kevin Minter / LB
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And now on to the full package. This may be the best defensive player in the SEC.
LSU junior linebacker Kevin Minter has 90 total tackles,11.5 for a loss, three sacks and an interception. Minter is always around the ball and can play in all situations.
Minter is clearly the biggest leader on one of the best defensive units in the country. If you haven't seen him yet, don't worry. You'll soon see him on Sundays soon enough.
Mississippi State: Johnthan Banks / DB
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Quarterback Tyler Russell has been strong, but inconsistent of late. When Mississippi State has won ball games this year, their defense has been the main reason.
The Bulldogs have had a solid season and are currently 7-3. This bowl-bound team has gotten a lot of help in a strong secondary and defensive back Johnthan Banks has taken center stage of that group.
Banks is tied for the SEC lead with four interceptions and has an average of 31 yards returning per pick. The senior is also fifth on the team with 51 tackles.
Missouri: Sheldon Richardson / DT
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Plain and simple, Sheldon Richardson is a beast. Missouri's junior, defensive tackle continues to up his draft stock every time he takes the field.
He's got 70 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, three forced fumbles and four sacks to round out his resume. Pro scouts continue to be impressed by his strength off the line as well as his lateral movement.
Though Missouri has had a modest inaugural season in the SEC, Tiger fans will be pleased to see Richardson as an early round draft pick in 2013.
Ole Miss: Bo Wallace / QB
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Running back Jeff Scott and quarterback Bo Wallace are the brights spots in yet another mediocre season of Ole Miss football.
I would give the edge to Wallace as the sophomore has moved the ball effectively throughout. Wallace is sixth in the SEC in passing yards with 2,239 with a respectable 65.6 completion percentage.
With remaining contests against against LSU and Mississippi State, Wallace will have to be exceptional if the Rebels are to play in a bowl game around the holidays.
South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney / DE
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As hard as it is not to give team MVP honors to Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney is still the major player on this team. Should Lattimore not have gotten injured weeks ago, he would easily be on this list, and because of who he is and his talent level, he is still in the conversation.
Clowney, though, continues on as the best player on one for the country's top-rated defensive units. The 6'6" sophomore is third in the SEC with 9.5 sacks and 17 of his 43 tackles (40 percent) are for a loss. He also has two forced fumbles in that mix.
Right now, Clowney is probably the best asset the Gamecocks have and will be a fine pro in the near future.
Tennessee: Tyler Bray / QB
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The once proud Tennessee Volunteers are winless in conference play in 2012. Having said and digested it, the pass-happy Vols offense has gotten the most out of Tyler Bray.
Bray leads all SEC quarterbacks with 3,216 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. With games left against Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the junior will continue to pad his stats and likely finish atop the SEC in both of these categories.
Should Bray decide to come back for a final season, and he will, the Vols will be much improved in 2013.
Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel / QB
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When was the last time, if ever, that a freshman quarterback went into Tuscaloosa and knocked off the No. 1 team in the country?
"Johnny Football's" legend continues to grow and will evolve every time he takes the field. Johnny Manziel leads the SEC in rushing yards with 1,014 and also leads the SEC with 15 rushing touchdowns.
Through the air, he ranks third in the conference with 2,780 yards and also has 18 touchdown passes to boot.
The most exciting player in college football will most likely be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist.
Is he the front-runner for the hardware in 2013? You bet he is.
Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews / WR
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Vanderbilt has had a decent offense in 2012 and, with its 6-4 record, could get into a decent bowl game.
The Commodores' biggest weapon has been junior wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Matthews is one of two SEC receivers with over 1,000 yards (1,003). He has done this with 70 catches and has registered five touchdowns.
Should Matthews decide to turn pro after this season, he could be a solid mid-round pick this spring.