SEC Football: Spring Practice All-SEC Team for 2013
A total of eight freshmen entering their sophomore campaigns dominate the 2013 Spring Practice All-SEC Team.
Youth was served brilliantly in 2012, and heading into spring practices in 2013, all eyes are on the young guns.
Through spring training, those diaper dandies will blossom into superstars. Some already have. The most notable, of course, is Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
But all of the hype heading into the spring isn't focused on freshmen alone. Oh no, a certain junior named Jadeveon Clowney seems to be riding high after his hit on Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl.
Along with Manziel and Clowney, these are the men who should be on your All-SEC team this spring.
QB: Johnny Manziel
Though AJ McCarron has the championships, Johnny Manziel has more impressive individual hardware. No, we're not comparing girlfriends here.
Come on, you can't compete with a Heisman Trophy. But then again, not many can compete with Johnny Manziel's accomplishments on the field.
McCarron's 30 touchdowns and three interceptions are impressive to say the least, but Manziel's 47 total touchdowns and nine interceptions speak for itself.
RB: Todd Gurley
Forget All-SEC, Todd Gurley is All-American material.
There's not a running back in college football that can match Gurley's combination of speed and power. It was that very same combination that led to Gurley's 1,385 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2012, while sharing the backfield with Keith Marshall.
Both statistics were the second highest in the SEC, behind Manziel in both categories. Go figure.
RB: T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon is the next great Alabama running back.
Heck, he was great last year as a freshman. Behind Eddie Lacy, Yeldon still finished sixth in the SEC in rushing yards with 1,108 and was tied for fourth in the league with 12 touchdowns.
It's scary to imagine what type of statistics Yeldon will put up in 2013 as Alabama's featured back.
WR: Amari Cooper
From one great freshmen to another—Amari Cooper was Julio Jones-like in his first season with the Crimson Tide.
Actually, statistics wise he was better. As a freshman in 2008, Jones gained 924 reception yards and four touchdowns. How does that compare to Alabama's most recent rookie sensation?
Cooper came one receiving yard shy of the 1,000-yard mark, and he boasted 11 touchdowns. What might be even scarier was his 17.2 average yards per reception. Talk about a deep threat.
WR: Jordan Matthews
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Vanderbilt's best offensive player last year was Jordan Matthews.
If only there were 10 other Matthews' out there, right, Vanderbilt fans? Matthews ranked second in the league in receiving yards with 1,323 yards.
As Matthews enters his senior season, his sure-handed abilities give Vanderbilt a shot at following up its eight-win season with a third straight bowl appearance under James Franklin.
WR: Donte Moncrief
Dear future Ole Miss opponents, double cover Donte Moncrief.
In football, one of the jobs of the coaches is to not let the opposing team's best player beat them. They are supposed to devise a plan to try and shut that player down and force other players to step up and win the game.
Last season, everyone knew that Moncrief was Ole Miss' lifeline to success on offense. It didn't matter. Moncrief still had 979 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Better luck this year?
TE: Rory "Buster" Anderson
Rory "Buster" Anderson is a hybrid athlete.
Though he might not have amazed fans in the stat department—271 receiving yards and five touchdowns—his athleticism is off the charts for a tight end.
Anderson's speed at 6'5", 215 pounds makes him a big-play threat in 2013. Expect Steve Spurrier to exploit zones in the defense with this swift tight end next season, which will consequently make Buster Anderson a household name.
Center: Travis Swanson
Experience makes Travis Swanson the top center in the league this spring. Swanson has started all 38 games of his collegiate career at Arkansas, and he was voted to the 2012 Second Team All-SEC Team by the media.
OL: Jake Matthews
There's no question that Jake Matthews is the best offensive lineman in college football. Matthews, who could have easily turned pro, was a 2012 First Team All-SEC selection. Texas A&M increased its chances of winning the SEC dramatically when Matthews decided to come back and play another year.
OL: Chris Burnett
Chris Burnett is one of the best offensive linemen in the SEC. Sadly, he will miss spring ball for the Georgia Bulldogs after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder. He still makes the cut for best offensive lineman in the spring.
OL: Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson decided to put the NFL draft on hold, and consequently, he drastically improved Dan Mullen's chances of competing in the SEC West. Jackson was selected to the All-SEC team last season.
OL: John Theus
More diaper dandies please. John Theus, along with Humphries, was selected to the 2012 All-SEC Freshmen team. Theus didn't play like a freshman though. With his brute strength and pass protection ability, Theus became a cornerstone for Georgia's offensive line.
Clowney for Heisman, man. It's annoying to continuously see defensive players overlooked for the award when clearly they belong in the running. So as preparation begins for the 2013 season, fans should start entertaining the idea of seeing a defensive player hoist the trophy. Because really, Clowney is already in the running after his "Best of the Best Top Play."
Anthony Johnson is the lone ranger returning for LSU's defensive line. He's by far the most experienced player returning, and though he's not in the same league as Glenn Dorsey, he is very reminiscent to him in the way he explodes off the ball.
The Arkansas Razorbacks desperately needed Chris Smith to return for his senior season. As a junior, Smith wreaked havoc in the backfield, racking up 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Trey Flowers is overshadowed by his teammate Chris Smith. Flowers doesn't receive the recognition he deserves because of how poorly the Arkansas defense performed last season, but this is a man who accumulated 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. It's about time everyone paid attention.
LB: C.J. Mosley
Some men are just born to be captains.
C.J. Mosley is that mold. With both his mind and his body, Mosley led Alabama's defense in allowing the nation's lowest yards per game average (250).
Individually, Mosley totaled 107 tackles, made two interceptions, forced a fumble and had four sacks last season. In other words, Mosley did it all.
LB: A.J. Johnson
You have to be special if you lead the SEC in tackles.
That's exactly what A.J. Johnson did last season with 138. Some of you are probably going, "did he really? I've never heard of this guy before?"
Look, it's not Johnson's fault that he was on the league's worst defense last season at Tennessee. Maybe, that's the reason why he had so many tackles. Perhaps there was nobody else to make them.
LB: Avery Williamson
Avery Williamson came just three tackles shy from tying Johnson for most tackles in the league.
Oh well, second isn't that bad, right, Ricky Bobby? To go along with his 135 tackles, Williamson forced two fumbles, made three sacks and had an interception last season.
Expect Williamson's game to further evolve next season under the new direction of Mark Stoops.
DB: Jalen Mills
No Honey Badger, no problem.
Jalen Mills had the daunting task of filling Tyrann Mathieu's shoes last season, and he filled them better than anyone could have imagined.
Mills developed into a shutdown cornerback, and he had five pass breakups and two interceptions. LSU is considered to be DBU, and Mills looks to be the next great cornerback for the Tigers.
DB: Byron Moore
Tying Darius Slay in most interceptions last year in the conference was none other than Tennessee's Byron Moore.
Yeah, Tennessee gave up a whopping 471 yards per game last season, but it had some talent with Johnson making 138 tackles and Moore snatching five interceptions.
Moore was one of the more athletic safeties in the league last year, and entering his senior season, it's likely Moore reels in more turnovers for the Vols.
DB: Craig Loston
Craig Loston brings the wood.
Loston, who has been with LSU since 2009, is a solid cover safety, but that's not what makes him an elite safety. What makes him special is his ability to come up and make the hard hit on defenders.
He's a playmaking safety that totaled three interceptions last year for the Tigers, including a 100-yard pick-six on Tyler Russell.
DB: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The last defensive back slot could have gone a lot of different ways, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks to be the right choice.
Don't let his name confuse you—Clinton-Dix has a knack for the football. In 2012, he recorded four interceptions despite not starting for most of the season.
Clinton-Dix finished the season with three straight games with an interception, and as he grows into a bigger role within the defense, expect him to become one of the SEC's top defensive backs.