The SEC is full of proven talent heading into 2013, with a reigning Heisman winner leading the pack.
Johnny Manziel returns to guide Texas A&M, and others like Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina will hit the field in search of championships.
Here are the 10 guys who SEC teams will have difficulty handling this fall.
Alabama heads into 2013 with one of the most dangerous outside receivers in the country in Amari Cooper. The rising sophomore is coming off a 1,000-yard freshman season where he caught 59 passes and secured 11 touchdowns for the Tide.
He was an unknown asset for the Alabama offense until mid-season, but heading into the new season, he will be a focus for every defense the Tide faces.
Cooper benefits greatly from the power running game that Alabama employs. The play action has become a staple in the Tide offense, and Cooper has become the go-to receiver on the play.
Keeping Cooper bottled up next year will be a tall task for the SEC next fall.
Every offense that faces South Carolina will key on Jadeveon Clowney this fall. Clowney is arguably the best player in the country heading into 2013 and is considered by most to be a possible Heisman contender.
No matter how you block Clowney, he will be in the backfield. If you run a play to the opposite side of the field he is likely to run it down from behind.
There is no escaping the physical freak that is Clowney. He is extremely explosive off the ball and nearly impossible to block. With Clowney on the field, the offense takes the “avoid at all costs” approach.
The Ole Miss Rebels became relevant on offense last fall with the implementation of the Hugh Freeze offense. A team that was once labeled a bottom dweller became dangerous again, and Donte Moncrief had a lot to do with it.
Moncrief finished 2012 with 66 catches, 979 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Heading into the new season, he will be the primary target for the Ole Miss offense. Teams may attempt to key on the talented receiver, but Moncrief has shown the ability to separate from coverage and make plays with consistently.
Look out SEC, guys like Moncrief may make it a passing league.
Jordan Matthews is a hidden gem inside the SEC. For those that don’t follow Vanderbilt football closely, he is not a name that has hit the ticker often.
Still, Matthews was a stud for the Vanderbilt offense last season who went mostly unnoticed. He finished 2012 with 94 receptions for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns.
Matthews caught three or more passes in every game last season and is looking to do the same this fall. Opposing defenses can double cover this guy and he will still get his numbers.
Limiting the amount of throws headed in his direction is the only way to slow down Matthews.
Byron Moore burst onto the scene as a JUCO transfer for Tennessee last year, leading the SEC in interceptions by the end of the year.
He is now one of the most dangerous defensive backs returning in the conference next fall. The SEC is becoming more reliant on passing offenses to produce big plays, and that favors ball-hawks like Moore.
Not throwing in the direction of Moore is one fix, but expect the Volunteers defensive staff to do all they can to work him into the stat sheet one way or another. Moore will be a tough defender to scheme against next fall.
Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix is one of the most dangerous defenders in the SEC for next season.
The Alabama defense is reliant on Clinton-Dix’s play, and opposing offenses are deathly afraid of it. He is a solid striker that brings the pain with each hit, but is also athletic enough to make plays in space on the ball.
This fall, teams will be looking for ways to avoid Clinton-Dix in the secondary, but the way that the Alabama defense utilizes him makes it impossible. His blend of speed and strength make him one among the elite safeties in the country this upcoming year.
Craig Loston is a dangerous striker for the LSU defense. Last fall he became known for his fierce hits and ability to defend in space. He was a possible early departure after last fall, but he decided to stay one more year in Baton Rouge.
He also added three interceptions to his stat line.
Loston will be a premier safety that causes offenses to reform their plan this year. His role for LSU will expand with the absence of Eric Reid. No pass is safe if it is thrown into coverage provided by Loston.
If you are looking for a complete back in the SEC, you will stop in Starkville. LaDarius Perkins is a return man and bruiser out of the Bulldogs backfield.
A team can load eight in the box against Perkins, but he still manages to find yards. He is a fierce hitter at the point of attack, he has amazing one-cut ability and he has an extra gear that helps him blaze past defenders.
If you try and stop Perkins, your defense will only get shredded by rising senior Tyler Russell.
Perkins is impossible to stop, and trying to game-plan around him would open up more points than any team wants to give up.
C.J. Mosley is a stud linebacker for Alabama. He flies all over the field and serves as a pass defender that can kill the run.
Mosley was an All-American last year for the Tide despite already having a reputation as a talented defender. Opposing offenses knew who to avoid; they just couldn’t.
There is no way to make Mosley ineffective, but teams can hope to limit his opportunities.
Johnny Manziel is the most electric quarterback in the SEC. Trying to take Manziel out of a game plan is not possible, and scheming him to become one-dimensional won’t work either.
Manziel has a knack for making sandlot-style plays, but he also has the accuracy and ability of the best signal-callers in the country. His 3,706 passing yards and 1,410 rushing yards show that.
He finished last year with a Heisman in hand, and he could do the same this year. The SEC is on notice of Manziel, but there isn’t a thing that defenses can do to stop him.