SEC Football: Power Ranking Best Seniors Heading into 2013 Season
College football is loaded with talented seniors this year, with a number of the game’s elite players coming from the SEC.
This is a look at the 10 best seniors the conference has to offer and how they stack up against each other heading into the fall. Alabama is the only school to land two names on this list, but the headliner for this senior class is from the heart of Texas.
With this group of players leading the conference in 2013, the SEC should continue its dominant run through college football.
Note: All stats confirmed with CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.
10. Byron Moore: S, Tennessee
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Byron Moore started his college career with USC, but transferred after his freshman season to L.A. Harbor Community College. The Tennessee Volunteers snagged him out of the JUCO ranks in 2011, and he has been a major force on the defense since.
Last year was Moore’s breakout season. He finished with a conference-leading five interceptions and had 86 tackles.
He is a headhunter who has played nickel, free safety and strong safety in the past three years. Moore found his groove last fall and will be a star this fall for the Vols.
9. Lamin Barrow: LB, LSU Tigers
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Over the past three years, Lamin Barrow has become a steady performer for LSU. He started every game last fall at "Will" linebacker, but will make a switch to "Mike" this fall to fill in for the departed Kevin Minter.
LSU lost a lot of defensive talent to the draft this April, but Barrow is poised for stardom.
He is a heavy hitter who had 104 tackles, 7.5 for loss, in 2012. Minter was the only LSU defender with more tackles last season.
With Barrow stepping in as a leader, the LSU defense will continue to dominate this fall.
No. 8: Chris Smith: DL, Arkansas
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The Arkansas Razorbacks are looking to regain traction under new head coach Bret Bielema, and defense is the fastest way to get there.
The Razorbacks have one of the best defensive linemen in the conference in Chris Smith, and he is looking to lead the Hogs back to the winner's circle with his smothering and explosive play.
Smith was No. 4 in the SEC in sacks and No. 5 in tackles for loss in 2012. He registered 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
The Arkansas line is talented and, with Smith guiding the group, has the potential to be a conference leader.
No. 7: LaDarius Perkins: RB, Mississippi State
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LaDarius Perkins quietly plowed through the SEC last season, rushing for 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns.
He is a bruising back with breakaway speed who has changed the way Mississippi State attacks defenses. This year, he will be coupled with fellow senior Tyler Russell, creating one of the better backfield tandems in the SEC.
Look for Perkins to steal a lot more headlines this fall, as the country takes notice of his unique blend of power and speed.
No. 6: Connor Shaw: QB, South Carolina
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If Connor Shaw can stay healthy, he may be able to become a dark-horse Heisman candidate. He is one of the most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC, but he can’t seem to consistently stay on the field.
Shaw is a pass-first guy, but his ability to escape the pocket and make plays with his feet is undeniable.
Last year—in limited action in 11 games—Shaw rushed for 435 yards and added 1,956 more through the air. .
The talent is there for Shaw to be a leader in the conference, but he has to stay upright.
No. 5: Jordan Matthews: WR, Vanderbilt
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The Vanderbilt Commodores don’t usually land players on top performers' lists, but things are changing in Nashville.
Jordan Matthews has been a keystone in their turnaround the past few seasons. He had his best year in 2012, finishing with 94 receptions, 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns.
He was second only to Cobi Hamilton in production in the SEC.
This year, he will be the playmaker whom the Commodores need to keep churning out nine-win seasons. He is the best senior at his position in the SEC.
No. 4: Aaron Murray: QB, Georgia
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The Georgia Bulldogs are heading into the 2013 season looking for a title. Last year, the Bulldogs were just yards away, and their star signal-caller stared in amazement as the clock hit zero.
Murray has proven he is a winner, but he is still lacking a title. Still, his numbers are undeniable.
Murray finished 2012 with 3,893 passing yards and 36 touchdowns. He had the most passing yards and touchdown passes in the SEC.
This season, he is the best in the conference at his position, but his lack of titles and big wins is a concern.
This will be Murray’s year to put it all together.
No. 3: AJ McCarron: QB, Alabama
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AJ McCarron is a solid answer for any offense at quarterback.
Last season, he looked like the best in the country at his position in leading the Alabama Crimson Tide to a national title, but his surrounding cast was otherworldly.
This year, he will be “the guy” for the Alabama offense. He has a number of talented receivers around him and a group of backs that is as good as any in the country. But he will be asked to do more than ever.
After a year that saw him throw 30 touchdown passes and only three interceptions, expectations are high for McCarron. So far, he has met them all.
Nothing should change this fall.
No. 2: C.J. Mosley: LB, Alabama
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C.J. Mosley surprised some when he returned for his senior season, but this All-American linebacker is a leader for a reason.
He likes the role.
He will be the guide for the Alabama Crimson Tide defense. This unit and brings back a ton of talent and experience, but it still needs a player to be the on-field general—Mosley is that guy.
He finished sixth in the SEC in tackles last fall with 107. He also added two interceptions and four sacks.
The Tide defense will be as talented as ever, and with Mosley on the field, it will be as methodical as ever before.
No. 1: Jake Matthews: OT, Texas A&M
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Jake Matthews could have jumped to the NFL this April and been a first-round selection.
Instead, he stuck with Texas A&M for one more season and is a top prospect for the 2014 draft.
Before that happens, he will dominate the college scene for one more season. This year, he will help Johnny Manziel attempt a second run at the Heisman and help plow the way for one of the conference’s most dangerous offensive attacks.
Matthews is the best senior in the SEC and will likely be the first conference pick next April.