SEC Football: Ranking Top 10 Performances from Week 1
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
Week 1 of SEC football action is in the books, and the conference gave us some spectacular individual performances.
In a conference known for defense, there sure seems to be an extraordinary amount of offensive stars who can dominate one-on-one matchups against anybody.
It's difficult to pick just 10 guys who gave us thrills in the first weekend of the best sport on earth, so some players who had great efforts will naturally be left off—which makes the performances of those who are included that much more special.
Here are the Top 10 individual performances in the SEC from Week 1 of the college football season.
10. CB Vernon Hargreaves III
CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
There were several standouts on the Florida Gators during a 24-6 win over Toledo, and it's tempting to lump them together.
But while Jeff Driskel and Mack Brown were considered, it's Vernon Hargreaves III who ultimately gets the nod here.
The highly touted freshman was part of a defense that gave up just 155 yards through the air and 6 points on the scoreboard.
In the third quarter, Hargreaves snatched the Gators only interception of the game and returned it 15 yards.
It's not often that you'll find cornerbacks getting playing time straight out of high school, especially at a school like Florida. But Hargreaves has bucked that trend, and in game one, he proved that he's going to be a nightmare for opposing offenses throughout his college career.
9. RB Rajion Neal
RB Rajion Neal
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
While there was nothing surprising about Tennessee's 45-0 victory over Austin Peay, the performance by running back Rajion Neal was notable.
Neal finished the contest with 141 yards on just 16 carries and tacked on a touchdown for good measure.
While there are still many questions about the Volunteers moving forward, the running back situation doesn't appear to be one of them. Neal would be higher on the list if it weren't for the subpar competition, but if he can put up similar numbers against Oregon or Alabama, he'll be near the top every time.
8. RB Mike Davis
RB Mike Davis
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina's offensive effort in their 27-10 victory over North Carolina wasn't dazzling by anyone's standards, but running back Mike Davis sure had a memorable game.
The sophomore back had 115 yards on 12 carries, which included a 75-yard scamper down the right sideline to break things open in the third quarter.
While Connor Shaw has some interesting dual-threat abilities and Shaq Roland appears poised to have a breakout year at receiver, it's the running game that will ultimately determine what kind of season the Gamecocks have.
Without a guy like Marcus Lattimore to rely on, fans had to be pleased with Davis' game on Thursday.
7. QB James Franklin
QB james Franklin
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Missouri quarterback James Franklin comes in at No. 7 after his outstanding effort in the Tigers' 58-14 romp over Murray State.
Yes, it was Murray State, but that shouldn't take away from what Franklin did to start his 2013 season. The senior quarterback went 26-of-38 for 318 yards and three scores while adding another 44 yards on the ground.
After a slow start that saw Murray State take a 14-13 lead, the Tigers put up 45 straight in large part to Franklin's dual-threat ability.
The schedule gets considerably tougher as the season moves forward, but solid quarterback play is going to be critical if the Tigers hope to bounce back from a poor 2012 campaign. James Franklin's performance should give fans confidence heading into week two.
6. WR Odell Beckham
WR Odell Beckham
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
While Zach Mettenberger had a solid effort in LSU's 37-27 victory over TCU last night, wide receiver Odell Beckham was the clear difference maker for the Tigers' offense.
Beckham is quickly becoming one of the more versatile players in the country after the junior caught five passes for 118 yards, carried it twice for 18 yards and returned it four times for 136 yards, which included a 75-yard return late in the game.
If you don't know, well, now you know. Odell Beckham is as dangerous as they come in college football, and Saturday appeared to be just the start of a spectacular 2013 season.
5. WR Jordan Matthews
WR Jordan Matthews
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Limiting this list to players who helped their teams win would be an insult to Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who gave everything he had in the Commodores' 39-35 loss to Ole Miss on Thursday.
The senior caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown against the Rebels, which included a 42-yarder on 4th-and-18 late in the fourth quarter.
Matthews was a player to watch coming into this game, and he exited the game as one of the best receivers in the country. If his first game was any indication, Matthews has more highlights in store for 2013.
4. S Robenson Therezie
S Robenson Therezie
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn hasn't exactly fielded elite, SEC-type defenses as of late, but the Tigers' effort on Saturday was a good one.
Going up against the Washington State Cougars and Mike Leach's air-raid attack, Auburn posted a 31-24 victory that was due in large part to the effort of safety Robenson Therezie.
Therezie had two interceptions in the game. He returned the first one 24 yards to set up a score and the second one came late in the game with the Cougars' driving in for the game-tying score.
Because of the many great quarterbacks who call the SEC home, a ball-hawking secondary is a necessity. Therezie provided that on Saturday, and he'll look to continue his strong play as the season progresses.
3. RB Todd Gurley
RB Todd Gurley
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The Georgia Bulldogs may have left Clemson with a 38-35 defeat, but exactly none of that can be blamed on running back Todd Gurley.
You're probably familiar with the true sophomore after he burst on to the scene in 2012 as one of the nation's best running backs. That title isn't going anywhere.
Gurley racked up 154 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries last night, including a blinding 75-yarder.
If Gurley can continue to put up numbers like that—and there's no reason to believe he won't—he'll find himself in the thick of the Heisman conversation toward the end of the season.
2. RB Jeff Scott
RB Jeff Scott
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
Some will say Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott is too high on this list.
Argue all you want, but given the timing of his 75-yard scamper, it's hard to put Scott any lower than the two spot.
After Vanderbilt jumped ahead in the final minutes, Ole Miss received the ball and promptly answered with a touchdown of its own, a long run by Scott which recaptured the lead and ultimately sealed the victory.
The Rebels escaped Nashville with a 39-35 win, and Scott ended the day with 138 yards on just 12 carries.
The win should give Ole Miss confidence as it heads into a brutal stretch of games after next week.
1. WR Christion Jones
WR Christion Jones
Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
Was there ever any doubt about the top spot?
Adjectives don't exist that can accurately describe what Christion Jones did on Saturday, but his performance will certainly be remembered for a long time. That is, unless he does it again this season.
Jones and Alabama beat Virginia Tech 35-10. Jones finished with three touchdowns, with one coming in the receiving game and other other two coming on returns. When you watch him play, his speed is on another level compared with the players around him.
There are players in college football that make everyone else look like they're running in slow motion. De'Anthony Thomas, Marqise Lee and Sammy Watkins come to mind. Jones belongs in that sort of company after Saturday, and if you're a fan of college football (and not an Auburn fan), you have to be excited about what Jones might do for an encore.