SEC Football: All-Conference Team for September
The SEC hasn't dominated college football the way some of its most ardent fans expected it to (or still insist it has) these first five weeks, but still it remains, beyond logical reproach, the best conference in America.
Five of the top 12 teams in the Week 6 Coaches poll—Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU and South Carolina—all hail from the Southeastern Conference.
Even this late into the season, the SEC still has nearly half of America's 12 best teams, which is a hard proportion and number to comprehend.
Because of that superiority, the league's five-week All-Conference team provides an embarrassment of options. Many of the players listed on its final first-team might have a real chance of going All-American.
But who's got the early edge?
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
You can't go wrong with any of the SEC's top four.
Manziel, Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and Zach Mettenberger could all, potentially, finish the year as All-Americans—that's how deep this conference is at quarterback.
But for now, it's gotta be Johnny Football, who roasted the big, bad Alabama defense for 562 total yards and five touchdowns. Even in College Station, and even in defeat, that might have been the most impressive individual performance of the season.
For the year, Manziel has over 1,800 yards despite being suspended for one whole half and benched for rest (or misbehavior) in parts of others.
Second Team: Aaron Murray, Georgia
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Gurley got hurt and had to leave the game against LSU, but excluding his ticky-tack injuries, and analyzing from a place of pure talent, he's probably been the most impressive running back in America.
Few, if any, college running backs possess his blend of speed and power. And with 450 yards on just 71 carries, his per-attempt stats help confirm that.
Mike Davis, South Carolina
Davis leads the SEC in yards per game (127.0) and yards per carry (7.15) among backs with 42-plus rushes this season.
Replacing Marcus Lattimore is no small feat, but Davis has helped Gamecocks' fans forget about their oft-injured superstar. He went for 167 yards and three TDs in Saturday's close win over Central Florida, and came one yard short of topping 150 against Georgia.
Simply put: Davis is a gamer.
Second Team: Alex Collins, Arkansas
Second Team: Jeremy Hill, LSU
Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Evans is second in the nation (and first in the SEC) with 691 receiving yards, trailing just Oregon State's Brandin Cooks.
Unlike Cooks, though, Evans has tussled with Alabama already this year; and unlike almost every other receiver who has, he thrashed the Tide's secondary, finishing the game with seven catches for 279 yards.
Big, fast and increasingly savvy against coverage, Evans has become one of the biggest matchup problems in all of college football.
Jarvis Landry, LSU
Zach Mettenberger and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron reap most of the praise for LSU's passing renaissance. That seems well deserved, but folks would be remiss to ignore its receivers.
Of the Tigers' prolific duo, Landry has stuck out as, perhaps, the best slot target in America. He's not your traditional slot receiver—he's much bigger and stronger than that—but he has strong, sure-fire hands and the ability to make some crazy catches.
For the season, Landry leads the SEC with seven touchdown grabs and is third with 520 receiving yards.
Second Team: Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Second Team: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Hunter Henry, Arkansas
Arthur Lynch might be the better all-around player, but no tight end in the SEC has proven more integral to his team's passing attack than Henry.
The freshman standout has quickly picked up Bret Bielema's offense which, dating back to his days in Wisconsin, has always valued a good pass-catching tight end.
Henry is 15th in the SEC with 234 receiving yards, the most of any tight end in the conference.
Second Team: Arthur Lynch, Georgia
OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
Matthews continues to justify the hype in College Station, replacing Luke Joeckel seamlessly on Johnny Manziel's blindside and helping to keep the Aggies atop college football's offensive rankings.
OG Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
Jackson might be the best guard in all of college football, and even on a slowly decaying Mississippi State team, his contributions have stuck out on tape.
C Travis Swanson, Arkansas
Bret Bielema has always produced good centers, highlighted just last year by unlikely first-round pick Travis Frederick. He didn't groom Swanson the same way, but Arkansas' veteran snapper has helped build a Wisconsin-esque running game in Fayetteville.
OG A.J. Cann, South Carolina
Cann was the Week 5 SEC lineman of the week, a much-deserved honor after he helped pave the way for Mike Davis and the running game in a tricky road game with Central Florida.
OT La'el Collins, LSU
Collins has made the transition from guard to tackle look easy, keeping the woefully immobile Zach Mettenberger on his feet and flashing great athleticism in the process.
Second Team: OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
Second Team: OG Chris Burnette, Georgia
Second Team: C James Stone, Tennessee
Second Team: OG Jon Halapio, Florida
Second Team: OT Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee
Chris Smith, Arkansas
Smith made the coaches' All-SEC first-team this preseason, and it hasn't taken long for him to vindicate that selection.
He leads the conference with 6.0 sacks and 51 sack yards, becoming a constant and harrying presence in the backfield of Hogs opponents through the first five games.
Even with the offensive line's attention diverted (almost exclusively) his way, Smith continues to produce. And there's no reason to expect any decline.
Dante Fowler, Florida
Fowler plays the "Buck" position, so, just as he does for the Gators, he can oscillate around this All-Conference team, providing both a 3-4 and 4-3 look.
He's second in the SEC with 6.0 tackles for loss and third with 38 TFL yards. On Florida's defense—perhaps the best in America—the best front-seven player deserves to be recognized.
Second Team: Michael Sam, Missouri
Second Team: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Anthony Johnson, LSU
Johnson hasn't had the All-American-type impact some projected, but he's been more than good enough to warrant first-team All-SEC inclusion.
Rushing incessantly from the inside of LSU's rebuilt front seven, Johnson has racked up 2.5 tackles for loss and came up with a pick against Georgia on Saturday.
Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Opposing teams focus sharply on Jadeveon Clowney, and Quarles is one of the many beneficiaries. But that doesn't mean he's not plenty good on his own.
He has 3.0 tackles for loss on the season, but those three have gone for an SEC second-best 38 yards—an average of over 12 yards every time he takes someone down in the backfield.
That's what those in the biz call "drive killers."
Second Team: Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
Second Team: Dominique Easley, Florida*
*Out for the Season
Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
Jenkins hasn't made Bulldogs' fans forget about Jarvis Jones—the prolific, J.J.-initialed pass-rusher whom he replaced—but he's starting to dim their memory.
He's quickly become the featured player on Georgia's defense which, admittedly, has struggled to keep points off the board, but has done just enough to beat two top-10 opponents this year.
Jenkins leads all (true) SEC linebackers with five tackles for loss and has created at least one negative play in each game this season. That's pretty darn good.
C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley had nine tackles and recorded a safety against Ole Miss on Saturday, helping Alabama shutout the high-scoring Rebs in Tuscaloosa and win by 25 points.
And nobody batted an eyelash.
That's how good Mosley has been during his Alabama career, to the point where production of that magnitude is expected more than it impresses.
At a school that's produced many a great linebacker, he's simply one of the best in program history.
Avery Williamson, Kentucky
Two inside linebackers on the first team? Sure. Why not. It would be a shame to keep either Williamson or Mosley off the list.
Trying his best, once again, to hold Kentucky's defense together, Williamson leads the SEC with 42 tackles in four games.
Some of that is inflated by teams running against Kentucky late in games (ostensibly because they have the lead), but Williamson shows up on enough early game tape to make that contrarian argument look foolish.
Second Team: Ronald Powell, Florida
Second Team: Lamin Barrow, LSU
Second Team: Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
Let's start with Hargreaves, the true freshman who has taken the SEC—and really, the nation—by storm this season.
He already has three picks and seven passes defended in his first five collegiate games, both of which have at least a share of the SEC lead.
Normally, when a player displays such precocious playmaking ability, opposing pass offenses try to avoid him. But in the Gators' secondary, he might still be the lesser of two (or three) evils.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Purifoy and Marcus Roberson line up alongside Hargreaves, and though nether has posted his gaudy interception numbers, both have done equally well (if not better) in coverage.
Purifoy is a rare athlete whose footwork and ball skills have quickly caught up to his physical tools.
Together with Hargreaves and Roberson, he's helped Florida's defense—despite playing some decent pass offenses like Miami's—rank fifth in the nation with 4.8 yards allowed per pass attempt.
Second Team: Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
Second Team: E.J. Gaines, Missouri
Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
Alabama's secondary showed some holes against Texas A&M, but Clinton-Dix was hardly to blame.
Teammate Vinnie Sunseri—who's great in his own right—has put together the highlight-reel plays, taking back two interceptions for touchdowns already this year. But Ha-Ha is the stronger and more complete player.
Unlike the Tide's secondary, his game has no holes.
Brian Randolph, Tennessee
It's hard to heap praise on Tennessee's defense after watching it get destroyed and humiliated by Oregon.
But everyone gets destroyed and humiliated by Oregon and one player on the Vols defensive unit, Brain Randolph, has played well enough that it would be cruel not mention him here.
Through five games, the sophomore safety has 37 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and three interceptions, providing an all-around playmaker in Tennessee's secondary.
If only it could find one on the other side of the ball...
Second Team: Craig Loston, LSU
Second Team: Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia
K Cody Parkey, Auburn
Parkey is tied for the SEC lead with seven makes this year, and while he does have one miss, few kickers in all of college football instill more confidence than Auburn's senior.
P Cody Mandell, Alabama
Mandell has been forced into oddly frequent action this year, punting 22 times for an average of 46.95 yards.
He was especially good in the Tide's season-opener against Virginia Tech, when he was forced to punt nine times and helped drastically alter the field position battle.
Ret. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Beckham ranks third in the nation—and first in all BCS conferences—with 365 kick-return yards this year, and took back a missed field goal for an 100-yard touchdown against UAB.
Second Team: K Zach Hocker, Arkasnas
Second Team: P Tyler Campbell, Ole Miss
Second Team: Ret. Christion Jones, Alabama