Early Ranking of the SEC

Va Tech FanContributor IJune 7, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06:  Julio Jones #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackled by Joe Haden #5 and Major Wright #21 of the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship on December 6, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia. The Gators defeated the Crimson Tide 31-20.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

1. UF- UF returns lots from its national championship winning team. Tim Tebow is back for his senior year and UF returns a lot from a very fast, good defense that held OU to 14 points. The only real question for UF is how they can replace Percy Harvin. They do have Chris Rainey and Jeffery Demps behind him and they should fit in nicely.

2. Alabama- Alabama has had a recent resurgence since Nick Saban has taken over. They have been recruiting with the best in the country and have some of the best young talent in the country. WR Julio Jones will continue to get better and should be an all-SEC WR. Bama loses Rashad Johnson and QB John Parker Wilson, so how good their replacements are will determine how they do in the SEC-West.

3. LSU- LSU hopes that QB Jordan Jefferson can keep his momentum up from last year's Chick-fil-a bowl and help this very talented LSU Offense that seemed to only be missing a QB last year. LSU must replace three D lineman and their D must play at a much higher level consistently if they want to make it to Atlanta, this time a month before last year!

4. Ole Miss- Ole Miss has a very experienced and proven QB in Jevan Snead. Also, Dexter McCluster returns, so the entire Ole Miss backfield will be back. Beast DE Greg Hardy will be back to terrorize the SEC QBs. No one will sleep on the Rebels this year and Houston Nutt is looking to prove that last year wasn't a fluke.

5. UGA- UGA loses QB Mathew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno. Those will be huge loses for this Georgia team that will need replacements Senior QB Joe Cox and Sophomore RB Caleb King to step up and make plays for this UGA offense. UGA will have a young D that will have only 4 seniors and an even younger line that should have only one senior. UGA's D was a big let-down last and will need to be much better this year.

6. USC- South Carolina will return QB Stephen Garcia. It is really simple for the Gamecocks. If the Ole' Ball Coach can get good play from the QB position then the Gamecocks could be a sleeper team in the East. However, I don't see it getting much better this year. Probably another 7-5, 8-4 season for USC.

7. Tennessee- As confident as Lane Kiffin is they won't beat UF. Johnathan Crompton returns for his senior year and should be experienced. Superstar S Eric Berry returns to anchor a defense that will start either all juniours or seniors. Berry is an amazing athlete that will give QBs fits this year.

8. Auburn- Montez Billlings and Ben Tate return hopeful to right the ship that went horribly wrong last year. The strangest hire of the year in young coach Gene Chizic will hope to build Auburn back up to where it was. QB Kodi Burns and Chris Todd return and will need much better play then the pitiful performances they had last year.

9. Arkansas- Arkansas could be the surprise team this year. Bobby Petrino got a huge boost last year when former Michigan QB Ryan Mallet transferred there. Mallet was one of the top pocket passing QB's a few years ago and should do well in the Petrino system.

10. Vanderbilt- They have three experienced QBs coming back and Bobby Johnson showed us last year that they can play with anyone. Vandy doesn't have the talent of other schools, but their D is good and should keep them in games as they make very few mistakes.

11. Kentucky- Huge 6'6" QB Mike Hartline hopes to make an impact this year as Sr. RB Tony Dixon comes back. Again UK has an experienced D, but QB play will be crucial. Seems like a trend between the bottom half of the SEC is that poor QB play has really hurt their teams in this conference with some of the toughest defenses in the country.

12. Mississippi State- The Bulldogs had a huge down year last year after a bowl appearance the year before. Sly Croom resigned and new coach Dan Mullen, former UF Offensive Coordinator, will have his hands full. MSU loses some key players and must bring in some better talent and really build the program from the ground up to start to compete in the SEC. He can bring a winning atmosphere to Mississippi, but this will not be the year.