Gone are Tim Tebow, Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Carlos Dunlap, Rolando McClain...you get the picture. The SEC lost some high profile talent, but when you return the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, as well as one of the top QB prospects in college football, it's hardly a down year.
It's tough to label the top 10 overall players in SEC football with the depth and talent of the league, but here's a look at the best your money can buy in the Southeastern Conference for 2010.
On a team barren of star talent, Chris Marve answers the call. The second leading tackler in the SEC, Marve totaled 121 tackles for the Commodores last season.
He didn't get into the backfield much (only one sack), but as a junior in 2010, he's poised to have another eye-popping season on a Vandy squad that has nowhere else to go but up.
Alabama's Mark Barron was an All-SEC safety in 2009, but what part of that defense wasn't All-SEC last year?
Barron will be the lone wolf with serious secondary experience for the Tide this year, and he'll be looked upon to lead and produce even more than last season. He led the SEC in interceptions in 2009, and for Alabama to have another banner year, they'll need that same type of production.
MSU returns some talent off of last year's squad, starting with McPhee. He's a 6'4", 275 pound monster who knows how to stop people in the backfield.
He had 12 TFLs coupled with five sacks, and his spot on the All-SEC Second Team should turn into an All-SEC First Team selection after 2010. McPhee will need to lead by example for MSU, who may be on the cusp of a surprising season.
After 2008, it was evident who Julio Jones was. He was heralded as the next big thing in college football, and with his off-the-chart tools, 2009 was poised to be even bigger. Surprisingly, he had a down year, thanks to teams focusing in on not allowing him to beat them single-handedly.
That didn't slow him from winning a national title, and in 2010, Jones will look to break out once again. Don't be surprised if he leads the SEC in receiving.
Yep, he's the big boy who scooped the ball out of the air in the national title game and rumbled all the way to paydirt. Marcell Dareus is a force, and he's a big reason why Alabama's defensive line won't have much of a problem in 2010.
With 6.5 sacks and 9 TFLs, Dareus should see those numbers increase as he becomes the prime defender on the Alabama line.
Of the SEC's Big Four Receivers (Jones, Green, Adams, and Childs), Adams may be the most complete of the four. He had a killer 2009, leading Auburn in receiving, as well as the conference in receiving TDs.
He's the total package, and fits nicely into Auburn's scheme. With a year of the new offense under his belt, Adams has the potential to be even better than last year, but you almost certainly bet that he'll be the focus of nearly every defense he encounters this season.
Georgia didn't have a ton of bright spots in 2009, but Justin Houston had a banner year for the Bulldogs.
He was near the top in every D-Line category, and lining up in UGA's new 3-4 defense could pay huge dividends for him as far as the NFL is concerned. With the only player standing between him and the 2009 sack title gone (Antonio Coleman, Auburn), look for Justin Houston to go full throttle in 2010.
There's no doubt that AJ Green has the intangibles to be the best WR in the SEC, and most likely the country. However, he faced an injury-plagued sophomore season in which his stats took a hit due to games missed.
Joe Cox wasn't exactly the gunslinger every SEC team was begging for, and Green should have some who will get him the ball even more in 2010. He has all the talent in the world, and when he's healthy, he's plain scary.
Ryan Mallett was the top passing QB in the conference last season, and this year, he becomes one of the top QBs in the country.
He has an unbelievable amount of offensive talent surrounding him, which will only help his 2009 SEC best efficiency and overall passing numbers.
Unfortunately for Mallett, he suffered a broken foot in February, though Arkansas officials have said he'll be back to full strength for 2010. If that's the case, Mallett should put up blistering numbers. However, if the foot affects him, his draft stock could fall fast.
The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram burst onto the national scene, leading Alabama to a national title as a sophomore after a superb 2008 campaign.
He clearly has the most talent, but teams will be gunning for him more than ever before in 2010. Ingram may not put up the same numbers, or win a Heisman, but the kid can play, and he's one of the most exciting backs in the nation.
Just missing the list, but nonetheless worthy:
Arkansas WR Greg Childs
Kentucky All-Purpose Threat Randall Cobb
LSU Safety Chad Jones
USC QB Stephen Garcia
LSU DB Patrick Peterson