2010 College Football Predictions: SEC East Preseason Impact Players
The Southeastern Conference's East division, which was primarily headlined by Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators the past two seasons, is now primarily up for grabs.
There are a lot of question marks hovering over each of the six members of the East, and it's clear that each member has a solid chance at winning this division.
With new personnel being shuffled in and out of almost every school, there are plenty of names to familiarize yourself with. Several teams will be using new coordinators, new starting quarterbacks, and in some instances even a new head coach.
There are a lot of players to be aware of across the division, but only few will have as big an impact as the ones I'm going to make mention of.
Here's an early glance at the impact players of the SEC East.
Florida Gators: John Brantley
There are few in the entire conference that will face more pressure than Florida's John Brantley in 2010.
The junior quarterback was thought of by several as the third best quarterback in the SEC last year, although he was a backup. There's also the challenge of inheriting a team that was run by one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time the past three seasons.
Oh, and that's not all. He's already expected to have a great season, so he's going to be scrutinized heavily if he doesn't succeed.
I named Brantley Florida's impact player because whatever happens, he'll probably be to blame. The Gators field an abundance of young receivers, which has been a question mark all offseason, so it's up to Brantley to break them in. He can either be to blame positively or negatively.
Although he's never been through a full season of SEC football as a starter, he's certainly garnered enough attention, and pressure, already. It'll be interesting to see how Brantley handles not only the task of using his young receivers, but the adversity of being Florida's starter as well.
Georgia Bulldogs: A.J. Green
Mark Richt will be breaking in his third freshman quarterback in nine seasons this upcoming year for the Georgia Bulldogs.
With one of the best offensive lines in the nation and the Bulldogs' impact playmaker A.J. Green, Aaron Murray has a lot in his hands.
Green, who was bothered by injury in three games last season, will be looked upon to take some pressure off the true freshman.
Rightfully so. The lengthy target was responsible for six touchdown grabs in his first seven games last year before he sat out three games down the stretch. In that period of seven games, Green averaged about six receptions a contest and didn't exactly play soft competition.
In those first seven games last season, six of the seven opponents were ranked in the top 30 in pass defense. Week in and week out, Green was facing, and beating, top competition. His speed and size form a rare combination that's tough to contain and will likely give fits to the opposition once again in 2010.
Kentucky Wildcats: Randall Cobb
There are few players across college football, if any, who are more versatile than junior Randall Cobb.
Cobb, who played all three primary offensive skill positions last season, was a threat wherever he lined up on offense.
Whether it be quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, Cobb had a knack for finding the end zone. In fact, he was responsible for 24 Wildcat scores in 2009.
Cobb beat teams on the ground—17 times to be exact. He made you pay through the air, both catching and throwing the football, accounting for two passing and six receiving scores. You also have to respect his special teams ability, where he ran back a punt for a score and racked up over 700 yards returning kicks and punts.
An all-around workhorse, there's no question Cobb will be the primary weapon of choice this season, too. Although he won't get much playing time at quarterback, he'll still be effective both catching and running the football and should be watched as a threat to score on every play.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Alshon Jeffery
Down the stretch last season, few were as vital to their teams' aerial attacks as South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery.
The true freshman had three games with over 100 yards and racked up six touchdowns altogether last year.
He showed his explosiveness against the Kentucky Wildcats when he caught seven balls for 138 yards and finished the game with three scores. Not to mention he was only a starter in seven of 13 games.
Averaging around 17 yards per reception, there's no doubt that Jeffery can be utilized as a threat with his size and speed. Of his 46 catches last season, 43 came in the final nine games.
With Steve Spurrier calling the offensive shots this upcoming season, there's no question the Ol' Ball Coach will find more than a few ways to manipulate his home run threat at wide receiver.
Tennessee Volunteers: Luke Stocker
It seems as though Rocky Top has almost hit rock bottom.
The Volunteers have gone 12-13 in the past two seasons and have also hired their third coach in the past two seasons. With the transfer of star running back Bryce Brown and the depletion of the offensive line, there aren't many weapons offensively.
With a new quarterback calling shots this upcoming season, the passing game will likely be a bit weary. However, the receivers and tight ends, particularly Luke Stocker, will be a bright point for the Volunteers. The senior tight end will provide a big target from his position and some much-needed offensive production.
Stocker will not only be vital through the air, where he came up big last season (six receiving touchdowns), but also as a blocker. The Volunteers need help on the offensive line if they want to make it through what looks like a daunting 2010 campaign.
Vanderbilt Commodores: Chris Marve
The Commodores went from being a bowl game winner in 2008 to only coming out on top in two contests last season. What's the cause? Well, defense.
The key component to the 'Dores making the Music City Bowl in 2008 was their stingy defense, which was almost irrelevant in the past season. In order for Vanderbilt to get back to their winning ways, they're going to need a playmaker on the defensive side of the football.
Enter Chris Marve, who had the most tackles in the conference last season. The ball-hawking middle linebacker averaged right around 10 tackles per game last season and also forced three fumbles.
For Vanderbilt to be a contender this season, Marve is going to have to have a big year. The numbers prove he's capable, so watch for Chris Marve to make a big impact this season.