No Respect: The All-SEC Underappreciated Team

Peter FlournoyContributor IJanuary 10, 2011

No Respect: The All-SEC Underappreciated Team

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    Every college football season, reporters and journalist across the nation write stories about various athletes and teams. For one reason or another, these journalists become infatuated with some players and at the same time overlook others.

    This list is for those who have been overlooked and underappreciated—the players who are producing on the field but are not getting the credit they deserve. Some of them have been underappreciated by the media, some by coaches and some by the fans.

    Regardless of why they are not getting their due, here is the 2010 SEC Underappreciated Team.

No. 10: Marquis Maze (Alabama)

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    Maze has had modest receiving statistics over the past two seasons (1,080 receiving yards combined). However, it has been Maze that has picked up the slack when Julio Jones has disappeared for long stretches.

    Many believe, including me, that Maze would have put up better stats than Julio had he had the number of plays called his way.

    Maze was also the person who had to replace perhaps the greatest punt return returner in SEC history, Javier Arenas. While he is not the playmaker Arenas was at Alabama, he did a serviceable job.

    In my opinion, Maze has been the X-factor for Alabama over the past two seasons.

No. 9: Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt)

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    If you are not a lover of defensive stats, you probably don’t know who this young man is. However, buried on a bad team in Nashville, TN is a rising star named Casey Hayward.

    This underappreciated junior was second in the SEC in interceptions (six) and first in passes defended (11). Along with his 70 tackles, he also forced two fumbles this season.

    Yes, this defense was on the field a lot, and yes, they gave up a lot of points, but Hayward is a big-time player who could play on any team in the nation.

No. 8: Kris Durham (UGA)

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    Prior to the start of the season, Kris Durham was supposed to be a backup. However, with the suspension of A.J. Green, Durham was penciled into the starting lineup. He responded by finishing in the top 10 in the SEC in both receiving yards per game (59.9) and total receiving yards (659).

    The most impressive stat for this 6'5" wide receiver was his yards per catch average (20.6), which was second best in the conference.

    It should be noted that while he is underappreciated nationwide, he is a fan favorite in Athens.

No. 7: Michael Dyer (Auburn)

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    When you think of Auburn, two names come to mind: Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. However, hidden in the background is a freshman running back that should eclipse 1,000 yards this season during the bowl game.

    While it is fair to say without Newton and Fairley Auburn might not have won seven games this season, it should also be noted without Dyer they probably wouldn’t be undefeated either.

    Dyer is the anti-Newton/Fairley. You will not see him taunt fans after a road win like Newton or deliver one cheap shot after another like Fairley.

    What you will see, however, is him giving 110 percent of himself for the team, and after he does he will not even lie on the ground for an extra 30 seconds, like Newton, for the extra attention after every play.

No. 6: Mike Hartline

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    I must admit, had Mike Hartline not been arrested and subsequently suspended for the BBVA Compass Bowl, he would have made the top three.

    Hartline was No. 1 in the SEC in both attempts (405) and completions (268). He was second in the SEC in total passing yards (3178) and fourth in passing touchdowns (23).

    Maybe the most underrated attribute Hartline has is his mobility. Hartline dropped back to pass over 400 times and was only sacked 14 times.

    However, the stat that might always be remembered is one—the number of bowl games he missed because of suspension.

No. 5: Akeem Dent (UGA)

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    In 2009, Akeem Dent only had 32 tackles. However, with seven defensive starters departing from that team, Dent rose to the occasion. This season he finished second in the SEC both in tackles (126) and tackles per game (9.7).

    Despite these phenomenal statistics, he was not selected to the All-SEC team that is voted on by the coaches. Yes, Justin Houston was the playmaker for the UGA defense, but Dent was the rock.

No. 4: Denarius Moore (Tennessee)

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    Denarius Moore was first in the SEC this season in yards per catch (20.9), third in total receiving yards (981 yards) and tied for first in touchdown receptions (nine).

    What does he have to show for it? Nothing. Moore did not win one piece of postseason hardware. He didn't even get All-SEC honorable mention.

    Remember, he compiled these numbers with a bad offensive line and two unproven quarterbacks. Despite all of that, he still had two 200-plus-yard receiving games this season.

    In my opinion, Moore will be a sleeper in the NFL draft despite the disrespect from SEC coaches and the media.

No. 3: Vick Ballard (Mississippi State)

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    Vick Ballard’s rushing yards this season will not blow you away at 968. However, his 19 rushing touchdowns were first among SEC running backs. In fact, that is the same number Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson combined for.

    His five yards per carry is impressive, but what he did inside the 10-yard line is what landed him on this list. His 10 points per game is No. 1 in the SEC and sixth in the nation.

No. 2: Knile Davis (Arkansas)

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    Coming into this season, only a few fans knew who Knile Davis was. Even without the preseason hype, this stud sophomore led all SEC running backs in both yards per game (101.7) and total yards (1,322). He was second in the SEC among running backs with over 500 yards rushing in yards per carry (6.5) as well.

    Going into next season, you will probably hear Marcus Lattimore and Trent Richardson hyped as the SEC’s top backs. However, remember how this underappreciated star finished the season. The last seven games of the season he finished with 146.9 rushing yards per game and nine touchdowns.

No. 1: Greg McElroy

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    What does a career starting record of 24-3 and several Alabama passing records get you in Tuscaloosa? A large part of the fanbase glad to see you go because they think the successor is more equipped to run this football team.

    Now don’t get me wrong—not all Alabama fans operate with this idiotic thought pattern. However, search through the Bama fan forums and it will not take long to find some. During my research I was even able to find fans who were hoping McElroy was injured in the Iron Bowl.

    McElroy has represented his team off the field as well as any college football player you will find. Moreover, he has operated the Nick Saban game plan to perfection. He almost always makes the right play and at the same time plays within himself.

    In his two seasons as a starter, he completed 37 touchdown passes and only gave away nine interceptions. This season he completed almost 71 percent of his passes on his way to being the fourth highest-rated passer in the nation (169.0).

    Next season, Alabama will take a step back on offense. When other teams stack the box against them, they will not have McElroy to make the “right” play.

    In a way I feel sorry for the next Alabama QB. No matter how many stars he had in high school, he is not going to complete 70 percent of his passes, and he is not going to have a 4-to-1 touchdown/interception ratio. As a result, the same fickle fans who thought they were better off without McElroy are going to turn on him as well.