SEC's Top Units: Offensive Skill Positions
Which SEC team has the best collection of skill players on offense?
Entering the 2011 season, Aaron Murray is the best QB but Georgia doesn't have the RB's or WR's to be considered the best group. South Carolina may have the best RB and WR in the league, but there is uncertainty with QB Stephen Garcia and lack of an established #2 or #3 receiver threat.
While many teams have very promising playmakers on their rosters, this article considers the collective talent of returning or projected starters.
When considering the team with the most complete talent at the offensive skill positions, one team reigns supreme: the Arkansas Razorbacks.
With their potential, the Razorbacks collection of offensive playmakers could be among the best in college football by season's end.
QB: Tyler Wilson
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In a shootout against the eventual national champion Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium, junior QB Tyler Wilson gave Arkansas fans a reason to look forward to the post-Mallett era.
Stepping in for an injured Ryan Mallett, Wilson amassed 332 yards and four touchdowns with a 73.5 percent completion rate in less than three quarters of play. Unfortunately, two costly interceptions spoiled a Razorback comeback.
Wilson may provide the Razorbacks with more balance and consistency on offense. Of course, Mallett routinely made jaw-dropping throws that few QB’s at any level can make, but there were pivotal situations that exposed his inability to buy time in the pocket to allow a receiver to break open.
Wilson’s mobility is a significant upgrade that may translate into an even more efficient Arkansas offense—fewer sacks, avoidance of desperation throws resulting in momentum-killing interceptions, and the ability to extend drives by tucking the ball and picking up a first down.
While he doesn’t possess “The Legend’s” pure throwing ability, Wilson has a very capable arm and can make all the throws with touch and accuracy. At 6’3” and 215 lbs, Wilson has ideal size to match his well-rounded skill set.
When you add all of this up and consider he has spent three years learning Arkansas’ pro-style offense under offensive-minded Bobby Petrino, it's not surprising many expect Tyler Wilson to be among the league’s top quarterbacks in 2011.
RB: Knile Davis
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Through the fourth game of last season, Knile Davis tallied a less-than-stellar 121 rushing yards in a crowded running back-by-committee backfield.
However, something began to click with Davis and the Arkansas running game, as he exploded, finishing the season with 1,322 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, leading all SEC running backs. In fact, Knile ran for over 150 yards against the likes of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU while leading Arkansas to a BCS bid.
If his offseason efforts provide any indication, Davis isn’t content with last season's success. He’s bulked up to a hulking 230 lbs while posting a sub 4.35 40 time. Another factor working in Davis’ favor for 2011 is depth at the RB position. RB Dennis Johnson returns after a 2010 season-ending injury and should contribute enough for Knile to have fresh legs in the fourth quarter and crucial short-yardage situations.
WR: Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Cobi Hamilton
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Wide Receiver is hands-down Arkansas’ most talent-laden position, with four playmakers that have proved their merit in SEC competition.
Childs, Adams and Wright formed the nucleus of Petrino’s first recruiting class and they’re poised to build on their prior successes as talented, experienced seniors.
Provided he can return from a 2010 knee injury, Childs projects to be the best of this talented group. Childs was Ryan Mallett’s go-to receiver over the last two seasons, making difficult catches look easy. Adams and Wright provide a change of pace as quick-hitting targets. Adams is a shifty playmaker who can turn a five-yard slant into a 50-yard touchdown, while the speedy Wright is likely the most sure-handed of the group.
Of course, you cannot forget about Junior Cobi Hamilton. Check out his 2010 performance against LSU on YouTube, and you'll agree that he has great speed to go with his physical 6’3” 215 lb frame.
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There are no sure things in the ultra-competitive SEC.
Ask any coach and they’ll most assuredly agree that this league is won or lost in the trenches. If Arkansas' talented playmakers are going to live up to their potential, it starts up front with solid and consistent offensive line play. For the Hogs, question marks exist on the o-line as they’ll be breaking in both offensive tackles, likely with a serviceable JUCO transfer and a highly touted true freshman.
If you’re a Razorback fan, you better hope they are quick learners and make the most of the first three games, as a late September trip down to Tuscaloosa looms heavily over the Hogs' 2011 fate.
Next: SEC's Top Units - Linebackers