SEC Football Predictions: 7 Names the Nation Will Know After the 2011 Season
Every year at the end of the college football season there are elite players who you didn't see coming—players who you might not had known existed but that have made huge contributions to their teams and have become media household names.
Here is the name of one SEC player at each offensive position that you may not have heard a lot about yet but will have by the season's end.
QB: Barry Brunetti, Ole Miss
This WVU transfer is the favorite to win the QB battle and be the starter come the Rebels' opening clash with BYU.
His combination of arm strength and athleticism make him very dangerous. After the failed Massoli experiment last year, Ole Miss needs consistent play at the QB position to get out of a stacked SEC West alive.
Brunetti will deliver.
RB: Warren Norman, Vanderbilt
A month or so ago this spot would have been occupied by Dee Hart from Alabama, but with his ACL tear shelving him for the season, I had to go with Warren Norman.
If you are a true SEC fan you have probably heard of Norman; but nationally he gets very little love or notoriety mainly because, well, he plays for Vandy.
Don't take this guy lightly, a few years ago Steve Spurrier commented that he thought Norman was the most talented RB in the SEC and could start for anyone. He probably would change his tune now with the ridiculous depth the SEC boasts at the RB position, but nonetheless he will be on many NFL teams big boards at season's end.
WR: DeAngelo Smith, South Carolina
I'll assume you've heard of Alshon Jeffery; so have opposing defensive coordinators. Well this is the guy who's going to get a lot of targets when Jeffery is being double and triple-teamed this year.
Smith is a burner with great leaping ability and an innate ability to bring down jump balls in traffic. He was awarded MVP of the Gamecocks' spring game with four catches for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
Make no mistake, South Carolina has other talented WR's on their roster, but Dee Smith's unique skill-set will make him a solid No. 2 target for Garcia...or Shaw.
TE: Orson Charles, Georgia
SEC fans may have an understanding of just how talented Charles is, but it will be during this year—with the departure of A.J. Green—that he will explode into the nation's consciousness.
He may very well be the most athletic TE in the nation—a Vernon Davis reincarnation. He plays like a WR, but also knocks defenders' blocks off on running plays. As a junior, he will probably be one of the first tight ends taken in the 2012 NFL Draft.
OT: Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee
A youngster who started all 13 games for the Vols last year, James was (other than Tyler Brey and Tauren Poole) one of the few bright spots on the UT offense.
He's a big boy with uncanny athleticism. He offered up very consistent play last year and should anchor the Vols' OL this year. He has the potential to be a first-round pick if he keeps improving at the same clip.
OG: Brandon Shell, South Carolina
I realize this kid will only be a true freshman, but with a pedigree like his—Art Shell...you might have heard of heard that name—it's tough to bet against him.
At 6'6" and 312 lbs., he already has the size to be a starter, something most offensive linemen don't have right out of high school. In fact, many around the Gamecocks program think he could be moved into the starting lineup by midseason.
Give him three good years and he will have top-10 draft pick written all over him.
Utility/Athlete: Philander Moore, Ole Miss
At only 5'9" and 195 lbs., Moore isn't a big guy but the junior college transfer had over 800 yards and six touchdowns returning punts and kicks at Blinn (Texas) College last year.
With his speed and elusiveness, I envision Houston Nutt attempting to utilize him as a Dexter McCluster-like player on reverses, end-arounds and bubble screens.
He has the physical skill to be whatever type of player he wants to be. I for one see him excelling in his niche role for the Rebels and having a breakout season.