SEC Football: The 7 Most Underrated Players in the Conference
The SEC has been the conference in college football ever since Vince Young took over the 2005 BCS game, carrying Texas and the Big 12 to the championship.
With the SEC getting tons of publicity and airtime these days, your average college football fan knows quite a few significant players from the conference, but what about those who don't appear on ESPN's bottom line or in the weekend top 10?
Here is my take on seven of them:
Tyler Bray: He's a skinny California kid, tearing apart the SEC. While Tennessee may not be back to prominence (yet), Tyler Bray has certainly been showing that he wants to lead this charge.
Last season it was Aaron Murray who received much of the publicity, and deservedly so, but really it was Bray who came on later in the season and showed SEC defenses why the Vols may be feared in the coming years.
In only five starts, (nine games) Bray threw for 1,849 yds, 18 TDs and 10 INTs. He was on his way to another fantastic campaign in 2011 (1,579 yds, 15 TDs and two INTs) before breaking his thumb.
While he may or may not be playing again this season, he still deserves to be on this list.
Corey Lemonier was a highly touted, four-star defensive end coming out of high school in Florida and played sparingly in 2010.
Playing on the line of the 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers, he was largely overshadowed by eventual 2011 first-round pick, Nick Fairley.
In limited playing time, he was able to make his impact felt, posting 17 tackles and two sacks.
This season, Lemonier is blowing those numbers out of the water thanks to regular playing time. The sophomore has already tallied seven tackles for loss and four sacks (three of those coming against SEC opponents).
While Auburn's defense has not been stellar so far this year, Lemonier is definitely something to watch out for.
Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy..?
Lacy received quite a bit of playing time while Mark Ingram was out with an injury in 2010, although he suffered from a little bit of fumble-itis, he put up fully respectable numbers for a third-string back, running for 401 yards and six TDs while carrying the ball for 7.2 yards each at carry.
In 2011, he has exploded (and solved that fumbling problem). Through five games he has piled up 388 yards and five TDs while carrying the ball for 8.4 yards a carry.
Sure some of these stats have been put up in garbage time, but as CBS commentator Gary Danielson has said: "When you play Alabama, there is no flash, you just have thunder and thunder back there"
Up till now, Bacarri Rambo may have been better known for having one of the most awesome names in college football as opposed to being a stalwart free safety.
Despite not being named to the All-SEC Preseason Team, Rambo has been outstanding so far in 2011, posting 24 tackles and four picks in five games. If he and the rest of the defense continue to play like this, the Bulldogs have a legitimate shot at reaching the SEC title game.
Emory Blake, son of former NFL QB Jeff Blake, was named to the third-team All-SEC preseason list. He really came on strong at the end of the 2010 season, scoring touchdowns in three consecutive games, which just happened to be the Iron Bowl, SEC Championship Game, and the BCS National Championship.
So far in 2011, he has hauled in 19 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns. If Auburn and Barrett Trotter had not struggled in the passing game in recent weeks, Blake's stats would likely be even more impressive.
He is definitely someone SEC defenses will be keying in on the rest of the season.
Sawyer saw very limited action as a redshirt freshman in 2010 but still notched a pair of interceptions.
So far in 2011, he has helped Ole Miss slow the passing game, notching 28 tackles and four picks in just five games. These included a 96-yard pick six versus Jake Heaps and BYU and intercepting Aaron Murray in Week 4.
Even though Ole Miss has been struggling this season, having Sawyer back there as a nuisance to opposing QBs should help slow down their opponents the rest of the way.
Jarius Wright may just be the most well-known player on this list, however, I still feel he is underrated.
When most people think of Arkansas' receiving corps, the first name that comes to mind is Greg Childs, the second name is probably Joe Adams, the third name is probably Jarius Wright.
In reality, Wright has put up the best numbers this season. In six games, Wright has piled up 33 catches for 554 yards and six touchdowns. This included a 281-yard, two-touchdown performance in the comeback win over future SEC foe Texas A&M.
When you are playing Arkansas, you really have to watch Wright, especially out in the middle of the field.