2015 SEC Football All-Conference Team

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 7, 2015

2015 SEC Football All-Conference Team

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    Alabama RB Derrick Henry
    Alabama RB Derrick HenryButch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

    Within one blink of an eye, the 2015 college football season is in the rearview mirror. 

    It turned out just like everybody expected, right?

    After all, we all had Florida winning the SEC East in Year 1 under Jim McElwain, Auburn going through massive quarterback issues, Mark Richt being fired and Les Miles nearly following suit, right?

    With the regular season in the books, it's time to hand out some awards. 

    Who were the best players in the SEC in 2015? 

    Our all-conference team based on production and importance to the team are in this slideshow.

Quarterback

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    Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott
    Mississippi State QB Dak PrescottStacy Revere/Getty Images

    Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott

    With apologies to Ole Miss' Chad Kelly and Arkansas' Brandon Allen, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott was the best quarterback in the SEC in 2015.

    The senior signal-caller put his team on his back, withstood massive roster turnover and led his team to an 8-4 record one year after becoming America's darling and leading his team to its first No. 1 ranking ever.

    Prescott completed 66.9 percent of his passes (291-for-435) for 3,413 yards, 25 touchdowns only four picks and rushed for 541 yards and 10 touchdowns.

    "Dak has accomplished so many amazing things for this program," head coach Dan Mullen said after the Ole Miss game, according to the school. "He has been very unique. This has been an awesome program and leading up to Senior Day, you always think about it but it doesn’t hit you until they run that video of what that class has truly accomplished. I believe this has been the winningest class since 1942, and that is a huge accomplishment."

Running Backs

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    Alabama RB Derrick Henry
    Alabama RB Derrick HenryKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alabama RB Derrick Henry

    Anytime you can eclipse Herschel Walker in the SEC record book, you're doing something right.

    Alabama running back Derrick Henry did just that in the SEC Championship Game, when he reeled off 189 yards and finished the regular season 1,986 yards—breaking Walker's SEC single-season record of 1,891 set in 1981. Yes, Henry broke the mark in two extra games but did so with 46 fewer carries than the legendary Georgia Bulldog.

    "It's a blessing, and God is good," Henry said. "Like I said, I'm still going to give credit to my teammates and coaches because without them it wouldn't be possible. But they are like my heroes, my football heroes. Growing up and hearing their name and just watching what they did is incredible. For my name to be mentioned with theirs, it's an honor and a blessing."

    He's the ultimate closer. The 6'3", 242-pound monster rushed for 1,003 yards this season after halftime and is the biggest reason why the Crimson Tide will be playing in the College Football Playoff.

    LSU RB Leonard Fournette

    For the first two months of the season, LSU running back Leonard Fournette was a stone-cold, lead pipe lock to win the Heisman Trophy. Then he was shut down by Alabama in early November, suffered a late-season swoon and will likely have to wait another year to get an invitation to New York City.

    That shouldn't take away from his stellar season, though.

    He finished with 1,741 yards and 18 touchdowns, led the nation with 158.27 yards per game and was the workhorse in a one-dimensional offense that didn't give him any help.

    If head coach Les Miles can get Fournette some help, he's fully capable of breaking Henry's new single-season rushing record.

Wide Receivers

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    Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell
    Ole Miss WR Laquon TreadwellStacy Revere/Getty Images

    Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell

    Laquon Treadwell suffered one of the most gruesome injuries of the 2014 season, breaking his leg going into the end zone near the end of a loss to Auburn.

    All he did in his return was lead the SEC in receiving with 1,082 yards, haul in eight touchdowns and help lead the Rebels to their second straight New Year's Six bowl berth. He joined rather prestigious company, with Baylor's Corey Coleman and TCU's Josh Doctson as finalists for the Biletnikoff Award.

    "Corey Coleman, Josh Doctson, and Laquon Treadwell are the three finalists for the 2015 Biletnikoff Award"

    He has proven throughout his career that he is a tremendous possession receiver, has the speed to be a deep threat, runs crisp routes and is one of the best all-around receivers in the country.

    South Carolina WR Pharoh Cooper

    Pharoh Cooper's South Carolina career will go down as one of the best for a wide receiver in program history, but one that flew completely under the radar due in part to the Gamecocks' struggles over the last two seasons.

    He finished 2015 with 973 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in an offense that didn't feature any other playmakers, rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown and completed two of his five passes for another score.

    This was par for the course for Cooper, who established himself as one of the top all-purpose players in the country from the moment he stepped foot on campus.

    Mississippi State WR Fred Ross

    While De'Runnya Wilson gobbled up the receiver headlines in Starkville, all Fred Ross did was lead the SEC with 81 catches, gained 933 receiving yards and scored four times.

    He also made one of the most incredible one-handed catches of the year in the win over Arkansas, which can be seen here..

    The junior could come back for another season in Starkville. If he does, expect him to be considered one of the favorites for the Biletnikoff Award in 2016.

Tight End

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    Arkansas TE Hunter Henry
    Arkansas TE Hunter HenryWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Arkansas TE Hunter Henry

    In 2015, Arkansas became—gasp—a balanced offense.

    Tight end Hunter Henry was a big reason why. The 6'5", 253-pound matchup nightmare caught 46 passes for 647 yards and three touchdowns for the Hogs, as they rallied from an early-season swoon to finish 7-5 and earn their second straight bowl berth. He's one of three finalists for the John Mackey Award, given annually to the best tight end in the game.

    Of his 46 receptions, 32 went for first downs (69.6 percent) and 14 of his 16 catches on third down moved the chains.

    On top of his pass-catching ability, Henry is a big part of the running game as a blocker and is one of the most complete tight ends in the country.

Offensive Line

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    Arkansas OL Sebastian Tretola
    Arkansas OL Sebastian TretolaWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    LSU OL Vadal Alexander

    Things didn't turn out the way LSU planned, when the Tigers dropped from No. 2 in early November to having a coach who was on the brink of being fired by the end of the month.

    It wasn't Vadal Alexander's fault, though. 

    The versatile tackle for the Tigers was a big reason for the success of running back Leonard Fournette, after moving over from guard. A senior, Alexander will play in the Reece's Senior Bowl and should be a high draft pick in the 2016 NFL draft.

    Arkansas OL Sebastian Tretola

    People know Sebastian Tretola for his passing ability that he displayed on a fake field goal last year, but the senior guard for the Razorbacks was a big reason why Arkansas thrived in the running game over the last two years.

    The 334-pound monster consistently opened up holes the size of the Grand Canyon for Alex Collins this year and Collins and Jonathan Williams in 2014.

    "Sebastian Tretola said before the season “Got it. Done. Write it down” when winning this award," as relayed by John Nabors on Twitter.

    Alabama C Ryan Kelly

    Running back Derrick Henry will likely be in New York City as Heisman Trophy finalist, but he isn't the most valuable player on his own offense.

    That distinction belongs to center Ryan Kelly.

    The senior has shown over his career that his ability to recognize defenses, get the big men up front on the same page, protect his quarterback and open holes for the Crimson Tide running backs is second-to-none.

    "It's all of us doing our job," center Ryan Kelly said after the SEC Championship Game. "When the offensive line needs to do its job, we step up to the occasion. The defense did a hell of a job tonight, and when you've got Derrick Henry back there toting the rock, it's awesome."

    Auburn OL Alex Kozan

    Auburn only gave up 19 sacks this season, despite having a quarterback in Jeremy Johnson who struggled with decision-making and another in redshirt freshman Sean White who was thrust into action due to Johnson's struggles.

    Guard Alex Kozan was a big reason why. He returned from a year off after suffering a back injury and established himself as one of the best guards in the country. He protected his quarterbacks, opened holes for Peyton Barber and Jovon Robinson and rarely blew assignments.

    Alabama OL Cam Robinson

    Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson became a starter from the moment he stepped foot on campus in 2014 and further solidified himself as a star in 2015. Despite struggling through nagging injuries, Robinson protected the blind side of quarterback Jake Coker and helped running back Derrick Henry set the single-season rushing record in the SEC—especially down the stretch.

    The 6'6", 326-pounder has big-time strength, is light on his feet and capable of handling the best of the best up front in the SEC.

Defensive Line

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    Florida DL Jonathan Bullard
    Florida DL Jonathan BullardKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Florida DL Jonathan Bullard

    Jonathan Bullard came back to Florida to establish himself as one of the most versatile big men in the country, and he succeed. Known primarily as a run-stuffer throughout most of his career, Bullard established himself as a force against the run and the pass in 2015.

    He finished the season with 63 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries, and should be a high pick in the NFL draft in 2016. Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo explained one of Bullard's strengths:

    "Jonathan Bullard's block recognition is so good. Whatever the offensive lineman is trying to do to him, he can read and shed it quickly."

    Ole Miss DL Robert Nkemdiche

    Robert Nkemdiche started his Ole Miss career as a hot shot defensive end and quickly moved down the line to tackle where he became a star. The 296-pound junior has the speed of an end but the size of a space-eater, which has made him one of the most feared players in the SEC.

    He notched 29 tackles, seven for loss and tallied three sacks on the year, but his biggest impact was as a disruptive force who demanded double-teams all year long, which freed up his teammates to live in the backfield. Or he split those double-teams and made the play himself, as displayed by NCAA Football.

    Alabama DL A'Shawn Robinson

    A'Shawn Robinson isn't just one piece of Alabama's front seven puzzle, he's the biggest and most important piece.

    The 312-pound junior finished the season with 42 tackles, 7.5 for loss, three sacks and blocked one kick, shown here:

    "Drop everything and watch 312-pound A'Shawn Robinson hurdle an entire human to block a kick https://t.co/mNEfd37NX3 pic.twitter.com/jq2Htl1yzT"

    Whether it's simply taking up space and allowing his linebackers to filter around him, forcing the quarterback off of his launch point or stopping the run, there isn't a better defensive lineman in college football. 

    Texas A&M DL Myles Garrett

    Myles Garrett burst on to the scene last year setting the SEC freshman sack record with 11.5—second most in the conference behind Shane Ray.

    What would he do for an encore?

    Oh, you know, just lead the conference with 11.5 more sacks despite constant double-teams and chip blocks, notch 57 tackles, 18.5 for loss, intercept a pass, force five fumbles, break up two passes, hurry the quarterback seven times and block a kick.

    Not bad, you know, if you like 6'5", 262-pound monster defensive ends with track-star speed and quickness and the strength of defensive tackles.

Linebackers

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    Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers
    Missouri LB Kentrell BrothersWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Missouri LB Kentrell Brothers

    Kentrell Brothers is the best linebacker in the country, and yet, wasn't named a finalist—or semifinalist—for the Butkus Award.

    Go figure.

    All he did was lead the country in tackles with 152, notch 12 tackles for loss, pick off two passes, block three kicks and force a fumble.

    I guess what held him back was the fact that he played for a 5-7 team and not one that was contending for its division title. 

    That should not take away from the season he had, though, because anyone who actually watched Missouri play football this year would know that he was the biggest reason the Tigers defense was elite, despite getting no help on the other side of the ball.

    Alabama LB Reggie Ragland

    When it comes to quarterbacks of the defense, there aren't many better than Alabama's Reggie Ragland. 

    Known as one of the hardest hitters in the game, Ragland passed up on the chance to play in the NFL, finished the season with 90 tackles and led the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff for the second straight season.

    He's responsible for making sure everybody in that talented Tide front seven knows his responsibilities, gets lined up properly and will be playing on Sundays for quite a while starting next year.

    Georgia LB Jordan Jenkins

    While Leonard Floyd gets the accolades for his highlight-reel sacks and freakish athleticism, Jordan Jenkins has gone about his business as Georgia's most reliable linebacker for the third straight season.

    He finished the season with 56 tackles, 10.5 for loss, four sacks and two forced fumbles. In the 3-4 scheme that the Bulldogs employed under Jeremy Pruitt, Jenkins routinely dropped down from his "Jack" linebacker spot to play defensive end and excelled there when asked.

    Don't be get lost in the hype of Georgia's other linebackers, Jenkins is the best of the bunch.

Defensive Backs

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    Florida DB Vernon Hargreaves III
    Florida DB Vernon Hargreaves IIISam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Florida DB Vernon Hargreaves III

    When it comes to cornerbacks, there's nobody better in the SEC than Vernon Hargreaves III. 

    The 5'11", 199-pound junior established himself as a star as a true freshman in 2013 and shined even brighter as a sophomore and a junior. 

    He picked off four passes on the year and returned them for 152 yards, made 31 tackles and broke up four passes as teams routinely shied away from throwing in his direction.

    He has great recovery speed, top-notch ball skills and plays much bigger than his frame suggests. He's been a big reason Florida's defense has been able to keep it in so many games over the last three years, despite not having much help from his offense.

    Florida DB Jalen Tabor

    Hargreaves demanding attention allowed fellow Gator Jalen Tabor to emerge as a star thanks to the abundance of passes being thrown his way.

    He picked off four passes, returned two for touchdowns, had 33 tackles and broke up a whopping 14 passes for the SEC East champs. Pro Football Focus College spotlighted his stats:

    "Florida CB Jalen Tabor has given up 22 rec on 50 targets (44.0%) to go with 4 INTs and 12 PDs No. 9 coverage grade in nation, 1st SEC"

    Alabama S Eddie Jackson

    Eddie Jackson didn't like moving from cornerback to safety as a junior after starting at times during each of his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa. 

    He's lucky defensive backs coach Mel Tucker made the move, though, because he has found a home.

    Jackson tied for the SEC lead with five interceptions, returned two for touchdowns and notched 40 tackles for the SEC champions, one of which is shown here.

    Texas A&M S Armani Watts

    John Chavis didn't turn Texas A&M into the SEC's best defense in 2015, but he helped it take a tremendous step forward.

    While the work of defensive end Myles Garrett will be the first thing people talk about when discussing the Aggies 2015 defense, safety Armani Watts deserves plenty of the attention as well.

    He finished the season with 111 tackles—tied for third in the SEC. He had five tackles for loss, picked off one pass and was one of the most reliable safeties in the SEC. 

Specialists

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    Texas A&M WR/KR Christian Kirk
    Texas A&M WR/KR Christian KirkEric Christian Smith/Getty Images

    Returner: Texas A&M KR Christian Kirk

    Christian Kirk came to Texas with enough 5-star hype, per 247Sports, to fill the Lone Star State and met those expectations with flying colors.

    The 5'11", 200-pounder made his mark as a receiver and on special teams. He returned 14 punts for 341 yards and two touchdowns, returned 18 kickoffs for 348 yards and was as electric and as versatile as any return man in the country.

    That's in addition to his 70 receptions for 925 yards and six touchdowns.

    Not a bad debut.

    Kicker: Auburn PK Daniel Carlson

    Daniel Carlson earned the phenomenal nickname "Legatron" this year for the Tigers, for good reason.

    The sophomore connected on 22 of his 26 field-goal attempts, all 36 extra points and—for good measure—produced touchbacks on 45 of his 63 kickoffs (71.43 percent).

    He had a long of 56 yards and connected on four of his five field-goal attempts of 50 or more yards.

    Punter: Texas A&M P Drew Kaser

    You know that a punter is the real deal when he represents his team at SEC media days, and that's what Kaser did prior to the 2015 season.

    The senior finished second in the nation with an average of 47.96 yards per punt, he had a long of 71 yards, boomed 24 punts 50 or more yards and dropped 19 punts inside the 20-yard line.

    How he's not a finalist for the Ray Guy Award is beyond me.

    Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

    Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.