In his final installment of preseason All-Conference teams, legendary college football pundit Phil Steele saved the best for last.
On Tuesday, Steele revealed his All-SEC 1st-through-4th teams on his website (click here for the full breakdown), and there is some wildly interesting insight throughout the lists. First of all, the quarterback position takes on the most heightened scrutiny (as it would for any conference), and the SEC is blessed with three, top-flight options.
Steele elected to select Texas A&M QB (and reigning Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel as his 1st-team guy, and there’s frankly not an argument against doing so. There is some concern nationally about whether Manziel can repeat his electric freshman(!) season, but when a player produces 3706 passing yards, 1410 rushing yards, and 47 total touchdowns with only 9 interceptions, it is very tough to leave him off of the top spot.
AJ McCarron (2nd team) and Aaron Murray (3rd team) follow Manziel in the rankings, and while there’s an argument for Murray’s statistical possibilities outweighing McCarron’s, the Alabama QB is the defending national champion.
Speaking of Alabama, the Crimson Tide lead the conference in 1st-team selections with 8, and no other school has more than Texas A&M’s 3 selections. Alabama’s representatives include TJ Yeldon (RB), Anthony Steen and Cyrus Kouandjio (Offensive Line), CJ Mosley and Adrian Hubbard (Linebacker), and Deion Belue and HaHa Clinton-Dix (Secondary). In short, this lines up as another stellar Alabama squad this season, and they will look to win yet another conference and national crown.
Other selections of note include Heisman hopeful Jadeveon Clowney, who returns to South Carolina as the consensus #1 NFL Draft Pick for 2014, and looks to improve on a ridiculous sophomore season in which he produced 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss.
If there was one “snub” from the first team in my mind, it was Florida DL Ronald Powell. Powell produced 6 sacks as a sophomore, but at 6’4, 244 pounds (listed), he could be an explosive edge rusher if that is how Will Muschamp and company choose to deploy him.
The SEC will once again be the conference to watch as we head toward August, and if the make-up of this preseason list is any indication, all roads run through the South toward the national championship.