All-SEC First Team


QB: Jalen Hurts, Alabama

Last year, Hurts was Alabama’s first true freshman starting QB since 1984. This season, he’s Nick Saban’s first returning starting QB since 2013. With so much talent around him, the former No. 3 dual-threat QB in the 247Sports Composite Hurts should shatter his freshman marks (2,751 yards, 22 touchdowns).

RB: Derrius Guice, LSU

It’s not often you replace a guy with Leonard Fournette without even blinking, but that’s how good Guice is. He already holds LSU’s record for yards in a game (285) and longest play from scrimmage (96). Guice was the No. 47 player in the 247Sports Composite in the class of 2015.

RB: Nick Chubb, Georgia

Nick Chubb’s career in three acts: Prolific, injured, so-so. We’re banking that an improved offensive line and a totally clean bill of health means the No. 5 running back in the class of 2014 is back to his Herschel-esque freshman form.

WR: Calvin Ridley, Alabama

The good news for Calvin Ridley after a ‘meh’ sophomore season is that Alabama receivers tend to do this: Amari Cooper and Julio Jones had breakout freshman performances, relative sophomore slumps and then monstrous junior campaigns to position themselves as top-tier NFL Draft picks. One of college football’s best deep threats, Ridley was the No. 1 receiver in the 247Sports Composite in 2014.

WR: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Texas A&M’s boasted a loaded wideout receiver corps for most of Kevin Sumlin’s tenure, but the Aggies lose four of their top five pass-catchers from 2016. Thank goodness for Christian Kirk, an absolute dynamo with the ball in his hands and appointment TV every Saturday. Kirk was the No. 26 player in the class of 2015.

TE: Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

Hayden Hurst is no longer burdened with returning punts for South Carolina (seriously), so now he can focus on doing tight end things, like being the security blanket for a promising Gamecocks passing attack. Hurst found the end zone just once on 48 catches last season, but that should change.

Offensive Line

Note: We asked our analysts to simply vote on their top five linemen, regardless of position.

OL: Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

Frank Ragnow — aka, the last the last man standing from the historically-huge Arkansas offensive line that was featured on the cover of the team’s 2015 media guide. The 6-foot-5, 317-pounder has 26 consecutive starts under that big ‘ole belt. Ragnow was a four-star recruit in the class of 2014.

OL: Jonah Williams, Alabama

How does Alabama replace a 43-game starter at left tackle, Outland winner and second-round draft pick Cam Robinson? Why, just slide over Jonah Williams, who graded out as a better overall player than Robinson in his debut season at right tackle. The California native was the No. 17 overall player and No. 2 tackle in the class of 2016.

OL: Braden Smith, Auburn

A Kansas product who ranked as the No. 3 guard in the class of 2014, Braden Smith turned down the NFL to return for his senior season on The Plains. Auburn’s offense will benefit tremendously from it. Smith was a second-team All-American per CBS Sports last year.

OL: Will Clapp, LSU

Maybe Guice’s most important asset in Baton Rouge.The first-team All-SECer moves from guard to center to replace Ethan Pocic. Will Clapp started 11 games at left guard a year ago. He was a four-star recruit in 2014.

OL (tie): Martez Ivey, Florida and Martinis Rankin, Mississippi State

Ivey was the No. 2 player in the class of 2015 per the 247Sports Composite and started 20 games in two years at guard and transitions to left tackle this season to replace NFL pick David Sharpe. Rankin started every game for the Bulldogs in ’16 and was ranked as the No. 1 JUCO OT in 2015.

AP: Antonio Callaway, Florida

The bright light for a struggling Florida offense the last few seasons (1,399 yards, 7 TDs combined), Callaway also makes a difference in the return game. He’s got three total return touchdowns in his career, with career averages of 11.9 in the punt return game and 29.3 on kickoffs. Callaway was the No. 48 receiver in the class of 2015.

K: Daniel Carlson, Auburn

The Tigers seem to churn out great, decorated kickers, and Carlson was a Groza Finalist and second-team All-American. He holds the school record for most 50-plus yard field goals in a season (40).

KR: Evan Berry, Tennessee

The No. 293 player in the class of 2014 and — obviously — younger brother to Vols legend Eric Berry, Evan has carved out a nice career of his own as kick-return specialist and reserve safety. He was the SEC’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2015 when he had three touchdowns on a blistering average of 38.3.

Defensive Line

Note: We asked our analysts to simply vote on their top four linemen, regardless of position.

DL: Arden Key, LSU

After giving LSU fans a scare this offseason by taking a leave of absence from the team, the deadliest edge rusher in the SEC is back (shoulder injury permitting) and ready to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Last year, Key recorded the most sacks (12) of any returning player in the SEC and the second-most tackles for loss (14.5). The 6-foot-6, 231-pound junior was the No. 9 weakside defensive end in the 2015 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

DL: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Entering his second year holding down the middle of the Alabama’s defensive line, Da’Ron Payne will be looking to use his junior season as a springboard into the first half of the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2, 308-pound nose tackle started all 15 of Alabama’s games last year, recording 36 tackles, including two for loss of yardage. Payne was a five-star prospect and the seventh-ranked defensive tackle in the 2015 signing class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

DL: Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

Ole Miss won't go bowling this year, but at least Rebels' fans will get to experience the joy of watching Marquis Haynes. The rising senior has 24.5 career sacks to his credit, though now he’ll have to replicate his production with the thinnest supporting cast he’s had since arriving to Oxford in the class of 2014. Haynes originally signed with UNC in the class of 2013, when he was a three-star prospect and the 40th-ranked weakside defensive end, according to the 247Sports Composite.

DL: Trent Thompson, Georgia

Trent Thompson led all Georgia defenders with five sacks in 2017 and also recorded 56 total tackles for the Bulldogs defense. That’s an awful lot of production from the defensive tackle position. Now, the 6-foot-4, 309-pound force of nature will anchor an experienced UGA defensive line that will be a serious handful for most SEC East offensive lines. Thompson was the No. 1 overall player in the 2015 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

LB: Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama

Hamilton will be the leader of the Crimson Tide linebacking corps following the departure of Reuben Foster and Ryan Anderson. In 2016, the 6-foot-1, 233-pounder started 13 games and recorded 64 tackles, third-most among returning Alabama starters. Hamilton was a four-star prospect and the No. 9 inside linebacker in the class of 2014, according to the 247Sports Composite.

LB: Roquan Smith, Georgia

Roquan Smith is bad news for people who think Signing Day dramatics are negatively correlated with collegiate success. Georgia’s star OLB returns as not only the Bulldogs’ leading tackler (95) but their leading tackler for loss (5). Smith was a four-star prospect and the No. 48 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

LB: Jordan Jones, Kentucky

Jones is one of two returning Wildcat defenders who topped the century mark in tackles a year ago. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior will spearhead a veteran Kentucky defense that should keep Mark Stoops’ team with an outside shot of knicking its first SEC East title. Jones was a three-star prospect and the No. 33 OLB in the class of 2014, according to the 247Sports Composite.

CB: Donte Jackson, LSU

Jackson started 11 games last year opposite LSU’s star cornerback Tre’Davious White. It will be the 5-foot-11, 168-pound New Orleans native’s show to run in 2017. Jackson was a four-star prospect and the 57th-ranked overall player in the 2015 recruiting class.

CB: Anthony Averett, Alabama

During his first year as a nailed-on starter in the Alabama secondary, Anthony Averett led the Crimson Tide defense in pass break-ups. The 6-foot, 185-pound cornerback was a four-star prospect and the No. 24 safety in the class of 2013, according to the 247Sports Composite.

S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Alabama’s do-everything defensive back could have just as easily earned a first-team selection at cornerback (and he did get one vote at that position), but here he gets those honors at the safety position. Fitzpatrick had 66 tackles last year, second-most among returning Crimson Tide defenders, but he made his hay picking off opposing passers (six INTs, three returned for touchdowns). The 6-foot1, 201-pound DB was a five-star prospect and the No. 31 overall player in the 2015 class, according to the 247Sports Composite.

S: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

Harrison is Alabama’s top returning tackler (86) in a defensive backfield that, as usual, has no shortage of quality depth coming back. He was a four-star prospect and the No. 12 safety in the class of 2015, according to the 247Sports Composite.

P: JK Scott, Alabama

Coffin Corner punting had been the one thing missing from Alabama’s repertoire, but JK Scott has delivered the past two seasons. Perhaps 2017 is the year Scott finally adds some hardware to his personal trophy case.

PR: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

There’s no player in the SEC quite as slippery as Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. With the rest of the Aggies roster in a bit of a transitional phase, the dynamic return man could be a difference maker in tight games throughout the season.