ESPN recently released a list of the SEC’s top returning players for 2017, and—surprise, surprise—the top three names on the list aren’t on the Crimson Tide Roster.
1. Arden Key
The list puts LSU sophomore defensive end Arden Key at the top. And if you follow SEC football, it makes perfect sense. Key terrorized the conference with 1.09 sacks per game (tops in the SEC) to go along with the league’s second-best sack total of 12. With Tennessee’s Derek Barnett and Bama’s Jonathan Allen departing for the NFL, Key is hands-down the SEC’s best returning pass rusher.
2. Derrius Guice
Sophomore running back Derrius Guice led the SEC in rushing in 2016 with 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns, which was also good enough for 20th in the nation. So, he’s another shoe-in on the list at number two. And those totals came after sharing time with Leonard Fournette. He’ll be the focal point next season so look out.
3. Christian Kirk
Sophomore Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk comes in at the third spot for the conference’s top returning players. Kirk led the SEC with 83 receptions also ranking him 19th in the country. Kirk is also known around the conference as one of its most versatile players, doing double-duty as a kick returner and utility player on offense. He racked up the SEC’s 4th-best total all-purpose yards this past season with 1,418, which was No. 1 as far as non-running backs.