The Southeastern Conference is the perfect blend of speed, size and power. At every position on both offense and defense, the league is loaded with game-breaking talent year after year. As a surprise to absolutely no one, the SEC is loaded up with elite talent once again heading into the 2019 college football season.
While quarterbacks like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Georgia’s Jake Fromm, LSU’s Joe Burrow and Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond will obviously be the focal points of their offenses once again, superstar QBs don’t win awards like the Heisman Trophy without some help from their teammates. The list is long, but here are 10 offensive weapons among non-quarterbacks that I expect to lead their teams this season.
10. Justin Jefferson, LSU
Entering his sophomore year in 2018, the 6-foot-2 wideout hadn’t recorded a single catch. All that changed when Joe Burrow stepped under center, though. Jefferson’s breakout season last year resulted in 54 catches, 875 yards and six touchdowns, all of which led the team. Jefferson’s 16.2 yards per catch ranked 12th in the SEC last season. Expect another big year for JJ.
9. JaTarvious Whitlow, Auburn
The SEC All-Freshman Team running back is primed to be one of the conference’s top players for several years. Auburn’s offense struggled last season, but they could easily turn that around on the shoulders of this 210-pound sophomore. Whitlow’s 787 rushing yards ranked third all-time among Auburn freshmen. With a new quarterback under center, Auburn’s quest to become an elite SEC team once again begins with Whitlow.
8. Lynn Bowden, Jr., Kentucky
The Second-Team All-SEC All Purpose player from last season is back again ready to takeover as the Wildcats main offensive threat. Running back Benny Snell is gone to the NFL, and with quarterback Terry Wilson back for his junior year, Bowden could become the program’s sixth receiver to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a season and first since Randall Cobb (2010). Plus, Bowden is one college football’s most dangerous returners in the game.
7. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Waddle burst on the scene last year with 848 receiving yards (2nd on the team) and seven touchdown catches. His 18.8 yards per catch ranked seventh in the SEC, and his 94-yard touchdown against Louisiana was the second-longest in UA history. Plus, Waddle’s prowess as one of college football’s most-dangerous returners makes him a threat on any down. The Freshman All-American from a season ago isn’t the best player on his position, which goes to show how incredible Alabama’s group of receivers really is.
6. Seth Williams, Auburn
With Auburn’s top two receivers from last year gone, Williams is poised to become the go-to threat for Gus Malzahn’s offense. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing about 225 pounds, Williams proved as a freshman (534 receiving yards, 5 TDs) that he can be one of the best receivers to ever come through The Plains, evidenced by Williams’ 20.5 yards per catch that was fourth in the SEC. There’s no reason why he can’t repeat that again.
5. Lamical Perine, Florida
The Gators always have always had a gluttonous amount of speed on offense, and nothing changed when Dan Mullen’s implemented his offense last year. With quarterback Feleipe Franks back again, his No. 1 option at running back will be Perine. The upcoming senior split carries with Jordan Scarlett last year, but proved to be much more effective of the two. Perine led Florida with 996 total yards and eight touchdowns as a junior and needs only 600 rushing yards to crack the Gators’ list of top-10 rushers of all time.
4. Quartney Davis, Texas A&M
With tight end Jace Sternberger and running back Trayveon Williams off to the NFL, Davis is set up to be Kellen Mond’s go-to weapon in 2019. As a sophomore last year, the 6-foot-2 wide receiver caught 45 passes for 585 yards and seven touchdowns for Jimbo Fisher’s squad. Returning this season, Davis will be the man to watch for Texas A&M as they chase a coveted New Year’s Six bowl game.
3. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
The most underrated player in the conference might be its most electric when 2019 is all said and done. Vaughn transferred from Illinois into the SEC (while some people are trying to get out) and finished with 1,244 rushing yards (3rd in the conference) in his first season with the Commodores. Entering his redshirt senior season, the running back who averaged 7.92 yards per rush ? a full yard more than anyone else ? is primed to make several postseason award lists.
2. D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Need an early candidate for the Doak Walker Award as college football’s best running back? Watch D’Andre Swift’s highlight tape. Georgia’s top dog heading into 2019 won’t be splitting carries with Elijah Holyfield (now with the Carolina Panthers) and should eclipse 1,000 rushing yards for the second-straight season. On one of college football’s top offenses, there’s a huge chance Swift earns himself a few Heisman Trophy votes, too.
1. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Tagovailoa might be the name-to-know for the Crimson Tide, but Jeudy is probably the team’s best player. The defending Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top wide receiver is back again, and he could make a run at surpassing Amari Cooper’s record-setting 2014 season after 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns last year (both rank second in a single UA season). There are few defenders in the SEC, let alone the entire country, who will be able to hang with JJ next season.
The Best of the Rest
- Larry Rountree III, RB – Missouri
- Najee Harris, RB – Alabama
- Henry Ruggs III, WR – Alabama
- Kendrick Rogers, WR – Texas A&M
- Rakeem Boyd, RB – Arkansas
- Kalija Lipscomb, WR – Vanderbilt
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB – LSU
- Trevon Grimes, WR – Florida
- Kylin Hill, RB – Mississippi State
- Scottie Phillips, RB – Ole Miss