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August 13, 2007
Preseason breakdown: SEC
HOW THEY WILL FINISH
Best offensive player: Last season's Heisman Trophy runner-up is this season's Heisman Trophy favorite. Arkansas running back Darren McFadden has already rushed for 2,760 yards in his career, and he's only a junior. The 1,647 yards he gained last season is the fifth highest total in SEC history.
Best defensive player: LSU All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey might have been the single most dominant player in college football last season. Though frequently drawing double-team blocks, he still posted 64 tackles - an enormous total at his position.
Best player you don't know yet: Redshirt freshman tailback Terry Grant should provide the boost needed to upgrade Alabama's running game. He scored 113 touchdowns in high school. He'll score a bunch in college, too.
Impact newcomer: Freshman cornerback Eric Berry, rated a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, is already slated to start in the Tennessee secondary. The Vols lost both starting cornerbacks from a year ago. Tennessee will face an impressive list of receivers that includes DeSean Jackson of California, Percy Harvin of Florida and Earl Bennett of Vanderbilt, so they will desperately need solid play on the corner.
Sleeper recruit: Junior college transfer Scott Haverkamp, a three-star prospect, has already earned a starting job on Georgia's offensive line.
THE SEC'S BEST ...
Running backs: Arkansas
Wide receivers: Alabama
Tight ends: Kentucky
Offensive line: Florida
Defensive line: LSU
Defensive backs: LSU
Kickers/punters: South Carolina
Special teams: Georgia
Assistant coach on the hot seat: Not only does LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton have to follow a successful predecessor in Jimbo Fisher, but he's taking over an offense that lost three first round draft choices - including its quarterback. And oh by the way, the Tigers are talking national championship. If they fall short, guess who's probably first on the scapegoat list.
Boom or bust player: South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell was both boom and bust last season. He lost his starting job early, but regained it and finished the season with four consecutive strong showings. If he continues that trend the Gamecocks can be a legitimate contender in the East. If he lapses again, they probably won't.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.