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August 13, 2007

Preseason breakdown: SEC

RIVALS.COM SEC PREVIEW:
Overview | Preseason All-SEC First Team | Preseason All-SEC Second Team

HOW THEY WILL FINISH
Eastern Division

1. Florida

2. Tennessee

3. Georgia

4. South Carolina

5. Kentucky

6. Vanderbilt

Western Division

1. LSU

2. Arkansas

3. Auburn

4. Alabama

5. Ole Miss

6. Mississippi State

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 ...

Quarterbacks: Tennessee

Running backs: Arkansas

Wide receivers: Alabama

Tight ends: Kentucky

Offensive line: Florida

Defensive line: LSU

Linebackers: LSU

Defensive backs: LSU

Kickers/punters: South Carolina

Special teams: Georgia

Assistant coach on the rise: Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo helped Matthew Stafford develop into an effective quarterback last season, and now Bobo is taking over play-calling duties.

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.

Best position battle: Florida's Markihe Anderson has claimed one starting cornerback spot, but the other side is still being contested by Wondy Pierre-Louis, Markus Manson and Jacques Rickerson.

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.

BEST BY POSITION
Quarterback

1. Andre' Woodson, Kentucky

2. Erik Ainge, Tennessee

3. Matthew Stafford, Georgia

4. Brandon Cox, Auburn

5. John Parker Wilson, Alabama

Receiver

1. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt

2. Early Doucet, LSU

3. Keenan Burton, Kentucky

4. Marcus Monk, Arkansas

5. DJ Hall, Alabama

Tight End

1. Jacob Tamme, Kentucky

2. Cornelius Ingram, Florida

3. Ben Cleveland, Arkansas

4. Eric Butler, Mississippi State

5. Chris Brown, Tennessee

Linebacker

1. Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina

2. Jonathan Goff, Vanderbilt

3. Jerod Mayo, Tennessee

4. Ali Highsmith, LSU

5. Wesley Woodyard, Kentucky

Kicker

1. Brandon Coutu, Georgia

2. Ryan Succop, South Carolina

3. Jamie Christensen, Alabama

4. Joshua Shene, Mississippi

5. Colt David, LSU

Running back

1. Darren McFadden, Arkansas

2. Felix Jones, Arkansas

3. Rafael Little, Kentucky

4. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mississippi

5. Cory Boyd, South Carolina

Offensive line

1. Michael Oher, Mississippi

2. Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas

3. Chris Williams, Vanderbilt

4. Andre Smith, Alabama

5. Will Arnold, LSU

Defensive line

1. Glenn Dorsey, LSU

2. Derrick Harvey, Florida

3. Quentin Groves, Auburn

4. Tyson Jackson, LSU

5. Titus Brown, Mississippi State

Defensive back

1. Simeon Castille, Alabama

2. Jonathan Hefney, Tennessee

3. Chevis Jackson, LSU

4. Derek Pegues, Mississippi State

5. Tony Joiner, Florida

Punter

1. Britton Colquitt, Tennessee

2. Ryan Succop, South Carolina

3. Tim Masthay, Kentucky

4. Rob Park, Mississippi

5. Blake McAdams, Mississippi State

RIVALS.COM SEC PREVIEW:
Overview | Preseason All-SEC First Team | Preseason All-SEC Second Team

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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