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August 14, 2009
SEC preseason unit rankings
7. Auburn: There's an OK group of running backs for the Tigers. But is there a legit SEC quarterback on the roster?
8. Tennessee: Read the Auburn comment and substitute "Vols" for "Tigers."
12. Vanderbilt: The Commodores are searching for a quarterback. And the running backs on the roster don't scare anybody.
1. Georgia: WR A.J. Green was the SEC freshman of the year last season. There are some nice complementary targets as well.
4. Florida: TE Aaron Hernandez could lead the Gators in receptions. There is talent, albeit unproven, at wide receiver.
5. Alabama: Sophomore WR Julio Jones is a premier talent. But there is no other proven receiving threat on the roster.
6. Arkansas: TE D.J. Williams is coming off a big season. With Mallett at quarterback, expect one or two wide receivers to have 40-plus catches.
8. Tennessee: There's a lack of proven depth, and WR Austin Rogers' season-ending injury hurts.
9. Kentucky: Randall Cobb, who played some quarterback last season, is expected to be a playmaker. Are there any others?
10. Mississippi State: Brandon McRae quietly put together a 51-catch season in '08. This group will be asked to do more in the new offense.
11. Auburn: No returning receiver had more than 24 catches last season, when the Tigers had just seven TD passes.
12. Vanderbilt: TE Brandon Barden likely will lead the Commodores in receiving this season.
1. Georgia: The Bulldogs were hurt by injuries along the line last season. But all those injuries mean this is an experienced and deep group this season.
2. Florida: The Pouncey twins - center Maurkice and guard Mike - help give the Gators a tough, aggressive interior. If sophomore LT Matt Patchan comes through, this could end up being the best line in the league.
3. LSU: Senior T Ciron Black is the standout. Center could be a problem spot.
4. Ole Miss: T Michael Oher is gone, but T John Jerry will receive some national acclaim this season.
5. Alabama: There are three new starters. The Tide will miss T Andre Smith, who may have been their MVP last season. G Mike Johnson has All-America hopes.
6. Tennessee: C Josh McNeil is a good one. But most of the other guys have been rather non-descript during their careers.
7. Arkansas: The return of G Mitch Petrus should help a unit that struggled last season, especially in pass blocking. The Hogs allowed 45 sacks last season.
8. Auburn: T Lee Ziemba has all-league hopes. The linemen have to adjust to some new schemes again; can they handle it?
9. Vanderbilt: All five starters are back, but this unit didn't always provide a lot of push last season.
10. Kentucky: Three starters return, but the line lacked consistency last season.
11. South Carolina: New line coach Eric Wolford, who comes from Illinois, has to improve his unit's run-blocking.
12. Mississippi State: Four starters are back, but how quickly can these guys get comfortable with the new blocking schemes?
1. Florida: The Gators were stout against the run last season and should be better this season because there is more depth at tackle.
2. Ole Miss: E Greg Hardy has 15-sack potential. The tackles are solid and there is good depth.
3. Georgia: The return of T Jeff Owens from injury makes the tackle rotation one of the best in the nation. But who will provide the pass rush?
4. Alabama: Terrence Cody is a massive 365-pound presence in the middle of the line. But can the ends apply pressure off the edge?
5. Auburn: When healthy, E Antonio Coleman is a big-time pass rusher. The tackles are OK.
6. LSU: E Rahim Alem should be among the league leaders in sacks. But it's time for the tackles to start making more plays.
7. Tennessee: T Dan Williams is a good one. The Vols need some ends to emerge.
8. South Carolina: This is a solid unit that needs an end or two to step up.
9. Vanderbilt: All four starters return for an underrated group.
10. Arkansas: The Hogs return all four starters, but they were gashed often by the run last season, a potential fatal flaw in the SEC West.
11. Mississippi State: Only one starter returns. Some newcomers must come through.
12. Kentucky: The loss of E Jeremy Jarmon truly hurts. Now, only one starter is back. And where's the pass rush going to come from?
1. Florida: Senior Brandon Spikes is the standout in a deep, experienced and talented unit. Five linebackers who started at least three games return.
3. Georgia: Rennie Curran is small (5 feet 11, 228 pounds) but plays big. He should be a first-team all-league performer.
4. South Carolina: Eric Norwood is the standout on a unit that returns all three starters.
5. Vanderbilt: All three starters return. Senior Patrick Benoist is one of the most underrated players in the league.
6. LSU: Two starters return, but these guys need to make more plays this season.
7. Tennessee: Rico McCoy is a standout, but he is the only returning starter.
8. Auburn: There is no standout, but this is an OK unit.
9. Ole Miss: Patrick Trahan, who began his career at Auburn, is expected to make a big impact this season.
10. Arkansas: All three starters return, but the linebackers didn't always play that well last season. Sophomore Jerry Franklin should develop into a star.
11. Mississippi State: Jamar Chaney's return from injury should provide a big boost.
12. Kentucky: Micah Johnson is a good one. The rest of the group? Ehh.
2. Alabama: The Tide return three starters, but they will miss FS Rashad Johnson.
4. Tennessee: SS Eric Berry might be the nation's best defensive player. This is the Vols' strongest unit.
5. Georgia: The Bulldogs will miss CB Asher Allen. The safety spots bear watching.
6. Auburn: There's no true standout, but this has the makings of a solid unit.
7. Ole Miss: Three starters return from a group that got better as the '08 season progressed.
8. Vanderbilt: The Commodores will miss star CB D.J. Moore. FS Ryan Hamilton could be an all-league player.
9. Kentucky: CB Trevard Lindley is a bona-fide star.
10. South Carolina: There will be a lot of pressure on true freshman CB Stephon Gilmore.
11. Arkansas: Some newcomers could see action soon in a unit that had issues last season.
12. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will be breaking in three new starters, and what had been a solid unit will take a hit.
3. Ole Miss: Joshua Shene might be the best kicker in the SEC. The Rebels' coverage units did a good job last season.
5. Georgia: K Blair Walsh was OK as a freshman. The Bulldogs are looking for a new punter and punt returner.
6. Kentucky: UK is looking for a new punter, but the Wildcats led the SEC in kickoff returns and did a nice job covering kicks last season.
7. Tennessee: The Vols have good return men, but they need K Daniel Lincoln to become more consistent.
8. LSU: The Tigers, who were last in the SEC in kickoff returns last season, are looking for a new kicker and a new punter.
9. South Carolina: The Gamecocks will miss K Ryan Succop.
10. Arkansas: The Hogs were last in the league in punt returns and kickoff-coverage defense last season and are looking for a new punter.
11. Vanderbilt: The Commodores lost K Bryant Hahnfeldt and CB D.J. Moore, who was a superb punt returner.
12. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will have a new kicker, a new punter, a new kick returner and a new punt returner.
2. Alabama: Nick Saban has the Tide back in the national consciousness quicker than expected.
4. Ole Miss: Houston Nutt is a master motivator. But how will he and his team respond when they're the hunted, not the hunter?
5. LSU: A five-loss season isn't looked upon too kindly down on the bayou. Expect defensive improvement with the hire of John Chavis, who did nice work at Tennessee.
6. Arkansas: Big improvements are expected in the second year of the Bobby Petrino regime. The defense needs a lot of help.
8. Vanderbilt: Bobby Johnson does a lot with not much, especially on defense. But the offense remains a vast wasteland.
9. South Carolina: Steve Spurrier overhauled his staff in an effort to develop some consistency from his team.
10. Tennessee: New coach Lane Kiffin kept things lively in the offseason. But is he head-coach material?
11. Auburn: New coach Gene Chizik was a defensive coordinator of some renown, and he has an intriguing staff.
12. Mississippi State: New coach Dan Mullen has a tough road ahead of him to make the Bulldogs relevant on an annual basis.