The SEC has had plenty of enormous performances in 2016. But which ones are the best of the best?
Follow our running list throughout the year as we document the top 20 individual efforts by SEC players:
20. LB ZACH CUNNINGHAM, Vanderbilt
Week 7 vs. Georgia
19 tackles, 2.5 TFL, BRU
Cunningham posted a career high in tackles against Georgia, but no stop was bigger than the linebacker’s last one. Cunningham snared Bulldogs wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie just shy of the first-down marker to preserve the upset win for the Commodores on fourth down and less than a minute on the clock.
19. SS JUSTIN EVANS, Texas A&M
Week 1 vs. UCLA
8 tackles, 2 INTs, BRU
Evans picked off UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen twice in Texas A&M’s season opener and finished tied for second on the team in tackles. But he earned the title of quite possibly the baddest dude in the SEC after popping his injured leg back into place with 37 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 24. He responded by winning the game in overtime by breaking up a pass on the goal line with the Aggies up by a touchdown.
18. WR J’MON MOORE, Missouri
Week 4 vs. Delaware State
114 receiving yards, 4 TDs
Moore has earned two slots on this list, thanks in part to the cartoonish afternoon the junior had against the Hornets. Moore shook off his fumble that ended the Georgia game by catching 4 touchdowns against the hapless Hornets to give him 6 scores over the course of roughly five quarters of play between the two games.
17. WR J’MON MOORE, Missouri
Week 3 vs. Georgia
196 receiving yards, 2 TDs
Moore established himself as one of the SEC’s top receivers with this performance. The career-high effort and second 100-yard game of his career was marred, however, when the junior fumbled on Missouri’s final possession to effectively seal the comeback win for Jacob Eason and Georgia.
16. DE DEREK BARNETT, Tennessee
Week 5 vs. Georgia
5 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, FF
Before Josh Dobbs and Jauan Jennings could rise to hero level, there was Barnett and Corey Vereen who set it all up. The Tennessee defensive end came up big with a sack of Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason in the end zone to force a fumble that Vereen pounced on to give the Volunteers their first lead with 2:56 left in a wild afternoon between the hedges.
15. RB KAMRYN PETTWAY, Auburn
Week 9 vs. Ole Miss
236 rushing yards, TD
Pettway became the fifth SEC running back to eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark in 2016. Pettway came close a week earlier, barreling his way to 192 yards against Arkansas. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,106 yards.
14. QB JACOB EASON, Georgia
Week 3 vs. Missouri
308 passing yards, 3 TDs
Eason endeared himself to the Georgia faithful early in his career, pulling out a late 28-27 win in Columbia against Missouri, courtesy of a 20-yard touchdown strike to WR Isaiah McKenzie with 1:29 to play. The true freshman would strike again two weeks later against Tennessee to give the Bulldogs a lead with 10 seconds remaining, only to see his heroics negated by a Volunteers miracle finish.
13. NICK FITZGERALD, Mississippi State
Week 10 vs. Texas A&M
209 passing yards, 2 TDs, 182 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Texas A&M forever will bemoan Fitzgerald’s name. Less than a week after being named among the nation’s top four teams by the College Football Playoff selection committee, the Aggies saw their championship dreams quashed by the Mississippi State quarterback. Fitzgerald rushed for his fifth 100-plus yard performance of the year, including a 74-yard outburst to open the scoring in the Bulldogs’ 35-28 upset win. Through Mississippi State’s first 10 games, Fitzgerald already had 241 more rushing yards than quarterback Dak Prescott rushed for during the entire 2015 season.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) November 5, 2016
12. RB LEONARD FOURNETTE, LSU
Week 8 vs. Ole Miss
284 rushing yards, 3 TDs, 309 all-purpose yards
Fournette returned to action after an extended injury hiatus by shattering his career-best rushing performance by 40 yards. The junior’s evening marked the fifth time he’s rushed for at least 3 scores in a contest but first this season as LSU downed Ole Miss 38-21.
11. DB MINKAH FITZPATRICK, Alabama
Week 6 vs. Arkansas
5 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 BRU, 1 TD
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen surely will see Fitzpatrick in his nightmares after this performance. Fitzpatrick’s 100-yard pick six was the longest in Crimson Tide history and earned him Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors.
10. RB ALVIN KAMARA, Tennessee
Week 6 vs. Texas A&M
127 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 161 receiving yards, TD
There’s a reason players from Tennessee and Texas A&M dominate the top of this list. It’s also the reason the Volunteers and Aggies each jumped to unblemished 5-0 records. Texas A&M handed Tennessee its first loss in Week 6, but that can’t be pinned on Kamara, who led the SEC this week in receiving while spelling the injured Jalen Hurd.
9. QB TREVOR KNIGHT, Texas A&M
Week 4 vs. Arkansas
225 passing yards, 2 TDs, 157 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Knight has established a clutch presence since transferring to Texas A&M from Oklahoma. That steeled resolve was on display against Arkansas, as he used his arm and legs to account for the Aggies’ 45-24 drubbing of then-No. 17 Arkansas.
8. QB CHAD KELLY, Ole Miss
Week 3 vs. Alabama
421 passing yards, 3 TDs, 43 rushing yards
Ole Miss did not claim its third win in a row against Alabama, but you can’t argue with Kelly’s effort. The Rebels quarterback’s yardage total was a career high. Unfortunately for Kelly, it was his 2 fumbles returned for touchdowns that ultimately doomed Ole Miss, 48-43. Afterward, the senior took the high road and accepted the blame for the loss. It’s hard to see another quarterback throwing for 421 yards this year against the Alabama secondary, though Austin Allen came close, throwing for 400 in Week 6.
7. RB TRAYVEON WILLIAMS, Texas A&M
Week 6 vs. Tennessee
217 rushing yards, TD
Aside from a late — and borderline embarrassing — fumble that cost the Aggies a chance at putting away the game in regulation, Williams put himself on everyone’s radar with a monster performance to help the Aggies stave off then-No. 9 Tennessee. The outing gave Williams the SEC rushing lead with 704 yards (117.3 YPG) after six weeks of play, as well as making him the top freshman rusher in the nation through the same span.
6. DE JONATHAN ALLEN, ALABAMA
Week 8 vs. Texas A&M
6 tackles, sack, FR, 4 QBH
The Crimson Tide defensive end punctuated a career day with the second touchdown of his career, courtesy of a 30-yard fumble-recovery scamper. Allen’s 4 quarterback hurries were a personal best, but it was the senior’s flying sack on Knight that had everyone talking after the game.
5. QB JALEN HURTS, Alabama
Week 7 vs. Tennessee
143 passing yards, 132 rushing yards, 3 TDs
Alabama’s defense and special teams might have upped their touchdown total on the year to 11 in Week 7 (it’s up to 12 after Week 10), but the Crimson Tide got plenty of offense against Tennessee. This was Hurts’ best game of his young career, as Alabama turned what was supposed to be a heavyweight bout with the Volunteers into a one-sided, 49-10 affair.
4. QB JOSH DOBBS, Tennessee
Week 5 vs. Georgia
230 passing yards, 3 TDs, 26 rushing yards, TD
Dobbs has developed a flair for the dramatic during his senior year. None of his highlight-reel moments, however, were bigger than the 43-yard Hail Mary he tossed to WR Jauan Jennings as time expired to stun Georgia in Athens. His 230 yards weren’t his highest total of the year, but the touchdown forever will go down in Tennessee lore.
3. RB NICK CHUBB, Georgia
Week 1 vs. North Carolina
222 rushing yards, 2 TDs
Chubb silenced all doubters in his 2016 debut, returning from a debilitating knee injury sustained midway through last season to post his third career game of 200-plus rushing yards. The junior’s scores were instrumental as the Bulldogs downed the Tar Heels 33-24 in the Georgia Dome.
2. QB TREVOR KNIGHT, Texas A&M
Week 6 vs. Tennessee
239 passing yards, 2 TDs, 110 rushing yards, 3 TDs
Not to be outdone by his freshman running back, Trayveon Williams, Knight accounted for 5 touchdowns in Texas A&M’s double-overtime triumph against the Vols. His handiwork included a 62-yard scoring run and what turned out to be the game-winning 1-yard score — as then-No. 8 Texas A&M improved to 6-0.
1. QB JOSH DOBBS, Tennessee
Week 4 vs. Florida
319 passing yards, 4 TDs, 80 rushing yards, TD
Dobbs shrugged off a slow first half by eviscerating the Florida defense as Tennessee ended its 11-game losing streak to the Gators in epic fashion. The quarterback led the Vols to 38 unanswered points, 35 of them coming in the second half courtesy of his career-high 4 touchdown passes.