The list of team representatives for SEC Media Days on July 10-13 has been released, and as always, everyone will be asking why certain players are or aren’t appearing in Hoover, Ala., during the festivities.
Only able to pick three players from their team, the coaches have a choice of the route they want to go. Do they reward seniors? Do they take the three top players? What do you do with high-profile underclassmen?
Here are some thoughts after taking a look at the 42 players chosen to represent their schools:
- No Jalen Hurts? The 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year is the biggest omission on the list. Has Nick Saban lost confidence in his star quarterback? Will Tua Tagovailoa actually be the starter? Is the dynasty coming to an end in Tuscaloosa? Ha, don’t even start. Saban went with three upperclassmen, which is usually the norm for him.
- A total of six quarterbacks will appear, ranging from Ole Miss sophomore Shea Patterson to Arkansas senior Austin Allen. This is twice the number of signal callers that appeared last year, with all three of those — Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs, and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight — being seniors.
- Six quarterbacks out of 14 seems like a lot, but not nearly as many as in 2013, when a whopping nine made the trip. That list included AJ McCarron, Jeff Driskel, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, Bo Wallace, Tyler Russell, James Franklin, Connor Shaw, and Johnny Manziel.
- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is keeping the ruse of “No, Jarrett Stidham is not our starter yet, Sean White still has a chance to win the starting quarterback position” up by keeping Stidham back on The Plains. Instead, offensive lineman Braden Smith, defensive back Tray Matthews, and kicker Daniel Carlson will appear.
- A kicker, you say? Yes, a kicker, and for good reason. Auburn’s Carlson has been a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation’s top place-kicker, the last two years and is considered the favorite to win the award this year.
- One more Auburn note: Despite the Tigers finishing either No. 1 or No. 2 in rushing three times since 2013, no running backs have made the trip to media days.
- Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. will not be representing the Wildcats. That’s a shame, because he is capable of being one of the most electric offensive players in the SEC this year. He would have a hard act to follow though, as his former backfield partner, Jojo Kemp, was one of the highlights of media days last year with his playful attitude.
- Only two underclassmen — Patterson and South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley — will be representatives. This is your reminder that Bentley should be just a freshman this season, but instead skipped his senior year of high school and won the starting job in Columbia last year. He shows a lot of poise for such a young man.
- LSU will have running back Derrius Guice in attendance, but no Arden Key. The defensive end who broke a school record last season with 12 sacks has had an interesting offseason, including taking a leave of absence from the team for some time. Keeping him out of the spotlight for now might be a smart move by LSU coach Ed Orgeron.
- Saban will join Phillip Fulmer and Mark Richt as head coaches who have appeared 16 times at the event. The record holder is the always quotable Steve Spurrier, who lit up the room a total of 23 times during his coaching career.
- Two defensive backs — Duke Dawson and Marcell Harris — will represent the Florida Gators. Read: the Gators secondary is going to be excellent again.
- Speaking of good tandems, Georgia’s running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will both be there. Opposing defenses, get ready to try to tackle them for 60 minutes.
- Most appropriate name of a representative? Ole Miss defensive tackle Breeland Speaks Jr. Scribes all over the Southeast are already working up puns on his name.