Some SEC fans might take it as a slight that only two conference players were ranked on a list of the “most irreplaceable” players in for the upcoming season.
Alabama defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne was listed as eighth and LSU running back Derrius Guice was 14th on a list produced by CBS Sports.com’s Ben Kercheval.
Both of the SEC players clearly are among the nation’s best players heading into 2017.
But the limited number is as much an indication of the conference’s balance as oversight.
Considering the SEC’s recent strength, its members have been able to withstand potentially crushing personnel losses because of other players ready on the roster.
Guice might be the best example. After Leonard Fournette went down with a series of ankle injuries last season, his replacement was ready to step up in a big way when he received his chance.
After Fournette’s struggled late in the season, Guice rushed for at least 135 yards in six games. Included in that were 252 yards (and a 96-yard touchdown run) at Arkansas and 283 yards at Texas A&M to spark LSU victories.
Guice finished the season with 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Fournette came into the season as one of the favorites for the Heisman. But his replacement was ready to emerge once he got his playing opportunity, showing the depth of players in the roster.