SEC Media Days is a day away, which means you can be expecting tons of coverage from SEC Country this week.
We will have 13 writers and editors in Hoover, Ala., bringing you all the happening from this always-anticipated event. Each team announced its three player representatives last Wednesday.
It’s always interesting to analyze the selections of each program, which leads to several questions: Who was most surprising name to see? Who was the biggest snub? And from whom are you most looking forward to hearing?
Alec Shirkey (who will be in Alabama) and I take a look at these questions and more with these hypothetical superlatives:
Biggest surprise on the list
- Connor Smolensky: Kentucky running back JoJo Kemp was a surprise. In case you forgot, the Wildcats possess a talented back by the name of Boom Williams. Why did Kemp get the nod over the starting running back? Williams finished No. 8 in the conference last season in rushing yards, while Kemp finished 15th. Mark Stoops, care to explain yourself?
- Alec Shirkey: Samuel is expected to assume a prominent role for the Gamecocks this season. But as the only sophomore on this list — one who has 12 career catches, no less — this is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Biggest “snub” on the list
- CS: It’s got to be Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd. He was a top-five rusher in the SEC last season, has been pegged as a Heisman Trophy sleeper and Butch Jones called him “one of the best backs in the country.” Why’s he staying at home, Butch?
- AS: Jalen Tabor’s trash-talking skills are already legendary, and he has the talent to back it up. Free No. 31!
Player we are most looking forward to hearing from
- CS: Leonard Fournette. He’s the biggest name on the list and perhaps the top player in college football entering 2016.
- AS: When a star of Leonard Fournette’s caliber speaks, everyone listens.
Player who will give us the best quote
- CS: When looking at the list on representatives nobody really stands out as having a boisterous personality. For that reason I will choose Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham. Players take after their head coaches, and Derek Mason is always a well-spoken man who can somehow get people excited for Commodores football. A first-team All-SEC selection last season, I think Cunningham brings a little flavor to Hoover.
- AS: “Alabama does” is already firmly etched in Crimson Tide quote lore. For some reason, I have a gut feeling that Jonathan Allen will say something else memorable in Hoover, despite the extensive media training all of Nick Saban’s stars receive these days.
Player who will receive the dumbest question(s)
- CS: It can sometimes be harder to ask questions when things are going well. Thing are going well for Alabama. Expect tight end O.J. Howard to deal with some standard questions this week. How will the team improve upon last season? How are you going to improve upon your national championship game (5 catches, 208 yards, 2 touchdowns)? Why did you stay for your senior season?
- AS: Last season, Chad Kelly’s media coverage was all about “maturity” and “second chances” — a pretty standard (if cliche) story arc in sports journalism. He’s hands down the best quarterback in the SEC right now, and the most NFL-ready, but he plays for a team with the uncertainty of NCAA troubles hanging over its head. Buckle up.
Player who will be the subject of a hot take column
- CS: I’m about to say a name you weren’t expecting … Kentucky’s JoJo Kemp. Think about it: He’s a rising senior whose seen only 12 wins in his first three years at Kentucky. The likely narrative for Kentucky players is going to be about turning the program around. At some point, the question gets old. Kemp could say something that sparks a little bulletin board material this season.
- AS: Joshua Dobbs. A dual-threat quarterback with questionable downfield passing skills leading a team with extremely high expectations. Surely someone will find some inane angle to take here.
Team with the most star power
- CS: Alabama is the team with the most talent, but I have to give the most star power to Texas A&M. Myles Garrett could be one of the top players in the country next season. Trevor Knight is one of the more intriguing grad transfer of 2015-16, and Ricky Seals-Jones is a well-known receiver within the SEC.
- AS: Texas A&M. Myles Garrett is a potential top-five NFL draft pick, Trevor Knight is a recognizable name at quarterback and Ricky Seals-Jones is a leading member of the country’s best receiving corps.
Player with the most media around him
- CS: Expect Trevor Knight to get mobbed in Hoover. He’s an intriguing grad transfer from Oklahoma, who is most known for leading the Sooners to a 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Expect that to be a popular narrative this week as the Aggies take on the Crimson Tide on Oct. 22.
- AS: Leonard Fournette. See above answer.