We are coming up on that time of year when the preseason college football magazines begin to hit the store shelves in earnest. One of the most well-known of these belongs to Phil Steele, who synthesizes more football data in smaller font than any man on the face of the universe. Phil's not always right. In fact, he's probably wrong as often as he's right. Which isn't a slight. In fact it qualifies him to be, among other things, a Dawg Sports contributor, hedge fund manager and waiter at O'Charley's. Having held two out of three of those posts, I'm in no position to judge.
At any rate, Steele is slowly releasing the content he's spent gazoodles of time creating over the past few months, and that includes his all-conference teams. The SEC iteration looks pretty much right on to me, with a few small exceptions. Some highlights:
- Aaron Murray earning the first team quarterback nod. Really, who else are you going to pick? Stephen Garcia is not among the listed signalcallers, which I assume is a nod to the fact that he's currently suspended and may be either dead in a ditch or drunk in a bar in Mogadishu by the time kickoff rolls around. Arkansas's Tyler Wilson is the 2nd teamer, Tennessee's Tyler Bray is 3rd, and Florida's John Brantley is the 4th teamer, narrowly beating out challengers "psoriasis", saddle oxfords" and "lamp", any of whom would be less dangerous under center. Murray is joined on the first team offense by tight end Orson Charles and offensive tackle Cordy Glenn.
- Isaiah Crowell as the 4th team tailback. Yeah. Unless I'm missing somebody (which is a valid possibility) he's one of only two incoming freshmen Steele picked (the other was South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a 3rd teamer). Trent Richardson and Marcus Lattimore are the 1st team tailbacks, which I have no problem with.
- Brandon Boykin as 3rd team kick returner, Branden Smith as 2nd team punt returner. I don't know what Florida's Andre Debose and Alabama's Trent Richardson did in the kick return game to best Boykins multiple 100 yard plus returns. And if Branden Smith is the second best punt returner in the league I'd hate to see how many kicks the 3rd teamer flubbed.
- Blair Walsh 1st team kicker, Drew Butler 1st team punter. No argument here, Georgia should have the top two kicking specialists in the league. I'm not saying that alone wins us the SEC East or anything, but it can't hurt.
- The Bulldog defense gets about as much love as one would expect. Which is to say, no Georgia footballer rates Steele's 1st or 2nd team units. Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Boykin, Christian Robinson and Deangelo Tyson however all made the 3rd team unit. This all sounds about right, as each of them have shown flashes at times but never really broke through in their first season under Todd Grantham.
- Where have the wide receivers gone? Alshon Jeffery is a given on the first team, and after watching them torch the Georgia secondary for two years running I can't argue with placing Arkansas's Joe Adams and Greg Childs beside him. Past that the SEC receiving corps is peopled with a lot of 5 star bluechip recruits who have yet to really make a splash in the college game. Suffice it to say that the overall starpower at the position is diminished by the loss of A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
- Where's the beef? In Tuscaloosa. Four out of five Tide offensive linemen make Steele's 1st or 2nd team units. I can't reall argue with his selections either. D.J. Fluker looks like a future 1st rounder, though I could quibble with Bama's William Vlachoe earning 1st team honors over Ben Jones. Perhaps that's just the homer in me, and it's probably not much of a distinction. Kudos to Steele for picking Kentucky's Larry Warford for the 1st team. The 6'3, 340 pound guard started every game for the Wildcats as a sophomore in 2010, earning second team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches. He's a good one.
- Steele likes the Tide. Alabama leads the league with seven 1st team picks, with Georgia and Arkansas tied for second with five 1st team selections. South Carolina has four. Notably absent are the Auburn Tigers, with no Steele-sanctioned 1st teamers. Florida has only one, defensive tackle Jaye Howard.
This of course is all just one man's opinion, but I have to ask, would this man steer you wrong?
Of course not. Remember that Phil Steele's college football preview magazine hits shelves on June 7th. Until later . . .