As you’ve probably read by now, Georgia football was shut out yesterday from both the first and second team All-SEC lists for the first time since the award roster was expanded to two full teams in 1990.
First, let’s get over the shock of this. With the exception of Trenton Thompson, Roquan Smith, and Dominick Sanders, I don’t think I can name a Georgia player who had what I would subjectively deem a first team all-conference type of season.
Note also that the bar to be voted one of the top players in the league defensively this year was pretty high. Alabama and Florida in particular fielded defenses which were loaded with veteran talent really coming into its own (Alabama’s, one could argue, in no small part due to Kirby Smart’s work in Tuscaloosa).
For Thompson the issue is complicated by the fact that interior linemen are grouped in with defensive ends, whose flashy sack stats always give lazy voters something to key on. Add that the selections on the first team DL this year were in fact four players (Auburn’s Carl Lawson, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, and Alabama’s Jonathan Allen) who could all be first round NFL draft picks, and it’s not that surprising that Thompson’s excellent, workmanline season went unrecognized.
Smith likely suffered from a lack of name recognition, as LSU’s Kendell Beckwith, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham, and Alabama’s Reuben Foster are all known quantities with multiple seasons of gaudy statistics.
Sanders’ snub is, to me, the hardest to square with reality. I know this is not a lifetime achievement award, but Sanders’ sustained success over three seasons means I wouldn't trade him for any free safety in the conference. The selections in the All-SEC defensive backfield are excellent players, however, and just as deserving of an ultimately meaningless postseason award as Dom.
Offensively, there simply was no player on the Georgia side who had an objectively all-conference season. Isaiah McKenzie had his moments. Riley Ridley will almost certainly garner all-freshman consideration along with Isaac Nauta and Jacob Eason. But Nick Chubb, likely the best player on that side of the ball, was bottled up and hamstrung by defenses that thought they could shut Georgia down by keying on him and teammates who proved those defenses right.
Here’s the thing. None of this really matters in the grand sweep of things, even if it is a bit of a hit to the ego. I expect that the Red and Black’s young talent will have plenty of opportunities for pointless adulation. If they win football games in 2017 that recognition will come. You can’t have a rebuilding year and expect no one to notice. Until later...