But there’s a lot more than just exciting youngsters on the roster heading into the 2017 season.
Pro Football Focus put together a list of the SEC’s 10 best returning players, and it includes no less than two ‘Dawgs.
At No. 5 is the one and only Nick Chubb:
There’s somewhat of a leap to be made with Chubb, in that 2016 wasn’t his most impressive season, but he was coming off a serious knee injury. Despite that, the way he ended the season gives a realistic expectation that he can be back to his best in 2017, with 20 of his 39 missed tackles forced coming in the final five games of the year.
Over the past three seasons, Chubb has averaged a forced missed tackle once every 4.3 carries, and has averaged 3.7 yards per carry after contact. With fellow running back Sony Michel returning too, the Bulldogs will be hoping that their running game can power them toward the SEC Championship Game in 2017.
The other Georgia player on the list might not be who you expect. It is...
defensive tackle Trenton Thompson:
Of all the defensive linemen in the SEC, the one who flies under the radar the most is Georgia’s run-stuffing star Trenton Thompson, but it’s about time he got the credit he deserves. For a run-stuffer, he actually did a decent job chipping in as a pass-rusher, with four sacks, one hit and 16 hurries last year, but naturally it is against the run where he really stands out.
On 219 snaps against the run last year, Thompson made 27 tackles resulting him in a defensive stop, giving him a run-stop percentage of 12.3 that ranked sixth-best among all defensive tackles in college football in 2016.
LSU landed the top two players on the list in the form of defensive end Arden Key and running back Derrius Guice . Aside from UGA players, the only other east division team represented is Kentucky, whose RB Benjamin Snell Jr . comes in at No. 9.