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SEC Players to Watch Blog

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 11, 2008


The SEC players to watch and to look out for in each week's games.

SEC Players Blog

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By David Waters (East) & Billy Gomila (West)

SEC East

Florida vs Hawaii  Player to watch: DE Carlos Dunlap
At 6-6 and 290 lbs., Dunlap has the size, and he showed it off as he wreaked havoc in the spring game with four sacks. Florida had trouble pressuring the quarterback last season and if Dunlap can continue his progression against Hawaii's pass happy offense, it will take some pressure off the rest of the defensive line.

Georgia vs Georgia Southern  Player to watch: WR Kris Durham
Playing against Georgia Southern means some unsung guys will get playing time for the Bulldogs. Durham was named most improved wide receiver in the spring, and needs to continue to improve to give some proven depth at the position. The biggest improvement Durham can bring is consistency, which can be seen even when playing a lower opponent in Georgia Southern.

Kentucky at Louisville  Player to watch: QB Mike Hartline
Mike Hartline's first task as Kentucky's quarterback is a tough one having to travel to Louisville. Hartline has good size and a great arm that he showed in the spring, but has little experience. The pressure from the battle with Pulley is gone, but can he handle the pressure of playing a big game on the road in his first start?

South Carolina vs N.C. State  Player to watch: LB Jasper Brinkley
The South Carolina defense has four all-conference caliber players on defense. Eric Norwood, Emanuel Cook, and Captain Munnerlyn will all be led by the return of Jasper Brinkley. N.C. State will be looking to run the ball with Jamelle Eugene, and with the return of Brinkley's run stuffing abilities, the Wolfpack may have to resort to throwing the ball. Brinkley missed the last eight games last season after recording 107 tackles in 2006.

Tennessee at UCLA Player to watch: QB Jonathan Crompton
Crompton has waited three years behind Eric Ainge to be the starting quarterback for the Volunteers. Crompton's first challenge is to take new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson's scheme to Los Angeles against UCLA. The stable of running backs and the offensive line should help ease into the game against the Bruins. Crompton is confident after a great spring.

Vanderbilt at Miami University Player to watch: QB Chris Nickson
The 2006 version of Chris Nickson is what Vanderbilt thought they were going to get in 2007. After a couple of nagging injuries, Nickson didn't have the season most expected. It is unknown whether Nickson can return to 2006 form, the first game against Miami will tell if Nickson is back or the position is Mackenzi Adams'.

SEC West

Alabama…sophomore linebacker Rolando McClain. He’s arguably the Crimson Tide’s best returning player in 2008, and he’ll also be the only experienced linebacker in the starting lineup against Clemson. If Alabama is going to have a snowball’s chance of slowing down James Davis and C.J. Spiller, McClain will likely have to play the game of his life.

Arkansas…senior quarterback Casey Dick. Bobby Petrino’s work with quarterbacks has been well-documented, and while Dick has been much-maligned, his 2007 passer rating was just 2.3 points behind Matt Stafford. Dick could be a much-improved player this year if the Razorbacks can find a go-to receiver to replace Marcus Monk.

Auburn…junior cornerback Jerraud Powers. With fellow projected starter Aaron Savage out for the year with a knee injury, Powers’ burden in Auburn’s defensive backfield just increased. Five-foot-nine but feisty and physical, Powers was Tommy Tuberville’s top cover guy last year, with four interceptions and another five pass break-ups.

LSU…sophomore defensive tackle Drake Nevis. He is typically forgotten in the discussion of LSU’s absurdly deep defensive line, but Nevis has been taking reps with the first team and was reportedly one of the vocal leaders of summer workouts. The 6-1, 294-pounder reminds many of Glenn Dorsey with his fire-hydrant stature and quickness off the line.

Mississippi State…junior quarterback Tyson Lee. While Wes Carroll seems entrenched as the Bulldogs’ starting QB, Lee has made a major push for playing time in fall camp. Sylvester Croom has said that he likes the change of pace that the diminutive but athletic Lee can provide, and that both passers will play this season.

Ole Miss…sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead. Simply put, the Rebels season rests on the 6-3 Texan’s shoulders. Ole Miss has a veteran offensive line and some highly-recruited talent at running back, but quarterback has been a black hole of production since Eli Manning left. After Micheal Spurlock, Robert Lane and Brent Schaeffer all failed to even provide adequacy, will Snead finally be a threat to pass defenses?