The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

August 1, 2013

Manziel, Clowney headliners in SEC's bid for No. 8

(Continued)

4. RISING STOCK: Vanderbilt is coming off its best record since 1915, going 9-4 two years after a second straight two-win season led to the hiring of James Franklin. Back-to-back bowl game is also a first for the Commodores, who have gone from doormats to respected foe under the ever-confident coach. They're led by one of the SEC's top wide receivers in Jordan Matthews. Mississippi's turnaround in Hugh Freeze's first season was impressive, too. The Rebels won seven games, including the BBVA Compass Bowl. Freeze then made even bigger waves with a highly touted recruiting class. Back are quarterback Bo Wallace and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.

5. YOUTH MOVEMENT: From five-star newcomers to talented players with a year under their belt, the SEC is full of youngsters with the potential to emerge as stars. Missouri wide receiver and prized 2012 signee Dorial Green-Beckham racked up 21 catches for 267 yards and four touchdowns in the final five games. Alabama's Yeldon ran for 258 yards in the SEC and BCS championship games plus freshman runner Derrick Henry, linebacker Reuben Foster and tight end O.J. Howard could develop significant roles. Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle Lavon Hooks and wideout Laquon Treadwell are freshmen to watch, along with Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and defensive ends Carl Lawson (Auburn) and Chris Jones (Mississippi State)— among others.

Predicted order of finish:

EAST

1. Georgia

2. South Carolina

3. Florida

4. Vanderbilt

5. Missouri

6. Tennessee

7. Kentucky

WEST

1. Alabama

2. Texas A&M

3. LSU

4. Mississippi

5. Auburn

6. Mississippi State

7. Arkansas

Title game winner: Alabama

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