Tennessee Volunteers LB A.J. Johnson | i-Deal Tickets

Vols Near Bottom of Stacked SEC East

Posted on 24. May, 2013 by in NCAA

Spring football is in the books, so now is the perfect time to take a look at how the SEC East appears to measure up with just a few weeks left before fall camp begins.

SEC East Power Rankings:

Georgia – The 2012 season ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Bulldogs, falling just yards short of earning a spot in the BCS Championship in the SEC title game against Alabama. Mark Richt did lose a tremendous amount of defensive talent off last year’s squad, including All-American LB Jarvis Jones. But with QB Aaron Murray and RBs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall back on the offensive side of the ball, UGA should contend for a spot in the national title game again in 2013.

Florida – It was quite the turnaround for Will Muschamp and the Gators, who improved by four wins last year and fell just short of a spot against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. While the offense still needs some work, Muschamp fields one of the most aggressive, athletic defensive in the country, and that may be enough to challenge for a BCS spot. CB Loucheiz Purifoy, DT Dominique Easley and DE Ronald Powell should each contend for all conference honors.

South Carolina – Few teams have flown further under the radar over the last two seasons than the Gamecocks. Despite notching 22 wins in that time, Steve Spurrier and South Carolina have received little fanfare, at least compared to the rest of the SEC. The Gamecocks should be right in the thick of the SEC East race again this year, with superhuman DE Jadeveon Clowney leading what could be one of the nation’s best defenses.

Missouri – While Texas A&M enjoyed a remarkable SEC debut, the Tigers were not as fortunate. Mizzou slipped to a 5-7 record as injuries took their toll on the squad. With QB James Franklin returning healthy in 2013, Missouri should return to the postseason, as the dual-threat signal caller has one of the biggest receiving corps in the country, led by superstar recruit Dorial Green-Beckham.

Vanderbilt – The Commodores are as relevant as they have ever been, thanks in large part to the coaching of James Franklin. While he may not be in Nashville much longer, he chose to stick around for at least one more season, and should have Vandy right in bowl contention again. Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels is expected to take over at QB, and will have one of the nation’s best receivers to throw to in Jordan Matthews.

Tennessee – Fans with Vols tickets have had little reason to be excited over the last few years, but that should change under new head coach Butch Jones, who has followed the same career trajectory as Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. Jones returns two of the SEC’s best defenders in LB A.J Johnson and S Byron Moore.

Kentucky – Despite the success that Joke Phillips enjoyed earlier in his tenure, the last couple years did not go well, and he was replaced by ex-FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops. Stoops now must decide who earns the nod at quarterback, with sophomores Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles the leading candidates for the spot.

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