The Process Of Choosing Pre-Season All-SEC

Every five or ten years or so I comply with the Southeastern Conference request to choose a pre-season All-Southeastern Conference Football Team. This was one of those years. Here I share something of the process by which I make my selections, and my final choices.

In the past I have joked that I first insert all the Alabama players that I think deserve to be on the team and then fill it out with players from any team but Auburn.

I say, that’s a joke, son.

True, I usually do have a handful of Crimson Tide players, but so do many of the others who make this selection. That’s because Alabama often is expected to have one of the better teams and because Bama has exceptional recruiting.

There are several hurdles in this task. One, I cover Alabama and know the Tide pretty well. Beyond that, I know the SEC Western Division better than the Eastern Division, but none of the other teams as well as I know Alabama. Thus, I rely to great extent on the watch lists for college football awards that have been announced and on the players that each school has recommended for all-star consideration.

Until I begin to fill out the “on-line voting system ballot,” I don’t know for sure what the format is going to be.

Is the ballot going to have five offensive linemen or a center and four offensive linemen or a center and two guards and two tackles? One running back and three wide receivers or two of each?

On defense, will it have a 4-3 or a 3-4 or something else? Six SEC teams claim to have a 4-3 as the base defense, three (including Alabama, which probably should be a 3-3-5) list a 3-4. South Carolina and Auburn have a 4-2-5. Florida, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State say they are multiple – as if any SEC defense is not multiple. Two safeties and two cornerbacks, or four defensive backs?

And so as I work out my ballot the old fashioned way, on a legal pad and with a pen, I realize when I get to the “on-line voting system ballot,” I may have to make quick adjustments. You can’t dally on the “on-line voting system ballot” or it will shut down and you have to start over.

Are there special teams players? If so, is it limited to placekicker and punter?

The final hurdles are the biggest. Which running backs will be included (and that really means what outstanding running backs will be omitted)? And who is the pre-season All-SEC quarterback? Picking the quarterback last year was not a problem, although our “on-line voting system ballot” requires us to also pick a second team quarterback. That was tough by elimination last year, and difficult this year because who really believes in the pre-season that two SEC quarterbacks would be considered all-stars.

Nevertheless, I have soldiered on, and I share my selections with you. These ballots have to be in before the likes of Nick Saban and the Tide players who accompany him (Amari Cooper, Landon Collins, and Christion Jones) take the podium, but I doubt anyone is venturning onto the “on-line voting system ballot” depending on notes taken from interviews with coaches and players.

We did not vote for any incoming freshmen, even though we believe that players like cornerback Tony Brown at Alabama and tailback Leonard Fournette at LSU could be first year stars.

First, the offense, which I decided would be two wide receivers, two running backs, a center and four generic offensive linemen (mixing guards and tackles), a tight end, a quarterback, and a placekicker.

My first team:

Wide receivers Amari Cooper of Alabama and Sammie Coates of Auburn; center Reese Dismukes, Auburn; offensive linemen Chaz Green of Florida, La’el Collins of LSU, A.J. Cann of South Carolina, and Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M; tight end O.J. Howard, Alabama; running backs T.J. Yeldon, Alabama, and Todd Gurley, Georgia; quarterback Bo Wallace, Ole Miss; placekicker Colby Delahoussaye, LSU.

Second team offense:

Wide receivers Christion Jones, Alabama, and Laquan Treadwell, Texas A&M; offensive linemen David Andrews, Georgia; Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss; Vadal Alexander, LSU; and Arie Kouandjio, Alabama; tight end C.J. Uzomah, Auburn; running backs Keith Marshall, Georgia, and Derrick Henry, Alabama; quarterback Dak Prescott, Mississippi State; placekicker Marshall Morgan, Georgia.

Next the defense, which is a 4-3 with two ends, two tackles, three linebackers, four defensive backs (there are more quality safeties than cornerbacks, it appears), and a punter.

First team:

Ends A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama, and Trey Flowers, Arkansas; tackles J.T. Surratt, South Carolina, and Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss; linebackers Trey DePriest, Alabama; Ramik Wilson, Georgia; and A.J. Johnson, Tennessee; defensive backs Landon Collins, Alabama; Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss; Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida; and Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M; punter Drew Kaser, Texas A&M.

Second team defense:

Ends Dante Fowler, Florida, and Alvin Dupree, Kentucky; tackles Brandon Ivory, Alabama, and Adam Butler, Vanderbilt; linebackers Jordan Jenkins, Georgia; D.J. Welter, LSU; Bernardrick McKinley, Mississippi State; defensive backs Tre’Davious White, LSU; Brian Randolph, Tennessee; Robonson Therezie, Auburn; and Jamerson Love, Mississippi State; and punter Taylor Hudson, Vanderbilt.

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