Three-Point Stance: Top 10 offensive backfields, Auburn, more
Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with his top 10 offensive backfields in the country, the non-QB MVP for every SEC team and the Auburn Mount Rushmore since 1980.
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1. TOP 10 OFFENSIVE BACKFIELDS
Oklahoma — With Spencer Rattler as the best QB in the country and Kennedy Brooks back, the addition of transfer Eric Gray is almost unfair.
Iowa State — Brock Purdy is back and so is Breece Hall, which means the Iowa State backfield is loaded once again.
Georgia — JT Daniels, Zamir White and James Cook could make a case for No. 1, yes? It’s close.
Ole Miss — Matt Corral with Jerrion Ealy is as exciting a 1-2 punch as there is in college football.
Texas A&M — With Isaiah Spiller, Devon Achane and Ainias Smith getting touches, I don’t care who gets the start at QB, this backfield needs to be on the list.
North Carolina — Mike Carter and Javonte Williams are gone, but Sam Howell is still there, and watch out for Ty Chandler.
Clemson — How do you lose Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne to the first round of the NFL Draft and remain on this list? By recruiting guys like DJ Uiagalelei and Will Shipley.
Alabama — How about the same question that I had for Clemson? Bryce Young and Brian Robinson could be nasty.
Auburn — Tank Bigsby is so good that Auburn has to make this list, and I think Bo Nix gets better.
Texas — Bijan Robinson is nasty, and the Longhorns have a ton of depth at running back, so whoever the QB is will be fine.
2. MVPS OF THE SEC WHO AREN'T QUARTERBACKS
I continue to look at the non-QB MVPs for each Power Five conference with the SEC today.
Alabama: John Metchie, WR
DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are gone, and with a new quarterback in Bryce Young being broken in, Metchie is going to be very important in his development. He's got the potential to be the next great Alabama WR, and he'll have the opportunity to prove that this season.
The All-American from last season is a playmaker in the secondary, and the Hogs are going to have to prevent big plays and grind down teams if they're going to be competitive in the SEC West this season. Having him roaming center field will help keep chunk plays to a minimum and force some big turnovers.
Auburn: Tank Bigsby, RB
The best freshman back in the country last year (or arguably with Bijan Robinson) will be even more important this season as the Tigers lost their top three pass catchers. Expect him to lead the conference in yards from scrimmage.
Florida: Kaiir Elam, CB
Elam returns as one of the top defensive backs in the league, and is one of the few bright spots on a Gators defense that really struggled last season. If Florida is going to push Georgia in the SEC East, its defense, especially against the pass, is going to need to take a big leap forward, and that begins with Elam.
Georgia: Tykee Smith, S
The All-American immediately filled one of the Dawgs' biggest holes on the team when he transferred from West Virginia in the offseason. With Smith and fellow transfer Derion Kendrick in place, Georgia has one of the strongest units in the conference. Smith's versatility to play both deep safety and slot corner will come in handy throughout the season. His early injury is not a big deal as he might miss one game.
Kentucky: Wan'Dale Robinson, WR
The Wildcats really needed to add to their offensive playmaking, especially from the receiver position, and the Nebraska transfer is just the answer. A versatile player, he'll be able to contribute in the run game and as a kick returner in addition to catching passes. If Kentucky makes a run in the SEC East, it's going to be because Robinson explodes on the scene.
LSU: Kayshon Boutte, WR
You could make a pretty strong argument that both Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks are better players. But because Boutte is the only proven wide receiver on this roster he's going to be more integral to the success of this team. He's got big shoes to fill with both Terrace Marshall and Ja'Marr Chase off to the NFL, but he and Max Johnson could be a lethal duo.
Mississippi State: Jaden Walley, WR
The top returning target for the Bulldogs, Walley has an opportunity to put up huge numbers in Mike Leach's Air Raid system. Don't be surprised if Walley is at or near the top of the conference in yards.
Missouri: Kobie Whiteside, DT
Whiteside is one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the conference, and his presence allows Trajan Jeffcoat to really make an impact off of the edge. Whiteside is a stout run defender, but he's even better at getting after the passer from the interior, allowing him to stay on the field in all downs and distances.
Ole Miss: Jerrion Ealy, RB
We all know that the Rebels will put up big passing yards with Matt Corral behind center in Lane Kiffin's wide-open offense, but Ealy proved that he can make defenses pay if they sell out to get after the quarterback. He's powerful between the tackles but showed a great ability to catch passes out of the backfield last year. With Elijah Moore off to the NFL, expect to see Ealy integrated into the offense even more.
South Carolina: Kingsley Enagbare, DE
The Gamecocks have a great pair of backs in Kevin Harris and MarShawn Lloyd, but they in effect cancel each other out for the purposes of this exercise. South Carolina really struggled defensively last season, and it will be up to Enagbare to get after the passer and lead this unit if the Gamecocks are going to succeed.
Tennessee: Theo Jackson, CB
The back seven for the Vols has a few questions this season, and Jackson will need to step up to lock down opponents' top options at receiver if first-year coach Josh Heupel is going to have any modicum of success with this squad. Jackson moved to corner from safety last season, so a second year at the position should prove helpful for him.
Texas A&M: DeMarvin Leal, DE
Arguably the best player in the conference regardless of position, Leal is a straight up menace. At 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, Leal can line up either inside or out, and no matter where he does he can get to the quarterback in a hurry. With a big season, he could be in the mix for a top-five pick in the upcoming draft.
Vanderbilt: Camron Johnson, WR
Johnson leads one of the sneaky-best wide receiver rooms in the conference. The three-year starter catches everything that comes near him, and he has found his home in the slot. He is routinely able to beat corners off the line and use his footwork and quickness in tight spaces to make defenders miss. Sophomore quarterback Ken Seals is going to lean heavily on Johnson in his second year as a starter.
3. FOUR PLAYERS WHO MAKE UP AUBURN'S MT. RUSHMORE
Finally, I continue my roll through the Mount Rushmore of players since 1980 with four legendary players for Auburn.
RB Bo Jackson — No one embodies Auburn football more than Jackson, who is one of the greatest athletes we've ever seen play any sport. The 1985 Heisman winner was a two-time consensus All-American, and were it not for an injury as a junior in 1984 he could have been a four-time All-SEC nominee. Anyone who watched him knew that his blend of power and speed was unmatched by anyone who has come before or since.
QB Cam Newton — Cam only played one season for the Tigers, but that single season was among the best ever played by any player in the history of the sport. He threw for 2,854 yards and 30 TDs. He added 1,515 yards and 21 more TDs on the ground on the way to the Heisman Trophy as he led Auburn to its first national title since 1957.
DL Tracy Rocker — Rocker was a two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC player, and as a senior won the SEC Player of the Year, Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award. The College Football Hall of Famer was as tough as they come, and he amassed 354 tackles, 21 sacks, and 48 tackles for loss during his storied career.
OT Marcus McNeill — A two-time All-American and All-SEC nominee, McNeill was the leader of some of the best lines in school history, paving the way for Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown to amass mind-boggling stats on the way to their 2004 undefeated season. The best lineman in the history of the school, McNeill was an absolutely menacing presence at 6-foot-8 and 335 pounds. Williams or Carlos Rogers could have made it here, but let’s give the offensive line some love.