We are just under two months until the start of the next college football season. The SEC will once again be a conference to watch with Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, and many more teams looking to make a deep postseason run. Here are five players to watch in the SEC in 2023.
SEC Players to Watch in 2023
With Stetson Bennett heading to the NFL, Carson Beck is expected to take the reins under center for the Georgia Bulldogs this season.
At 6 ‘4, 215 pounds, Beck has great size for a quarterback that will transition well to the NFL if given the opportunity. Beck has shown solid mechanics in the pocket and is not afraid to scramble for yards when needed. In limited action in 2022, Beck threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions and averaged six yards per carry running the football.
He will be under a lot of pressure as Georgia looks to become the first team since Michigan (1934-1936) to win three straight National Championships.
It will be difficult to replace the production lost from key contributors such as Will Anderson, Brian Branch, and Byron Young on the Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide will rely on several players to take over on defense including linebacker Chris Braswell.
The senior linebacker had 20 tackles last season and showed an innate ability to rush the quarterback with two and a half sacks and six hurries on the campaign. At 220 lbs, Braswell is light for an edge rusher but he makes up for it with his aggressiveness and speed. Look for Braswell to be a major contributor for the contending Crimson Tide.
Amari Cooper, DeVonta Smith, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones. These are just a couple of playmaking Alabama wide receivers that have made the jump to the NFL. Ja’Corey Brooks has the chance to be the next big-name wide receiver from Alabama.
Brooks thrived last season with 866 yards and eight touchdowns. His 22.5 yards per reception would have ranked him first in the NFL. At 6’3, Brooks has a physique that college coaches love for a wide receiver. His size combined with his athleticism and big play ability makes him a dangerous weapon for the Alabama offense.
If Brooks can put it all together in 2023, look for him to be a first-round pick next season in the NFL.
Jarquez Hunter will be the primary running back for the Auburn Tigers this season. As the backup to Tank Bigsby, Hunter has impressed over the last two seasons with 1,269 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 193 carries.
Hunter possesses blazing speed with a 4.4 second 40 yard dash time. At 5’10, 192 pounds, Hunter’s size is comparable to Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints. Just like Kamara, Hunter is also a threat as a receiver, posting 224 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 2022.
As the team’s starting running back, Hunter will look to give a spark to an Auburn team that hasn’t won more than six games since 2019.
After missing the 2022 season with a torn ACL, Maason Smith returns to the LSU Tigers, where he is expected to be the anchor of the defensive line.
In limited action in 2021, Smith was named to the Freshman All-American team for his performance. Smith has had trouble staying healthy over his first two collegiate seasons but when he is on the field he is a force on the defensive side of the football. His talent level is through the roof and his physicality and strength create nightmares for opposing offenses.
With a tough schedule against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, and Florida State, LSU will rely on Smith to be a major contributor as they look to return to the National Championship for the first time since 2019.
As the college football season unfolds, fans can eagerly anticipate the performances of these standout athletes and the overall excitement that the SEC consistently delivers.
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