SEC All-Surprise Team
SEC All-Surprise Team
We're just past the midway point of the college football season now, a good time to reflect back on the first half's all-star performers that we didn't see coming.
And I'm not talking about the guys who were already picked as preseason All-Conference before the year started. This team is the guys who are simply excelling against their peers, many of whom were picked to do better against them.
And although it's not all non-preseason picks, we did stick to that pretty consistently for the most part. The SEC All-Surprise Team has many top performers on many rising teams, helping explain why they are where they are.
There's at least one player on this team from every school in the SEC except for the Kentucky Wildcats. Sorry guys, no disrespect.
In the end though, it's all about one thing, and that's performing on the field. No amount of preseason hype can replace what we all know works so much better; drive and determination.
So here it is, the All SEC-Surprise Team.
QB - Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Sitting just behind Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray on the SEC passing yardage charts is Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel. Not only does he have a 162.8 quarterback rating from his 128-for-190 passing ratio on the season, but he leads the SEC in rushing at this point as well, outpacing Florida Gators running back Mike Gillislee by over 60 yards.
Although Manziel may not be among the Heisman candidates, he certainly has been a surprise at quarterback for Texas A&M so far.
RB - LaDarius Perkins, Mississippi State
Mississippi State Bulldogs' running back LaDarius Perkins has taken on quite a bit of the team's offensive load so far. Already passing his season totals in rushing for each of his first two seasons, Perkins currently sits at No. 3 on the yards chart with 600. The 105 attempts gives him a 5.7 yards-per-carry average, and his seven touchdowns aren't too shabby either.
WR - Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans has become a favorite target of Manziel in just his first season. Easily a candidate for SEC Freshman of the year, he currently sits at No. 3 overall in receiving in the conference.
WR - Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Donte Moncrief has had two 100+ yard receiving games this season, including a 144-yard effort against Texas. Moncrief has equaled his 2011 numbers so far in 2012.
TE - Mychal Rivera, Tennessee
Tennessee Volunteers tight end Mychal Rivera is getting his catches in, but it's what he is doing with those catches that is impressing everyone this season. He currently sits with the top receiving yards marks among tight ends in the SEC.
LT - Brey Cook, Arkansas
Arkansas lineman Brey Cook has been a very consistent player midway through his second season, and is one of the rising lineman in the league at left tackle.
LG - Aaron Morris, Ole Miss
Aaron Morris is described by his coaches as "explosive" and may be one of the best guards in the SEC, he's certainly a leader on the Ole Miss Rebels offensive line.
C - James Stone, Tennessee
Tennessee center James Stone has answered some tough questions this year. He looks to help propel his team to success.
RG - Tobias Smith, Mississippi State
Recently named co-SEC offensive lineman of the week, Tobias Smith has been a key player, especially with helping to make Perkins look so good on the run.
RT - Chaz Green, Florida
Florida's Chaz Green, pictured at the top, has been a very versatile player in the Florida lineup. Being a sophomore gives him time to grow and that's a scary thing.
DT - Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Was responsible for 17 tackles in his last game against Louisiana Tech. Keen awareness to the play.
DE - Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
May have started some trouble with his words early on, but showing that he's no old man in this game. Missouri Tigers' Sheldon Richardson is tops in the SEC in tackles for a defensive lineman.
DE - Trey Flowers, Arkansas
On October 8, Trey Flowers was named SEC defensive lineman of the week. A young player with a bright future, Flowers played much of last year as a true freshman. All-around consistent player.
DT - Michael Sam, Missouri
Mizzou's defensive line as gotten a huge boost out of Michael Sam. He had 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble against the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier this season.
LB - Adrian Hubbard, Alabama
Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard has had a sack in each of his last two games. His overall tackling numbers have been good. He's certainly a rising star on a very talented young Alabama team.
LB - Shaq Wilson, South Carolina
A hungry performer on a rising South Carolina team, Shaq Wilson was surprisingly not on one of the preseason All-SEC teams. Look for him to have some NFL stock now after his senior season.
LB - Kevin Minter, LSU
Kevin Minter is coming off of a recent co-SEC defensive player of the week award. Had 17 solo tackles in the loss to the Gators.
S - Byron Moore, Tennessee
Byron Moore is having an amazing season highlighted by four interceptions so far. He's very aggressive toward the ball carrier and has great tackling instincts.
S- Kenronte Walker, Missouri
Recent SEC defensive player of the week in mid-September, Kenronte Walker is a young player who has asserted himself to the league well.
CB - Sanders Commings, Georgia
He was a 3rd team All-SEC in the preseason but has really excelled above that. Solid cornerback and huge asset so far for the Georgia Bulldogs.
CB - Darius Slay, Mississippi State
Darius Slay has four interceptions and a touchdown on the season. He's a senior who has stepped up big in the team's undefeated run so far.
KOR - Cordarrelle Patterson
I'll take Cordarrelle Patterson's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Mississippi State any day of the week. Sensational return man.
PR - Marcus Murphy, Missouri
Marcus Murphy has three punt return, and one kickoff return touchdowns. Sophomore who's a danger to make a return anytime he touches the ball.
K - Cody Parkey, Auburn
Cody Parkey has only missed one field goal on the season for Auburn. He hit the game winner against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.
P - Richard Kent, Vanderbilt
Recently recognized by the SEC as co-specialist of the week. Richard Kent has had great numbers in his senior season and is among the top in the SEC with a 45.1 yard average.
Coach - Will Muschamp, Florida
Everyone knew that Will Muschamp was an intense guy who did have tremendous success with his defensive units when he was with the Texas Longhorns, but since being at Florida, Muschamp has found a formula to bring winning back to Gainesville. A lot remains to be seen, but he's certainly an early front-runner for SEC coach of the year.
In summation, this list has got some players that are rising stars, whether it's because they're young and having breakout years or they're seniors who are leading their teams at the right time, the SEC All-Surprise Team has a little bit of everything with some credits to the more unsung performers and surprises of the year.
And while Florida didn't have as many players on this team as others, they win the overall surprise team of 2012 as they currently sit ranked at No. 3 in the BCS standings and headed toward being the East division representative in the SEC championship game.