The SEC is once again well represented in another preseason award watch list as the conference placed 15 on the Outland Trophy watch list. The Outland Trophy has been given annually to the nation’s top interior lineman since Notre Dame tackle George Connor won in 1946.
My best bets to win the award from the conference this year are Texas A&M senior tackle Jake Matthews, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and Tennessee tackle Antonio Richardson. The latter two are both juniors and this likely will be their final college seasons considering both are likely to be high picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
Here are the remaining offensive linemen to make the watch list:
Chris Burnette, OG, Georgia
A.J. Cann, OG, South Carolina
La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State
Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt
Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama
Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
The Outland is not just for tackles and guards, as defensive tackles and nose guards are included in the award, although only 21 defenders have won the award in the 67 years of the trophy.
Here are the defensive linemen to make the watch list:
Anthony Johnson from LSU, Dominique Easley of Florida, Kelcy Quarles of South Carolina and Tennessee’s Daniel McCullers.
An SEC player has won the Outland Trophy 11 times including four of the last six years. The conference has won the last two when Texas A&M and Alabama tackles Luke Joeckel and Barrett Jones took home the hardware, respectively.
The biggest contender at preventing the conference from a three-peat is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan who projected as a top-10 pick in the NFL draft but returned to Ann Arbor for his senior season. However, my prediction is the SEC will claim this trophy and it will be one of the big three tackles to keep the hardware in the conference.