[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image source="featured_image" img_size="large"][vc_column_text]National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with replacement stars in the SEC, how the Big Ten programs are trending post-spring and arguably the most interesting names for the 2023 NFL Draft.
— I continue my look at replacing the stars in college football with a look at the SEC.
Being Replaced: Nakobe Dean, Georgia
Replacement: Smael Mondon, Trezman Marshall, & Robert Beal
It's almost impossible to replicate everything that Dean did for a legendary Dawgs' defense last season. Mondon was a top-100 kid coming out of high school last year and we're going to see why but Dean’s speed will be missed a bit. Don't sleep on Marshall either - he was an animal at Georgia's spring game.
Being Replaced: Jameson Williams & John Metchie, Alabama
Replacements: Jermaine Burton & Tyler Harrell
Yes, Ja'Corey Brooks and Jojo Earle are going to get snaps too, but the Tide brought in two of the best receivers in the portal to replace their playmakers from last season. Wide receiver went from a position of relative youth and inexperience to one of the strongest on the roster in a heartbeat.
Being Replaced: Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky
Replacement: Tayvion Robinson
Another transfer wide receiver, Tayvion comes over from Virginia Tech where he was their best weapon at the position. How fast he gels with Will Levis will go a long way to deciding how well this offense will perform in 2022.
Being Replaced: Derek Stingley Jr. & Eli Ricks, LSU
Replacements: Mekhi Garner, Jarrick Bernard, & Greg Brooks Jr.
It's a three-way transfer battle for the starting corner jobs, but considering how much the Tigers play with 5+ DBs, you'll see all three of these guys on the field at once. While none of them have the raw athleticism of either Stingley or Ricks, they are all veteran players who have a lot of talent in their own right.
Being Replaced: DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M
Replacement: Shermar Turner
The 2021 five-star recruit was a huge get for Jimbo Fisher and co., and he got his feet wet as a true freshman last year behind Leal. Now, however, it's time for Turner to show that he can be a dominant force lining up all across the defensive line.
— It’s stock report time for the Big Ten with momentum for some and a lack thereof for others coming out of the spring.
Illinois: Holding Steady
It's going to take some time for Bret Bielema to get the Illini back to being truly competitive, but it seems that in his first full recruiting cycle he's been able to establish an identity. They're no longer in a free-fall, but they're definitely not world-beaters either.
We saw a lot of guys leave the program - most notably Michael Penix Jr. - after a disappointing 2021, and they haven't done a great job of bringing in guys of the same caliber to replace them. Expect another sub-.500 season.
The Hawkeyes continue to get egg on their face off the field, this time for the dissolution of the advisory committee that was formed in the wake of the Chris Doyle scandal. No wonder they haven't been able to add anyone in the portal.
Maryland has lost a lot more players to the portal than they've gained. They need to hope that Taulia Tagovailoa and Jacob Copeland can quickly get on the same page.
2021 was a magical year for the Wolverines, making it to the College Football Playoff. But with the departures they had of both players and coaches going to the NFL, Michigan simply isn't as strong a position today as they were at the end of last year. But that's not to say they don't have a great chance to repeat as conference champs because they absolutely do.
Michigan State: Up
If there's anyone who can give Lane Kiffin a run at the title of "King of the Portal" it's Mel Tucker. He continues to absolutely kill it, this year adding seven more players, many of whom will more than likely be starters.
The problem with having four quality running backs is that there's only one ball, and because of that, the Gophers have lost two of their top players at the position, most recently Mar'Keise Irving to Oregon. They need to hope that Mo Ibrahim is back to 100% for week one.
Only room for improvement. Scott Frost did well to land Mark Whipple as his new OC, and managed to fill a ton of gaps in the portal, most notably with for Texas QB Casey Thompson.
Northwestern: Holding Steady
The Wildcats should be much more competitive in 2022 with a return to normalcy. Pat Fitzgerald runs one of the steadiest programs in the country.
Ohio State: Up
Ohio State is on the shortlist for best teams entering 2022, and it's easy to see why. They're loaded at every position even after losing two receivers to the first round of the draft.
Penn State: Holding Steady
The Nittany Lions definitely lost more than they gained via the portal, and there's a lot of pressure on James Franklin entering the year. To be fair, he's killing it on the recruiting but it's something to keep an eye on.
Aidan O'Connell is getting a lot of hype and rightfully so. He's got a cannon attached to his right arm and there's a lot of hope around West Lafayette that he can elevate this team to the top of the West.
Greg Schiano and Rutgers simply belong together. The Scarlet Knights have had a huge uptick in recruiting, and they also got some nice additions in the portal, including a guy who I think has the potential to be a very early pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in JD DiRenzo, the former FCS All-American from Sacred Heart. He's going to be a good one.
Wisconsin: Holding Steady
The top-ranked defense in the country loses 8 starters, but the return of Bob Bostad as the offensive line coach should bring their unit back to being among the best in the nation year in and year out. They added some good pieces in the portal too, most notably in the defensive backfield.
— And I gave you some first-round sleepers on Tuesday for the 2023 NFL Draft but how about the most intriguing names?
QB Will Levis, Kentucky — CBS had him as the No. 1 pick in the draft next season, but remember, he didn’t beat out Sean Clifford at Penn State and threw 13 picks last season. He’s polarizing.
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas — Robinson is amazing but will a running back be a top 10 value anytime soon again with injury issues with Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and how quick Zeke Elliott wore out?
CB Elias Ricks, Alabama — At LSU he was CB2 to Stingley Jr. At Alabama, he’ll be CB1 and trying to be a top-five pick.
DE Will Anderson, Alabama — Is he the No. 1 pick? Can anyone be better and is he the best defensive prospect since Jadeveon Clowney?
DE Myles Murphy, Clemson — I think he’s a high first-round talent but some don’t see the same thing so he will be one to watch.