Deep position groups mask elite gems in the SEC for 2022
Alabama: Dallas Turner (Linebacker)
When you line up in a core with arguably the best linebacker in the country in Will Anderson Jr., and then on the inside, you have arguably one of the three best inside linebackers in the country in Henry To'oTo'o, you tend to fly under the radar a bit.
Last season Turner earned Freshman All-American recognition and will be looking to take that next step as the next great linebacker at Alabama. He was outstanding in the national championship game, and he's just scratching the surface of his talent level.
Georgia: The Starting Cornerback Opposite Kelee Ringo
Ringo started last year in the preseason working to become a starter at corner.
What he ended up doing with his amazing length, excellent speed, and playmaking ability was become one of the nation's best corner's that culminated in a game clinching interception in the National Championship Game.
What Georgia enters this season is who will become that starter opposite of Ringo? Georgia's "elder statesmen" in sophomore Kamari Lassiter and redshirt freshman Nyland Green have the inside track. Incoming freshmen include two 5-star corners in Jaheim Singletary and Dylan Everette as well as 4-star Julian Humphrey.
Whoever steps up will be tested the most since most opposing quarterbacks will avoid Ringo and is a position to keep an eye on.
Texas A&M - Reuben Fatheree II (Right Tackle)
During the 2022 SEC Media Days, fellow Aggie lineman Layden Robinson has a glowing endorsement for the 6'8" 320 pound right tackle saying he feels last season's Freshman All-American is destined to be one of the best in the SEC.
Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher said during SEC Media Days that he felt his offensive line would be "a really big strength of our team."
With Trey Zuhn III, Layden Robinson, Bryce Foster, and Fatheree leading the offensive line it is in legitimate consideration for the Joe Moore Award.
Ole Miss - Jonathan Mingo (Wide Receiver)
Mingo, the 6'2" 225 pound senior wide receiver will become a primary target for sophomore quarterback Jaxson Dart.
He has legit 4.4 speed, and the wide receiver will be looking for that senior campaign to get him to the next level recovering from a foot injury he suffered during the 2020 campaign.
Tennessee - Jeremy Banks (Linebacker)
One of Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel's first projects in Knoxville has been a surprising result converting running back Jeremy Banks to a linebacker who finished in the Top 10 in the nation in tackles last season.
Banks is on the Butkus and Lott Watch Lists as well as pre-season All-SEC Teams, with the logjam of talent at linebacker at Alabama, Georgia - Banks would be First Team All Conference in most of the Power 5.
LSU - Maason Smith (Defensive Tackle)
I may sound contradictory by having Smith in this Under The Radar piece after including him in my Top 8 Defensive Tackles article.
His inclusion has a lot to deal with his partner at defensive tackle in junior Jacquelin Roy and the other part was in a small role as a freshman played 9 games and had 19 tackles and 4 sacks, the sack total had him in the Top 10 in his position group.
Smith has a really high ceiling to be that next great defensive tackle at LSU.
Florida - Brenton Cox Jr. (Linebacker)
Much like Dallas Turner at Alabama who lives in the giant shadows of Will Anderson and Henry To'oTo'o, Cox lives in a shadow of fellow Gator linebacker Ventrell Miller.
Cox was slowed with some injuries but still willed his way to 41 tackles and 8 sacks, which led the team. Look for Cox, Miller, and defensive tackle Gervon Dexter to be the heart of the front 7 for Billy Napier's Gators this year.
Rest of the SEC
Arkansas - Terry Knox (Tight End)
Knox is a converted wide receiver to tight end in Kendall Briles explosive offense.
Knox hit the weight room and added weight, with his size 6'5" 235 coupled with his speed and hands, he has a great opportunity to be a match up nightmare in the Razorback offense.
Kentucky - Dane Key (Wide Receiver)
Key, a true freshman, was a 4-star athlete and the No. 1 player out of Kentucky last cycle, choosing the Wildcats over Michigan, Oregon and South Carolina.
The Wildcats will throw Key into the mix with Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson and Alabama transfer Javon Baker. Key should develop by the end of the season to be a primary target for QB Will Levis.
Mississippi State - Percy Lewis (Left Tackle)
You replace a mountain with a mountain and that is what Mike Leach got in Percy Lewis a JUCO transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC.
Lewis, who is 6'8" 360 pounds, is taking over for Top 10 NFL Draft pick Charles Cross.
South Carolina - Jordan Burch (Defensive End)
Former 5-star recruits Jordan Burch and defensive tackle Zacch Pickens both could claim the spot here, but I feel Burch gained a lot more traction and momentum toward the end of the season.
For the Gamecocks to take a next step in a hyper competitive SEC East, they will need Burch and Pickens to realize their potential and join all conference defensive back Cam Smith being foundation pieces for the Gamecocks defense.
Auburn - Tar'Varish Dawson (Wide Receiver)
Maturity was a reason as season ago Dawson red shirted as he was learning the way. In 2022, Dawson has a new look, matured, and during the Auburn spring game he demonstrated the elite speed that coaches marvel over.
He's in a battle with junior wide receiver Ja’Varrius Johnson for the H-Receiver position. Dawson will only be held back if he cannot limit the drops, if he limits the drops, look for Auburn to use Dawson in many gadget situations to leverage his speed.
Missouri - Luther Burden III (Wide Receiver)
The 5-star wide receiver from East St. Louis enters his freshman year being a focal point in Eli Drinkwitz's offense.
If the spring game is any indicator, Drinkwitz will use Burden in every facet possible to get him the ball; wide receiver sweeps, screens, vertical shots, and look for him to return kicks.
Vanderbilt - Anfernee Orji (Linebacker)
One of the only strengths the Commodores enjoy is a deep linebacking corp with Ethan Barr, Errington Truesdell, Clemson transfer Kane Patterson, and Orji.
Patterson might be the most dynamic of the quartet, but Orji is the sure handed linebacker who led the Commodores with 93 tackles and 13 for a loss a season ago.