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Conference Preview: SEC West

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 10: Alabama Crimson Tide QB Bryce Young (9) throws downfield during the Alabama Crimson Tide versus the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff National Championship, on January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

No conference produces more devy and NFL talent than the SEC. The SEC West imparticular has shown an affinity for sending talent to the NFL. It has to be expected when you have droves of talent on nearly every team, led by Alabama.

Speaking of Alabama, they are coming off a loss in the national championship, but they are not short for talent. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young returns to an offense that Nick Saban has reloaded through the transfer portal. Texas A&M seems to be finding its footing, and LSU hopes Brian Kelly can get things in order. This leads to the SEC West being full of devy talent and assets. 

Top Prospects 

Bryce Young, QB Alabama 

One of the best quarterbacks in the country, not just the SEC west, is Young. As mentioned above, he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, so expectations are high. That being said, Young is very deserving of it. He has clean mechanics and a super talented arm that will make him a top ten pick in next year’s draft. At the same time, some have concerns considering his height and weight; no need to panic at the moment.

Kayshon Boutte, WR LSU

One of the best receivers in all of college football, Boutte is next in line at LSU. They recently produced Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase; Boutte is in that same tier. Not only is he deserving, but he also has a different skill set than they had. He relies more on getting the ball in the short to the intermediate range and going from there. His route running allows him to work himself openly against challenging SEC corners.

Tank Bigsby, RB Auburn 

The forgotten back in the SEC west, Bigsby is worth your attention. His blend of size with nimble footwork allows him to be a dual-threat out of the backfield. Auburn has been trying to find a sustainable quarterback, but in the meantime, they have discovered Bigsby. He will be a staple for any success the Tigers have this year, and despite that, he is flying under the radar. Keep eyes on him as the season progresses; it should be a value well into the next draft cycle.

Devy Risers 

Raheim Sanders, RB Arkansas 

Sanders has the build to be a very effective back in the SEC west and the NFL. Being listed at 6’2” and 220 pounds, he moves incredibly well despite the bulk he carries. Arkansas started something special last year, and with Sanders and quarterback K.J. Jefferson, they may be onto something. 

Devon Achane, RB Texas A&M 

Part-time track star, part-time Aggies running back, Achane stays busy. He is lightning quick with the ball in his hands; without it, he proves to struggle a little bit. He is a vertical runner at this point; he has the athletic skill set to be an elite running back, with it being his full-time focus. With the departure of Isaiah Spiller, look for Achane to take a significant step this season.

Jaxson Dart, QB Ole Miss

Dart makes the jump from the Pac-12 to the SEC west this season. After a solid freshman year at USC, he travels to Ole Miss to be with Lane Kiffin. His offense should get the most out of Dart as he looks to improve his stock in many’s eyes. He has a live arm, makes good decisions, and processes defenses well. If he can show off against SEC defenses this year, his stock could be through the roof in 2023.

Top Devy Freshman 

Connor Weigman, QB Texas A&M 

A true dual threat with a big arm, Weigman has a chance to take the Aggies to the next level. Jimbo Fisher has proven to be a quarterback whisperer, and now he gets a star pupil this year. We shouldn’t expect to see much of Weigman as we would imagine this year. However, as most freshmen are, this is about the long play.

Emmanuel Henderson, RB Alabama 

Much like Georgia to the east, Alabama has become a running back factory. The SEC West run game typically goes through Tuscaloosa. This year, the star back will be Jahmyr Gibbs, but Henderson is the prince in waiting to take over the throne. A 4-star back out of this class, Henderson has a background in track as well from high school. He is the complete package athletically; now, he needs the Alabama coaching staff to take the next step.

Impact Transfers 

The Alabama Duo

Nick Saban decided recruiting wasn’t good enough when building a roster. He was able to add both running back Gibbs and wide receiver Tyler Harrell to the team’s skill players. Gibbs comes from Georgia Tech, where he was a fun and exciting back with breakaway speed. Harrell is a more filled-out version of Tutu Atwell. Both appear to be poised to be playmakers immediately for the Crimson Tide, and both could become first-round talents potentially by year’s end.

Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss

Former 5-star running back Evans was in a split role at TCU last year. This year, he transfers to Ole Miss, where he looks to play a much more significant role. Under Lane Kiffin, Evans is expected to be able to demonstrate his explosive play-making ability. With less than 20 catches to his credit, Evans has tremendous pass-catching ability but hasn’t been able to show it. His strength and vision as a runner will make him an excellent watch even within the SEC West.

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