One of the most interesting positions in the SEC is receiver. There are plenty of stars and story lines. You've got the A.J. Green versus Julio Jones debate. You've got Terrance Toliver emerging along side Brandon LaFell at LSU. Ole Miss has some great ones in Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge. Weslye Saunders is breaking out as a pass catcher from the tight end spot at South Carolina.
One guy that does not yet immediately come to mind is Randall Cobb. But he should.
Cobb was Kentucky's backup quarterback a year ago, and a lot of people not just in Kentucky's fan base but around the conference thought he should have gotten more playing time earlier in the season at the expense of Mike Hartline. In the off season, Rich Brooks made the controversial move to stick with Hartline under center and move Cobb to receiver.
In two games so far, he has blossomed into one of the SEC's best up and coming players. On the admittedly very young season, he leads the conference in catches per game and grabbed the game winning touchdown pass from Hartline in Kentucky's dramatic win over Louisville. Though he's new to the role, having been a quarterback solely back through high school and only getting spot duty there last year, he certainly has looked the part. As a bonus, he's fifth in the conference in punt returns.
As crowded as the SEC is with good receivers, the running back field is perhaps even moreso. Alabama alone has four good ones, headlined by Mark Ingram. Auburn's duo of Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb have rejuvenated the Tigers' offense. Richard Samuel and Caleb King look formidable at Georgia, and Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown look equally so at Tennessee. Florida has its lightning quick backs in Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.
But for all that talent, you may not guess which running back is leading the conference in all purpose yards per game.
It's Kentucky's Derrick Locke. He does it all for the Cats: rushing for nearly six yards a carry, receiving for almost 12 yards a catch, and returning kickoffs, one of which he took 100 yards to the house against Louisville.
The Wildcats definitely missed him after his injury last year. He got knocked out for the season with a knee injury against Arkansas, a blow to an offense already missing Dicky Lyons, Jr. They were 5-2 with him, but just 2-4 without him against an admittedly tougher stretch of schedule.
Thanks in part to Cobb's and Locke's play around him, Mike Hartline has moved up from ninth to sixth in the SEC in passing efficiency on the young season. Hartline also is tied for second in the league in completions per game. We'll see how long the improvement holds up as UK plays some better teams than Miami University and Louisville, but early improvement is certainly better than the alternative.
Whatever the case, expect Cobb and Locke to be the key play makers on offense in Kentucky's quest to make it four bowls in a row. I fully expect Kentucky to cover whatever the ridiculous spread against Florida is (24, last I saw), and these two will be important parts of making that happen.