A look at some of the key players for the division contenders last year who won't be returning in 2013
Eddie Lacy, Alabama: One half of the running back duo that gave Alabama the second-best rushing offense in the SEC, Lacy declared for the after his junior season. That junior season featured Lacy rushing for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 189 yards and a pair of scores. Lacy was particularly effective in Alabama's two most important games of the year, running for a combined 321 yards and three touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia and the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame; he also had a touchdown reception against the Irish.
Dee Milliner, Alabama: While he didn't make a big dent on the stat sheet in interceptions -- he had two, which is a solid number but not the stuff unanimous All-American campaigns are made of -- Milliner was still one of the better defensive backs in the country. Instead, Milliner made his mark with an NCAA-leading 20 passes broken up, including four in the season-opening win at Michigan that launched the Tide's national championship campaign and two each against Georgia and Notre Dame. One of Milliner's picks also came in the beatdown of the Wolverines at the beginning of the year. Milliner also tied for fourth on the team with 54 tackles.
Kevin Minter, LSU: The linebacker had a team-leading 130 tackles, including a jaw-dropping 20 in a single day against Florida -- even though Minter missed part of the game because of fatigue. Not that it was all that far out of the ordinary for Minter, who averaged 10 tackles a game in 2012. In addition to that game, Minter logged double-digit tackles against Texas A&M, Arkansas and Clemson. Minter also had 15 tackles for loss on the season, or a bit more than one a game, and defensed six passes to boot.
Sam Montgomery, LSU: Montgomery, who played at defensive end for LSU, was the top sacker for the Tigers with eight quarterback stops on the season. His 13 tackles for loss, which works out to an average of one per game, were second only to Minter. Two of Montgomery's sacks came in the narrow, come-from-behind win against South Carolina that arguably kept LSU's season from going completely off the rails after the loss at Florida. He also had a sack in the loss against Alabama.
Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: On a defense that was often overshadowed by its high-octane offense, Moore was a one-man wrecking crew at defensive end. Moore tied for seventh in the NCAA in tackles for loss with 21 and was tied for eighth in the country with 12.5 sacks. (He was ninth or tied for ninth in both categories on a per-game basis.) He also tacked on nine more quarterback hurries at a school that doesn't hand out that many hurries in a stat that is tracked by universities. And he led Texas A&M's defense with 85 tackles.
Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: While 2012 was a bit of a step back for Ryan Swope after 2011, that's only because Swope had perhaps the best season for any receiver in Aggie history in 2011. And the drop-off didn't keep Swope from ending up with one of the best careers of any A&M player. Swope holds the career record for receptions with 252, receiving yards with 3,117 and ranks second on the all-time list of receiving touchdowns with 24. His last campaign still ranked fourth in A&M's record books with 913 -- he still holds the top year after a 1,207-yard season in 2011 -- and fourth in touchdowns in a season with eight. And while Mike Evans proved himself to be more than a worthy successor with 1,105 yards, defensive coordinators are likely relieved they don't have to account for Swope and Evans at the same time.