A look at some of the key players in the division last year who won't be returning in 2013
Matt Elam, Florida: The safety was one of the best players on Florida's outstanding defense, recording 76 tackles in 2012 -- good for second-best on the team. Elam was the team leader with four interceptions broke up five more passes on top of that. His 11 tackles for loss was second-most on the team, and two of those were sacks. Elam also forced a fumble. The secondary isn't the hardest-hit area of Florida's defense when it comes to attrition, but Elam could still be missed this year.
Mike Gillislee, Florida: Coming into the 2012 season, Florida had not seen a 1,000-yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Gillislee, whose previous high-water mark for carries was 58 in 2010, took full advantage of being the top running back to change that. Gillislee ran for 1,152 yards and ten touchdowns on 244 carries. And while he wasn't much of a factor in the South Carolina win or the Georgia loss, Gillislee did run for 146 yards in the win against LSU and 140 yards at Florida State, scoring twice in each of those games. Gillislee could also be an asset in the passing game, snagging 16 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown. With the team's second-leading rusher being quarterback Jeff Driskel, meaning someone else will likely have to step up if Florida is going to have a 1,000-yard rusher in 2013.
Jarvis Jones, Georgia: There are more than enough key defensive losses for the Dawgs and all of their fellow contenders in the SEC East this year, but Jones might be one of the biggest. Did you know, for example, that Jones had more sacks (14.5) and tackles for loss (24.5) than Jadeveon Clowney? Jones also totaled 85 tackles overall -- good for third on the team -- and had 39 quarterback hurries -- though one should always be very cautious with quarterback hurries, which are kept by programs instead of the NCAA., and Georgia seems to be very generous with the stat. Jones also forced seven fumbles, something that doesn't depend on who's doing the scoring, and intercepted a pass. Jones had a season-high 12 tackles, including three sacks, in the win against Florida that essentially sent Georgia to the SEC Championship Game.
Tavarres King, Georgia: One of the reasons that Aaron Murray was so good last year might have been in part because of King, who was the team leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns -- catching 42 passed for 950 yards and nine scores. King was the only player with double-digit catches to average more than 20 yards a catch, going for 22.6 yards per reception. Based on opponent, King's best performance was arguably against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, when he caught five passes for 142 yards, second in yardage only to his 188-yard day at Kentucky. There are plenty of players ready to step into King's role, but you don't lose a receiver with nearly 1,000 yards and not miss him.
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina: The Gamecocks' star running back didn't finish either of the last two seasons, but his absence will make it more difficult for South Carolina to replicate their twin 11-win seasons in 2011 and 2012 and could be particularly problematic when it comes to the early-season game at Georgia. Lattimore often seemed to be at his best against the Dawgs, rushing for 467 yards and four touchdowns in his three games against Georgia. Lattimore's breakout game was the 2010 matchup with the Red and Black, when he ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns. At the same time, Lattimore was already beginning to see some diminishing returns, likely because teams were focusing more on him. He had only three 100-yards games in nine outings last year, though he might have hit the century mark against Tennessee if not for the injury in that game. Still, he was the Gamecocks' leading rusher in 2012 and won't be easy to replace.
Ace Sanders, South Carolina: While Sanders had more catches than any other receiver for the Gamecocks last year, there are a few other players who could continue to make the South Carolina passing game effective. (Bruce Ellington, for example, had 69 more yards on five fewer receptions.) Where Sanders is most likely to be missed is on special teams, where Sanders was one of the most dynamic punt returners in the game. He averaged 15.3 yards on 28 punt returns last year and had two touchdowns, including one against Georgia. Sanders' ability to bob and weave led to more than one highlight-worthy moment; the only other South Carolina player to attempt punt returns last year was Victor Hampton, who lost two yards on a pair of punt returns despite having a long return of 12 yards. Do the math.