Phil Steele has always marched to his own beat, and his new All-American and All-SEC lists are no exception. There were a few odd things to note from his national and conference versions.
For one, he lists Vadal Alexander as a first team All-American guard but with (OT) ahead of his name. Alexander has been a great player at guard for LSU over the past two seasons, but he's moving back to right tackle where he spent a fair amount of his freshman year for 2015. I think this is a peek behind the curtain as to how far in advance Steele does these lists along with much of the rest of his magazines. I'd guess he slotted Alexander in as a guard before the move became permanent and needed to finalize it without having a chance to rejigger things later.
Or, perhaps, the LSU offensive line just gives him problems. He gave one of the four generic OL spots on the fourth team All-SEC squad to Ethan Pocic, notating him with a (C). Pocic didn't make the cut as a center on any of the teams, but he took a spot that otherwise was slotted for guards and tackles.
Steele is all-in with Dak Prescott, putting the Bulldog QB not just at an understandable first team All-SEC but third team All-American. I do not doubt Prescott's abilities, but with just three other returning starters around him, I wouldn't be surprised to see his level of play fall off some from last year. Again: he's easily the most proven returning SEC starting quarterback. That title doesn't necessarily mean much this year, though, and third best in the nation is pretty lofty.
The All-SEC quarterbacks are a good reminder that the position isn't in good shape this year. Prescott is a fine choice for first team. Jeremy Johnson is the second teamer, and while his numbers project good things for him, he's not actually played all that much. The third team guys is Kyle Allen from Texas A&M. While he's a fine quarterback, he'll also have to fight off five-star freshman Kyler Murray just to hold on to the starting job.
The fourth teamer is Maty Mauk, which... huh? I guess this is a projection that 2014 was a sophomore slump and that Mauk will revert to what we saw from his promising freshman duty filling in for James Franklin. There's not a delicate way to put it: Mauk was not a good quarterback in 2014. And he's fourth team? Yikes. So much for the love that Brandon Allen is starting to get, or Josh Dobbs as a potential dark horse Heisman candidate. The league has a lot of unsettled QB situations, but Maty Mauk as fourth team doesn't bode well.
Anyway, I did the customary thing of a weighted scoring system to judge how the teams made out. Programs get four points per first teamer, three per second teamer, and so on. As always, I only included offense and defense to avoid weirdness of double counted players that perform return duty.
|Team||First Team||Second Team||Third Team||Fourth Team||Score|
Things play about about as you'd expect, with the top half being six West teams plus Georgia. Alabama, owner of five straight No. 1 rated recruiting classes, is on top and should be—but only just.
Kentucky and Vandy being at the bottom is never a surprise, but it shows how far South Carolina has fallen from its three consecutive 11-win seasons that the Gamecocks are third from last with only three total players.