In years past, the SEC has handed out its Freshman of the Year award to some of the most talented players the conference has ever seen. In recent years, the likes of Marcus Lattimore, Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Nick Chubb and Christian Kirk have taken home the award, and turning the page back further, A.J. Green, Knowshon Moreno, Percy Harvin and Darren McFadden have also laid claim to the hardware.
Through five weeks of the season, several candidates have emerged as contenders for the SEC Freshman of the Year award. Here they are:
Jacob Eason, Georgia Bulldogs
(991 yards, 53.6 Comp.%, 6.6 YPA, 7 TD, 4 INT)
Georgia’s touted quarterback has lived up to the hype at times this season as he’s helped command the Bulldogs offense when asked to. Though he’s been shaky at times, it’s obviously part of the growing pains factor that comes with being a young quarterback. Eason should prove to be one of the leading candidates by season’s end so long as he cuts down on the turnovers and ups his completion percentage.
Jalen Hurts, Alabama Crimson Tide
(989 yards, 62.2 Comp.%, 7.3 YPA, 7 TD, 1 INT, 54 carries, 276 yards, 3 rush TD)
Alabama’s dual-threat quarterback also checks in as one of the leading candidates for this award at this point in the season. Hurts has been dynamic under center as both a passer and a runner, chugging along for over 1,000 total yards through the air and on the ground. Hurts has found the end zone 10 times this season and if he keeps that up, he may prove to be the frontrunner especially if Alabama continues to chug along.
Trayveon Williams, Texas A&M Aggies
(54 carries, 487 yards, 9 YPA, 4 rush TD, 12 receptions, 71 yards)
One of the most outstanding candidates for the award lies in College Station as Trayveon Williams has burst onto the scene this year for the Aggies. The Ags running back has amassed a ridiculous yards per carry mark of 9.0, nearly picking up a first down every time he touches the ball. He’s been explosive and a big reason why the A&M offense looks a lot more balanced this year as well. Williams is likely neck-and-neck with Hurts and Eason at this point, if not the frontrunner based on his outstanding play in the 2016 season.
Jabari Zuniga, Florida Gators
(22 tackles, 5 sacks)
Zuniga is the lone defensive player on this list so far and it comes as no surprise either. He’s tied for the second-most sacks in the conference with five, matching South Carolina defensive lineman Darius English’s output and only two sacks behind LSU Tigers pass rusher Arden Key’s mark of seven. Jabari has been fierce on the line for Florida as part of one of the best defensive units not only in the SEC but the entire country as well. If Jabari Zuniga continues to get to the quarterback at the rate that he’s getting, expect for him to get a lot of support towards winning this award. If he does, he’ll become only the third defensive player in the 2000s to take home the award, joining the aforementioned Clowney and former Florida Gators linebacker Brandon Siler who won the award back in 2004.
Did we miss anyone? Who of the above has impressed you the most? Discuss in the comments below! (And keep it civil please)