The Plainsman picks the SEC preseason

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Ahead of and amid the 2017 model of SEC Media Days, the college football community begins to buzz with anticipation of the fall. During “talking season,” as legendary Florida and South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier calls it, all that fans and media can do is use their intuition to speculate and project the upcoming season. 

The Plainsman will cast a pair of ballots towards the Preseason Football Awards before making the trip to Hoover on Thursday for Auburn’s time in the spotlight. The following selections are the picks from the seven members of The Plainsman sports staff. 

*( ) = First place votes

SEC East:

1. Florida (3)

2. Georgia (3)

3. Tennessee (1)

4. South Carolina

5. Kentucky

6. Vanderbilt

7. Missouri

SEC West:

1. Alabama (6)

2. Auburn (1)

3. LSU

4. Mississippi State

5. Arkansas

6. Texas A&M

7. Ole Miss

Player of the Year:

1. Derrius Guice (2)

2. Jalen Hurts (2)

3. Bo Scarbrough (1)

4. Kamryn Pettway (1)

5. Nick Fitzgerald (1)

Coach of the Year:

1. Jim McElwain (2)

2. Dan Mullen (2)

3. Gus Malzahn (1)

4. Will Muschamp (1)

5. Kirby Smart (1)

SEC Champion:

1. Alabama (7)

2. Auburn (1)

In the East, the most pivotal game of the year might occur in Jacksonville, as the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators look to cement themselves as more than just a meal for the Crimson Tide to devour in the SEC Championship. 

Jim McElwain and the Gators tout a ferocious defense and efficient coaching, while Georgia looks to uncap the potential of its young guns, most notably the two-headed monster in the backfield of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. 

Tennessee and South Carolina will likely keep pace, with Jake Bentley and the Gamecocks quickly emerging as a dark horse contender to make it to Atlanta in December. 

Crimson remains a common theme in the predictions for the 2017 season, as Nick Saban’s staff reloads with another stellar roster, led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Jalen Hurts. 

However, the Tigers of LSU and Auburn want to do more than just claw for second place. LSU will need Derrius Guice to prove his Heisman candidacy further on offense, while remaining dominant on the defensive end. 

Auburn enters the year with high expectations once again, especially on Jarrett Stidham’s side of the ball. The QB and his offensive weapons will be tested early and often through a rigorous schedule, highlighted by road trips to Clemson and Baton Rouge and the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare. 

Mizzou, A&M and Ole Miss will attempt to curve the “bottom-feeder” labels, while Mississippi State looks to be a tricky out for most squads, as halting the electrifying Nick Fitzgerald will be no easy task. 

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