In advance of SEC Media Days, in which the coach and two players from each team travels to Birmingham to talk to the media, the SEC has released its pre-season All-SEC selections, as voted on by the coaches. It's hard to get too worked up about this sort of thing because, like pre-season polls, pre-season All-Conference and All-America teams are just beauty contests. And unlike pre-season polls, these things have really no chance of actually impacting anything that matters down the road.
The good news: Ciron Black was a unanimous 1st team All-SEC selection, one of only two unanimous choices (the other being Julio Jones). Also 1st team were Richard Dickson and Charles Scott. Overall LSU had 10 players chosen. Charles Alexander, Brandon Lafell, and Chad Jones were 2nd team choices. Terrance Toliver, Rahim Alem, Perry Riley, and Trindon Holliday (return specialist) were 3rd team choices.
Florida had 16 players total and 8 on the 1st team. Bama had 9 overall, 6 on the 1st team. Georgia had 9 overall, 2 on the 1st team.
What does Brandon Lafell have to do to be 1st team?
He's a senior. He's paid his dues. He led the league in receptions last year. He was second in receiving yards; tied for 1st in touchdown catches; 2nd in receiving yards per game; 2nd among wideouts in receptions per game (1st was a senior). He was 1st or 2nd in every major statistical category for receiver, yet he is behind 2 other players for pre-season All-conference honors.
It's nothing against Julio Jones or AJ Green, both of whom are outstanding players, but Brandon Lafell was the best wide receiver in the conference last year as a junior. Now he's a senior.
When I first saw this article, I was a little confused about Rahim Alem being a 3rd team choice. I remembered him being 1st team post-season All-SEC, but that was on the Associated Press team. He was not chosen in the post-season Coaches All-SEC, which only had a 1st team and a 2nd team.
It's interesting to compare those teams, even though long after the fact. The AP thought Rahim Alem, with his impressive quarterback sack statistics, was one of the two best defensive ends in the conference. The coaches saw that he was not an every down player and penalized him. The AP saw Lafell's great production and made him a 1st teamer. The coaches rewarded a senior in Mohammed Massaquoi and an outgoing junior in Percy Harvin, and didn't even put the conference's leading receiver on the list at all. The coaches rewarded a senior whose numbers were not as good as Lafell's (in any category, really) but then put two rising sophomores ahead of the senior in pre-season. I'm not sure I get it.
Richard Dickson's numbers last year were not as good as DJ Williams' of Arkansas, who had 54 catches to Dickson's 31, and 723 yards to Dickson's 324. Dickson was 1st team; Williams 2nd team. This could be an example of a senior getting rewarded, or it could be that the coaches really considered blocking as an important aspect of tight end play. If it's the second, it would be an unusual but highly admirable feature of an All-Conference team.
I was just defending Terrance Toliver to the guys at Team Speed Kills but now I have to wonder about his inclusion as 3rd team all-conference. Yes, he increased his production at the end of the year. Yes, the sky is the limit as far as his potential, but 22 catches? It's a stretch. The same could be said about Charles Alexander, who has played some excellent games for us over the years, but hasn't been healthy in a long time, and isn't going to get starter reps this year.
And again, congratulations to Perry Riley, who is once again getting more credit than I would have expected.
One last LSU thought: I can't blame them for excluding Patrick Peterson, but I am very confident in predicting that he will be on the post-season depth chart.
In non-LSU news, The Golden Tebow was not a unanimous 1st team choice. Speculation abounds as to who snubbed him. I would guess it's a coach with NFL ties who is looking at NFL potential rather than college production. Three guesses?