Rising up the ranks! Seven SEC bench players poised to become household names in 2015
Michael W Bratton
Fred Ross (WR) — Mississippi State Bulldogs
The rising-junior receiver scored five touchdowns last season on only 30 catches for the Bulldogs. Expect Mississippi State to lean heavily on the passing game next season, and with defenses focusing their attention on De'Runnya Wilson, Ross should be freed up with several one-on-one opportunities down the field. If Dak Prescott can improve on his 2014 numbers, expect Ross to put up impressive numbers this season.
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY SportsSpruce Derden
Isaiah McKenzie (WR/HB) — Georgia Bulldogs
The smallest player on the Bulldogs roster, listed at 164 pounds, McKenzie is nicknamed "The Human Joystick." The explosive McKenzie returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns in the same game last season. The sophomore only touched the ball 13 times on offense as a freshman, but with the departure of Todd Gurley, the Bulldogs will be looking for players capable of explosive plays on offense. Expect one of those to be McKenzie.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsKim Klement
Todd Kelly Jr. (S) — Tennessee Volunteers
One of the Vols' many freshmen to see the field in 2014, Kelly made the most of his time on the field. Kelly has the rare talent to gravitate to the ball and seemingly always be in the right position at the right time. In his first collegiate game, Kelly recovered a fumble that lead to a Tennessee touchdown. He also intercepted three passes and had 33 stops on the season. He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team, and don't be surprised if Kelly makes All-SEC in only his second season in Knoxville.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
Reuben Foster (LB) — Alabama Crimson Tide
Foster is a former five-star recruit that has lived up to his recruiting reputation but has been unable to crack the deep starting lineup for Alabama. In his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Foster has been making a name for himself by delivering crushing blows to kick returners. Can Foster translate the violence to the starting lineup?
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY SportsMarvin Gentry
Evan Engram (TE) — Ole Miss Rebels
Engram went on a tear down the stretch for the Rebels and become Bo Wallace's No. 1 target after Laquon Treadwell's injury. In the final three games of the SEC schedule, Engram caught 18 passes for 359 yards. If Treadwell returns to 100 percent as expected, Rebel opponents will have nightmares trying to contain both players. Expect Engram's stock to soar if he can establish a strong rapport with the new starting quarterback.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAChristopher Hanewinckel
Brandon Harris (QB) — LSU Tigers
After the Tigers finished 116th in passing offense in 2014, it's hard to imagine they will give Anthony Jennings another shot under center. Initial reports indicate LSU is beginning to give Harris the majority of snaps in the spring. With all their experienced receivers returning and defenses attention focused on Leonard Fournette, Harris is setup to have a breakout sophomore campaign for the Tigers. The five-star recruit has all the talent; it's now time for LSU to allow him to show it.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportDerick E. Hingle
Jeremy Johnson (QB) — Auburn Tigers
It's a common misconception that Gus Malzahn only knows the run, but his Tulsa teams ranked among the nation's leaders in passing. Expect the Tigers to go more balanced under Johnson, as he is a more gifted passer than predecessor Nick Marshall. Johnson has the experience and the players around him to step in right away and make a legitimate Heisman run if Auburn is in contention for the playoff in 2015. Expect Johnson to lead the way as the Tigers march toward the SEC title in 2015.