Mizzou’s Sam earns SEC defensive player of the year award
ATLANTA — Auburn was the only school that didn’t
have anyone on last year’s Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference
team. Not surprising, since the Tigers failed to win a league
What a turnaround for the Tigers this season,
in every respect.
Running back Tre Mason was named
the offensive player of the year, Gus Malzahn claimed the coaching award
and the No. 2 Tigers were well represented on the All-SEC squad after
their amazing run from worst to first.
Missouri’s Michael Sam beat out Alabama’s C.J. Mosley for the defensive
player of the year award, while Arkansas running back Alex Collins took
the honor as top freshman.
Mason was a unanimous
choice at running back and overwhelming pick as the best offensive
player after rushing for an SEC-leading 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns,
capped by a record 304-yard, four-touchdown performance against Missouri
in the league championship game.
Malzahn revived the
Tigers (12-1) in his first season as coach, taking over a proud program
reeling from a 3-9 season, including a 0-8 mark in conference play. He
installed a hurry-up spread option that quickly developed into one of
the nation’s most prolific offenses.
“We use last
season as motivation, thinking about all the hard times that we went
through last year and being one of the worst teams in college football
to now being one of the best,” Mason said.
proved it was for real with an upset of Johnny Manziel and the Texas
A&M Aggies. The Tigers caught the biggest break of the year when
a desperation fourth-down heave against Georgia was deflected by two
defenders into a winning 73-yard touchdown. Then they knocked off
two-time defending national champion Alabama with the play of the year: a
109-yard return of a missed field goal with no time on the clock for a
stunning 34-28 upset.
Last Saturday, the Tigers
defeated Missouri 59-42 in a shootout for the SEC title, then slid into a
shot at the BCS crown against top-ranked Florida State with Ohio
State’s loss in the Big Ten championship game.
just been very unique,” Malzahn said. “It’s been one of the more unique
experiences I’ve ever been a part of.”
joined on the first team by two teammates: offensive tackle Greg
Robinson and defensive end Dee Ford. Auburn placed three more players on
the second team: center Reese Dismukes, tight end C.J. Uzomah and
cornerback Chris Davis, whose long return beat
No. 3 Alabama and SEC East champ Missouri
each had four players on the first team, more than any other
Denied a chance to play for a third straight
national title, Alabama was led by Mosley – a unanimous choice at
linebacker – along with offensive linemen Cyrus Kouandjio and Anthony
Steen and punter Cody Mandell.
Sam, named on every
ballot at defensive end, paced the conference in sacks (10.5) and
tackles behind the line (18.5). Another Missouri end, Kony Ealy, also
made the first team, as did cornerback E.J. Gaines and offensive lineman
Johnny Manziel repeated as the
first-team quarterback with another stellar season, leading the SEC in
total yards with 3,732 passing and 686 on the ground. He accounted for
41 touchdowns, but a poor defense left the Aggies with a disappointing
Texas A&M had two more
representatives from its high-scoring offense: receiver Mike Evans and
lineman Jake Matthews.
Georgia, despite an injury
plagued season that didn’t meet expectations, had three first-teamers
with tight end Arthur Lynch, linebacker Ramik Wilson and kicker Marshall
The rest of the first-team offense was
Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews, LSU running back Jeremy Hill,
Mississippi State lineman Gabe Jackson, Arkansas center Travis Swanson
and LSU all-purpose threat Odell Beckham Jr.
defense, the remaining selections were tackle Kelcy Quarles and end
Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson,
Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler
and Mississippi safety Cody Prewitt.
Mosley, Jackson, Clowney, Jake Matthews and Jordan Matthews were repeat
selections to the first team. Georgia running back Todd Gurley dropped
to the second team after missing three games with an ankle injury.
Alabama’s AJ McCarron slipped from second-teamer to honorable mention
despite an impressive senior season, an indication of the tremendous
depth at quarterback in the SEC.
Every school but
Kentucky was represented by at least one first-teamer. The Wildcats did
have a couple of players on the second team.
annual AP All-SEC team was selected by a 14-member media panel
representing each of the conference’s 11 states.