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SEC East Power Rankings

By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Pick, led by two national contenders, for 2020 in the SEC East.

Though there is obvious uncertainty around this college football season, here are our 2020 power rankings for the SEC East.

1. Georgia -- The Bulldogs return college football's best defense, add a potential first round pick at quarterback in Wake Forest-transfer Jamie Newman, a former five-star in USC-transfer J.T. Daniels and installed Todd Monken at offensive coordinator to make for a full transition. Newman scored 32 times this past season, while Daniels started as a true freshman out west. Safety Richard LeCounte and linebacker Azeez Ojulari will lead an elite defense with proven playmakers and depth at every level. Even with notable losses, Georgia, with Kirby Smart recruiting at a record pace, remains one of the most talented teams in the country. 
2019 Record: 12-2
Offensive MVP: Trey Hill, C
Defensive MVP: Richard LeCounte, S
Key Game: vs Florida, October 31st
Bonus Stat: Georgia allowed just two rushing touchdowns this past year, the fewest in college football in at least the last ten years.

2. Florida -- Dan Mullen's program is on the rise; this season will help further determine where the Gators stand nationally. Quarterback Kyle Trask returns as one of the top signal callers league-wide and he has a tremendous group of playmakers to work with. Tight end Kyle Pitts leads all returning players at his position nationally with 54 receptions from last year. Receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney are proven options out wide. Florida will, as usual, be as good as it gets in the secondary with standouts at both cornerback and safety. Marco Wilson is another true number one on the perimeter.
2019 Record: 11-2
Offensive MVP: Kyle Pitts, TE
Defensive MVP: Marco Wilson, CB
Key Game: vs Georgia, October 31st
Bonus Stat: Dan Mullen has lost just one true road game as the head coach at Florida, falling only to top-ranked eventual national champion LSU.

3. Tennessee -- One of the hottest teams in the country, the Volunteers will enter the fall on a six-game winning streak. Jeremy Pruitt's program has momentum. Tennessee might also have the best offensive line in the SEC. Guard Trey Smith is All-American good, while tackle Wanya Morris and Georgia-transfer Cade Mays are right there as well. Jarrett Guarantano is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the country and has led the 'Vols through some tough times. Linebacker Henry To'o To'o is a rising star defensively and versatile defensive back Shawn Shamburger is all over the field. More big plays are needed up front.
2019 Record: 8-5
Offensive MVP: Trey Smith, OG
Defensive MVP: Henry To'o To'o, LB
Key Game: vs Florida, September 26th
Bonus Stat: Since hosting Georgia to open last October, Tennessee has allowed just one opponent, Alabama, to score more than 22 points. The Volunteers ranked 5th nationally in scoring defense for the month of November.

MORE: 'Vols Have Talent, Opportunity 

4. Kentucky -- After leading the SEC in pass defense a year ago, Kentucky, with Brandin Echols, Yusuf Corker and company ready for more, should be very good in the defensive backfield yet again. There is also returning production in the offensive backfield with running backs Asim Rose, Kavosiey Smoke and Christopher Rodriguez, Jr., along with quarterback Terry Wilson, now back from injury. The physical Wildcats, with standouts like Darian Kinnard and Drake Jackson leading one of the nation's best offensive fronts, will still look to run the football early and often and they have the talent and depth to do so.
2019 Record: 8-5
Offensive MVP: Darian Kinard, OG
Defensive MVP: Yusuf Corker, S
Key Game: at Tennessee, November 7th
Bonus Stat: Only five SEC running backs who had at least 70 carries return after averaging a minimum of six yards per carry, Kavosiey Smoke and Christopher Rodriguez are two of them. 

5. South Carolina -- After losing five of six to end last season, the Gamecocks could use a strong start this fall. South Carolina has pieces in place. Quarterback and the back seven defensively look like strengths for the Gamecocks. As a true freshman, Ryan Hilinski recorded a touchdown-to-interception ratio of better than two-to-one. He is ready for the next step. South Carolina should have one of the best secondaries in the SEC, with Georgia-hero Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn leading the way. Linebacker Ernest Jones is all-conference good and Aaron Sterling is the next-in-line up front. 
2019 Record: 4-8
Offensive MVP: Ryan Hilinski, QB
Defensive MVP: Ernest Jones, LB
Key Game: vs Missouri, September 19th
Bonus Stat: New offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, the former head coach at Colorado State who held the same position at Georgia from 2007-2014, helped the Bulldogs lead the SEC in scoring with 41.3 points per game his last year in the league.

6. Missouri -- Eli Drinkwitz comes over after 13 wins and a Sun Belt Championship at Appalachian State. He will tasked with reinvigorating the Tigers' offense and running back Larry Rountree III is a good place to start. He has 2,748 career rushing yards and 26 career rushing touchdowns. Though Missouri still needs stability from the quarterback position, the offense, the unit will benefit from the transfer of Damon Hazleton, 82 receptions and 16 touchdowns the past two years, from Virginia Tech. All-SEC linebacker Nick Bolton is a tackling machine on defense, where more big plays are needed.
2019 Record: 6-6
Offensive MVP: Larry Rountree III, RB
Defensive MVP: Nick Bolton, LB
Key Game: at South Carolina, September 19th
Bonus Stat: Each of the last three seasons, Missouri has had at least a four-game winning streak, with five straight victories in 2019, four consecutive in 2018 and six wins in a row in 2017.     

7. Vanderbilt -- The Commodores have to replace a lot of offensive production from a year ago, but Ted Roof's defense should be a strong point. With 23 career tackles for loss, Dayo Odeyingbo is a tone-setter up front for Vanderbilt. Overall, the unit's top eleven tacklers all return, including tackling machine Dimitri Moore at linebacker. New playmakers will be needed at every position on offense and the Commodores must find some production and stability at the quarterback position. The spotlight will be on new offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, over from Louisiana Tech. 
2019 Record: 3-9
Offensive MVP: Cam Johnson, WR
Defensive MVP: Dayo Odeyingbo, DE
Bonus Game: at Missouri, September 12th
Bonus Stat: Vanderbilt was the one team in the SEC that teams simply couldn't follow the rules against as league opponents compiled an average of 67.6 penalty yards per game against the Commodores, the highest rate in the conference.