The college football season is in full swing as we head towards the last weekend of September. Each of the SEC programs has played at least a quarter of their 12-game schedule, with Vanderbilt having played an extra game so far. Storylines both good and bad are beginning to take shape across the conference. There is a decent enough sample size now to actually evaluate teams. There are plenty of SEC standouts through the first quarter of the season. Take a look at the players who have been most impactful for each team in the conferences so far.
SEC Standouts Through a Quarter of the Season
Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0 : 0-0)
While Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy a season ago, many felt he wasn’t even the best football player on his own team. That distinction went to Will Anderson Jr. The dominant linebacker is off to another stellar start in 2022. The junior has four and a half tackles for loss and two sacks in the first three contests. Anderson Jr also had a pick-six in last week’s victory. It was his first career interception.
Arkansas Razorbacks (3-0 : 1-0)
The Hogs got a major scare from a former coach this past Saturday but managed to survive. They did so due to the huge game by Raheim Sanders. The sophomore tailback is averaging almost 150 yards a game on the ground. He has been one of the most prominent of all the SEC standouts through three weeks. Sanders is the whole package, with power, vision, and elusiveness with the ball in his hands.
Auburn Tigers (2-1 : 0-0)
The Tigers are reeling after a humbling home loss to Penn State over the weekend. No one played particularly well. Overall, they have been headlined by tailback Tank Bigsby. The junior tailback has over 300 total yards and three touchdowns this season. He is trying to become the first Auburn rusher with consecutive seasons over 1000 yards since Tre Mason in 2012-13.
Florida Gators (2-1 : 0-1)
The Gators have used a running back-by-committee approach so far in 2022. Montrell Johnson has stood out from the group through three games. The transfer from Louisiana is averaging almost 10 yards a carry. He is sixth in rushing yards and first in yards per carry in the conference.
Georgia Bulldogs (3-0 : 1-0)
After a few years of success despite constant questions about his ability, Stetson Bennett is being questioned no longer. He is off to an excellent start for the defending National Champions. The Bulldogs look much more dangerous on offense in 2022. Bennett is second in the SEC in passing yards and has three rushing scores. His improvement from last season has made the nation’s top-ranked team even scarier.
Kentucky Wildcats (3-0 : 1-0)
The Will Levis to Dane Key combination has been eating up yards for the Wildcats through three games. However, linebacker Jordan Wright stands out the most after his play-making performance against the Gators. The fifth-year senior had six tackles, two for a loss, a sack, and an interception at the Swamp. He led the charge for a dominant Kentucky defense in their biggest victory of the year.
LSU Tigers (2-1 : 1-0)
Jay Ward has been all over the field for the Tigers in 2022. He leads the team in tackles despite barely playing versus Southern. Ward was huge in the first SEC contest. The senior has 11 tackles and his sixth career interception this past Saturday. LSU controlled the second half and pulled away from Mississippi State.
Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-1 : 0-1)
Will Rogers is enjoying his time under center in a Mike Leach offense. He had over 750 yards passing in the first two games of the season. LSU was able to slow him down in the SEC opener, but he is still on pace to put up huge numbers. Rogers will be expected to continue to put the ball in the air early and often for Mississippi State.
Missouri Tigers (2-1 : 0-0)
The Tigers are about to hit a stretch of seven consecutive SEC contests. They will need Dominic Lovett to continue his hot start to the season. The sophomore wideout has over a third of Missouri’s receiving yards in 2022. The diminutive speedster is second in the conference in yards and averages a robust 17 yards per catch.
Ole Miss Rebels (3-0 : 0-0)
Jaxon Dart got much of the headlines in the offseason, as quarterbacks usually do. However, it’s been the Rebels rushing attack that has carried the load. Zach Evans is averaging over 100 yards and a touchdown per contest this fall. Quinshon Judkins is also carrying the ball well, with around 96 yards a game.
South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2 : 0-2)
The Gamecocks have struggled a bit losing their first two conference games to top 10 teams. One of the bright spots has been the play of safety Nick Emmanwori. The true freshman is the youngest of the early-season SEC standouts. He leads the team with 24 solo tackles. The local kid has a chance to be a star as he develops.
Tennessee Volunteers (3-0 : 0-0)
The Vols’ hopes rest mostly on the shoulders of Hendon Hooker. The senior signal-caller has been excellent at running this fast and explosive offense. He has five touchdowns and zero interceptions, while also scoring three times with his legs. Hooker’s efficiency and decision-making have been impressive through three contests.
Texas A&M Aggies (2-1 : 0-0)
Despite the Aggies’ overall offensive issues, Devon Achane has stood out. The tailback has just under 200 on the ground, 56 through the air, and another 200 on kick-off returns. He has scored a touchdown each of those three ways and has four overall. He needs more touches for the Aggies.
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1 : 0-0)
The Vandy offense is averaging 42 points per game during their surprising 3-1 start. While Mike Wright has taken a huge step forward at quarterback, it is his top target that stands out. Will Sheppard has over 300 yards receiving and a league nation-leading seven touchdown catches. The junior is close to eclipsing his career totals in catches and yards and the season isn’t halfway over yet.