Georgia Leads Early SEC East Division Rankings
The SEC is sure to make its presence felt come playoff time, as the conference will be looking to dominate the playoff the same way that it did the BCS.
With yet another stellar recruiting season for the SEC in the books, teams have re-loaded with enormous amounts of talent in order to start marching towards a national championship. And if spring games are any indication, certain teams are already looking like heavy favorites.
But in determining the SEC's overall value, the question is whether or not the SEC East will be able to keep pace with the SEC West. Some teams are sure to be much improved, while others may take a step back.
We've already looked at the SEC West rankings, so now let's take a look at the early power rankings for the East division.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
What's not to like about this Georgia team? Sure, it has to replace Aaron Murray at quarterback, which will be no easy task. But Hutson Mason is progressing well, and should be able to at least be consistent enough to help the Bulldogs score points. It doesn't hurt that he has a beast like Todd Gurley in the backfield either. However, the most promising aspect of the team will be the defense, as new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has plenty of experience returning.
2. Florida Gators
Admittedly, I still worry about Jeff Driskel's ability to give Florida the passing game that it needs to succeed. But having him healthy definitely gives this offense a huge boost in many areas. How the Gators will fare in Kurt Roper's new offensive scheme is probably the biggest question mark right now, but they have all summer to get acquainted with all the nuances of the system.
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
Losing Connor Shaw hurts more than most might expect. Otherwise, this team would be the favorite to win the East. Shaw was the leader on the field for the Gamecocks, and given everything that he did for this team, there are going to be major adjustments for the offense. Of course, they also have to reinvent the pass rush with Jedeveon Clowney gone as well.
4. Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee's spring game showed that the Vols might be onto something offensively, with quarterback Josh Dobbs and early enrollee wide receiver Josh Malone standing out. But the defense was just atrocious. That problem should be helped somewhat by incoming freshmen that will add depth in the fall. It may be another year before the Vols are competing for an SEC East crown.
5. Missouri Tigers
The Tigers are going to take a bit of a fall after winning the division in 2013. Maty Mauk will be a fine replacement for James Franklin at quarterback, but losing running back Henry Josey and wide receivers Dorial Green-Beckham, L'Damian Washington, and Marcus Lucas hurts big time. There are also gaps to fill on the defense, so it's hard to see this team repeating as division champs.
6. Vanderbilt Commodores
Had an outstanding 2014 recruiting class remained intact, the Commodores would be sitting much higher right now. But thanks to James Franklin's exit, new head coach Derek Mason had to do the best he could in trying to build a somewhat respectable class. Vandy has to find a new playmaker on offense with Jordan Matthews now gone, which will be much easier said than done.
7. Kentucky Wildcats
The rebuilding project has officially started for Mark Stoops and company, with the Wildcats garnering the No. 22 recruiting class this off-season. However, this isn't going to be a quick turnaround. Kentucky's schedule is pretty brutal, and there's still a lot of individual improvement that needs to be done before this team returns to a bowl game.
How do you see the SEC East shaking out in 2014? Let us know by commenting below! For more college football talk, follow FanIQ College Football or myself on Twitter!