The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 16, 2014

SEC lacking star power

HOOVER, Ala. — Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel insists there are still plenty of superstars in the Southeastern Conference.

The only problem is nobody’s heard of them yet.

One year after high-profile players such as Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel brought a rockstar feel to SEC Media Days, the buzz is largely missing this week at the league’s preseason showcase.

Part of the reason is a lack of experienced quarterbacks. McCarron, Manziel, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw and Georgia’s Aaron Murray are gone after impressive careers.

There are still some accomplished players in the league — especially at running back.

Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley are among the nation’s best.

Driskel said it won’t be long before others become nationally known as well.

“Some of the guys haven’t put up the numbers or the championships that guys in the past have,” Driskell said. “But there’s always going to be talent in the SEC. It’s just a matter of who makes the plays this year.

“You get guys who end up being household names who weren’t at the beginning of the year.”

But the shadow of Manziel, McCarron and Co. still looms, even months after they played their last college game.

When Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin took the podium on Tuesday afternoon, two of the first three questions he received were about Johnny Football.

After the second one, an amused Sumlin said “Is this the SEC Media Days?”

The Aggies are one of several teams moving on without their stars.

They had three players selected in the first round of the NFL draft — which left gaping holes at quarterback, offensive tackle and receiver — but Sumlin said that’s just part of the challenge of the college game.

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