The big boys, Alabama and Florida, breezed through scrimmages, but there was still plenty of drama in the SEC in Week 12, which means there were several deserving recipients of helmet stickers:
Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster: Had McCluster been this involved in the Ole Miss offense back in September, we might be talking about the Heisman Trophy front-runner right now. He’s run for a touchdown, caught a touchdown and thrown a touchdown this season. He’s 97 yards away from a 1,000-yard rushing season after racking up 148 Saturday against a rugged LSU defense in Ole Miss’ 25-23 win. He’s 88 yards away from a 500-yard receiving season. Here’s one for the SEC historians: When’s the last time a player had 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season. Has it ever happened?
Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett: Two of his first 20 passes were interceptions, and Mallett wasn’t as accurate as he had been in his previous three games, but how do you complain with five touchdown passes? The 6-foot-7 sophomore now has 28 touchdown passes on the season, breaking Clint Stoerner’s old record of 26 at Arkansas, and is having one of the best seasons for a first-year quarterback in the SEC in league history. His five touchdown passes went to four different receivers, and he carved Mississippi State apart in a 42-21 victory.
Tennessee defensive tackle Wes Brown: The gritty senior has been the inspirational leader for Tennessee’s defense all season long. He’s fought through aching knees, most of the time unable to practice because of the pain. But Brown has given the Vols everything he has and refused to call it quits. His final play at Neyland Stadium was one he won’t soon forget. He intercepted a Mackenzi Adams pass in the final seconds and dragged a Vanderbilt defender with him for a 25-yard touchdown to cap the Vols’ 31-16 win over the Commodores. “A dream come true,” is the way Brown explained his home finale.
Kentucky linebacker Sam Maxwell: You think Kentucky’s 34-27 win over Georgia meant a little something to Maxwell, a Hartwell, Ga., product? It had been 32 years since the Wildcats had won in Athens, and it’s fitting that a Georgia boy would seal the deal for Kentucky with an interception in the final minutes. Maxwell picked off Joe Cox’s short pass over the middle with 1:45 to play. And before that, he was all over the field for the Wildcats and led them with 11 total tackles.
Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas: For a guy who was supposedly too small to play at this level, Arenas has had one dynamite career. He played his final game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday in a 45-0 rout of Chattanooga and bid farewell with the seventh punt return for a touchdown in his illustrious career. He took one back 66 yards to set an SEC record and also intercepted a pass in his home finale. Arenas might be known more for his punt return skills, but he’s developed into one of the better all-around cornerbacks in the league with his ability to blitz, play the run and the cover the pass.