Blake, Maze no longer flying under radar

If you're looking for two of the most underrated players in the SEC, look no further than the state of Alabama.

In fact, Auburn's Emory Blake and Alabama's Marquis Maze might be two of the most underrated receivers in college football.

Both have had solid careers and were coming off big seasons. Blake caught eight touchdown passes last season to lead Auburn, but was overshadowed by all of the other big names on the Tigers' national championship team.

And while Julio Jones was on his way to setting Alabama receiving records last season, Maze was quietly doing his part, catching 38 passes and averaging 14.7 yards per catch. Maze had 31 plays of 15 yards or longer and was a perfect complement to Jones.

The only question about both Blake and Maze coming into this season was whether or not they could be go-to guys and handle the burden of defenses keying on them.

So far, they've been up to that challenge and then some.

Blake, a junior, is tied for the SEC lead with four touchdown catches. He leads all SEC players with 317 receiving yards, and he's also averaging 19.8 yards per catch, which is tops among the SEC receiving leaders.

One of the things that sticks out about Blake through the first four games is his ability to hit the big play. He already has three touchdown catches of 36 yards or longer.

Speaking of big plays, it was Maze's 83-yard punt return for a touchdown -- easily one of the plays of the year so far in the SEC -- that opened the floodgates to Alabama's 38-14 rout of Arkansas last week.

Maze, a senior, has 20 catches, which ties him for second in the SEC, and he's third in all-purpose yardage, averaging 151.5 yards per game. The only two players ahead of him in that category are South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore and Florida's Chris Rainey.

Following Alabama's 24-point victory over Arkansas last Saturday, Maze admitted that he grew weary of hearing about all the playmakers the Hogs had on offense and special teams.

"They gave those guys credit the whole week, how good they were on offense and special teams," Maze said. "It just made us hungrier to want to go out and prove that we have some guys to be reckoned with, too."

Maze and Blake both fit into that category, and both are doing just fine in their new roles.