SEC bloggers Edward Aschoff and Chris Low will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
With the start of the 2013 season less than three months away, we all have a pretty good idea who the returning stars are in the SEC. But what about those guys who are stars in their own right, and yet, fly under the radar?
Take 1: Edward Aschoff
To me, the most underrated player in the SEC is Vanderbilt defensive end Walker May. In a league that prides itself on being stout and athletic up front, May often gets overlooked. Last season, he started 13 games for the Commodores, recording 41 tackles, including 10.5 for loss and three sacks. May registered at least one tackle for loss in eight games last season, and had nine multi-tackle games. He also broke up two passes and led Vandy with seven quarterback hurries. At 6-5, 250 pounds, May has decent size for the end position and pretty good quickness in his bursts off the line. He’s an aggressive player and he’s very disruptive, which makes him tough to handle in the trenches. He’s been overlooked because of the big-name players who have accompanied him at his position, but there’s no denying that May has the talent to receive star-like attention.
It wouldn’t shock me at all if he were near the top of the SEC in tackles for loss and sacks this fall. He’s that determined, and he’s that good. His coaches have been very pleased with his growth to this point, and he could be even better this fall. May might not have much hype surrounding him as he enters his final season with the Commodores, but he’ll make sure he leaves Nashville with a little more respect from those outside of Vandy’s program.
Take 2: Chris Low
Hey, I like your pick, ATL Kid. May is the kind of person and player you win with -- period. But I think one of his teammates is even more underrated. Wesley Johnson has been a rock for that offensive line and a rock for that team, and he's played wherever they've needed him. Spend about five minutes with Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand, and you'll get an even better feel for how valuable Johnson has been to that team. He's been in the game for 98.5 percent of the Commodores' offensive snaps over the past three seasons and has made 38 career starts -- 26 at left tackle, seven at center, three at right tackle and two at left guard. Not only that, but Johnson has been on the field for every touchdown Vanderbilt has scored over the past three seasons.
When you consider all the great pass-rushers that Johnson has faced in this league, it's even more impressive to think that's he given up only 6.5 sacks during his career ... or one every 157 snaps on 1,021 attempts. And, oh yeah, he's never had a holding penalty. The Commodores have shown dramatic improvement in their offensive line over the past two seasons, and Johnson has been there every step of the way. He'll be there in 2013, too, and deserves to be in the conversation when you start listing the best (and most versatile) offensive linemen in this league.