LITTLE ROCK — Down the road, former Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton will be the answer to a trivia question.
Last July, the coaches in the league decided seven skill players belonged on the first unit of the preseason All-Southeastern Conference team. In early December, when the All-SEC team that matters was announced, Hamilton was the only one of the seven to double up.
Hamilton’s teammates, quarterback Tyler Wilson and running back Knile Davis, didn’t come close. Wilson’s numbers were down from 2011 and Davis was generally ineffective while bothered by an injury. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was sidelined prior to November. Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers transferred to Tennessee Tech before the season began. Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen played in six games before undergoing surgery.
Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope did enough to make All-SEC second team.
This slice of history is to condition fans for the preseason All-SEC team that will be released in a few weeks. Arkansas, which had four players on the first team and three on both the second and third teams last year, will not be well represented.
Center Travis Swanson is the only for-sure Razorback. Named second team on one of many preseason All-American teams, Swanson in on par with former Wisconsin centers Travis Frederick and Peter Konz, according to Arkansas coach Bret Bielema. Frederick was a first-round pick in the NFL draft and Konz was taken in the second round.
Other than Swanson, look to the defensive line for other all-conference candidates. End Chris Smith and tackle Bryan Jones come to mind, but I can’t imagine them upstaging Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, Anthony Johnson of LSU, Dominique Easley of Florida, Daniel McCullers of Tennessee and others who have been mentioned on preseason All-American teams.
There is room on the All-SEC team for new faces on the defensive front. Clowney is the only one of the eight linemen on the first and second all-conference teams in 2012 who was not selected in the NFL draft, and that’s only because he wasn’t eligible.
Quarterback is one position where the coaches can go for Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron or Georgia’s Aaron Murray and not be wrong. One is the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, one is the quarterback for a two-time national champion, and one has thrown for 10,000 yards and 95 touchdowns.
In fact, the coaches’ choice might be the hard news from the All-SEC release, supplanting the head count for Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU.
In 2012, it was Wilson, Murray and McCarron in July and Manziel and McCarron in December. A freshman on a team that was supposed to get its comeuppance joining the big, bad SEC, Manziel was easy to overlook in the preseason.
For a different reason, Florida running back Mike Gillislee could not be found on any of the first three units in the preseason. In three years, he had gained barely 900 yards. But, Will Muschamp made good on his promise to run the ball and Gillislee was the beneficiary to the tune of 1,152 yards and first team All-SEC.
Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley are logical picks at running back in the preseason, but there is room for a couple of newcomers to land a spot behind them. Oddly, neither A&M’s Brandon Williams nor Arkansas’ Alex Collins is likely to be the starter on Aug. 31, but the transfer from Oklahoma and the freshman from Florida are in the right spot.
The defensive focus on Manziel should produce opportunities for the Aggies to run the ball, and Arkansas’ best chance for success is to maintain possession with a running game. For the first time in years, no Arkansas wide receiver will catch enough passes to merit attention.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.