CFB: Predictions for the SEC in 2024

By Rory Daniels

The SEC will have a completely different look and feel in 2024. Not only do they welcome Texas and Oklahoma, but there will be no Nick Saban prowling the sidelines in Tuscaloosa. That said, the competitiveness and talent of the conference remains unmatched. The SEC will be looking to secure multiple playoff berths and should be one of the most exciting watches each Saturday afternoon. Here are our predictions for the year.

Conference Winner - Georgia Bulldogs

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Even with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, it’s hard to see anybody but the Bulldogs land the SEC championship. With no Nick Saban, the path seems clear for Kirby Smart to reassert himself as the dominant force in the conference.

Georgia returns an experienced quarterback (something we will touch on further down) and has a defensive leader at each level of the field. By the end of the season, Mykel Williams, Smael Mondon, and Malaki Starks may all be the number-one players at their positions nationwide.

Depth has taken a hit, with players seeking larger roles in other programs via the transfer portal. However, Georgia remains the team to beat in recruiting, ensuring a steady flow of exciting talent waiting to step in. Just see Oscar Delp, who should smooth the loss of Brock Bowers to the NFL. 

The SEC is a competitive conference, but Texas in October appears to be the major hurdle they need to leap. Losses elsewhere would be a shock.

Most Valuable Player - Carson Beck, QB, Georgia

MVP tends to go hand-in-hand with the conference winner. Another strong season from Beck would likely ensure him a top-5 NFL Draft spot as well. He’s not a slam dunk prospect, but he showed enough in his first season as a starter to suggest further progress.

Beck is more athletic than he is often given credit for and can fire the ball into tight windows. He will have to adjust in 2024, given that he will be without most of his primary targets. Bowers, Jermaine Burton, and Ladd McConkey went pro, which means there could be some early teething problems with the new incumbents.

That said, Beck has the talent to take the SEC by storm and solidify his standing as QB1.

Offensive Player of the Year - Tre Harris, WR, Ole Miss

The value of the QB position often makes the MVP award a shoo-in. Therefore, we have added an offensive player of the year category to give credit to the other positions. Tre Harris was fifth in overall receiving yards in the SEC last season with 985. I expect him to have another strong showing and surpass the 1000-yard mark this time.

Harris benefits from being part of one of the nation’s best QB/WR tandems. His relationship with Jaxson Dart has blossomed into one of the most deadly in college football. Harris’ speed makes him a downfield threat, while his 6’2, 205lbs frame allows him to dominate corners physically.

I’m not sure how close Ole Miss can get to the front runners in this conference, but playmakers like Harris make them a difficult team to beat.

Defensive Player of the Year - Anthony Hill Jr, LB, Texas

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We turn to one of the new members of the SEC for our defensive award. Sophomore Anthony Hill Jr. is a guy I have pegged for big things, given how he exploded as a freshman. Hill can be used as an off-ball linebacker but also has the versatility to play off the edge. The comparisons to Micah Parson have already begun.

In 2023, Hill logged 66 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, one forced fumble, 4 QB hurries and two pass breakups. That’s a game changer if there is ever one. The Longhorns will need defensive guys to step up, given the loss of Byron Murphy and T’Vondre Sweat. Hill should be at the forefront of that. He will be a very difficult player to gameplan for.

Freshman of the Year - Cam Coleman, WR, Auburn

When you look for a player to have an immediate impact as a freshman, you have to consider two factors: talent and opportunity. SEC programs are not a happy hunting ground for freshmen. This is a grown man’s conference, and the talent stacked on rosters means opportunities for younger players are often limited. 

However, five-star prospect Cam Coleman shouldn’t have too many roadblocks to a starting role in the Auburn offense. At 6’3, 188lbs, he has the size to make an immediate impact. He did that during the Tigers’ spring game, with four catches for 92 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown. His production may be affected by the QB play of Peyton Thorne, but I think the highlight plays will be enough to show what a game-changing player he can be.

Breakout Player of the Year - Peyton Bowen, S, Oklahoma

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Bowen played in 13 games as a freshman for the Sooners and made a strong impression. His playing time will be limited by the return of veteran Billy Bowman. However, Brent Venables will have difficulty keeping the five-star recruit off the field. Having him and Bowman together could be a real highlight for this Sooner defense.

In 2023, Bowen contributed 36 tackles, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. He will expect to build on those numbers as he gets a bigger chunk of the snap counts. He will be primed to take over as a leader for Oklahoma in 2025, but don’t sleep on him having a big impact this season.

Surprise Team of the Year - Oklahoma Sooners

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Of course, Texas, as a CFB semi-finalist, has garnered the most attention as the newcomer in this division. However, Oklahoma has gone under the radar, and I think that will play into the hands of Brent Venables’ team. They will now turn to Jackson Arnold as the starting quarterback, and the flashes he has shown suggest he could have a high ceiling. 

He will have an excellent duo to support him at wide receiver. Transfer Deion Burks has made a strong impression over the spring period, while Nic Anderson showed regularly last year that he was an explosive playmaker.

Billy Bowman will anchor this defense, and don’t forget that Venables has experience producing National Championship teams on that side of the ball. It won’t be easy for the Sooners, who have Texas, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, and Tennessee on the schedule, but I can see them causing upsets in their first year as an SEC school.

Mock Draft

Rory-Joe Daniels

College Football Lead Writer