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10 Toughest Players to Replace in the SEC in 2016

Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry

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The SEC finished off a successful season with a 9-2 bowl record as a conference. Alabama defeated Clemson in the College Football Playoff to win the conference's eighth national title in 10 years, capping off the postseason dominance. The SEC wouldn't be what it is without a conference-wide plethora of talent.

Related: How the SEC Flexed Its Muscle in the Bowl Season

A good majority of that talent is returning next season. With the likes of Leonard Fournette, Myles Garrett and Calvin Ridley, among others, coming back, 2016 should be another good year for the SEC. But first, let's take a look at 10 departures who will be immensely difficult to replace. Keep in mind, these aren't necessarily the best players leaving, but the toughest for their respective teams to go on without.

10 Toughest Players to Replace in the SEC in 2016

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

Might as well start with the best, right? Henry won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award, and found himself on just about every All-American team imaginable. He rushed for more than 2,200 yards and found the end zone 28 times. He was the key player in Alabama's national championship quest. In short, Henry was undoubtedly the best player in all of college football. He will be sorely missed.

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Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

As Treadwell prepares for a long career in the NFL, Ole Miss is scrambling to find a pass catcher to fill his shoes. Treadwell caught 82 passes last season and hauled in 11 touchdowns. He had 100 or more yards receiving in six games, which was instrumental in guiding the Rebels to wins over Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Auburn. Treadwell, a member of Ole Miss' superb 2013 recruiting class, will leave Oxford alongside Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil.

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Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas

When Jonathan Williams went down just before the start of the season, it was clear that Collins would become the chief workhorse for the Razorbacks. Throughout a tumultuous campaign, he managed to pile up more than 1,500 yards on the ground, as well as 20 touchdowns. Collins rushed for 100 yards or more in all but three games. Kody Walker appears to be the only immediate replacement for Arkansas' second all-time leading rusher.

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A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama

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Alabama's defensive line was special last season, combining its usual run-stopping prowess with an equal ability to get after the quarterback. Robinson's main job was to clog up the interior, something he did well enough to become a finalist for the Outland Trophy. His best performance came against Mississippi State when he notched five tackles and 2.5 sacks. Even with its unique ability to recruit, Alabama will have a tough time replacing Robinson.

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Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

One of the most prolific tacklers in the SEC, Brothers provided a spark rarely seen in Columbia last season. In a season riddled with ugly offense and off-the-field drama, Missouri at least had a sure tackler. Brothers posted double-digit tackles in all but one game. He racked up 17 stops, a season high, in Missouri's 9-6 loss at Georgia. Brothers also had two interceptions against Arkansas State, which helped seal a 27-20 win in week two.

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Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas

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Hog fans, love him or hate him, your team wouldn't have won eight games without this quarterback. Allen took a lot of heat for errant throws at crucial points in some games, but in the overall picture he was a winner. In an overtime victory at Ole Miss, Allen threw for 442 yards and six touchdowns with a 73 percent completion rate. Over the past two seasons, he threw 50 touchdown passes and only 13 interceptions. Not bad if you ask me. Arkansas doesn't currently have much for quarterbacks waiting in the wings.

Related: Where Did College Football Teams Find Their Starting Quarterbacks for 2016?

Vadal Alexander, OT, LSU

Alexander was a first team All-SEC lineman, as well as a third team All-American. He was an absolute monster as a run blocker, accumulating more than 100 pancake blocks on the season. Pancake blocks are a stat that pretty much only linemen can appreciate. But there is probably another guy who greatly appreciated Alexander, that being Leonard Fournette. Alexander was a four-year starter for LSU.

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama

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Sticking with the offensive linemen theme, there probably wasn't a more respected center in the country in 2015. Kelly won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center and never allowed a sack. Kelly was a three-year starter and a consensus first team All-American, blasting defenders out of the way for the Heisman Trophy winner. His departure, likely to the NFL, leaves Alabama with little depth at center.

Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina

Simply put, the Gamecocks didn't get a lot of offensive production going last year. But how bad would things have been without Cooper? It is unfortunate that he played on such bad teams, because Cooper was one of the best wide receivers in recent memory in the SEC. On five occasions, he had more than 100 receiving yards, including a whopping 191 in an embarrassing loss to The Citadel. You really can't blame Cooper for that one.

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Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

No, I didn't forget him. How could anyone forget such a special player? It isn't a stretch to think of Prescott in the same category as Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. He is the definition of "tough to replace," as he guided the Bulldogs to 19 wins over the past two seasons. With nearly 12,000 total yards and more than 100 touchdowns in his career, the numbers pretty much say it all.

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— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.