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SEC 2015 Season Awards and All-Conference Team

Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette

While 2015 wasn’t the SEC’s best or deepest season in terms of overall team strength, the league still ended the year with eight teams with eight wins or more, including Alabama at 12-1 and No. 2 overall in the final College Football Playoff rankings. The Crimson Tide rallied from an early loss against Ole Miss to win the SEC title and finish with their eighth consecutive season of at least 10 victories.

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The West Division was expected to be the best in college football this season, but Auburn finished 6-6, LSU’s offense sputtered down the stretch in a three-game losing streak, while Texas A&M was unable to build off the momentum from a 5-0 start. Arkansas and Tennessee took a step forward under third-year coaches, Ole Miss qualified for back-to-back New Year’s Six bowl games, and Florida surprised by winning the SEC East in coach Jim McElwain’s first season. 

With the regular season completed and bowl season starting on Dec. 19, it’s time to recap and look back at the 2015 campaign. Athlon Sports offers its awards and honors the best players in the league with the first and second all-conference teams for the SEC:

SEC 2015 Season Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama

Henry was the catalyst behind Alabama’s offense in 2015, rushing for 1,986 yards and 23 scores in 13 regular season games. The junior recorded at least 200 yards in four out of his final seven matchups, including 271 in a 29-13 victory over rival Auburn. Henry averaged a healthy 5.86 yards per carry and led the SEC with nine rushing plays of 30 yards or more.

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Runner Up: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Defensive Player of the Year: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama

Alabama’s front seven was the best in college football this season, and Ragland was a key cog in a rush defense that held opponents to 2.4 yards per carry and generated 46 sacks. The senior recorded 90 stops (6.5 for a loss), 2.5 sacks, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles, while his ability to cover the field from sideline-to-sideline was a huge asset for coordinator Kirby Smart and coach Nick Saban.

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Runner Up: Kentrell Brothers, LB, Missouri

Coach of the Year: Jim McElwain, Florida

McElwain made an immediate impact in his first season in Gainesville, guiding Florida to its first trip to the SEC Championship since 2009. The Gators finished the regular season at 10-3, which included a 27-3 victory over rival Georgia, a 38-10 win over Ole Miss and a last-minute 28-27 escape against Tennessee. McElwain still has work to do on offense, but the Gators were strong on defense, and the overall direction of this program is trending up headed into the bowl season.

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Runner Up: Nick Saban, Alabama

Freshman of the Year (Offense): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Alabama’s Calvin Ridley made a late push for this award, but Kirk was the SEC’s best all-around freshman in 2015. The true freshman led Texas A&M with 70 catches for 925 yards and six receiving touchdowns, scored on two punt returns and was the team’s top kickoff returner.

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Runner Up: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Freshman of the Year (Defense): Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas

It’s a tight battle for the SEC’s top defensive freshman of the year, but a slight edge goes to Greenlaw over Missouri linemen Walter Brady and Terry Beckner, along with Alabama cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick. Greenlaw ranked second among Arkansas defenders with 93 tackles (3.5 for a loss), one sack and two forced fumbles.

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Runner Up: Walter Brady/Terry Beckner, DL, Missouri, Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Coordinator of the Year: Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama

Smart has helped coach Nick Saban build some of the nation’s top defenses in recent seasons and is leaving Alabama at the end of this year to be the head coach at Georgia. Under Smart’s direction, the Crimson Tide held opponents to 4.2 yards per play and 14.4 points per game in 2015. Additionally, Alabama led the nation with 46 sacks and ranked sixth in third-down defense.

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Runner Up: Barry Odom, Defensive Coordinator, Missouri/Dan Enos, Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas 

Newcomer of the Year: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss

Kelly quickly emerged as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks in his first season in Oxford. The junior college transfer (and former Clemson quarterback) threw for 3,740 yards and 27 scores and rushed for 427 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Runner Up: Jake Ganus, LB, Georgia

Breakout Player: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

After watching Vanderbilt’s defense surrender 33.3 points a game in 2014, coach Derek Mason decided to take over play-calling duties in 2015. The result was a much-improved defense for the Commodores, as Mason’s group limited opponents to 21 points a game and 5.2 yards per play. Cunningham’s emergence was a big reason why this defense improved, as the sophomore recorded 103 stops (16.5 for a loss), 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

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Runner Up: Drew Morgan, WR, Arkansas

SEC 2015 Postseason All-Conference Team

 

FirstTeam

SecondTeam

QB

Dak PrescottMiss. State 

QB Brandon AllenArkansas 

RB

Derrick HenryAlabama 

RB Alex CollinsArkansas 

RB

Leonard FournetteLSU 

RB Jalen HurdTennessee 

WR

Laquon TreadwellOle Miss 

WR Calvin RidleyAlabama 

WR

Pharoh CooperSouth Carolina 

WR Fred RossMiss. State 

AP

Christian KirkTexas A&M 

WR Drew MorganArkansas 

TE

Hunter HenryArkansas 

TE Evan EngramOle Miss 

C

Ryan KellyAlabama 

C Mike MatthewsTexas A&M 

OG

Sebastian TretolaArkansas 

OT Dan SkipperArkansas 

OT

Laremy TunsilOle Miss 

OT Dominick JacksonAlabama 

OT

Cam RobinsonAlabama 

OT Shon ColemanAuburn 

OT

Vadal AlexanderLSU 

OT Kyler KerbysonTennessee 

 

 

 

DE

Myles GarrettTexas A&M 

DE Derek BarnettTennessee 

DL 

Jon BullardFlorida 

DE Jarran ReedAlabama 

DT

A'Shawn RobinsonAlabama 

DL Charles Harris (DE)Missouri 

DT

Robert NkemdicheOle Miss 

DL Jonathan Allen (DE)Alabama 

LB

Kentrell BrothersMissouri 

LB Skai MooreSouth Carolina 

LB

Reggie RaglandAlabama 

LB Zach CunninghamVanderbilt 

LB

Antonio MorrisonFlorida 

LB Jalen Reeves-MaybinTennessee 

CB

Vernon Hargreaves IIIFlorida 

CB De'Vante HarrisTexas A&M 

CB

Jalen TaborFlorida 

CB Tre'Davious WhiteLSU 

S

Trae ElstonOle Miss 

S Marcus MayeFlorida  

S

Eddie JacksonAlabama 

S Jamal AdamsLSU 

 

 

 

K

Daniel CarlsonAuburn 

K Taylor BertoletTexas A&M 

P

Drew KaserTexas A&M 

P Johnny TownsendFlorida 

KR

Evan BerryTennessee 

KR Brandon HollowayMiss. State 

PR

Christian KirkTexas A&M  

PR Cameron SuttonTennessee