Welcome to the seventh (!) edition of my annual Alumni Awards -- choosing the season's best NFL player from each of the Power Five college programs. It's a great way to gauge the health of the collegiate teams, an indicator of the volatility of the pro game, and, most of all, a fun argument starter.
Here are the 2018 Alumni Award winners! Today we will cover the SEC.
ALABAMA (52 total pros on rosters in 2018 per ESPN.com)
2012: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
2013: Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo
2014: Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo
2015: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
2016: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
2017: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans
2018: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta
The Crimson candidates keep coming and coming and coming. Calvin Ridley had a superb rookie season in Atlanta. Robert Foster likewise made an instant impact in Buffalo. Amari Cooper transformed the Cowboys. Jonathan Allen, C.J. Mosley, Marlon Humphrey, Derrick Henry, Jarran Reed, Da'Ron Payne, Ryan Kelly, O.J. Howard, Ingram once again, and on and on and on. But in the end, you can't argue with Julio's monster season. With the likes of Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams, Deionte Thompson, Josh Jacobs, and many more coming soon to a pro field near you, the competition promises to be even stiffer next season.
2012: George Wilson, S, Buffalo
2013: Jason Peters, T, Philadelphia
2014: Jason Peters, T, Philadelphia
2015: Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas
2016: Jason Peters, T, Philadelphia
2017: Alex Collins, RB, Baltimore
2018: Trey Flowers, DE, New England
Good contract-year breakthrough for Flowers, whose surname is awfully dainty for a winner of a Hog Trophy, but we'll allow it.
2012: Ben Grubbs, G, New Orleans
2013: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
2014: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
2015: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
2016: Dee Ford, LB, Kansas City
2017: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina
2018: Dee Ford, LB, Kansas City
Tricky one here -- Cam's frustrating, injury-plagued season allowed Ford and his 13.5 sacks to slip in for Dee's second War Eagle award. But his monumental offsides penalty in the AFC title game very nearly cost him the hardware, only fitting as he cost his team a trip to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, Bears fans petitioned for a chance to whip the trophy at Auburn alum Cody Parkey after his excruciating double-doink miss in the Eagles game, but we don't condone that sort of thing around here.
2012: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh
2013: Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland
2014: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh
2015: (tie) Reggie Nelson, S, Cincinnati and Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati
2016: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati
2017: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati
2018: Mike Pouncey, C, Los Angeles Chargers
The Pouncey twins battled neck and neck for the Gator award, with Mike grabbing his first mainly due to the Chargers making the postseason and the Steelers not. Plus, Maurkice already owns a pair of the toothy trophies, so it seems brotherly to allow his sibling to snag one.
2012: Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati
2013: A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati
2014: Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City
2015: Thomas Davis, LB, Carolina
2016: Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati
2017: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
2018: Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
This isn't just a regular season award, so the Gurley Man's mysterious disappearing act when it counted most hurts his cause. But his excellence before falling off the cliff like Wile E. Coyote was enough to retain the Bulldog, even over ring-sporting Patriots Sony Michel and David Andrews. For years Georgia players got better once they left Athens and turned pro, but under Kirby Smart, the Dawgs at last seem to be catching up between the hedges.
2012: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay
2013: Danny Trevathan, LB, Denver
2014: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay
2015: Danny Trevathan, LB, Denver
2016: Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay
2017: Larry Warford, G, New Orleans
2018: Larry Warford, G, New Orleans
Kentucky is better known for bluegrass and blue-chip basketball players, but perhaps it should be recognized for its quality linebackers. Of the eight pro Wildcats, there are five solid linebackers -- Avery Williamson, Wesley Woodyard, Bud Dupree, Za'Darius Smith, and Danny Trevathan. But none of them could match another superb season on the Saints interior from Warford. With Josh Allen poised to be a top draft pick, however, Linebacker U South will provide even more competition for Warford next season.
2012: Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona
2013: Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona
2014: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, New York Giants
2015: (tie) Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona and Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Arizona
2016: Andrew Whitworth, T, Cincinnati
2017: Deion Jones, LB, Atlanta
2018: Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets
Once again the Bayou Bengals provide more pros than any other program, edging their rivals in Tuscaloosa by one. As always, there were tons of viable candidates for the Tiger Trophy, especially in the secondary. Adams earns the award with his All-Pro level play for the Jets.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (17)
2012: Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis
2013: K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle
2014: Fletcher Cox, DE, Philadelphia
2015: Fletcher Cox, DE, Philadelphia
2016: Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas
2017: Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia
2018: Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia
Dak was back, and led his team to the playoffs, which ordinarily would have been enough to grab the Cowbell. But Cox was so awesome on the Eagles front, and Prescott just meh enough in his play, to allow Fletcher to repeat.
2012: Aldon Smith, LB, San Francisco
2013: Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets
2014: Sheldon Richardson, DT, New York Jets
2015: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City
2016: Shane Ray, LB, Denver
2017: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Seattle
2018: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Minnesota
Mitch Morse might have grabbed the award if he had managed a full season in K.C., but instead Richardson's solid if unspectacular year allows him to repeat.
2012: Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco
2013: Patrick Willis, LB, San Francisco
2014: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
2015: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
2016: Laremy Tunsil, G, Miami
2017: Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants
2018: Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
Hard to believe ol' Eli can still muster the strength to grab a confederate trophy, but the lackluster showings from the likes of Tunsil, Engram, and Robert Nkemdiche -- prize recruits that caused all sorts of headaches in Oxford -- means even a "they HAVE to draft his replacement!" season from Manning garners the award.
SOUTH CAROLINA (22)
2012: John Abraham, DE, Atlanta
2013: Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago
2014: Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo
2015: Johnathan Joseph, CB, Houston
2016: Jadeveon Clowney, LB, Houston
2017: Jadeveon Clowney, LB, Houston
2018: Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England
A three-way battle royale for the Rooster between Gilmore, Clowney, and Melvin Ingram was won by Steph in a narrow contest, unlike the tiebreaker in the divisional round between Gilmore and Ingram.
2012: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
2013: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
2014: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver
2015: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City
2016: Eric Berry, S, Kansas City
2017: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans
2018: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans
Easy repeat for Kamara, as the Vols have mostly roster filler coming out of Knoxville these days.
TEXAS A&M (25)
Myles Garrett gave Miller an incredible run, but one last sack pushed Miller to his fifth straight Aggie Award.
2012: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago
2013: Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis
2014: Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia
2015: Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago
2016: Casey Hayward, CB, San Diego
2017: Casey Hayward, CB, Los Angeles Chargers
2018: Zach Cunningham, LB, Tennessee