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Texas A&M Football

SEC Round-Up: New stars emerging across nation's toughest conference

September 13, 2018

New football stars emerge each season. Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson, Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill, LSU running back Nick Brossette (pictured above) and Alabama receiver Jerry Jeudy are certainly on a list of Southeastern Conference players who’ve raised their profiles. None, though, may be raised higher than Texas A&M sophomore receiver Kendrick Rogers.

The 6-foot-5 Rogers, who has a 36-inch vertical leap, exploded like a supernova in last Saturday’s 28-26 loss to Clemson. He caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. On one touchdown Rogers leaped high and reached up to get the ball over a defender. He snatched the football after it ricocheted off a defender’s hands on the other score.

The 6-foot-5 Rogers, who has a 36-inch vertical leap, exploded like a supernova in last Saturday’s 28-26 loss to Clemson. He caught seven passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

“His catch radius is obviously phenomenal,” A&M sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond said. “That’s something he’s been doing since I got here. A lot of people start seeing it now, but it's something I saw in spring ball when I first got here. His performance really wasn’t a surprise for any of us.”

An argument could be made that Mond is a bigger rising star. That would not be without merit. But Mond started eight games as a true freshman and had star-like moments against Arkansas, Florida and even Alabama. Rogers had 11 catches as a freshman for fewer yards than he had against Clemson. His performance, size and No. 13 brought back memories of former A&M star Mike Evans, who is now among the elite receivers in the NFL.

"Growing up I liked to watch  Mike because he was a physical, big, tall, fast receiver,” Rogers said. “Watching him it really gave me the encouragement that I needed to play football in the SEC.”

There’s no doubt he can compete against the best in college football. Rogers proved that against Clemson’s vaunted defense.He seemed unimpressed, though.

“It was a great game, but I have to move on, focus on next week and get ready for what’s coming up next,” he said. “I’ve known I can do it. I just had to show other people I could do it.”

Who's hot: The SEC West Division (except Arkansas). Overall, the West Division teams are 12-2 and 5-1 against “Power 5” competition. That one loss was Texas A&M’s controversial 28-26 defeat by second-ranked Clemson. Four West teams are ranked among the nation’s top 16.

Who’s not: The Arkansas Razorbacks were outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter last week to fall to Colorado State, which previously had lost to Hawaii and Colorado. Arkansans entered the season feeling optimistic that the Hogs could win enough to gain bowl eligibility. That’s already looking bleak. Heck, the Razorbacks cannot take North Texas for granted this week.

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An always dangerous Alabama squad is striking even more fear in opponents with the play of sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa so far in 2018.

Keep an eye on: Alabama’s offense is averaging 559 yards after two games against Louisville and Arkansas State. Next, the Tide faces Ole Miss, which may be inferior defensively to Alabama’s previous opponents. The Rebels’ rush defense is poor (107th in the nation) and its pass defense is worse (126th). A good bet would be whether Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or running back Damien Harris has a better statistical output.

The pressure is on: The offenses in the LSU-Auburn clash will be under extreme pressure to avoid mistakes. Both teams have strong defensive units that ranked among the nation’s Top 25 in points allowed. Expect a low-scoring battle that will likely be determined by which offense best avoids turnovers and giving up favorable field position.

Best matchup: The Ole Miss passing attack is exceptional. Behind quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and a group of receivers as good as any in the country, the Rebels have thrown for 815 yards and seven touchdowns through two games. They form the sternest test for Alabama’s rebuilt secondary thus far. Expect the Rebs to have a measure of success in the  passing game, but not nearly enough to compensate for their porous defense.

This week's games: ULM at Texas A&M; Alabama at Ole Miss; North Texas at Arkansas, LSU at Auburn; Colorado State at Florida, Middle Tennessee at Georgia; Murray State at Kentucky; Louisiana-Lafayette at Mississippi State; Missouri at Purdue; Marshall at South Carolina; UTEP at Tennessee; Vanderbilt at Notre Dame

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SEC Round-Up: New stars emerging across nation's toughest conference

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