Jermaine Burton played for the Dawgs against Alabama, and then, not too long afterward, transferred to Bama. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)
Hyosub Shin/AJC

Jermaine Burton tops SEC Media Days Winners and Losers list, Georgia largely overlooked

ATHENS — There was some thought that shifting SEC Media Days from metro Birmingham to Atlanta might affect preseason voting.

More Georgia media was on hand to vote, and there were less Alabama media making the longer drive — and pricier hotel reservations — to downtown Atlanta and the College Football Hall of Fame.

Apparently, they could hold SEC Media Days on the moon and Alabama would still be the pick, so long as Nick Saban remains atop the Crimson Tide dynasty.

RELATED: Expect Bama to be the pick along with these UGA players

Alabama, for the seventh consecutive year, was forecasted to win the SEC championship, something the Tide has done three of the last four years including last season’s 41-24 win over Georgia.

That makes Nick Saban a “winner” of sorts yet again, and in overwhelming fashion with 158 votes to win the SEC to the Bulldogs’ 18, South Carolina’s 3 and Texas A&M and Vanderbilt each drawing a vote.

RELATED: Georgia picked to win SEC East at SEC Media Days

The only real mystery involved which players made the All-SEC teams — keeping in mind that last year’s Heisman Trophy winner did make any of them, and the No. 1 overall 2022 NFL Draft pick was a third-team selection.

Here are the winners and losers from SEC Media Days’ talking season:

First-Team Offense winner: Jermaine Burton, Alabama

There was a lot of talk over whether Burton should have left Georgia’s RPO-heavy, tight end friendly offense for Alabama, but the media clearly feels the former Georgia receiver made the right move and voted him first-team. Burton was UGA’s leading wide receiver with 497 yards last season but he had only 26 catches in 15 games, and that’s not in line with other elite players at his position.

First-Team Offense loser: Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky

Rodriguez is the SEC’s leading returning rusher, but his offseason arrest for DUI and careless driving has left him with an uncertain status entering the season. The 2020 and 2021 first-team All-SEC pick was also a team captain. The bet here is he’s suspended for opener with Miami but reinstated for Week 2 at Florida.

Second-Team Offense winner: Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

Young was the obvious first-team QB, but the No. 2 QB slot could have gone with a handful of league quarterbacks projected in the 2023 NFL Draft and CFP championship game MVP Stetson Bennett returning to Georgia. Hooker led the SEC in QB rating despite not starting last season as the Vols’ starter after transferring in from Virginia Tech.

Second-Team Offense loser: Broderick Jones, Georgia

Perhaps the voters weren’t paying close enough attention to the second half of the Bulldogs’ championship season, when Jones emerged at left tackle as team captain Jamaree Salyer struggled with an injury. Jones could be the top SEC offensive line prospect in the draft if he plays more physical in the run game, as he’s already an elite pass blocker.

Third-team Offense winner: Zach Evans, Ole Miss

It’s not that the transfer from TCU impressed so much in the Big 12 as it is many anticipate Evans living up to his 5-star recruiting rating. Georgia fans recall the complexity of his recruitment, and it would seem Evans is very much a boom-or-bust SEC prospect in a rebuilding Ole Miss offense.

Third-team Offense loser: Adonai Mitchell, Georgia

Mitchell emerged as Georgia’s top perimeter threat last season with George Pickens out and hobbled much of the year, and he came through with a clutch, 40-yard TD grab in the 33-18 CFP Championship game. If Kelee Ringo can parlay an Oil Painting moment into All-SEC honors, why not Mitchell?

Preseason All-SEC Defense winner: Kirby Smart

Smart got his bulletin board material when only four UGA players were recognized out of 33 possible All-SEC spots. Of course, returners Ringo, Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith were first-team, and Christopher Smith a second-team pick. But sacks leader Robert Beal was left out, and many SEC experts outside of Georgia don’t even know who Zion Logue and Jamon Dumas-Johnson are — yet.

Preseason All-SEC special teams loser: Jack Podlesny

How does Podlesny get shut out of first-, second- or third-team honors? Podlesny drilled a clutch 49-yard FG against Alabama in the CFP title game a year after a game-winning 53-yard FG with three seconds left to beat Cincinnati in NY6 action. Podlesny’s career 81.4-percent accuracy is only a tick behind that of NFL kicker and former UGA legend Rodrigo Blankenship (82.47).

2022 PRESEASON MEDIA DAYS ALL-SEC TEAM

OFFENSE

First-Team

QB – Bryce Young, Alabama

RB - Tank Bigsby, Auburn

RB – Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

WR - Kayshon Boutte, LSU

WR - Jermaine Burton, Alabama

TE - Brock Bowers, Georgia

OL - Emil Ekiyor Jr., Alabama

OL - Warren McClendon, Georgia

OL - O’Cyrus Torrence, Florida

OL - Nick Broeker, Ole Miss

C - Ricky Stromberg, Arkansas

Second-Team

QB – Hendon Hooker, Tennessee

RB - Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky

RB - Devon Achane, Texas A&M

WR - Cedric Tillman, Tennessee

WR - Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss

TE - Cameron Latu, Alabama

OL - Layden Robinson, Texas A&M

OL - Kenneth Horsey, Kentucky

OL - Darnell Wright, Tennessee

OL - Javion Cohen, Alabama

C - Sedrick Van Pran, Georgia

Third-Team

QB – Will Levis, Kentucky

RB - Zach Evans, Ole Miss

RB - Kenny McIntosh, Georgia

WR - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

WR - Josh Vann, South Carolina

TE - Jaheim Bell, South Carolina

OL - Brady Latham, Arkansas

OL - Tyler Steen, Alabama

OL - Javon Foster, Missouri

*OL - Jeremy James, Ole Miss

*OL – Kendall Randolph, Alabama

C - Cooper Mays, Tennessee

DEFENSE

First-Team

DL - Jalen Carter, Georgia

DL - BJ Ojulari, LSU

DL - Derick Hall, Auburn

DL - Byron Young, Tennessee

LB - Will Anderson Jr., Alabama

LB - Nolan Smith, Georgia

LB - Henry To’oTo’o, Alabama

DB - Jordan Battle, Alabama

DB - Kelee Ringo, Georgia

DB - Eli Ricks, Alabama

DB - Jalen Catalon, Arkansas

Second-Team

DL - Zacch Pickens, South Carolina

DL - D.J. Dale, Alabama

DL - Ali Gaye, LSU

DL - Colby Wooden, Auburn

LB - Bumper Pool, Arkansas

LB - Dallas Turner, Alabama

LB - Brenton Cox Jr., Florida

DB – Cam Smith, South Carolina

DB - Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M

DB - Christopher Smith, Georgia

DB - Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

Third-Team

DL - Gervon Dexter, Florida

DL - Justin Eboigbe, Alabama

DL - Maason Smith, LSU

DL - McKinnley Jackson, Texas A&M

LB - Owen Pappoe, Auburn

LB - Ventrell Miller, Florida

LB - Jeremy Banks, Tennessee

DB - Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

DB - Trey Dean III, Florida

DB - Trevon Flowers, Tennessee

DB - Malachi Moore, Alabama

SPECIALISTS

First-Team

P - Nik Constantinou, Texas A&M

PK - Will Reichard, Alabama

RS - Kearis Jackson, Georgia

AP - Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Second-Team

P - Oscar Chapman, Auburn

PK - Anders Carlson, Auburn

RS - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

AP - Devon Achane, Texas A&M

Third-Team

P - Paxton Brooks, Tennessee

PK - Harrison Mevis, Missouri

RS - JoJo Earle, Alabama

AP - Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

* - Indicates a tie

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