AUBURN, Ala. — If the preseason All-SEC picks are any indication, defending national champion Alabama should be right near the top of the conference again.
The Crimson Tide has a league-high six members on the coaches’ preseason All-SEC first team, which was released Tuesday. Georgia has the second-most first-team selections with four, while Auburn has two.
Alabama’s nine overall selections on the first and second teams trails only Florida, which has 10. Georgia and Auburn are tied for third with six total selections.
The Tide has balanced representation on the first team, with Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram, wide receiver Julio Jones and lineman Barrett Jones representing the offense and lineman Marcell Dareus, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive back Mark Barron the defense.
Ingram ran for 1,678 yards and 17 touchdowns last season to become the Tide’s first Heisman Trophy winner. Julio Jones, a two-year starter, caught 43 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns. Barrett Jones was part of an offensive line that helped Alabama run for 215 yards per game.
Dareus and Barron spearheaded a defense that finished No. 2 nationally in total yards allowed. Dareus had 33 tackles and a team-high 6.5 sacks. Barron’s 76 tackles were second on the team.
After a promising freshman season, Hightower tore a knee ligament and missed nearly all of last year.
Of Georgia’s four first-team selections, two are on offense — wide receiver A.J. Green and offensive lineman Clint Boling. Green had 53 receptions last year for 808 yards and six touchdowns. Boling started 13 games last season, nearly all at right tackle.
Bulldogs specialists monopolize the kicking spots, with punter Drew Butler and place-kicker Blair Walsh earning first-team nods. Butler led the SEC with a 48.1-yard average. Walsh went 20-for-22 in field goal attempts (90.9 percent), the second-best percentage in the conference.
Left tackle Lee Ziemba and linebacker Josh Bynes are Auburn’s two first-team representatives. Ziemba has started 38 games in his career and, barring injury, will set the school start record by the end of this season. Bynes led Auburn with 104 tackles last season.
The Tigers have four second-team selections — wide receiver Darvin Adams, center Ryan Pugh, linebacker Craig Stevens and cornerback Neiko Thorpe.
The Crimson Tide has three on the second team (quarterback Greg McElroy, running back Trent Richardson and offensive lineman James Carpenter), while the Bulldogs have two (offensive lineman Cordy Glenn and return specialist Brandon Boykin).