NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 29: Zac Stacy #2 of the Vanderbilt Commodores breaks away from the Arkansas Razorbacks defense for a touchdown during play at Vanderbilt Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. Arkansas won 31-28. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Zac Stacy earned a second straight All-SEC honor on Thursday, being named one of the conference's best running backs by a panel of the league's coaches. Defensive lineman Rob Lohr also earned accolades for his work in the trenches.
Stacy was named to the coaches' Preseason All-Southeastern Conference second team after a year in which he broke Vanderbilt's single season rushing record with 1,193 yards. He also added 14 touchdowns and posted a sterling 5.9 yard per carry average. However, that wasn't enough to push him in front of South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore, Arkansas's Knile Davis, or Alabama's Eddie Lacy on the conference depth chart.
It's important to note that these honors are highly predictive. Lattimore and Davis are both coming back from significant injuries that cost them the bulk of their 2011 seasons, while Lacy only had 95 (impressive) carries last season as Trent Richardson's backup. If Stacy can roll his momentum from 2011 into 2012, he'll have a great chance to earn first team honors in his final season as a Commodore.
Lohr snuck onto the third team at defensive tackle after a strong 2011 season. He paired with Tim Fugger to give the 'Dores a fierce 1-2 combination up front. He'll have the chance to earn the spotlight defensively after breaking out for 11.5 tackles for loss and five sacks last year.
The All-SEC teams are stacked with talent, making it difficult for the Commodores to sneak more than a couple players onto the ballot. Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd were both solid candidates at wideout, but underwhelming stats likely kept them behind a deep class of strong, but not superstar-powered, receivers in the league. Other players like Jordan Rodgers, Warren Norman, Chase Garnham, Andre Hal, and Archibald Barnes will have their chance to rise up and earn a spot on the final All-SEC team at the end of the year.
However, one snub did seem particularly egregious for the Commodores. Richard Kent started off his week by being named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List, which honors the top punter in the country. He'll finish it without All-SEC accolades. This isn't entirely a robbery - the four other SEC punters to beat him out were all also named to the Guy Watch List - it's an unfortunate snub for a talented but unheralded Vanderbilt player.
Kent will just have to join his teammates in clawing towards all-conference honors through the regular season. The competition for All-SEC slots this year will be more competitive than ever before. The addition of Texas A&M and Missouri has brought two more established football powers into the league. These new schools placed nine players on the preseason team, squeezing out Vandy's hopes of adding a third player to the ranks.
For Stacy and Lohr, this represents an encouraging start to their senior seasons. For everyone else, it's bulletin board material. These preseason awards are ultimately meaningless in lieu of actual results, but they do give us something to talk about in July. Who do you think were Vandy's biggest snubs on the coaches' ballots this year?