<
>

SEC West players with the most pressure on them this spring

On Wednesday, we checked out the seven players in the SEC East with the most pressure on them heading into spring practice.

Today, we check out seven players from the SEC West.

Alabama

Jalen Hurts, QB: After a pretty impressive debut that saw him become the first true freshman to start under Nick Saban, Hurts will have a mountain of pressure on his back this spring. For starters, it was clear that he ran out of some gas during the latter stages of the season. He was held to fewer than 200 yards passing in four of his last five games, including throwing for just 57 yards in a win over Washington. He now has a new coordinator and will get a ton of push from stud freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who some around the program think could unseat Hurts. Hurts has a ways to go with his passing ability, and he'll need to start showing strong strides in that area this spring.

Arkansas

Bijhon Jackson, DL: Heading into his senior season, Jackson has been mostly a rotational player for the Razorbacks. Now, with Arkansas moving to a 3-4 defense, the Hogs are in need of a valuable nose tackle in a line that has underachieved over the last few years. Jackson has a chance to play there, especially with his 6-foot-2, 335-pound frame, but he has to be more consistent. And with rising sophomore McTelvin Agim having a breakout season of sorts last year, Jackson's chances of being a major part of this defense are dwindling. If Jackson wants to make a real impact, the time is now.

Auburn

Jarrett Stidham, QB: I know. You're absolutely shocked. But the truth is that the former Baylor backup must be an elite player for the Tigers to get back to being consistently competitive in the SEC West. Auburn returns a solid defense and some pretty intriguing pieces at receiver. Oh, and 1,000-yard rusher Kamryn Pettway is back. That's great, but in Auburn's last two seasons of struggle, the Tigers have ranked 12th and 14th in the league in passing. This offense is predicated on a quarterback who is just as deadly throwing as he is running, and Stidham projects to being that kind of quarterback ... and he has to be.

LSU

D.J. Chark, WR: With Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural gone, Chark becomes the go-to receiver for the Tigers. The good news is that he had a solid 2016 season, catching 26 passes for 466 yards and three touchdowns. He's a true speedster and could be a fun deep threat to watch, but taking the No. 1 receiving spot comes with a lot of responsibility and -- you guessed it -- pressure. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada will be looking to enhance LSU's passing game, and Chark will need to be a key part of that process.

Mississippi State

Brandon Bryant, S: Bryant showed flashes of brilliance at times as a freshman last year. He played in all 13 games, starting the final eight. He led all SEC freshmen with three interceptions and was one of only two SEC freshmen to return a pick for a touchdown. Now, he has to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. He also has to win over the trust of a new safeties coach and a new defensive coordinator, while trying to lead a secondary that was the SEC's worst last season. Making things tougher is that he'll have to also fend off three JUCO transfers, including the No. 1 and No. 2 JUCO safeties from the 2016 recruiting class.

Ole Miss

Benito Jones, DT: With everything going on, you could make the case that everyone is under an immense amount of pressure in Oxford. But when it purely comes to on-field pressure, look no further than Jones. He ended his freshman season starting the final four games of the season at DT. He could really be a star, and the truth is, Ole Miss needs to him to be one coming out of spring. There's very little depth around him so the Rebels need him to carry the interior of this line.

Texas A&M

Jarrett Johnson, DE: Johnson is in line to take over the pass rushing spot vacated by star Myles Garrett. Yeah, no pressure or anything. Johnson had a decent 2016 season, registering 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Johnson will have every opportunity fill Garrett's void this spring, but if this is going to be his spot in the fall, he has to start this spring because he'll also have to fight off incoming four-star JUCO DE Michael Clemons who is arriving in the summer.