I like the list walt, I would make one change in the SEC. Call it a homer pick but, I like South Carolina once again to return over LSU or Arkansas (one of those teams is out.) As far as proven talent returning, South Carolina is returning their entire weekend rotation (as Michael Roth announced at the trophy celebration he would be returning) and is only losing John Taylor, and Jose Mata to graduation out of the pen. Price is a question mark but if he were to leave there are several others in the pen (Webb, Casey, Neff) to replace him who have the talent. Granted we are losing Wingo, Bradley, Morales, Beary, and Thomas, which will hurt, I don't see that as too big of an issue because Christian Walker, Marzilli, Mooney, and hopefully Matthews (if he doesn't sign after being drafted very late) are all coming back as well as Stephen Neff who can pick up a bat as DH if needed, all will be a solid foundation in the lineup to help guide new players.
Now Walt I know you said on proven talent so on that basis I can see how we would be left off the list, but with the core of guys returning and if one "unproven" arm in the bullpen steps up, pitching wise we will be right where we were this year (I like Bryan Harper as my dark horse to step up next year)
Also, Im not to familiar with the guys that are coming in as freshman, but I do believe our recruiting class was top 10 in the nation for the 2012 season? (maybe you could help me out with that Kendall)
Funny, but I was debating whether to include LSU or South Carolina on my list (and almost included UNC over A&M). I think Arkansas is a bit surer bet than either, however. My Aggie pick depends upon whether Stripling returns or not. If he doesn't, then i drop A&M out of my preseason Top 10, even though they do bring back most of their offense. As for incoming recruiting class, personally, i do not give that much weight in my preseason picks for a couple reasons: (1) all of the top programs are going to have newcomers who contribute, and (2) even the most highly regarded true Freshman are hit or miss their Freshman seasons. For every Matty Ott, Knebel, Purke, Ackley and Rendon there are other, equally highly regarded guys who struggle their Freshman year before making the necessary adjustments.
edited by weg313 on 7/1/2011