The Southeastern Conference has a brand new look heading into the 2014 season.
It will be without seven of its top eight passers from last year, and eight of the conference’s top 10 receivers from 2013 won’t return when the season kicks off in August.
LSU will be searching for leaders in fall camp following the departures of several veterans.
A handful of the top candidates to take over the reins on the program will be representing the squad during SEC media days Monday through Thursday at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Hoover, Alabama.
Three seniors — offensive tackle La’el Collins, running back Terrence Magee and linebacker D.J. Welter — will face reporters when LSU is featured Wednesday afternoon.
Collins started 25 games the past two seasons, earning second-team All-SEC honors after recording 65 knockdowns in 2013.
Magee broke out last season, finishing with 626 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Welter started every game last season at middle linebacker.
He had 80 tackles and two sacks and was instrumental in the Tigers’ 21-14 win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl with six tackles and a sack.
Despite the departures, the SEC is still packed with potential stars who have their sights set on a national championship.
There will be no Johnny Manziel, no Aaron Murray, no Zach Mettenberger, no Jadeveon Clowney, no AJ McCarron or Connor Shaw.
Instead, Auburn’s Nick Marshall, Missouri’s Maty Mauk, Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s Amari Cooper will be making their first trips to the circus atmosphere of media days. Quarterbacks Bo Wallace (Ole Miss) and Jeff Driskel (Florida) will represent their squads for the second consecutive year.
Marshall stormed onto the scene in 2013, completing 142 passes for 1,976 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He was a primary factor in the nation’s leading rushing offense, also, finishing with 172 carries for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Now a senior, Marshall is looking to lead Auburn back to the national championship after losing to Florida State 34-31 in last season’s title game.
At Missouri, Mauk will take over the reins.
Mauk is battle tested in every sense of the term. The sophomore started four games in place of injured senior James Franklin last season and played in 13 of 14 contests. Mauk earned a 2013 SEC All-Freshman team nod after throwing for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
Ole Miss’ Wallace has a clear route to the No. 1 passer in the conference. A season ago, Wallace finished third in the SEC with 3,346 passing yards and 18 touchdowns.
The next closest quarterback who hasn’t graduated or been drafted?
It’s Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, who finished ninth in passing yards in the SEC last season.
Without Murray and Manziel gone, Wallace is the early favorite to lead the SEC in passing yards.
Texas A&M junior punter Drew Kaser will be the only special teams player to make an appearance at the SEC media days.
He averaged 47.4 yards per punt last season, and he is back on the list for the Ray Guy Award, given to the top punter in the nation.
SEC media days may not have the same cast of characters from one year ago, but the talent level will certainly be on par.