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For the first time since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1992, the South Carolina Gamecocks are the preseason favorite to win the Eastern Division, according to a poll of media members attending the SEC Media Days in Birmingham.
The defending Eastern Division Champion Gamecocks received 931 points, outdistancing Georgia (794) and Florida (731) for the top spot in the East.
Carolina received 114 first-place votes, compared to 38 for Georgia and 12 for Florida.
Tennessee (496 points/2 first-place votes), Kentucky (340/1) and Vanderbilt (215/0) round out the Eastern Division.
Alabama was picked to win the West, followed by LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Auburn and Ole Miss.
Alabama was selected as the favorite to win the overall SEC title, garnering 98 votes. South Carolina was fourth with 14 votes, behind LSU (29) and Arkansas (18).
Individually, the Gamecocks placed 10 players on the three All-SEC units, trailing only Alabama (16) and Arkansas (14) for the most players on the three teams.
The Gamecocks had three first-team selections – junior wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore and junior cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Jeffery received more votes than any other player named to the All-SEC squad with 152.
South Carolina placed three players on the second team, including senior quarterback Stephen Garcia, junior defensive end Devin Taylor and senior defensive tackle Travian Robertson.
Senior offensive linemen Kyle Nunn and Rokevious Watkins earned spots on the third-team offense, while senior defensive lineman Melvin Ingram and junior linebacker Shaq Wilson were tabbed to the All-SEC third-team defense.
The Gamecocks will officially report for fall camp Aug. 2, with the first workout scheduled for Aug. 3.
South Carolina faces East Carolina on Sept. 3 in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium.
SEC predicted order of finish:
SEC champion – Alabama (98), LSU (29), Arkansas (18), South Carolina (14), Georgia (4), Florida (2), Ole Miss (2)
Eastern Division (First place votes in parenthesis)
1. USC (114) 931
2. Georgia (38) 794
3. Florida (12) 731
4. Tennessee (2) 496
5. Kentucky (1) 340
6. Vanderbilt 215
Western Division (First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Alabama (111) 925
2. LSU (30) 790
3. Arkansas (23) 717
4. Mississippi St. (1) 455
5. Auburn 406
6. Ole Miss (2) 214