Surprising players left out of SEC Media Days

Three players that will represent their respective teams at SEC Media Days were announced, and there were some surprising names left off the list.
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) before the start of the Citrus Bowl NCAA College football game on Monday, January 1, 2024 in Orlando, Fla.
Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava (8) before the start of the Citrus Bowl NCAA College football game on Monday, January 1, 2024 in Orlando, Fla. / Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

The SEC Media Days are upcoming on July 15th through July 18th in Dallas, Texas and will feature three players from each SEC school. SEC Media Days provides fans and sports media a chance to get an up close look and hear directly from players and coaches leading up to the start of college football season which is less than two months away.

Most of the time, the three best players that are most talked about on each SEC team are invited for their respective teams with the head coach Presumably making the decision on who attends. And for the most part, that is no different in 2024. There are a few surprising names however that were left off of the invite list for their respective teams.

Which players are not attending SEC Media Days?

Nico Iamaleava (QB, Tennessee)

This one is a head scratcher. Although only a redshirt freshman, Iamaleava has been praised by Tennessee fans and coaches before he even arrived on campus in Knoxville a few years ago. Iamaleava was ranked as the sixth player nationally in the high school recruiting class of 2023 according to On3 .

After backing up quarterback Joe Milton in 2023, Iamaleava takes the reigns this year as the starting quarterback for the Vols. One would have thought with the amount of growth he has done since arriving on campus according to head coach Josh Heupel that he would have been one of the three representatives for the Vols in Dallas.

Instead, the Vols are bringing center Cooper Mays, linebacker Keenan Pili and defensive lineman Omari Thomas. All are seniors for the Vols, so in this way it does make sense.

James Pearce Jr. (EDGE, Tennessee)

Pearce Jr. had a breakout season for the Vols in 2023 recording 9.5 sacks according to ESPN, which was third in the SEC. Unlike Iamaleava who has yet to prove anything on the field, it is inarguable that Pearce Jr. has, yet he was still not invited by Heupel. Again however, the theme remains that with Pearce Jr. only entering his junior season compared to the three that were selected, it does make sense.

Conner Weigman (QB, Texas A&M)

Not that there is a quarterback competition in College Station, but one would think that with Weigman entering his second season as the teams starting quarterback that head coach Mike Elko would have given the nod to the veteran. Instead, the Aggies will be bringing left tackle Trey Zuhn III, middle linebacker Taurean York and defensive end Shemar Turner.

With quarterback being seen as the leader of the team in many instances, this was a surprising move. However, the three selected are all captains for the team, and Weigman is not

Who are some popular players attending SEC Media Days?

Despite these surprising omissions, everything else as far as who you would expect to be invited for each team was pretty status quo. Names like Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe, Georgia quarterback Carson Beck and LSU linebacker Harold Perkins will all be making the trip for their respective teams.

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