- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
We've come to that part of the year where we rank the SEC's 25 best players. It isn't easy, even with six brains coming together to whittle our lists down to just 25 players.
In a league overflowing with talent, you clearly can't come up with a perfect list of 25, so there will always be some appropriate overflow. The problem with having a set number on a list is that you can't squeeze in everyone you want.
We tried and yet again just came up short, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a handful of guys who were very deserving of making it on our list.
We once again put our heads together to come up with a short list of guys who just missed the top 25 cut.
Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State, Jr.: The former five-star prospect, who truly made a splash in Starkville as a true freshman, plateaued a bit in the 2014 season. After starting three games as freshman, Jones didn't make any in 2014, but was certainly a part of the Bulldogs' regular rotation up front. Still, he registered just 26 tackles and three sacks. Jones still has elite talent, but he has to play to his potential, and becoming a full-time starter this fall will definitely help.
Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia, Jr.: Floyd has all the tools to be one of the nation's best pass-rushers. He has 110 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in two years, however more was expected from Floyd in Year 2. Everyone thought he was playing for an NFL contract in 2014, but Floyd lacked consistency at times. Still, Floyd, who will be sharing space with two other elite pass-rushers, is incredibly dangerous and has a chance to be a first-round draft pick following the 2015 season.
Curt Maggitt, DE/LB, Tennessee, Sr.: Another great SEC pass-rusher, Maggitt rebounded from missing all of the 2013 season by registering a team-high 11 sacks and had 15 tackles for loss. Maggitt is an extremely versatile player, who can line up with his hand in the ground at defensive end or can stand up and rush from one of the outside linebacker spots.
Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU, Jr: The long, rangy athlete is one of the SEC's best cover corners. White recorded only two interceptions last season, but defended eight passes. It's tough to register eye-popping stats when quarterbacks are afraid to throw to your side of the field. And really, White takes away an entire side of the football field when he's out there. He isn't afraid to get physical with opposing receivers, and his nearly six-foot frame helps him shield guys when the ball is in the air.
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee, So.: Hurd had a solid start to his Tennessee career in 2014 when he finished his first season with 899 yards and five touchdowns. Hurd averaged 4.8 yards per carry and had four 100-yard rushing games, including finishing the season with 122 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (7.6 yards per carry) in the Vols' win against Iowa in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Hurd has a beastly running style and the potential to be a top-five back in this league.
Russell Hansbrough, RB, Missouri, Sr.: Though he reached 1,000 yards last season, Hansbrough hasn't received much preseason love. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound senior will lead Mizzou's backfield this season, and as the guy he could have a special year for a team still trying to figure things out in its passing game. Hansbrough can hit a defense for long runs, is shifty outside and between tackles, and has exceptional vision. He's a bowling ball of strength and elusiveness.
2hSam Khan Jr.
5dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough