Over the next few days, we’ll review the top 25 SEC players from the 2015 football season. We’ll begin the recap now with players 21-25.
21. OT Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss: Although he missed seven games while serving a suspension for accepting impermissible benefits, Tunsil still belongs on this list. The junior left tackle helped Ole Miss’ offense become even more explosive toward the end of the season, proving why NFL draft analysts project him as a high-first-round pick. He easily ranks among the best offensive tackles to come through the conference in years.
22. TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas: Just as Tunsil ranks as ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.’s top offensive tackle prospect, Henry is his No. 1 tight end. The Razorbacks junior won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end after notching 51 catches for 739 yards and three touchdowns. Henry was also involved in one of the SEC’s biggest plays of the season, tossing a last-gasp lateral to teammate Alex Collins to keep alive Arkansas’ comeback bid against Ole Miss. The Hogs won in overtime.
23. OG Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas: Another offensive lineman who dominated in 2015, Tretola shared the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy with Alabama center Ryan Kelly. Considering the league’s coaches hand out that award to the player they view as the SEC’s top blocker, Tretola obviously had a solid year. The 334-pound senior is an All-SEC road grader at guard, but he almost never allows a sack, either. He will surely rank among the first guards to come off the board in the NFL draft.
24. RB Jalen Hurd, Tennessee: Hurd doesn’t generate as many headlines as fellow SEC running backs Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette, but he deserves similar attention. One of the driving forces in Tennessee’s offense, Hurd shared touches with Alvin Kamara and still ranked fourth in the SEC with 99.1 rushing yards per game (totaling 1,288 rushing yards and 12 TDs). Tennessee will be one of the SEC’s preseason favorites in 2016, and Hurd’s presence in the backfield will be one reason why.
25. WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina: Considering he dealt with a revolving door at quarterback, Cooper’s 2015 receiving stats become even more impressive. He ranked 30th nationally and second in the SEC with 81.1 receiving yards per game (totaling 66 catches for 973 yards and eight touchdowns), earning first-team All-SEC honors for the second straight season. The junior decided to enter the draft after the season, and Kiper ranks him as the No. 8 receiver prospect.