The SEC's 25 best players: No. 1

July, 6, 2010
7/06/10
10:45
AM ET
I’m sure the suspense has been killing all of you about who’s No. 1 in our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players. Well, here goes.

No. 1: Mark Ingram, RB, Jr., Alabama

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
Shelby Daniel/Icon SMIMark Ingram is the first Crimson Tide player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
2009 numbers: His 1,658 rushing yards led all SEC players, as did his 20 touchdowns. Averaged 6.1 yards per carry and also caught 32 passes for 334 yards.

Most recent ranking: No. 1 on the 2009 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Ingram: The Heisman Trophy is a pretty good place to start. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Ingram became Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner in school history last season, but his value goes much deeper than just winning college football’s most prestigious individual award. To really appreciate Ingram, watch him after initial contact. The first guy never gets him, as evidenced by the fact that Ingram had an astonishing 1,075 yards after contact last season. Former Alabama offensive guard Mike Johnson marveled at Ingram’s vision and his ability to hit any crease, no matter how small, at full speed. When he does get some daylight, he has the wheels to go the distance. More than 30 percent of his rushing attempts last season went for a first down or a touchdown. One of the things that sets Ingram apart is his versatility. He has excellent hands out of the backfield and is equally good in pass protection when it comes to picking up the blitz. Ingram was at his best against the best teams, averaging 156.8 yards against six Top 25 opponents. And you want dependable? Ingram handled the ball 303 times last season (271 rushing attempts and 32 catches) and lost just one fumble. He’s only put the ball on the ground twice during his career. When you think of a football player, and I'm talking about a guy who impacts the game in a variety of different ways, No. 22 is the measuring stick in this league.

The rundown

No. 2: A.J. Green, WR, Jr., Georgia

No. 3: Ryan Mallett, QB, Jr., Arkansas

No. 4: Patrick Peterson, CB, Jr., LSU

No. 5: Marcell Dareus, DE, Jr., Alabama

No. 6: Julio Jones, WR, Jr., Alabama

No. 7: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Jr., Alabama

No. 8: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Sr., Florida

No. 9: Pernell McPhee, DE, Sr., Mississippi State

No. 10: Jerrell Powe, NT, Sr., Ole Miss

No. 11: Trent Richardson, RB, So., Alabama

No. 12: Stephon Gilmore, CB, So., South Carolina

No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU

No. 14: Randall Cobb, WR/QB, Jr., Kentucky

No. 15: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Jr., Florida

No. 16: Mark Barron, S, Jr., Alabama

No.17: Darvin Adams, WR, Jr., Auburn

No. 18: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

No. 20: Cliff Matthews, DE, Sr., South Carolina

No. 21: Clint Boling, OT, Sr., Georgia

No. 22: Greg Childs, WR, Jr., Arkansas

No. 23: Washaun Ealey, RB, So., Georgia

No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt

No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee

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