All-SEC recruiting nobodies: Defense
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Now we turn our attention to defense on the All-SEC recruiting nobody team.
Five of our 11 selections on defense are currently playing in the NFL. We also tacked on a return specialist to the defensive team. All 12 of these players earned All-SEC honors of some sort.
Breaking down the entire offensive and defensive teams, Alabama had the most players with five. Vanderbilt was second with four players.
All of these players played in the SEC during the last four seasons (2005-08):
|Joe Robbins/Getty Images|
|Jamaal Anderson wasn't on many radar screens when he was recruited as a wide receiver by Arkansas.|
DL Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas: He came to Arkansas as a skinny 6-foot-6, 205-pound receiver who wasn't even rated by some recruiting services. Anderson found a home at defensive end and led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in 2006. He turned pro early and was selected as the eighth overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
DL Mark Anderson, Alabama: When he signed with Alabama in 2001 out of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School, Anderson weighed 210 pounds and wasn't seriously recruited by either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. He became a second-team All-SEC performer at Alabama and set a Chicago Bears rookie record with 12 sacks during the 2006 season.
DL Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn: A complete unknown in the recruiting process until Auburn and South Carolina jumped onto him at the very end. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was sold on him after watching him play basketball. Marks went on to carve out an All-SEC career at Auburn and is projected to go in the top two rounds of the upcoming NFL draft.
DL Jeremy Jarmon, Kentucky: A two-star player from Collierville, Tenn., that picked Kentucky over Memphis and was only an honorable mention all-state selection as a senior in high school. As a collegian, Jarmon has emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC. He enters his senior season with 17.5 sacks, third all-time at Kentucky.
LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss: More than 50 linebackers were rated ahead of him nationally when he came out of high school in Bruceton, Tenn. He wanted to go to Tennessee, but the Vols didn't seriously recruit him. When he was through at Ole Miss, he'd become the most honored defensive player in school history. He won the Butkus Award in 2006 as the country's top linebacker and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 after being drafted 11th overall by the San Francisco 49ers. He's been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in San Francisco.
LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama: Ryans was a three-star prospect when he signed with the Crimson Tide out of Bessemer, Ala. There were nearly 40 other linebacker prospects rated above him. The Tide's chief competition was Mississippi State, Troy State and UAB, and all Ryans did as a senior at Alabama was win SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 with the Houston Texans.
LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina: His only other official visit was to Oklahoma State. Norwood also tried to latch on with Mississippi State late before getting an offer from South Carolina. He's from Acworth, Ga., right outside Atlanta, but wasn't recruited by Georgia. At South Carolina, he's developed into one of the league's best big-play defenders. He's been named first-team All-SEC each of the past two years, as a defensive end in 2007 and an outside linebacker in 2008, and is South Carolina's all-time leader with 43 tackles for loss.
DB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt: Nobody was sure what position he was going to play coming out of Broome High School in Spartanburg, S.C. Scouts Inc. rated him as the 142nd receiver prospect nationally. To make a long story short, Clemson and South Carolina are still cringing that they didn't recruit him a little harder. Moore became one of the SEC's best multipurpose athletes at Vanderbilt and was a first-team All-SEC selection at cornerback each of the past two seasons. He also earned second-team All-America honors this season after intercepting six passes for the second year in a row and declared for the NFL draft.
DB Trevard Lindley, Kentucky: Lindley missed most of his senior season in high school with a dislocated knee and actually "grayshirted" at Kentucky. He signed as part of the 2004 class, but didn't enroll until January 2005. His other choices were Southern Miss, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Louisville and Marshall. It didn't take him long at Kentucky to transform into one of the most complete cornerbacks in the league. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2008 and chose to return for his senior season despite being projected to go in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
DB Rashad Johnson, Alabama: Johnson was the ultimate nobody coming out of high school in Sulligent, Ala. His only scholarship offers were to The Citadel and a few other Division II schools. He decided to walk on at Alabama and made a name for himself on special teams. When his college career was over this past season, he'd been named first-team All-SEC twice and earned second-team All-America honors as a senior. A hard-hitting safety and two-time captain, Johnson had 11 interceptions his last two seasons at Alabama.
DB Tim Jennings, Georgia: Jennings didn't have a Division I-A scholarship offer until signing day in 2002. The Bulldogs lost out on a few guys late and then turned to Jennings, who wasn't ranked anywhere coming out of Orangeburg, S.C. He wound up starting for three and a half years at cornerback, earned first-team All-SEC honors as a senior and was a second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 NFL draft.
RS Javier Arenas, Alabama: Arenas had committed to Florida Atlantic, but Alabama took a chance on him late in the recruiting process. Everybody thought he was too small to play, even though he had seven kick returns for touchdowns his senior season in Tampa, Fla. Well, at Alabama, he's returned six punts for touchdowns, which is tied for the SEC career record, and he started at cornerback for the Tide this past season as a junior.