It’s time for our annual “Recruiting Nobody Dream Team” in the SEC.
These are guys who weren’t prep All-Americans, and in most cases, weren't very highly recruited all, but wound up being outstanding players this season. Several of them earned All-SEC and even All-America honors.
It’s a reminder to all the recruiting junkies out there not to dismiss those two- and three-star prospects your school signs on Wednesday.
Once you get on the practice field, stars don’t mean anything.
Here’s a look at our 2010 team, consisting of 15 players:
Auburn receiver Darvin Adams: The Tigers’ leading receiver the past two seasons, pulling in a combined 16 touchdown catches. Coming out of high school, Adams was ranked as the No. 90 wide receiver prospect in the country by ESPN. His only official visit was to Auburn.
Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard: He had 19 rushing touchdowns and led the Bulldogs in rushing with 968 yards. He was unranked at his position coming out of high school by ESPN. He had an offer from Houston pulled late and signed with Jackson State. He ended up going to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before transferring to Mississippi State.
Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette: The Hogs’ sack leader with seven this season and a second-team All-SEC selection. Bequette was unranked at his position by ESPN coming out of high school. Kansas State was his only other scholarship offer.
Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden: He just missed 1,000 yards rushing this season and also led the Rebels with 32 catches. Bolden was unranked at his position by ESPN coming out of high school, and even though he was from Baton Rouge, La., LSU’s only interest in him was as a defensive player.
South Carolina offensive guard Garrett Chisolm: A former walk-on who emerged this season as the Gamecocks’ best offensive lineman and a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches. Chisolm attended South Carolina in 2008, but didn’t play football.
Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb: A star quarterback in high school who lived about 15 minutes from Neyland Stadium. Tennessee didn’t seriously recruit him until the very end. Cobb set an SEC record this season with 2,396 all-purpose yards and was second in the SEC with 84 receptions. He earned several first-team All-America honors.
LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu: One of the best freshmen in the SEC this season, Mathieu was ranked as the No. 36 cornerback prospect nationally in the 2010 class. LSU picked up on him at one of its camps. The other schools recruiting him at the time were Tulane, SMU, Miami (Ohio), Southern Miss, Louisiana-Monroe and Florida International.
Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley: The Lombardi Award winner this season and most dominant defensive tackle in college football. Fairley was ranked as an offensive tackle coming out of high school in 2007, No. 32 nationally. He didn’t qualify academically and went to junior college for two years before returning to Auburn.
Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward: Tied for second this season in the SEC with six interceptions, Hayward will be one of the top returning cornerbacks in the league next season. He was unranked at his position by ESPN coming out of high school. His other offers were Southern Miss, Troy and Middle Tennessee.
Alabama safety Robert Lester: In his first season as a starter, Lester tied for second nationally with eight interceptions. He was ranked as the No. 39 safety in the 2008 class, and a lot of people thought he might have been more of a throw-in to help get his high school teammate, Julio Jones.
Arkansas offensive tackle DeMarcus Love: A first-team All-SEC selection, Love was the anchor of the Hogs’ offensive line at left tackle. Coming out of high school in Dallas, he was ranked as the No. 78 offensive guard prospect in the 2006 class and chose Arkansas over Kansas.
Tennessee linebacker Nick Reveiz: A former walk-on who earned a scholarship at Tennessee, Reveiz was a team captain each of the past two years and tied for fifth in the SEC this season with 108 tackles.
South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor: A first-team All-SEC selection, Taylor led the Gamecocks with 13 tackles for loss. He was ranked as the No. 72 defensive end prospect coming out of high school and chose South Carolina over Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Duke and Kentucky.
Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan: The SEC’s tackles leader this season with 144. Trevathan was also a first-team All-SEC selection. But coming out of high school, he was unranked at his position by ESPN. His other official visits were Purdue and Central Florida.
Mississippi State linebacker Chris White: A first-team All-SEC selection, White led the Bulldogs this season with 15.5 tackles for loss. He was unranked at his position coming out of high school and attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. South Florida and South Alabama were his only other offers.