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The SEC's 25 best players: No. 6

3/14/2011

In yet another reminder of how stacked the SEC was at receiver last season, the No. 6 guy on our countdown set a number of records at Alabama:

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

2010 numbers/honors: Second in the SEC with 1,133 receiving yards, which was an Alabama single-season record. Jones’ 78 receptions were also a school record. He caught seven touchdown passes and averaged 14.5 yards per catch. A second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and a consensus first-team All-SEC selection.

Preseason ranking: Ranked No. 6 on the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Jones: One of the few knocks against Jones was that he couldn’t stay healthy, and it’s true that he endured his share of injuries at Alabama. But you’re also talking about a guy who missed very few games. His tolerance for pain is off the charts. He broke his hand against South Carolina last season, and not only did he not miss a single game, but he played some of his best football the rest of the way. Two weeks after surgery to insert screws and a plate into his hand, Jones exploded for 12 catches and 221 receiving yards in a 41-10 win against Tennessee. The only player in the league to catch more passes against SEC defenses last season was Randall Cobb, and Jones finished second to Alshon Jeffery with 750 receiving yards against SEC competition. At 6-4 and 220 pounds, Jones is one of those rare athletes who has the strength to shed would-be tacklers and the speed to run by them. When’s the last time you saw anybody catch him from behind? In a season that saw Alabama’s running game sputter at times, Jones was the constant for the Crimson Tide in that offense.

The rundown

No. 7: Kentucky WR Randall Cobb

No. 8: South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

No. 9: Georgia OLB Justin Houston

No. 10: Arkansas RB Knile Davis

No. 11: Georgia WR A.J. Green

No. 12: LSU DT Drake Nevis

No. 13: Auburn OT Lee Ziemba

No. 14: LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard

No. 15: South Carolina DE Devin Taylor

No. 16: Florida S Ahmad Black

No. 17: Arkansas TE D.J. Williams

No. 18: Alabama S Mark Barron

No. 19: Florida CB Janoris Jenkins

No. 20: Mississippi State LB Chris White

No. 21: LSU RB Stevan Ridley

No. 22: Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod

No. 23: Alabama DE Marcell Dareus

No. 24: Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan

No. 25: Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw