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Breaking down the Heisman contenders in the SEC

8/12/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Eight players from the SEC have won the Heisman Trophy, college football's most-coveted individual prize.

Will that exclusive club add a member this season?

Of course, if Florida's Tim Tebow wins it again, as he did in 2007 as a sophomore, he would join Ohio State's Archie Griffin as the only two-time winner of the award.

Here are the four players in the SEC who have the best chance this season (listed alphabetically):

Safety Eric Berry, Tennessee: He might be the best defensive back in the country. He might be the best defensive player in the country. How ironic would it be if Berry were to become only the second defensive player in history to win the Heisman Trophy? The first time it happened still causes great pain and anguish on Rocky Top. Charles Woodson wrested the trophy away from the Vols' beloved Peyton Manning 12 years ago. Berry's the kind of electric player who will catch the voters' attention. But to have a fighting chance, he will need huge interception numbers, a few highlight-reel plays on special teams and/or offense and the Vols to win at least nine games. He's a long shot for sure, but so was Woodson at the start of the 1997 season.

Receiver Julio Jones, Alabama: OK, Jones probably won't have the numbers to make a serious run. Then again, look at what he did last season as a freshman despite the kind of injuries that would have sidelined a lot of players. The Crimson Tide plan to move him around more this season to make it difficult for teams to double-team him. What kind of shot does he really have? Put it this way: If the Heisman Trophy is truly about the nation's most outstanding college football player, then Jones ought to at least be in that conversation. The next time he goes down on the initial hit in a one-on-one situation will be the first time.

Quarterback Jevan Snead, Ole Miss: If Snead plays the entire season the way he ended last season, look out. He threw 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions during Ole Miss' six-game winning streak, which was capped by the 47-34 beatdown of Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Snead will need some help to be a serious candidate, as in the Rebels living up to their lofty billing and getting to the SEC championship game for the first time in their history. A Tebow vs. Snead showdown in Atlanta would be a lot of fun. Round 1 went to Snead last season in the Swamp.

Quarterback Tim Tebow, Florida: Going into the season, Tebow's as good a bet as any to be holding the statue come December. If he gets the Gators back to the BCS National Championship Game and puts up comparable statistics as a year ago (he passed for 30 touchdowns, ran for 12 touchdowns and only threw four interceptions), somebody's going to have to have a monster season to beat him out. The way Tebow outdueled 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in the BCS National Championship Game last season shouldn't do anything but help Tebow's cause. This is his chance to punctuate his legacy as one of the greatest college football players of all-time.