The SEC's best 25 players: No. 25

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
10:00
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We kick off our countdown today of the SEC's 25 best players entering the 2011 season.

Like past top 25 lists, this isn't a list of the top NFL prospects in the league. It's based on what players have accomplished in college so far, their potential for the 2011 season and the impact they have on their teams.

What separates this from the postseason list is that it relies more on projections, as opposed to mainly statistics, like the postseason poll.

We have reached out to members of the SEC, including coaches and players, for input on our list and have spoken with different members of the media for help as well.

Of course, there will be some players who burst onto the scene this fall and make their way onto the list. Remember some guy named Cam Newton? I think he surprised just about everyone last year.

And there will be some players who fall off this list. Last season, Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe ranked No. 10 on the preseason list, but he recorded just 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

OK, we've stalled long enough. Here is No. 25 and we’ll count it down daily until we get to No. 1:

No. 25: Janzen Jackson, S, Tennessee

[+] EnlargeJanzen Jackson
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireJanzen Jackson (15) is a playmaker in Tennessee's secondary, collecting 69 tackles and five picks last season.
2010 numbers: Jackson was one of 10 Volunteers to start every game in 2010 and owns the highest streak of consecutive starts heading into 2011 with 15. His five interceptions tied for the team lead and tied for third in the SEC. He was also the Vols’ leader in interception return yards with 114, ranking third in the league. Jackson led the team with 11 passes defended and led Tennessee’s secondary with 69 tackles.

Most recent ranking:
Not ranked in the 2011 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Jackson: When Jackson is on, he’s really good -- even great. His tremendous field instincts are undeniable, he’s a big hitter and he his cover skills that make you think he’s a cornerback at times. Jackson has the ability to cover almost every portion of the field. His mere presence makes the Vols’ defense go. Jackson ranked fifth on our safeties list, but that was before he reported back to school. Now that he's back we expect him to make an impact on the Vols' defense. However, we wonder what kind of playing shape he’ll be in once he finally steps back onto the football field. Jackson only recently rejoined the team after withdrawing from school following the Music City Bowl. He hasn’t practiced with the team since before the bowl, so he’ll no doubt be rusty this preseason. Even though he worked out on his own, it could take him some time to regain his football legs. Jackson has also been hampered by off-the-field incidents through his first two years, which makes him a bit of a wild card in Knoxville. Jackson has the skill to be a terrific player in this league, but he has to overcome the mental side of things first.

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