Now that it’s official that we’ll be leaving the BCS era for the playoff era in college football beginning in 2014, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the best SEC players of the BCS era.
These are the best players, period, going back to the 1998 season, which was the birth of the BCS era.
To be eligible, players had to have played at least two seasons in the SEC from 1998 until now, meaning a player who played in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 would not be eligible. We also didn’t consider current players, meaning Marcus Lattimore, Jarvis Jones and Tyrann Mathieu weren’t eligible.
We picked 11 players on offense and 11 players on defense and consulted with a number of coaches and other media members in making these selections.
We’ll start with offense and come back with defense later today. We’ve also selected an All-SEC team of the BCS era that we’ll unveil.
The players are listed alphabetically. Here goes with our best 11 on offense:
Shaun Alexander, RB, Alabama: He scored 50 touchdowns in 41 career games and ranks as Alabama’s all-time leading rusher with 3,565 yards. He set the SEC single-season record for touchdowns scored in 1999 with 24.
Shawn Andrews, OT, Arkansas: A massive road-grader for the Hogs and a two-time All-American. Andrews won the Jacobs Trophy as the SEC’s best blocker in both 2002 and 2003.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: Combined a blend of speed, size and incredible body control to haul in 23 touchdown catches in 31 career games. Green caught more than 50 passes all three seasons at Georgia from 2008-10.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida: They called his position the “Percy” position because he was so versatile and so dynamic. Harvin lined up as a tailback, in the slot and out wide and finished his career with 32 touchdowns (19 rushing, 13 receiving).
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: The first and only Heisman Trophy winner at Alabama in 2009, Ingram scored 46 career touchdowns and averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 572 career rushes. Ingram lost just two fumbles in more than 620 touches at Alabama.
Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss: Prior to his Super Bowl heroics in the NFL, Manning carved out a record-breaking career at Ole Miss. He was a first-team All-American in 2003 and threw 81 career touchdown passes, which is fifth all-time in the SEC.
Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas: Won the Doak Walker Award in 2006 and 2007 as the nation’s best running back. McFadden averaged 120.8 rushing yards for his career, second only to Herschel Walker and Emmitt Smith in the SEC
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: After an inauspicious start to his career at Florida, Newton produced a season for the ages in 2010 after transferring to Auburn. He accounted for 51 touchdowns and rushed for an SEC-best 1,473 yards in leading the Tigers to the national title.
Chris Samuels, OT, Alabama: Winner of the Outland Trophy in 1999, Samuels started 42 games for the Crimson Tide and cleared the way for a lot of Alexander’s 3,565 career rushing yards.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: Set the SEC record with 57 career touchdowns from 2006-09 and was an integral part of two national championship teams at Florida. Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 when he passed for 32 touchdowns and rushed for 23 touchdowns.
Carnell Williams, RB, Auburn: There’s a reason they called him “Cadillac.” Williams teamed with Ronnie Brown in 2004 to form one of the best backfield tandems in SEC history and finished his career with 3,831 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns.