A closer look at the top 25 SEC players

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
3:00
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We concluded our top 25 player countdown in the SEC last Friday with Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones holding down the No. 1 spot.

I’m pleased to report that we didn’t receive any complaints and that nobody second-guessed any of our selections this year.

If you believe that, I’ve got some beachfront property in Arkansas I’d like to sell you.

Nobody agrees on who the 25 best players are in the SEC. We could have 20 different people participate, and we’d get 20 different lists.

Plus, you can’t squeeze 40 great players into 25 spots. It always changes, too, as the season goes on. Players go from good to great, while others don’t have the season or the impact they were projected to have.

Below is a breakdown of our preseason list, which was selected with the help of coaches, NFL analysts and other media and based more on projection. We’ll also do a postseason countdown, which will be based on performance in the 2012 season.

Four of the top five players were offensive players, but the overall breakdown was 13 defensive players and 12 offensive players.

By position:
OL … 4
DE … 4
QB … 3
LB … 3
WR … 3
CB … 2
RB … 2
DT … 2
S … 2

LSU led the way with five players, and Alabama was close behind with four. The only teams that weren’t represented were Kentucky, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.

By team
LSU … 5
Alabama … 4
Arkansas … 3
Georgia … 3
Tennessee … 3
South Carolina … 2
Texas A&M … 2
Auburn … 1
Florida … 1
Mississippi State … 1

The only sophomore on the list was South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. There were 17 juniors and seven seniors. LSU junior cornerback/return specialist Tyrann Mathieu was going to be on the list and would have been in the top 5, but we pulled him out after he was dismissed from the team. Also, Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers was No. 23, but never made it to the season. He was dismissed from the Vols’ team after his selection had already run in the SEC blog. We’d like to have a do-over on that one because we were warned that it was 50-50 at best that the SEC’s leading pass-catcher from a year ago would make it through the entire 2012 season.

Oh well, strike one.

Here’s a quick look at the five players who just missed the cut. They’re listed alphabetically:

Philip Lutzenkirchen, TE, Auburn: One of the best tight ends in the country, Lutzenkirchen is a master at getting open and makes the tough catches look easy.

John Jenkins, NG, Georgia: He really came on at the end of last season, and now that he’s had a year in the Bulldogs’ system, should emerge as one of the SEC’s most dominant interior linemen.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Coming off shoulder surgery in the spring, Franklin is the premier dual-threat quarterback in the league. He flirted with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing a year ago.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: Don’t be surprised if McCarron plays his way into elite status nationally this season. He’s the most talented quarterback Nick Saban has had at Alabama and loves playing on the big stage.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: The Crimson Tide breed great defensive players, and Mosley is one of those linebackers that can do it all. He tackles well. He can blitz. He can cover, and he rarely makes mistakes.

Chris Low | email

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