- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now that you've seen where we ranked all 14 secondaries in the SEC, it's time to check out the players who make up those groups. We'll start with the cornerbacks:
1. Loucheiz Purifoy, Jr., Florida: He's still a raw player, but he's one of the best overall athletes in the league. Pro scouts drool over his athleticism and physical play. His pure cover skills improved as last season went on, and once he puts all that together, watch out. He also blocked two kicks, forced three fumbles, can play receiver and return kicks. Purifoy is projected by many to be the top cornerback taken in next year's NFL draft, and he'll prove why this fall.
2. Andre Hal, Sr., Vanderbilt: Hal might not be as athletic as Purifoy, but he's already a shutdown corner and is creeping up on elite status at his position. He defended 16 passes last season, including having two interceptions. Hal was a second-team All-SEC member, but he should enter the season as a first-team cornerback and won't surprise anyone if he's there again at season's end.
3. Marcus Roberson, Jr., Florida: He's one of the purest cover corners out there, and if Purifoy wasn't on his team he'd get more attention and love. The fast, lengthy corner has been a staple on Florida's defense since he was a freshman, and has only gotten better each season. Last season, he defended 14 passes and grabbed two interceptions.
4. Damian Swann, Jr., Georgia: He's considered the old man of Georgia's very young secondary. He's played primarily at the nickel spot, but grew more as a boundary player last season, and is now the team's No. 1 cornerback. He should be just fine there after getting his feet very wet last season when he continued to start even after Sanders Commings returned from suspension. Swann grabbed four interceptions last season, and should have a chance at more this fall.
5. E.J. Gaines, Sr., Missouri: Over the past two seasons, Gaines has defended 27 passes, but only has three interceptions. That last number has to improve, but there's no doubt he's one of the best cover guys around. He isn't the biggest player out there, but he certainly isn't afraid to mix it up with bigger receivers.
6. Deion Belue, Sr., Alabama: Dee Milliner certainly garnered just about all of attention when it came to Alabama's secondary last season, but Belue really turned into a valuable player for the Tide. He wasn't perfect, but his improvement throughout the season bodes well for his second year in Tuscaloosa. He'll certainly have his hands full as more passes come his way this fall.
7. Charles Sawyer, Sr., Ole Miss: Moving over from safety didn't hurt Sawyer last season. He was the Rebels' top defensive back, and ended up with four tackles for loss last season. His nine passes defended in SEC games were fourth-most among league players last season. Sawyer is a very smart and instinctive player who can move around the field, and has the range to make plays all over.
8. Jalen Mills, So., LSU: With Tyrann Mathieu being dismissed before the start of last season, Mills was thrown onto the field as a starter earlier than anyone thought. But he grew up faster than expected, and showed signs of what should be a very bright future. He intercepted two passes, defended seven, and has the range to make plays all over.
9. Deshazor Everett, Jr., Texas A&M: If his legal troubles get worked out, Everett will be poised to have a big season for the Aggies. He gained national attention with his game-sealing, goal-line interception against Alabama, and after a solid spring, even more is expected from him. He's extremely athletic, and as he grew last season he showed that he can be a lockdown player on the outside.
10. Chris Davis, Sr., Auburn: He only played in nine games last season, but defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson thinks Davis will be a special player and is primed for a breakout year. He has started 16 games in his career, so he knows his way around the field, but the next step in his game is becoming a true playmaker for this defense. He has the talent to do it, and people around him think he'll put everything together this fall.
16mMark Schlabach and Sharon Katz