The SEC's best 25 players: No. 23

Go back and look at how many quality defensive backs Vanderbilt has produced over the last few years. This next guy in our countdown is in that same class.

No. 23: Andre Hal, CB, Vanderbilt, Sr.

2012 summary: Hal had 16 passes defended, which was second only to Alabama's Dee Milliner last season. Hal was also second in the league with 14 pass breakups and intercepted two passes. He finished with 48 total tackles, including 36 solo stops, and was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Hal: There was a time when Hal might have been a bit of an unknown in the SEC, to the point where some people incorrectly referred to him as "Hall," but those days are long gone. Not only is he one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC, but he's also one of the most complete players in the SEC. The 6-foot, 186-pound Hal can lock down on receivers, hold his own in run support and has also proven to be a dangerous return man during his career. He had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Georgia as a sophomore. Hal had played some in the Vanderbilt secondary since his freshman season, but last season was his first as a full-time starter. He blossomed and is on track to become the fourth Vanderbilt cornerback taken in the NFL draft in the last six years, joining Casey Hayward, Myron Lewis and D.J. Moore. Hal enters the 2013 season on the Thorpe Award watch list and will again be a staple in Bob Shoop's Vanderbilt defense, which has ranked in the top 20 nationally in total defense each of the past two seasons.

The rundown

  • No. 24: Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia, So.

  • No. 25: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida, Jr.