The SEC's best 25 players: No. 22

What would a countdown of the SEC's top 25 players be worth without at least one LSU defensive player? Look for this next guy to have a huge senior season.

No. 22: Craig Loston, S, LSU, Sr.

2012 summary: In his first full season as a starter, Loston finished fifth on LSU's team with 55 total tackles, including three for loss, and was second on the team with three interceptions. Loston 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 Loston: The only thing holding Loston back has been injuries. He's had more than his share, but enters the 2013 season as healthy as he's been. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Loston is a fierce hitter and will be a steadying presence in LSU's secondary. He considered leaving early for the NFL draft along with the swarm of other LSU underclassmen, but decided to return for his senior season. Loston redshirted his first season at LSU after suffering a wrist injury in the second game, so this will be his fifth year in John Chavis' system. Loston has a keen understanding of the scheme to go along with outstanding instincts, which coupled with his size, athleticism and tenacity, makes him one of the top safeties in the league. Receivers think twice about going over the middle when Loston is in the vicinity. He's shown a penchant for delivering in the clutch, too. His interception with 10 seconds remaining last season clinched the win over South Carolina, and he had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State in the fourth quarter to put that game away. He also had a career-high nine tackles in the win at Texas A&M. Loston has played both strong and free safety during his career and is a true enforcer wherever he lines up.

The rundown

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

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

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