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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The SEC's best 25 players: No. 25

By staff

We will start our countdown today of the SEC's 25 best players entering the 2010 season.

Don't confuse this with the top 25 NFL prospects in the league, because it's not. Rather, it's based on what the players have accomplished in college football to this point, their potential for the 2010 season and the impact they have on their teams.

Invariably, there will be some players who burst onto the scene that most of us didn’t see coming. Remember that Mark Ingram guy a year ago.

On the flip side, there will be players rated very highly who stumble through disappointing seasons. Go back and check where former Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was in this same countdown a year ago. Here’s a hint … the top 5.

Anyway, here we go with No. 25, and we’ll count it down daily through the week until we get to No. 1:

No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee

2009 numbers: Had 29 catches for 389 yards and five touchdowns.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the preseason or postseason countdown for 2009.

Making the case for Stocker: The 6-foot-6, 253-pound Stocker has the frame to easily add another 10 to 15 pounds, which would make him even more effective as a blocker. As a pass-catcher, he’s one of the best tight ends in the SEC and potentially in college football. He thought about turning pro last season and probably would have had Jim Chaney not returned as the Vols’ offensive coordinator. Stocker missed Tennessee’s spring game with a sore shoulder, but it’s nothing serious. First-year Tennessee coach Derek Dooley wants Stocker to be a focal part of the offense and knows how to utilize athletic tight ends, which means you could see 40-plus catches out of him next season. He has excellent hands, knows how to get open and is equally good after the catch. He also has a knack for making the tough catch in tight spots. Remember his leaping grab against Alabama last season that put the Vols in position to potentially win that game with a field goal? Tennessee’s young quarterbacks will look for him often in 2010. And why not? Stocker is the surest thing the Vols have on offense going into the season.