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Wednesday, July 7, 2010
A closer look: The SEC's best players

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Now that everybody is in agreement with my list of the top 25 players in the SEC (yeah, right!), let’s take a closer look.

Which position led the way?

That would be wide receiver. Six of the 25 players were receivers or split ends, and that doesn’t include Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams or Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker.

Here’s the breakdown by position:
I’m sure you’re wondering what the breakdown is by school, too, so here goes:
Notice that six of the top 16 players were from defending national champion Alabama. Not only that, but all six were underclassmen. And if you want to take it a step further, the five that will be draft eligible next year could all be taken in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft if they decide to turn pro.

Speaking of underclassmen, 13 of the 25 players on our list were juniors, including the top seven. There were eight seniors, four sophomores and no freshmen.

The only non-starter to crack the list was Alabama running back Trent Richardson, who didn’t start a game during his freshman season. Then again, Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus was No. 5 and only started in four games a year ago. Georgia running back Washaun Ealey came in at No. 23 and started in two games.

The only player who was injured for the bulk of last season and made the list was Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He blew out his knee in the fourth game against Arkansas and was done for the season, but was back on the practice field this spring and went through some contact work.

The largest player on the list was Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe at 6-foot-2, 320 pounds. The smallest player was Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins at 5-11, 186 pounds.

Finally, where did all these terrific players come from?

The state producing the most players on our list was Florida with five. Georgia and South Carolina were both close behind with four apiece.

Here’s the state-by-state breakdown, according to where the player went to high school, with the player’s college in parentheses:
Here’s the complete Top 25 countdown:

No. 1: Mark Ingram, RB, Jr., Alabama

No. 2: A.J. Green, WR, Jr., Georgia

No. 3: Ryan Mallett, QB, Jr., Arkansas

No. 4: Patrick Peterson, CB, Jr., LSU

No. 5: Marcell Dareus, DE, Jr., Alabama

No. 6: Julio Jones, WR, Jr., Alabama

No. 7: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Jr., Alabama

No. 8: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Sr., Florida

No. 9: Pernell McPhee, DE, Sr., Mississippi State

No. 10: Jerrell Powe, NT, Sr., Ole Miss

No. 11: Trent Richardson, RB, So., Alabama

No. 12: Stephon Gilmore, CB, So., South Carolina

No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU

No. 14: Randall Cobb, WR/QB, Jr., Kentucky

No. 15: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Jr., Florida

No. 16: Mark Barron, S, Jr., Alabama

No.17: Darvin Adams, WR, Jr., Auburn

No. 18: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

No. 20: Cliff Matthews, DE, Sr., South Carolina

No. 21: Clint Boling, OT, Sr., Georgia

No. 22: Greg Childs, WR, Jr., Arkansas

No. 23: Washaun Ealey, RB, So., Georgia

No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt

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