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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The SEC's 25 best players: No. 4

By staff

Once told by former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin that he’d be pumping gas the rest of his life if he went to South Carolina, this next guy on our countdown gassed just about everybody he lined up against last season:

Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery led the SEC in receptions (88) and receiving yards (1,517) last season.
No. 4: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

2010 numbers/honors: Led the SEC in catches (88) and receiving yards (1,517) and tied for the league lead with nine touchdown catches. Jeffery ranked fourth nationally in receiving yards, and he also averaged 17.2 yards per catch, which was No. 1 nationally among those players catching 70 or more passes. A first-team All-America selection by, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), and a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, Walter Camp and Sports Illustrated. A consensus first-team All-SEC selection.

Preseason ranking: Ranked No. 18 on the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Jeffery: It’s not every day that you see 6-foot-4, 233-pound receivers slicing through SEC defenses the way Jeffery did last season. Nobody was strong enough to handle him one-on-one, and even at his size, he had the speed to run away from most people. A standout basketball player in high school, Jeffery also has exceptional leaping ability, allowing him to go up and get the football in crowds. Jeffery had eight games last season with 100 yards or more receiving and has caught at least one pass in 22 straight games. He was at his best against SEC competition, pulling in a league-high seven touchdowns in eight games. He also averaged 110.5 receiving yards in SEC games, which was nearly 17 yards more than the next closest guy – Alabama’s Julio Jones. For those questioning his speed, he had three touchdown catches of 69 yards or longer. And in the big games? Well, Jeffery had eight catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the first game against Auburn. He caught seven passes for 127 yards in the win against Alabama, including a one-handed gem on the sideline with a defender hanging onto his jersey. Even in the Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Florida State, Jeffery matched his career high with nine catches for 130 yards. He’s on his way to re-writing the South Carolina record books and heads into his junior season as one of the premier receivers in college football.

The rundown

No. 5: Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett

No. 6: Alabama WR Julio Jones

No. 7: Kentucky WR Randall Cobb

No. 8: South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

No. 9: Georgia OLB Justin Houston

No. 10: Arkansas RB Knile Davis

No. 11: Georgia WR A.J. Green

No. 12: LSU DT Drake Nevis

No. 13: Auburn OT Lee Ziemba

No. 14: LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard

No. 15: South Carolina DE Devin Taylor

No. 16: Florida S Ahmad Black

No. 17: Arkansas TE D.J. Williams

No. 18: Alabama S Mark Barron

No. 19: Florida CB Janoris Jenkins

No. 20: Mississippi State LB Chris White

No. 21: LSU RB Stevan Ridley

No. 22: Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod

No. 23: Alabama DE Marcell Dareus

No. 24: Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan

No. 25: Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw