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Monday, March 21, 2011
The SEC's 25 best players: No. 1

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Even in the SEC, where nobody agrees on anything, something tells me that just about everybody would have picked this next guy as the top player in the league from the 2010 season. All he did was put together the kind of season we might never see again in the SEC:

No. 1: Cam Newton, QB, Jr., Auburn

Cam Newton
Indeed, star quarterback Cam Newton helped Auburn soar during the 2010 season.
2010 numbers/honors: Led the SEC with 1,473 rushing yards and was No. 2 nationally in passing efficiency with a 182.05 rating. Accounted for 51 touchdowns – 30 passing, 20 rushing and one receiving. Completed 66.1 percent of his passes. Newton became the third Auburn player to win the Heisman Trophy as the most outstanding player in college football. Also won the Manning and Davey O’Brien awards as the top quarterback in the country, and the Maxwell Award as the top player in the country. A consensus first-team All-America selection and consensus first-team All-SEC selection.

Preseason ranking: Not ranked in the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Newton: There were so many milestones for Newton that it’s impossible to know where to start. He became the first player in SEC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. He’s one of only three players in NCAA FBS history to pass for 20 touchdowns and rush for 20 touchdowns in the same season. His 1,473 rushing yards set a single-season SEC record for quarterbacks, and the 51 touchdowns he accounted for led the country. In his first season as a starter in the SEC, Newton took an Auburn team picked by most to finish third or fourth in the Western Division to a team that went 14-0 and captured the school’s first national championship since 1957. He was unstoppable at quarterback, and that’s whether he was weaving his way for a 49-yard touchdown run against LSU or burning South Carolina on a 54-yard bomb for a touchdown to Darvin Adams. Former SEC great Archie Manning said we might never see a player put up numbers again like Newton did last season. For that matter, we might never see another player, period, like Newton again -- a 6-foot-6, 250-pound quarterback who could run the way he could, pass with the efficiency that he did and transform a good team into an unbeaten national championship team. Newton was the essence of resiliency, too. When the NCAA investigation heated up and all the allegations began to fly in November, he dialed in that much more and played some of his best football down the stretch.

The rundown

No. 2: Auburn DT Nick Fairley

No. 3: LSU CB Patrick Peterson

No. 4: South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery

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