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Friday, March 2, 2012
The SEC's top 25 players: No. 7

By Edward Aschoff

The nation's most versatile offensive lineman makes our top 10:

No. 7: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama, Jr.

Preseason rank: No. 8 in the 2011 preseason rankings.

2011 summary: After starting 25 games at right guard in the two previous seasons, Jones started 11 games at left tackle and played everywhere on the offensive line except for his old position in 2011. He graded out first or second on the Alabama offensive line in nine of the first 10 games of the season. He won the Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation's top interior lineman, and was a unanimous first team All-American. He was also named a first team All-SEC member by The Associated Press and the league's coaches.

Why he's here: Honestly, was there a better offensive lineman in college football last season? In short, no. Jones tried to do everything for the Crimson Tide last season. At first he thought he might have to move to center before taking over at left tackle. But when Jones was called upon to move around the line, he did so with relative ease. He was graded at 90 percent or better by Alabama's staff in four games during the regular season, and faced seven of the nation's top 50 defenses, including LSU twice, during the 2011 season. He blocked for 25 individual 100-yard rushing games during his career, including 10 in 2011 (Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy both eclipsed 100 yards against North Texas). With him manning the most important position on the offensive line, Alabama surrendered just 17 sacks, which was the best in the SEC. Alabama also led the SEC in rushing (214.5 yards per game) and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Jones wasn't just the ultimate lineman that any coach -- and quarterback -- would love. He also became one of the best leaders on Alabama's team. It was tough to find another lineman on Jones' level, and the scary thing for opposing defense linemen is that he decided to return for his senior season.