Tuesday, January 19, 2010
SEC players of the decade
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
All week long, we’ll be taking a look at the last decade in college football.
You know, the best players, the best coaches, the best teams, the best programs and the most memorable moments.
I welcome your feedback. When it comes to the SEC, I’m sure there won’t be any strong feelings.
One thing to keep in mind is that we’ll be looking at the period from 2000 through 2009. The more a player, coach or team did during those years, the more weight that player, coach or team will be given.
For instance, if there’s a choice between a player who starred from 1998-2001 and one who starred from 2004-2007, the latter is probably going to get the benefit of the doubt ... if it's close.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007.
But not in every case.
In the end, we’re looking for the best the SEC had to offer over the last decade. That’s as simple as I can say it. Nonetheless, we all know how subjective (and fun) something like this can be.
That said, we’ll start with the top 10 players of the last decade in the SEC. It’s a crime to only pick 10 in a league like the SEC, but that was my task.
So here goes.
1. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida: The Heisman Trophy winner in 2007, Tebow set the SEC career record for touchdowns (57) and is the only player in major college history to run for 20 touchdowns and pass for 20 touchdowns in the same season when he did it in 2007. He won two national championships.
2. Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: The most dominant defensive lineman of the decade in the SEC, Dorsey was a two-time All-American and won the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Nagurski Award and Lott Trophy in 2007 on his way to leading the Tigers to a national championship.
3. Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas: In a decade that featured some terrific running backs in the SEC, McFadden was the Rolls Royce. He was a two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp National Player of the Year in 2007. He rushed for 3,477 yards and 30 touchdowns his last two seasons.
4. David Pollack, DE, Georgia: Joined Herschel Walker as Georgia’s only three-time first-team All-American. A two-time winner of the Ted Hendricks Award, Pollack also won the Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award and Lott Trophy in 2004 to become the most decorated defensive player in Georgia history.
5. Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss: The most decorated defensive player in Ole Miss history, Willis was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus and Lambert awards in 2006 as the nation’s top linebacker. He was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and led the nation in solo tackles in 2005.
6. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: The SEC’s premier defensive back for the decade, Berry won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2009 and was a two-time finalist. The two-time All-American finished his career with 14 interceptions in three seasons and just missed the NCAA record for career interception return yardage.
7. Eli Manning, QB, Ole Miss: Earned first-team All-America honors in 2003 and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. Manning finished his career with a school-record 10,119 passing yards, ranking fifth all-time in the SEC, and also threw 81 career touchdowns, which was third all-time in the SEC.
8. Percy Harvin, RB/WR, Florida: The only thing keeping Harvin from being ranked higher on this list is that he was hampered by injuries. Still, he was easily the most explosive player of the decade. He ended his career with at least one touchdown scored in the last 15 games he played, and was a key cog in the Gators’ 2008 national title.
9. Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Even though he’s had just one great season, what a season it was. Ingram became Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner in 2009. One of the best after-contact runners you’ll ever see, he rushed for 1,658 yards and scored 20 touchdowns in leading the Crimson Tide to a national title.
10. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: The centerpiece of Alabama’s national championship defense, McClain won the Butkus and Lambert awards in 2009 as the nation’s top linebacker. A three-year starter, he’s been called one of the smartest players Nick Saban has ever coached.