Friday, February 5, 2010
The SEC's 30 best players: Nos. 21-25
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
After a brief hiatus thanks to the monster that is recruiting, we continue our postseason countdown of the 30 best players in the SEC.
We’ve unveiled the players ranked Nos. 26 through 30, and there were three Alabama players included -- Mark Barron, Terrence Cody and Julio Jones.
Something tells me they won’t be the last ones, either. Just a hint.
Pernell McPhee notched 12 tackles for loss in 12 games.
Now, it’s on to selections Nos. 25-21:
No. 25: Pernell McPhee, DE, Mississippi State: One of the top newcomers in the league along with Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, McPhee had stretches this past season where he was unblockable. He should be that much better as a senior after coming over from junior college. McPhee finished with 12 tackles for loss in 12 games. He also had five sacks to lead the Bulldogs and is one of those guys who never gives up on a play.
No. 24: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: The only thing holding Green back this past season was a late bout with injuries, specifically a bruised lung and separated shoulder that sidelined him for much of November. Green still finished with 53 catches, including six touchdowns, and averaged 15.3 yards per catch. He got off to a brilliant start and was one of the most productive receivers in the country before injuring his shoulder. Had he stayed healthy, Green would have easily been a top-10 player. Few receivers have his combination of speed, size and body control.
No. 23: Shay Hodge, WR, Ole Miss: Hodge followed up an outstanding junior season with an even better senior season and firmly established himself as one of the best receivers in the SEC. Hodge led the league with 70 catches and 1,135 receiving yards. He also caught eight touchdown passes and averaged 16.2 yards per catch. His versatility is what made him so effective. He was good after the catch, made big plays down the field and also made some acrobatic catches (See his improbable grab in the end zone against Mississippi State).
No. 22: Randall Cobb, QB/WR, Kentucky: There were a few players who might have been close, but nobody in the SEC was more versatile than Cobb this past season. He scored 10 rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and also returned a punt for a touchdown. Cobb was the only player in the league with more than 300 yards in the rushing, receiving, punt return and kickoff return departments. At times, he was a one-man show for the Wildcats and carried them offensively for much of the season.
No. 21: Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia: One of the better tacklers in the league, Curran led the SEC with 130 total tackles. That’s after recording 115 as a sophomore, which was the most for a Georgia defender since 1998. The league was full of great linebackers, and Curran was right up there near the top. But with the Bulldogs taking their lumps the way they did this season defensively, it was difficult to rank Curran as highly as we did in the preseason (16th). Georgia will surely miss him. He’s giving up his senior season to enter the NFL draft.