SEC: Patrick Willis

The SEC's successes reach far beyond the college football landscape. Sure, the seven consecutive BCS titles -- which came to an end this year thanks to a pretty darn good Florida State team -- are well-documented, but most of the studs in this league eventually make it to the big leagues, where they continue to strut their stuff.

[+] EnlargeCameron Newton
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesFormer Auburn QB Cam Newton is one of 24 former SEC players in the Pro Bowl.
The NFL has always had an affinity for SEC players, and this year's Pro Bowl rosters blare that loud and clear, as 24 players from the SEC were selected for the all-star game in Hawaii. The SEC was represented by at least one player at every position except kicker and punter.

This year, the Pro Bowl changed its selection format. Former NFL greats Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders drafted from a pool of Pro Bowl players who were selected earlier in the season. Team Rice and Team Sanders went back-and-forth with their picks, and four of the first 10 players in the first Pro Bowl draft were former SEC players, including former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers), who went No. 3 overall to Sanders.

Tennessee led the SEC with four selections. The game is Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

The 24 former SEC players selected to this year's Pro Bowl:


SEC all-BCS-era team

January, 13, 2014
Jan 13
It’s time to celebrate the best of the best in the SEC during the BCS era.

So what we’ve done is taken on the monumental task of selecting an All-SEC team from the BCS era, which officially ended last Monday with Florida State’s 34-31 victory over Auburn in the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

To be eligible, a player had to have played at least one season in the SEC at any time between 1998 and 2013. More weight was given to those players who had longer careers and displayed consistency over the course of their careers.

Before the second-guessing commences, there were some spectacular players -- even a few players who won national awards such as the Heisman Trophy -- that were left off this team.

Nonetheless, it’s one star-studded team.

Here’s a look:


[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsTim Tebow accounted for more touchdowns than any player in SEC history.
QB -- Tim Tebow, Florida: A tough call at quarterback, but Tebow had a hand in two national championships, won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and accounted for more touchdowns (145) than anybody in league history.

RB -- Mark Ingram, Alabama: In 2009, Ingram became the first Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy with a 1,658-yard rushing season. He rushed for 42 career touchdowns, breaking Shaun Alexander's school record.

RB -- Darren McFadden, Arkansas: A two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award, McFadden averaged 120.8 rushing yards per game for his career, second only to Herschel Walker and Emmitt Smith in the SEC.

WR -- A.J. Green, Georgia: He combined speed, size and incredible body control to haul in 23 touchdown catches in 31 career games. Green caught more than 50 passes in each season from 2008 to 2010.

WR -- Josh Reed, LSU: The Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in the country in 2001, Reed hauled in 17 touchdown catches in his last two seasons. He set the SEC single-season record in 2001 with 1,740 receiving yards.

TE -- Jason Witten, Tennessee: It’s hard to beat Witten in any era as both a receiving and blocking tight end. He had seven career touchdown catches, including five during his All-SEC junior season in 2002.

AP -- Percy Harvin, Florida: Harvin was Mr. Everything for the Gators on their 2008 national championship team and a two-time All-American. He finished his career with 32 touchdowns (19 rushing and 13 receiving).

OL -- Shawn Andrews, Arkansas: Andrews is the last player to win the Jacobs Award as the SEC’s top blocker in back-to-back seasons (2002 and 2003). The Hogs’ massive offensive tackle was a consensus All-American in both of those seasons.

OL -- Barrett Jones, Alabama: Jones was a part of three national championship teams at Alabama and started at every position on the line but left guard during his career. He won the Rimington Trophy in 2012 as the country’s top center and won the Outland Trophy a year earlier as the Tide’s left tackle.

OL -- Marcus McNeill, Auburn: A two-time All-America selection at offensive tackle, McNeil paved the way for the Tigers' explosive rushing attack and was a huge part of their unbeaten 2004 SEC championship team.

OL -- Chris Samuels, Alabama: The Crimson Tide have been stocked with menacing offensive linemen during their storied history, and Samuels is right there near the top. The big offensive tackle won the Jacobs Award and Outland Trophy in 1999 and helped lead Alabama to an SEC title.

C -- Maurkice Pouncey, Florida: Also a standout guard earlier in his career, Pouncey gravitated to center and won the Rimington Award in 2009 as the nation’s top center. He was a devastating blocker and made 40 starts in 41 career games.


DL -- Glenn Dorsey, LSU: The most decorated SEC defensive tackle of the BCS era, Dorsey won the Outland Trophy and both the Lombardi and Nagurski awards in 2007. He was the centerpiece of that LSU national championship defense in 2007.

DL -- John Henderson, Tennessee: A two-time All-American, Henderson is one of just five defensive players in the BCS era to win the Outland Trophy (2000) as college football’s most outstanding interior lineman.

[+] Enlarge Jadaveon Clowney
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesJadaveon Clowney had 24 sacks in three seasons at South Carolina.
DL -- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina: Even though his numbers dipped this season, Clowney remains one of the most disruptive defensive ends to play in the SEC during the BCS era. He finished with 47 tackles for loss, including 24 sacks, in 36 career games.

DL -- David Pollack, Georgia: Pollack joined Herschel Walker as Georgia’s only three-time, first-team All-Americans. He racked up a school-record 36 sacks from his defensive end position and was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year in helping the Bulldogs win the 2002 SEC title, their first in 20 years.

LB -- C.J. Mosley, Alabama: Mosley is the only player in the Nick Saban era at Alabama to have back-to-back 100-tackle seasons and was a part of two national championship teams. He was terrific in coverage and an even better tackler.

LB -- Patrick Willis, Ole Miss: Before he found stardom in the NFL, Willis terrorized the SEC and won the Butkus Award in 2006 as college football’s top linebacker. He was a tackling machine for the Rebels and the quintessential middle linebacker.

LB -- Al Wilson, Tennessee: The heart and soul of Tennessee's 1998 national championship team, Wilson was a playmaking machine at middle linebacker for the Vols. He was a two-time All-SEC selection and consensus All-American his senior season.

CB -- Champ Bailey, Georgia: One of the most versatile players in SEC history, Bailey participated in more than 1,000 plays during the 1998 season and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s best defensive player.

CB -- Patrick Peterson, LSU: No matter where Peterson lined up, he was the most explosive player on the field. As a cornerback, few were better. He won the Thorpe and Bednarik awards in 2010 and scored touchdowns three different ways during his career: punt return (two), interception return and return of a blocked field goal.

S -- Mark Barron, Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s 2011 national championship defense was dripping with talent, but Barron might have been the best of the bunch. He was a three-time All-SEC selection and two-time All-American.

S -- Eric Berry, Tennessee: Berry was as good in coverage as he was blowing up ball carriers. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2009 as the top defensive back in the country and was a finalist the previous year. He finished with 14 career interceptions.


PK -- Billy Bennett, Georgia: Bennett is the SEC record holder with 87 made field goals from 2000 to 2003. Bennett was equally accurate, connecting on 79 percent of his kicks.

P -- Dustin Colquitt, Tennessee: A finalist for the Ray Guy Award in both 2002 and 2003, Colquitt averaged 43.1 yards a punt during his career. As a junior in 2003, he had 19 punts of 50 yards or longer and 21 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

RS -- Derek Abney, Kentucky: His eight career returns for touchdowns (six punts and two kickoffs) are an SEC record, and six of those came during one season (2002). Abney set seven NCAA records, 11 SEC records and 14 school records.

SEC lunch links

January, 29, 2013
Linking our way around the SEC:

All-SEC team from the BCS era

July, 5, 2012
As promised, we're rolling out our All-SEC team from the BCS era this morning.

These are the top players by position in the league going back to the 1998 season. To be eligible, players had to have played in the SEC for at least two seasons starting in 1998 and running through now. Current players were also not eligible.

We unveiled our top 11 offensive players and top 11 defensive players of the BCS era on Tuesday. Later today, we'll come up with a list (with your help) of those deserving players who just missed the cut.

Here we go with the All-SEC team:


SEC's best of the BCS era: Defense

July, 3, 2012
We’ve already unveiled our best SEC offensive players of the BCS era.

Now it’s on to the side of the ball that this league has come to be known for over the years – defense.

It was a nightmare trying to keep this list to just 11 players, but here’s what we came up with.

The players are listed alphabetically:

John Abraham, DE, South Carolina: He was a tremendous player on some really bad teams in college. Abraham led the Gamecocks in sacks for four straight seasons from 1996-99 and remains one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers.

[+] EnlargeEric Berry
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesEric Berry had 241 tackles and 14 interceptions in three seasons.
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: A consensus All-American in both his sophomore and junior seasons in 2008 and 2009. Berry won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in 2009 and finished his career with 14 interceptions.

Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: The anchor of LSU’s 2007 national championship defense. Dorsey capped his stellar career by winning the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lott Trophy as a senior in 2007.

John Henderson, DT, Tennessee: The Outland Trophy winner in 2000 and a two-time All-America selection. The 6-foot-7, 290-pound Henderson was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy in 2001 and finished his career with 38.5 tackles for loss

Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: Nick Saban called McClain one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He was plenty productive, too, and was a driving force behind the Crimson Tide’s unbeaten run to the 2009 national championship.

Reggie Nelson, S, Florida: The catalyst defensively for the Gators on their 2006 national championship team, Nelson was a consensus All-America selection that season and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: One of the most explosive football players in SEC history. Peterson was equally dynamic as a shut-down cornerback and return specialist. He won the Jim Thorpe and Bednarik awards as a junior in 2010.

David Pollack, DE, Georgia: Joined Herschel Walker as Georgia’s only three-time, first-team All-America selection. Pollack was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and cleaned up as a senior in 2004 by winning the Lombardi and Bednarik awards, as well as the Lott Trophy.

DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama: One of the most prolific tacklers in Alabama’s storied history. Ryans finished his career with 309 total tackles from 2002-05 and won the Lott Trophy in 2005 as college football’s IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year.

Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida: A dynamic playmaker for the Gators on both defense and as a return specialist on special teams. Sheppard was a first-team All-America selection in 2000 and a two-time All-SEC selection

Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss: The most honored defensive player in Ole Miss history. Willis was a two-time, first-team All-American and won the Butkus Award and Lambert Award in 2006 as the nation’s top linebacker.

SEC Power Rankings: Week 11

November, 7, 2011
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

One of our top teams lost over the weekend, but no way we're making a change after that defensive slug fest. But one team has cemented itself in the third spot:

1. LSU (9-0, 6-0): The Tigers were the survivors of "The Game" and should now officially be No. 1 on everyone's list. LSU's defense was absolutely ferocious against Alabama over the weekend. The speed that the Tigers have on defense is almost unmatched. Some will say that LSU's offense was hard to look at, but that's only because LSU had to deal with an equally tough sledgehammer on the other side of the ball. The bottom line is that LSU runs a near-perfect game plan each week. Coach Les Miles just finds ways to win and that's exactly what LSU did against a team that could have easily been slotted at No. 1 entering Saturday.

2. Alabama (8-1, 5-1): If not for an awful kicking game, Alabama might be No. 1 here. The Crimson Tide made mistakes we didn't think Alabama was capable of making against LSU. There will be a lot of second-guessing around Alabama's program after some questionable calls Saturday. But don't think this counts Alabama out of achieving its goals. There's a slight chance the Tide could end up in the SEC title game and even the national championship. As long as Alabama takes care of its own business and gets some help, everything can still be achieved by this team.

3. Arkansas (8-1, 4-1): While most of college football's eyes were on Tuscaloosa, Ala., Arkansas was busy taking care of things in Fayetteville, Ark. The Razorbacks had struggled with slow starts, but scored first for the first time since the Troy game Saturday before defeating South Carolina 44-28. The win over the ninth-ranked Gamecocks was as complete a win as Arkansas has had this season. There was some bend in the defense, but when the Hogs needed a stop it was made, and when they needed the ball back, the got it ... four times. Arkansas is right back in the SEC West race and is clearly in the third slot in the SEC.

4. Georgia (7-2, 5-1): From left for dead to at the top of the East, Georgia finally controls its own destiny to Atlanta. Georgia put up 63 points over the weekend, scoring 42 in the second quarter, without three of its running backs. It was against New Mexico State, but in a game where the Bulldogs could have played down to their competition, Georgia came out hot. Now, a win over Auburn this coming weekend all but locks up the East for the Bulldogs.

5. South Carolina (7-2, 5-2): At the beginning of the year, South Carolina was the overwhelming favorite to win the East, but now the Gamecocks are on the outside looking in. South Carolina must beat Florida and hope for another conference loss by Georgia if the Gamecocks want to get back to the Georgia Dome. It's been an up-and-down season for South Carolina, and even when the offense finally found ways to get into the end zone against Arkansas, the defense broke down. If the Gamecocks don't make it to the title game, they'll look back at a handful of chances that got away from them this season.

6. Auburn (6-3, 4-2): The Tigers were off this week, but Auburn has a chance to play spoiler for Georgia this weekend. That extra time should make for a much more refreshed Auburn team. We've seen the growing pains that the Tigers have struggled through this season, but we've also seen great resiliency from this team. For such a young team, the Tigers have played like vets out there at times and that's why Auburn has six wins after losing a slew of talent from last year's national championship team. The future looks bright on the Plains.

7. Florida (5-4, 3-4): It looks like all Florida needed was to get out of the month of October and get back home. After dropping all four October games, the Gators pulled a close one out against Vanderbilt at home, but they still have major issues on both sides of the ball. The win had to instill some confidence back in this team, but now might be the time for the Gators to just let loose. Having that nothing-to-lose attitude might be what this team needs to end the regular season on a high note. Florida is a win away from being bowl eligible, but losses to South Carolina and Florida State will make Will Muschamp's first year hard to look at.

8. Mississippi State (5-4, 1-4): The Bulldogs have now won two games in a row for the first time all season. This certainly isn't the season those in Starkville, Miss., envisioned, but that struggling offense that plagued this team for most of the season was shelved over the weekend. Against Tennessee-Martin, the Bulldogs got 570 yards of offense. It wasn't against an SEC team, but coach Dan Mullen had to feel much better about Saturday's performance. Mississippi State is still a win away from being bowl eligible. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Alabama and Arkansas are next on the list.

9. Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-5): Coach James Franklin keeps telling us that this isn't the same old Vanderbilt, and he's right. However, this team still finds ways to come up short in the big games. The Commodores have lost their last three conference games by a combined 13 points and might have gotten their first win in Gainesville, Fla., since 1945 if not for Jordan Reed's clutch catch on Vanderbilt's onside kick late in the fourth. But before that, silly penalties and miscues on offense hurt the Dores in the first half. The energy, confidence and play is certainly different for this program, but the outcomes against conference opponents remains the same.

10. Tennessee (4-5, 0-5): True freshman Justin Worley made his second start of the season over the weekend and guided the Vols to a 24-0 win over Middle Tennessee, completing 23 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. The win means Tennessee is two wins away from becoming bowl eligible, but it won't be easy for the Vols to get to that number. The youth of this team has to keep from wearing down this late in the season in order for the Vols to get to six wins. Tennessee has to travel to Arkansas this week and finishes the season against Vanderbilt and Kentucky. We'll learn just how much fight is left in this team from here on out.

11. Kentucky (4-5, 1-4): The Wildcats got their first conference win and looked dominant in the process. Kentucky blew out Ole Miss 30-13 over the weekend. Maxwell Smith took over the quarterbacking duties and had quite the day against the Rebels' defense. It looked like this would be the year that the bowl streak would end for the Wildcats, but Kentucky can't be counted out just yet. There also might be a little controversy brewing in Lexington, Ky., after Smith's performance while Morgan Newton was out. It might be time for coach Joker Phillips to take a hard look at his quarterback situation.

12. Ole Miss (2-7, 0-6): Things can't get much worse for the Rebels this year. This was supposed to be a season of improvement for Ole Miss and it looks as if reaching last year's four-win mark could be a stretch, with LSU and Mississippi State still on the schedule. If Houston Nutt wasn't close to being pushed out of the door before Saturday, he might have at least one foot out after losing by nearly 20 to a Kentucky team that had topped the 30-point mark just once before the weekend. Things are not getting better in Oxford, Miss., and changes in the near future would be far from surprising.

Top 100 NFL list includes 13 from SEC

July, 6, 2011
The NFL players have spoken, casting their votes for the top 100 players in the NFL game today.

You can view their list on Before you go there, want to venture a guess on which conference had the most players?

It wasn't the SEC, nor was it the Big Ten.

It was the Big East with 16.

Now, there's a bit of a catch. We counted those Miami players who played for the Hurricanes when they were competing in the Big East as representing the Big East ... and not the ACC. The same goes for Michael Vick at Virginia Tech.

We also counted those Nebraska and Colorado players making the list as being from the Big 12, even though the Huskers are moving to the Big Ten and the Buffs to the Pac-12 this coming season.

The SEC and Big Ten tied for second behind the Big East, each with 13 players making the top 100. The ACC had 12, and the Pac-12 had 11. The Big 12 had just seven. Notre Dame had one, and the remaining 27 players were from non-BCS schools and/or smaller schools.

Miami led all teams nationally with 10 players. Tennessee was second on the list with six.

There are two ways to look at it from the Vols' perspective. One, they've done a good job of producing premium NFL talent. And two, they haven't done a whole lot with that talent, as it's been 13 years since they last won an SEC championship.

Would you believe that Alabama and Florida didn't have a single player on the list and that LSU has just one? Those three teams have combined for five of the past eight BCS national championships.

Here's a rundown of the SEC players:


No. 2 - QB Peyton Manning (1994-97)
No. 25 - RB Arian Foster (2005-08)
No. 36 - TE Jason Witten (2000-02)
No. 62 - LB Jerod Mayo (2005-07)
No. 93 - S Eric Berry (2007-09)
No. 99 - OT Chad Clifton (1996-99)


No. 48 - CB Champ Bailey (1996-98)
No. 66 - DE Richard Seymour (1997-2000)


No. 98 - RB Darren McFadden (2005-07)


No. 75 - DE Jay Ratliff (2001-04)


No. 45 - WR Dwayne Bowe (2003-06)


No. 23 - LB Patrick Willis (2003-06)


No. 69 - DE John Abraham (1996-99)

SEC trails only ACC in Pro Bowl players

January, 19, 2011
Turns out the SEC isn't No. 1 in everything when it comes to football.

OK, just kidding around, so no reason to flood me with e-mails, Big Ten and Pac-10 fans. I realize quality football is played in other parts of the country over and above the SEC. It's just that the trophy cases are a little dusty and barren in those other parts of the country.

With that said, would you believe that the ACC leads the way this season in producing Pro Bowl players? Actually, it's the third straight year that the ACC has sent the most players to the NFL's all-star event. The ACC has 19 former players in the game this season. The SEC is second with 13 and the Pac-10 third with 12.

Tennessee was the SEC team with the most players selected (five). LSU was the only other team in the league to have more than one selected. The Tigers had two. Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt were the only four SEC teams that didn't have a Pro Bowl player this year.

Here's a list of the SEC players in the 2011 Pro Bowl:
* Out of the game due to injury

Recruiting nobodies who made it big (defense)

January, 29, 2010
Now we turn our attention to the defensive players in the SEC over the last five seasons who weren’t necessarily big names during the recruiting process, but wound up playing big where it counts – on the field:

DL Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas: Most recruiting services didn’t even rate him because he was a slow 205-pound receiver coming out of high school. He grew into a defensive end who led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in 2006 and was selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft.

DL Antonio Coleman, Auburn: With all the sacks Coleman racked up during his career at Auburn, it’s hard to believe he was only a three-star prospect. However, he didn’t even weigh 220 pounds coming out of high school, which no doubt hurt his rating.

DL Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas: A three-star prospect who chose among Arkansas, South Carolina and Southern Miss, Sheppard wasn’t ranked among the top prospects in the state of Georgia. All he did the last two seasons was lead SEC interior linemen with 24.5 tackles for loss.

DL Dan Williams Tennessee: Williams is another three-star prospect who may end up going in the first round of April’s NFL draft. When he came to Tennessee in 2005, he was considered by some to be the throw-in along with his higher-rated high school teammate, Malcolm Rawls.

LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama: Ryans remains one of the top linebackers in the NFL and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC as a senior at Alabama. But coming out of high school, he was a three-star prospect, and nearly 40 other linebackers were rated ahead of him nationally.

LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss: Like Ryans, Willis is one of the top linebackers in the NFL. But he wasn't even seriously recruited by his home-state school, Tennessee, and instead went to Ole Miss, where he carved out a brilliant career. He was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in 2006 as the nation's top linebacker.

LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina: He played high school football in Acworth, Ga., but wasn't recruited by Georgia. In fact, his only other visit besides South Carolina was to Oklahoma State. Norwood set the career sacks and tackles for loss record at South Carolina and earned All-SEC honors each of the last three seasons.

DB Javier Arenas, Alabama: Florida Atlantic and Florida International were battling it out for Arenas until Alabama decided to take him late. Not only did he become one of the most feared punt returners in college football history with seven taken back for touchdowns, but he developed into a first-team All-American at cornerback this past season.

DB Captain Munnerlyn, South Carolina: A two-star player whose finalists were Kansas State, West Virginia and South Carolina, Munnerlyn was both a productive cornerback and return specialist for South Carolina and just finished his rookie season in the NFL after turning pro early.

DB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt: Clemson and South Carolina are both still wondering how they let Moore get out of state to the Commodores. Nobody questioned his athletic ability. They just questioned where he would play in college. It was an easy answer once he got to Vanderbilt. He developed into a two-time All-SEC selection at cornerback and is now in the NFL.

DB Rashad Johnson, Alabama: Johnson was such an unknown that he and his father sent out recruiting tapes to colleges just hoping to get a look. He ended up walking on at Alabama after turning down a scholarship offer to The Citadel and was a two-time All-SEC selection. Johnson intercepted 11 passes his last two seasons with the Crimson Tide.

The SEC's all-decade team

January, 22, 2010
We’ll take one final look at the last decade before we turn our attention to what lies ahead in the SEC.

On Tuesday, we ranked the top 10 players of the decade. So today, we unveil our all-decade team, which is broken down by position. The only rule was that a player had to play at least two seasons from 2000 to 2009 to be eligible.

This is what we came up with, so fire away:


QB Tim Tebow, Florida

RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas

RB Mark Ingram, Alabama

WR Josh Reed, LSU

WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina

AP Percy Harvin, Florida

TE Ben Watson, Georgia

OL Shawn Andrews, Arkansas

OL Marcus McNeil, Auburn

OL Andre Smith, Alabama

OL Michael Oher, Ole Miss

C Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas


DE David Pollack, Georgia

DE Alex Brown, Florida

DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU

DT John Henderson, Tennessee

LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss

LB Rolando McClain, Alabama

LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama

CB Joe Haden, Florida

CB Carlos Rogers, Auburn

S Eric Berry, Tennessee

S LaRon Landry, LSU


K Billy Bennett, Georgia

P Dustin Colquitt, Tennessee

KR Derek Abney, Kentucky

PR Javier Arenas, Alabama

All-SEC recruiting nobodies: Defense

February, 5, 2009

Posted by's Chris Low

Now we turn our attention to defense on the All-SEC recruiting nobody team.

Five of our 11 selections on defense are currently playing in the NFL. We also tacked on a return specialist to the defensive team. All 12 of these players earned All-SEC honors of some sort.

Breaking down the entire offensive and defensive teams, Alabama had the most players with five. Vanderbilt was second with four players.

All of these players played in the SEC during the last four seasons (2005-08):

  Joe Robbins/Getty Images
  Jamaal Anderson wasn't on many radar screens when he was recruited as a wide receiver by Arkansas.

DL Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas: He came to Arkansas as a skinny 6-foot-6, 205-pound receiver who wasn't even rated by some recruiting services. Anderson found a home at defensive end and led the SEC with 13.5 sacks in 2006. He turned pro early and was selected as the eighth overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons.

DL Mark Anderson, Alabama: When he signed with Alabama in 2001 out of Tulsa's Booker T. Washington High School, Anderson weighed 210 pounds and wasn't seriously recruited by either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. He became a second-team All-SEC performer at Alabama and set a Chicago Bears rookie record with 12 sacks during the 2006 season.

DL Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn: A complete unknown in the recruiting process until Auburn and South Carolina jumped onto him at the very end. Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was sold on him after watching him play basketball. Marks went on to carve out an All-SEC career at Auburn and is projected to go in the top two rounds of the upcoming NFL draft.

DL Jeremy Jarmon, Kentucky: A two-star player from Collierville, Tenn., that picked Kentucky over Memphis and was only an honorable mention all-state selection as a senior in high school. As a collegian, Jarmon has emerged as one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC. He enters his senior season with 17.5 sacks, third all-time at Kentucky.

LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss: More than 50 linebackers were rated ahead of him nationally when he came out of high school in Bruceton, Tenn. He wanted to go to Tennessee, but the Vols didn't seriously recruit him. When he was through at Ole Miss, he'd become the most honored defensive player in school history. He won the Butkus Award in 2006 as the country's top linebacker and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2007 after being drafted 11th overall by the San Francisco 49ers. He's been voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in San Francisco.

LB DeMeco Ryans, Alabama: Ryans was a three-star prospect when he signed with the Crimson Tide out of Bessemer, Ala. There were nearly 40 other linebacker prospects rated above him. The Tide's chief competition was Mississippi State, Troy State and UAB, and all Ryans did as a senior at Alabama was win SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors in 2006 with the Houston Texans.

LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina: His only other official visit was to Oklahoma State. Norwood also tried to latch on with Mississippi State late before getting an offer from South Carolina. He's from Acworth, Ga., right outside Atlanta, but wasn't recruited by Georgia. At South Carolina, he's developed into one of the league's best big-play defenders. He's been named first-team All-SEC each of the past two years, as a defensive end in 2007 and an outside linebacker in 2008, and is South Carolina's all-time leader with 43 tackles for loss.

DB D.J. Moore, Vanderbilt: Nobody was sure what position he was going to play coming out of Broome High School in Spartanburg, S.C. Scouts Inc. rated him as the 142nd receiver prospect nationally. To make a long story short, Clemson and South Carolina are still cringing that they didn't recruit him a little harder. Moore became one of the SEC's best multipurpose athletes at Vanderbilt and was a first-team All-SEC selection at cornerback each of the past two seasons. He also earned second-team All-America honors this season after intercepting six passes for the second year in a row and declared for the NFL draft.

DB Trevard Lindley, Kentucky: Lindley missed most of his senior season in high school with a dislocated knee and actually "grayshirted" at Kentucky. He signed as part of the 2004 class, but didn't enroll until January 2005. His other choices were Southern Miss, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Louisville and Marshall. It didn't take him long at Kentucky to transform into one of the most complete cornerbacks in the league. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2008 and chose to return for his senior season despite being projected to go in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.

DB Rashad Johnson, Alabama: Johnson was the ultimate nobody coming out of high school in Sulligent, Ala. His only scholarship offers were to The Citadel and a few other Division II schools. He decided to walk on at Alabama and made a name for himself on special teams. When his college career was over this past season, he'd been named first-team All-SEC twice and earned second-team All-America honors as a senior. A hard-hitting safety and two-time captain, Johnson had 11 interceptions his last two seasons at Alabama.

DB Tim Jennings, Georgia: Jennings didn't have a Division I-A scholarship offer until signing day in 2002. The Bulldogs lost out on a few guys late and then turned to Jennings, who wasn't ranked anywhere coming out of Orangeburg, S.C. He wound up starting for three and a half years at cornerback, earned first-team All-SEC honors as a senior and was a second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 NFL draft.

RS Javier Arenas, Alabama: Arenas had committed to Florida Atlantic, but Alabama took a chance on him late in the recruiting process. Everybody thought he was too small to play, even though he had seven kick returns for touchdowns his senior season in Tampa, Fla. Well, at Alabama, he's returned six punts for touchdowns, which is tied for the SEC career record, and he started at cornerback for the Tide this past season as a junior.



Saturday, 12/27
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12