SEC: SEC nobodies
Posted by ESPN.com'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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
It's the essence of the recruiting craze in the SEC. It's what everybody does come national signing day and beyond.
Fans scour the All-America lists to see how many of the "can't-miss" prospects signed with their school. They salivate over the five-star players, hope for four-star players and frown at the thought of signing anybody that hasn't already become a star during the recruiting process.
|Joe Robbins/US Presswire|
|Jay Cutler was recruited to play defensive back out of high school.|
Here's a tip, though. Don't sweat it if your class includes a few prospects who weren't rated particularly high, prospects who were two- and three-star players and prospects who haven't already gone Hollywood before they show up on campus.
The dirty little secret in recruiting is that some of the best players in the SEC over the last few years were guys who flew under the radar in the recruiting process for various reasons.
In keeping with that spirit, we've come up with our own All-SEC team of recruiting nobodies, guys who weren't rated very highly coming out of high school, but went onto have stellar careers in the SEC and many of them are now playing in the NFL.
The players comprising this team had to play in the SEC in the past four years (2005-08):
We'll look at the offensive team first and the defensive team a little bit later Thursday morning:
QB Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt: Any interest Cutler received from Big Ten schools such as Purdue, Indiana and Illinois was as a safety. Finally, about a month before signing day, Vanderbilt offered him as a quarterback, and Cutler wound up being the 11th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft.
RB Jacob Hester, LSU: Played nose guard his first two years at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, La. He was a two-star prospect coming out of high school, but still got some good offers as a fullback or linebacker. LSU promised him he could play running back. He rushed for 1,103 yards as a senior in leading the Tigers to the 2007 BCS national championship. The San Diego Chargers traded up in the NFL draft to be able to get Hester in the third round.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Ole Miss: Signed in 2003 with Indiana after playing high school football in New Orleans and not receiving a sniff from SEC schools. Green-Ellis transferred to Ole Miss following the 2004 season and became only the second running back in Ole Miss history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2006 and started some games at running back this past season for the New England Patriots.
WR Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt: One of those players from the state of Alabama the big boys didn't want. Bennett was unranked nationally as a receiver when he came out of West End High School in Birmingham, Ala. His only other official visits were to Kentucky and Southern Miss. All he did at Vanderbilt was set the SEC record with 236 career catches, becoming the only player in league history to reach the 75-catch plateau in three different seasons. He turned pro early and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round.
WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina: Deemed a step slow coming out of high school in Gaffney, S.C., Rice wasn't ranked among the top 50 receiver prospects nationally. He redshirted his first season at South Carolina, but caught 23 touchdown passes the next two seasons and turned pro. He was drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Vikings.
OL Antoine Caldwell, Alabama: Other than Auburn, his main suitors coming out of Montgomery, Ala., were Louisville, Southern Miss and Vanderbilt. Caldwell capped a stellar career at Alabama by being selected first-team All-America this season at center by the Associated Press.
OL Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas: Luigs was a two-star player from Little Rock and wasn't even listed as one of the top 10 prospects in Arkansas his senior year of high school. Similar to Caldwell, he developed into one of the best centers in the country and won the Rimington Trophy in 2007 as the nation's most outstanding center.
OL Tyronne Green, Auburn: Rated by many as a defensive tackle when he came out of Pensacola, Fla., in 2004, Green picked Auburn over Southern Miss and Florida A&M after missing half of his senior season in high school with an injury. He started in 25 straight games at Auburn and was voted the Tigers' best blocker as a junior.
OL Chris Williams, Vanderbilt: Weighed just 245 pounds coming out of high school in Baton Rouge, La., and wasn't recruited by LSU. Williams blossomed in Vanderbilt's strength program and wound up being the 14th pick overall in the 2008 NFL draft. He's the highest SEC offensive lineman to be drafted since Alabama's Chris Samuels in 2000.
OL Clint Boling, Georgia: When he came out of Alpharetta, Ga., in 2007, Boling was the 112th-ranked defensive end prospect nationally by Scouts Inc. and was nowhere to be found among the top 20 prospects in the state of Georgia. The Bulldogs' main competition for Boling was from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest. Boling wound up starting as a true freshman and was Georgia's most versatile offensive lineman last season.
TE Jared Cook, South Carolina: A 205-pound receiver when he came out of high school in the Atlanta area and missed his junior season at North Gwinnett High after breaking his ankle. His other offers were from Mississippi State, Tulane and Missouri. Cook developed into one of the more athletic tight ends in the SEC and decided to turn pro following last season.
12:00 PM ET Tennessee 12 Georgia 12:00 PM ET Vanderbilt Kentucky 3:30 PM ET Arkansas 6 Texas A&M 4:00 PM ET Louisiana Tech 5 Auburn 7:00 PM ET Missouri 13 South Carolina 7:30 PM ET Memphis 10 Ole Miss 7:30 PM ET New Mexico State 17 LSU