The SEC's 25 best players: No. 16

There was no shortage of outstanding offensive linemen in the SEC this past season, and this next guy was one of the top tackles in the country.

No. 16: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M, Jr.

2012 summary: Matthews was a first-team All-America selection by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and a second-team All-America selection by the Walter Camp Foundation and SI.com. He was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection. The Aggies led the SEC and were 11th nationally in rushing offense with an average of 242.1 yards per game.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2012 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Matthews: Even though Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel garnered most of the postseason love in terms of awards, Matthews was equally dominant from his right tackle spot and a big reason the Aggies were so explosive offensively. They became the first team in SEC history to rack up 7,000 yards of total offense and gained 400 or more yards in their final 11 games of the 2012 season. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Matthews has started in 33 straight games and played some of his best football this past season against the stiffest competition. His leadership in the locker room was invaluable, and the best news for the Aggies is that he'll be back for his senior season after considering a jump to the NFL. Several analysts had Matthews projected as a first-round pick. He'll slide over to left tackle as a senior and protect the blind side of Heisman Trophy quarterback Johnny Manziel. The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, the younger Matthews obviously has the right bloodlines, but he also has the right stuff physically, mentally and from a competitive spirit standpoint to be a stalwart on any offensive line.

The Rundown