We go from offense to defense for No. 24 on our countdown of the 25 best players in the SEC.
No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt
2009 numbers: Led the SEC with an average of 10.1 tackles per game. Finished with a total of 121 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss, and also forced three fumbles.
Most recent ranking: Not ranked in preseason or postseason countdown for 2009.
Making the case for Marve: The 6-foot, 230-pound Marve became the first SEC player since former Vanderbilt great Jamie Winborn to post more than 100 tackles in each of his freshman and sophomore seasons. A second-team All-SEC selection by the league coaches a year ago, Marve is a punishing tackler with great instincts and covers the field sideline to sideline with his trademark speed. He’s forced seven fumbles in the past two seasons, which is more than any other SEC player during that span. The league’s active leader in career total tackles with 226, Marve has started the past 25 games as Vanderbilt’s middle linebacker. He will serve as one of the Commodores’ four captains for the 2010 season. A natural leader, he’s been an inspiration to all of his teammates by the way he’s fought through pain and played through a nagging shoulder injury last season. He underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery following the spring, but should be full strength by the time preseason practice begins in August. Few players in the SEC mean as much to their teams as Marve.
No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee