We resume our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players with a guy who plays the receiver position with a linebacker’s mentality.
No. 6: Julio Jones, WR, Jr., Alabama
2009 numbers: Led Alabama with 43 catches for 596 yards and four touchdown receptions.
Most recent ranking: No. 30 on the 2009 postseason countdown and No. 5 on the 2009 preseason countdown.
Making the case for Jones: It goes without saying that some people will look at Jones’ numbers from a year ago and scratch their heads as to why he’s this high. After all, he had even better numbers as a freshman. But numbers alone don’t begin to tell you how good a football player Jones is. He’s bigger, stronger and healthier than he was for much of last season and poised for his best season yet. Once his knee rounded back into shape a year ago, Jones looked like his old self. Always a relentless blocker in the run game, he was at his best when the Crimson Tide needed him to be at his best. Remember his 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown against LSU in the fourth quarter? How about his clutch performance on that final drive to beat Auburn? What makes Jones so special is that he has the strength, size and leaping ability to get the best of any cornerback in a one-on-one situation, and he’s one of those guys who almost never goes down on the first hit. But he also has explosive straight-end speed. When he gets in the clear, you don’t see anybody catching him. The consummate team player, Jones has been more than willing to play whatever role is laid out there for him. So far, that role has included winning a lot of games. Look for the 2010 season to be one in which he clearly establishes himself as one of the premier players in this league.
No. 10: Jerrell Powe, NT, Sr., Ole Miss
No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU