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Ranking the SEC's 30 best players: Nos. 1 and 2

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The best two players in the SEC?

That would be Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Tennessee safety Eric Berry, in that order.

There wasn't much debate about Tebow being No. 1. He's one of the most dominant college football players of this era.

The No. 2 spot was more difficult. Berry had some stiff competition from Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead and Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes. And as a pure talent, it's hard to beat Alabama receiver Julio Jones.

But the more I ran it past people in the SEC and the more I weighed all the variables, Berry kept coming out on top. He's the measuring stick in college football at defensive back.

Thanks for all the help. It was a lot of fun, and nobody's saying my list is the right list. It was hard to leave off guys like Aaron Hernandez, Ahmad Black, Maurkice Pouncey, Jamar Chaney, Jeff Owens, Mike Johnson, Dan Williams and Rahim Alem.

I mean, I could go on and on.

Maybe we'll do it again after the 2009 season and see how much my list changes.

No. 1: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida -- Is he the best college football player of this era? It's a legitimate question and one that may answer itself next season if Tebow leads the Gators to a third national championship during his four years in Gainesville and wins a second Heisman Trophy. Steve Spurrier, the former Florida coach and current South Carolina coach, says Tebow is as good a player on third down as he's ever seen in the college game. The 6-3, 245-pound senior runs like a fullback and is the ultimate weapon when things break down. Go back and look at how many times he took matters into his own hands in the SEC Championship Game and BCS National Championship Game last season. And for all those people who have picked apart Tebow's passing motion, all he did was throw for 30 touchdowns and only four interceptions a year ago. His will to win is off the charts. The same goes for his competitive spirit. Enjoy him Gator Nation, because there won't be another one like him.

No. 2: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee -- A finalist for the Thorpe Award last season as the nation's most outstanding defensive back, Berry was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He has 12 interceptions in his first two seasons and needs just 15 yards to tie the NCAA record (501 yards) for interception return yardage in a career. He changes the way teams attack the Vols' defense with his penchant for making the big play and also hits with the ferocity of a linebacker. Just ask Knowshon Moreno or Marquis Maze. The 5-11, 203-pound Berry is also an extremely intelligent player who thinks the game as well as he plays it. Few defenders in this league have made the kind of impact in their first two years as Berry. His best may be yet to come.

Here are the links to Nos. 30-26, Nos. 25-21, Nos. 20-16, Nos. 15-11, No. 10, No. 9, No. 8, No. 7, No 6, No. 5, No. 4 and No. 3.

  • No. 3: Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss

  • No. 4: Brandon Spikes, LB, Florida

  • No. 5: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

  • No. 7: Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

  • No. 8: Trevard Lindley, CB, Kentucky

  • No. 10: Carlos Dunlap, DE, Florida

  • No. 11: Eric Norwood, OLB, South Carolina

  • No. 12: Antonio Coleman, DE, Auburn

  • No. 13: Ciron Black, OT, LSU

  • No. 14: Terrence Cody, NG, Alabama

  • No. 16: Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia

  • No. 17: Joe Haden, CB, Florida

  • No. 20: Malcolm Sheppard, DT, Arkansas

  • No. 22: Jeffery Demps, RB/WR, Florida

  • No. 23: John Jerry, OT, Ole Miss

  • No. 24: Chad Jones, S, LSU

  • No. 25: Geno Atkins, DT, Georgia

  • No. 27: Javier Arenas, CB/RS, Alabama

  • No. 28: Micah Johnson, LB, Kentucky

  • No. 30: Myron Lewis, CB, Vanderbilt