The SEC's 25 best players: No. 22

The No. 22 guy on our countdown was the rock of Mississippi State’s offensive line this past season and one of the more impressive student-athletes in all of college football.

No. 22: Derek Sherrod, OT, Sr., Mississippi State

2010 numbers/honors: The Bulldogs finished second in the SEC in rushing offense with an average of 214.8 yards per game. Sherrod was a consensus first-team All-SEC selection and a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and Walter Camp.

Preseason ranking: Not ranked in the 2010 preseason countdown

Making the case for Sherrod: A leader for the Bulldogs both on and off the field, Sherrod was a fixture at left tackle for the past three seasons. He’s one of the guys they ran behind in key situations and was the chief reason Mississippi State tied for third in the SEC with only 23 sacks allowed in 13 games. The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Sherrod used his 83 7/8-inch wingspan, the longest of any of the players at the Senior Bowl, to become one of the best pass protectors in the SEC. He’s also extremely athletic for his size and faced a bevy of top pass-rushers this season. Sherrod was dominant up front in Mississippi State’s 52-15 rout of Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen called Sherrod the best offensive tackle he’s ever been around. Sherrod, who could go as high as the first round in April’s NFL draft, was equally stellar in the classroom. He was one of 16 National Football Foundation scholar-athletes this past season in college football and compiled a 3.54 GPA in earning his undergraduate degree in business administration.

The rundown