The SEC's 25 best players: No. 20

He was one of the most improved players in the SEC last season, and he’s also the No. 20 player on our 2010 postseason countdown.

No. 20: Chris White, LB, Sr., Mississippi State

2010 numbers/honors: Led Mississippi State and finished fourth in the SEC with 110 total tackles. His 15.5 tackles for loss led all SEC middle linebackers. A first-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press and a second-team All-SEC selection by the coaches.

Preseason ranking: Not ranked in the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for White: The 6-foot-3, 245-pound White moved from an outside linebacker spot to his more natural position of middle linebacker last season and quickly blossomed into one of the SEC’s most productive defenders. A better athlete than some gave him credit for, White was always around the football and a sure tackler. He had 10.5 of his tackles for loss against SEC competition and had his best game in Mississippi State’s biggest win, a 10-7 victory over Florida in the Swamp. White had a game-high 11 tackles against the Gators, including 4.5 tackles for loss -- and 2.5 of those were sacks. He won the Conerly Trophy as the best college football player in the state of Mississippi and also played in the Senior Bowl. Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey said White’s understanding of the game was what set him apart. “He’s not the biggest guy. He’s not the fastest guy. He just makes plays,” Gailey said.

The rundown

No. 21: LSU RB Stevan Ridley

No. 22: Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod

No. 23: Alabama DE Marcell Dareus

No. 24: Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan

No. 25: Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw