The SEC's 25 best players: No. 17

He’s considered one of the best pass-catching tight ends in recent league history and checks in at No. 17 on our 2010 postseason countdown:

No. 17: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

2010 numbers/honors: Led Arkansas with 54 catches, ranking him sixth in the SEC. Williams finished with 627 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. He won the Mackey Award as the top tight end in college football and was named as a semifinalist for the James E. Sullivan Memorial Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding amateur athlete. A third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and a consensus first-team All-SEC selection.

Preseason ranking: Ranked No. 19 on the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Williams: His 54 catches last season were the fourth highest single-season total in school history. His 152 career receptions were the second most in school history and the most by a non-receiver. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Williams zeroed in on becoming a better blocker as a junior and was able to accomplish that, although his receiving numbers dropped. But as a senior, his second season with quarterback Ryan Mallett, Williams re-established himself as the top tight end in the college game. He had 33 of his catches against SEC teams, ranking him sixth in the league among all players. Extremely effective as a runner after the catch, Williams is a nightmare matchup for defenses. He has the speed to get down the middle of the field and the toughness to catch the ball in crowds. In addition to winning the Mackey Award, Williams also received the Disney Spirit Award, which is given to the most inspirational figure in college football. His example and the way he carried himself as a leader were a big part of the Hogs’ run to their first Sugar Bowl in 30 years.

The rundown

No. 18: Alabama S Mark Barron

No. 19: Florida CB Janoris Jenkins

No. 20: Mississippi State LB Chris White

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