Once told by former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin that he’d be pumping gas the rest of his life if he went to South Carolina, this next guy on our countdown gassed just about everybody he lined up against last season:
No. 4: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina
2010 numbers/honors: Led the SEC in catches (88) and receiving yards (1,517) and tied for the league lead with nine touchdown catches. Jeffery ranked fourth nationally in receiving yards, and he also averaged 17.2 yards per catch, which was No. 1 nationally among those players catching 70 or more passes. A first-team All-America selection by ESPN.com, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), and a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, Walter Camp and Sports Illustrated. A consensus first-team All-SEC selection.
Preseason ranking: Ranked No. 18 on the 2010 preseason countdown.
Making the case for Jeffery: It’s not every day that you see 6-foot-4, 233-pound receivers slicing through SEC defenses the way Jeffery did last season. Nobody was strong enough to handle him one-on-one, and even at his size, he had the speed to run away from most people. A standout basketball player in high school, Jeffery also has exceptional leaping ability, allowing him to go up and get the football in crowds. Jeffery had eight games last season with 100 yards or more receiving and has caught at least one pass in 22 straight games. He was at his best against SEC competition, pulling in a league-high seven touchdowns in eight games. He also averaged 110.5 receiving yards in SEC games, which was nearly 17 yards more than the next closest guy – Alabama’s Julio Jones. For those questioning his speed, he had three touchdown catches of 69 yards or longer. And in the big games? Well, Jeffery had eight catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the first game against Auburn. He caught seven passes for 127 yards in the win against Alabama, including a one-handed gem on the sideline with a defender hanging onto his jersey. Even in the Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Florida State, Jeffery matched his career high with nine catches for 130 yards. He’s on his way to re-writing the South Carolina record books and heads into his junior season as one of the premier receivers in college football.
No. 5: Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett
No. 6: Alabama WR Julio Jones
No. 7: Kentucky WR Randall Cobb
No. 9: Georgia OLB Justin Houston
No. 10: Arkansas RB Knile Davis
No. 11: Georgia WR A.J. Green
No. 12: LSU DT Drake Nevis
No. 13: Auburn OT Lee Ziemba
No. 14: LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard
No. 15: South Carolina DE Devin Taylor
No. 16: Florida S Ahmad Black
No. 17: Arkansas TE D.J. Williams
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. 23: Alabama DE Marcell Dareus
No. 24: Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan
No. 25: Alabama LB Courtney Upshaw