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The SEC's best 25 players: No. 23

When you start listing the best cornerbacks in the SEC, don't forget about this next guy:

No. 23: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

2010 numbers: Hayward has made 24 consecutive starts and finished second in the SEC last season with six interceptions. He led the league with 17 passes defended and was third nationally, including an SEC-high 11 passes broken up. Hayward's 70 total tackles were a career high in 2010, and he was a second-team All-SEC selection by both the coaches and media.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in the 2010 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Hayward: Vanderbilt has churned out its share of quality defensive backs over the past few years, and Hayward is the next one in line. He's already established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC and has eight interceptions over his past two seasons. By the time the 2011 season is complete, he'll be a name familiar to just about everybody in college football. The 6-foot, 185-pound Hayward leads a talented Vanderbilt secondary and is one of those players who has a knack for making big plays. His cover skills are excellent, but Hayward also isn't afraid to stick his head in there and get physical. He had 56 solo tackles last season. The only other SEC cornerback who had more solo tackles a year ago was South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore. Hayward is equally consistent. He had at least one pass defended in 10 of 12 games and intercepted passes in four straight games at one point. In short, he's the kind of complete cornerback all teams are looking for.

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