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The SEC's best 25 players: No. 3

One of the toughest, most difficult running backs to bring down comes in at No. 3. He had a fantastic freshman season and after bulking up even more this year, he'll be able to deliver more of a punch to defenders this fall:

No. 3: Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina

2010 numbers: Lattimore was the unanimous choice for National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. He was also a first-team All-SEC choice by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press. Lattimore led the Gamecocks with 1,197 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns on 249 carries, while also grabbing 29 receptions for 412 yards and two more scores. He became the school's freshman record-holder in rushing yardage and recorded the third-best single-season rushing total in South Carolina history.

Most recent ranking: No. 8 in the 2010 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Lattimore: You'd be hard-pressed to find a more powerful runner in the SEC, if not the nation. If the end zone was in sight last season, Lattimore was more than likely going to find it. Lattimore is more than a load to bring down. He seemed to shake/throw defenders off of him with ease last year. Before the spring, Lattimore bulked up to more than 230 pounds in order to give more than he takes from defenders. Lattimore was banged up at times last year, but with his increased size and strength, he's hoping to eliminate some of those nicks. Lattimore might have added some mass, but he didn't cut into his speed. Lattimore said he actually shaved time off of his 40, getting into the low 4.5 range. The sophomore won't sneak up on anyone this time around, but he's built to push through any sort of sophomore slump. Mentally, he's ready for more attention and he's got the body to endure a second round of SEC punishment.

  • No. 4: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas

  • No. 5: Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama

  • No. 6: Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina

  • No. 7: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

  • No. 8: Barrett Jones, OG, Alabama

  • No. 9: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia

  • No. 10: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama

  • No. 11: Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas

  • No. 12: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

  • No. 13: Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas

  • No. 14: Mike Dyer, RB, Auburn

  • No. 15: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

  • No. 16: Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas

  • No. 17: Danny Trevathan, LB, Kentucky

  • No. 18: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

  • No. 19: Jerry Franklin, LB, Arkansas

  • No. 20: Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee

  • No. 21: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia

  • No. 22: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

  • No. 23: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

  • No. 24: Jaye Howard, DT, Florida

  • No. 25: Janzen Jackson, S, Tennessee