The SEC's top 25 players: No. 5

Our next member of the countdown proved to be one of the fiercest, most athletic defensive ends around:

No. 5: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina, Sr.

Preseason rank: Not ranked in the 2011 preseason top 25.

2011 summary: Ingram recorded 48 tackles and was third in the SEC with 15 tackles for loss. He also tied for second in the league with 10 sacks. He recorded two interceptions, recovered a fumble, broke up two passes and had six quarterback hurries. Ingram also registered three touchdowns, including a 68-yard run for a score on a fake punt against Georgia. He was selected as a first-team All-American by The Associated Press and was a first team All-SEC member by the AP and the league's coaches.

Why he's here: Ingram was one of the most fun defensive players to watch in 2011. He was fast, powerful and relentless. He battled through a couple of nagging injuries and still found ways to make quarterbacks miserable throughout the season. He averaged .77 sacks per game last season, with 6.5 of his sacks coming in conference play. What made Ingram so dangerous on the outside was his ability to not only fly past tackles but the way he overpowered them as well. At 6-foot-2, 276 pounds, Ingram could shoot off the edge like a rocket or bulldoze over an opposing offensive lineman if he had to. Ingram's best game of the season came against Auburn when he recorded 11 tackles, including eight solo and 4.5 for loss. He also had 3.5 sacks against the Tigers. Another aspect of Ingram's game that made him so tough to deal with was the tremendous stamina he showed last season. He didn't take plays off and rarely got very tired out on the field. He would wear players down before he needed a breather. Ingram will enter April's NFL draft as one the top defensive end/linebacker prospects and figures to be a first-round draft pick.