SEC's best of the BCS era: Defense

We’ve already unveiled our best SEC offensive players of the BCS era.

Now it’s on to the side of the ball that this league has come to be known for over the years – defense.

It was a nightmare trying to keep this list to just 11 players, but here’s what we came up with.

The players are listed alphabetically:

John Abraham, DE, South Carolina: He was a tremendous player on some really bad teams in college. Abraham led the Gamecocks in sacks for four straight seasons from 1996-99 and remains one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers.

Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: A consensus All-American in both his sophomore and junior seasons in 2008 and 2009. Berry won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back in 2009 and finished his career with 14 interceptions.

Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU: The anchor of LSU’s 2007 national championship defense. Dorsey capped his stellar career by winning the Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lott Trophy as a senior in 2007.

John Henderson, DT, Tennessee: The Outland Trophy winner in 2000 and a two-time All-America selection. The 6-foot-7, 290-pound Henderson was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy in 2001 and finished his career with 38.5 tackles for loss

Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama: Nick Saban called McClain one of the smartest players he’s ever coached. He was plenty productive, too, and was a driving force behind the Crimson Tide’s unbeaten run to the 2009 national championship.

Reggie Nelson, S, Florida: The catalyst defensively for the Gators on their 2006 national championship team, Nelson was a consensus All-America selection that season and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe and Bronko Nagurski awards.

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: One of the most explosive football players in SEC history. Peterson was equally dynamic as a shut-down cornerback and return specialist. He won the Jim Thorpe and Bednarik awards as a junior in 2010.

David Pollack, DE, Georgia: Joined Herschel Walker as Georgia’s only three-time, first-team All-America selection. Pollack was a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and cleaned up as a senior in 2004 by winning the Lombardi and Bednarik awards, as well as the Lott Trophy.

DeMeco Ryans, LB, Alabama: One of the most prolific tacklers in Alabama’s storied history. Ryans finished his career with 309 total tackles from 2002-05 and won the Lott Trophy in 2005 as college football’s IMPACT Defensive Player of the Year.

Lito Sheppard, CB, Florida: A dynamic playmaker for the Gators on both defense and as a return specialist on special teams. Sheppard was a first-team All-America selection in 2000 and a two-time All-SEC selection

Patrick Willis, LB, Ole Miss: The most honored defensive player in Ole Miss history. Willis was a two-time, first-team All-American and won the Butkus Award and Lambert Award in 2006 as the nation’s top linebacker.