The SEC's best 25 players: No. 23

One of the top receivers out there makes it into our top 25:

No. 23: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt, Jr.

2012 summary: Named a first-team All-SEC performer by the Associated Press and league coaches, he led the SEC with 94 catches and was second in the league with 1,323 yards. He was also hauled in eight touchdowns and averaged 101.8 receiving yards per game.

Making the case for Matthews: What a third year for Vanderbilt's top receiving option. After catching just 41 passes in 2011, Matthews broke out during his junior year with 53 more catches and nearly 600 more yards, setting the Vandy receiving record for a single season. Matthews finished with seven 100-yard receiving games, which was the most by any SEC receiver. He broke the 100-yard receiving mark in each of the last three games of the regular season. He also recorded a touchdown in the final five games of the season. Matthews also came away with the best receiving stats in SEC play, finishing with a league-leading 877 yards in conference play and averaging 109.6 yards per game. Maybe the most impressive aspect of Matthews' third year is that he was battling for catches with Chris Boyd, who caught 50 passes for 774 yards and five touchdowns on the other side of him. Matthews proved to be a big-time deep threat, but wasn't afraid to take a hit over the middle of the field. He's an extremely physical player and with his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame, he had the ability to make the tough catches. Matthews showed the speed to burn his opponents, but he also took on that possession receiver personality, and bailed his team out with some huge catches in 2012.

Most recent ranking:

The Rundown

  • No. 24: Matt Elam, S, Florida, Jr.

  • No. 25: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State, Sr.