The SEC's best 25 players: No. 22

Our first running back makes the list as we continue our countdown of the top 25 SEC players from the 2012 season:

No. 22: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida, Sr.

2012 summary: The All-SEC first-team member by both the coaches and the Associated Press finished the season ranked fourth in the SEC with 1,152 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry and also caught 16 passes for 159 yards and another score.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in our 2012 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Gillislee: Before the season, Gillislee confidently stated that he wanted 1,500 rushing yards and 20-plus touchdowns. He didn't reach his mark, but he became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards for the Gators since Ciatrick Fason back in 2004. Gillislee wasn't the biggest, fastest back in the SEC, but he was one of the toughest players whenever he stepped on the field. He displayed excellent vision which helped him find ways to slip through the tiniest holes, but he also knew how to create his own holes by bullying his way through lines. There was a point earlier in the season when Gillislee was the SEC's top statistical running back and he was easily the Gators' best, most consistent offensive weapon. Without him, the Gators don't win 11 games and don't even sniff a BCS bowl. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark five times in 2012 and ran his best in two of the biggest games of the season. In Florida's 14-6 win over LSU, he carried the ball a career-high 34 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He completely wore down LSU's front in the second half and pushed the Gators to a gritty win over the Tigers. Against Florida State, he was the offensive driving force in the Gators' 37-26 win. He helped wear down the Seminoles' vaunted front with 24 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored the eventual game-winning touchdown against Texas A&M on a 12-yard run, even though he had an injured groin. Gillislee wasn't the flashiest player, but he basically was Florida's offense.

The Rundown