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The SEC's 25 best players: No. 11

The No. 11 guy on our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players doesn’t even start, but don’t let that fool you.

No. 11: Trent Richardson, RB, So., Alabama

2009 numbers: Rushed for 751 yards and eight touchdowns while backing up Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.

Most recent ranking: Not ranked in preseason or postseason countdown in 2009.

Making the case for Richardson: If you talk to enough people in and around the Alabama program, they will tell you that Richardson might be the most talented running back on campus. That’s probably not the most politically correct thing to say with Ingram coming off a Heisman Trophy season, but the game tape doesn’t lie. The 5-11, 220-pound Richardson is oozing with natural ability. He’s explosive enough to hit a seam and run away from everybody on the field. After all, you’re talking about a guy who’s run a 10.5 in the 100 meters. He’s powerful enough to run over a linebacker and turn a minimal gain into a 25-yard gain, and he’s savvy enough to let his blocking develop and find the right crease. Richardson would have been a 1,200-yard rusher on just about any other team last season, but served as the perfect complement to Ingram. They return as the best one-two punch in college football. Richardson figures to be even better in 2010 now that he’s been through the SEC for a season. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he could see that Richardson was becoming a more complete football player during spring practices. He wasn’t too shabby as a freshman, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and coming up big in both the SEC championship and BCS national championship games. His best is yet to come.

The rundown

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

No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU

No. 14: Randall Cobb, WR/QB, Jr., Kentucky

No. 15: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Jr., Florida

No. 16: Mark Barron, S, Jr., Alabama

No.17: Darvin Adams, WR, Jr., Auburn

No. 18: Alshon Jeffery, WR, So., South Carolina

No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas

No. 20: Cliff Matthews, DE, Sr., South Carolina

No. 21: Clint Boling, OT, Sr., Georgia

No. 22: Greg Childs, WR, Jr., Arkansas

No. 23: Washaun Ealey, RB, So., Georgia

No. 24: Chris Marve, LB, Jr., Vanderbilt

No. 25: Luke Stocker, TE, Sr., Tennessee