The SEC is perennially brimming with great defensive players.
And while Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley was a big surprise a year ago, you knew at the beginning of the season that Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson would both be strong candidates for SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
It's a little trickier looking ahead to the 2011 season.
Alabama has several candidates, including linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron. Arkansas linebacker Jerry Franklin, Vanderbilt linebacker Chris Marve and Kentucky linebacker Danny Trevathan have all been extremely productive. The same goes for cornerbacks Morris Claiborne of LSU, Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, Brandon Boykin of Georgia and Casey Hayward of Vanderbilt.
If you're looking for top pass-rushers, Arkansas' Jake Bequette, South Carolina's Devin Taylor and Tennessee's Malik Jackson all come to mind.
There are sure to be other premier defenders who emerge as well. In particular, keep an eye on some of that young talent on Florida's defensive line.
Tell us what you think and vote in our poll on who will be the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year in 2011. I'll go over the results next week in a post. And, yes, there are plenty of other deserving candidates than just the five listed. But we can only have five.
So vote away.