The SEC's best 25 players: No. 3

The next player in our countdown of the SEC's best 25 players might be the nation's best running back ... and he's only a sophomore.

No. 3: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, So.

2012 summary: The consensus All-SEC performer and Freshman All-SEC member led all league running backs with 1,385 rushing yards and tied for second in the conference with 17 rushing touchdowns. Gurley averaged 6.2 yards per carry and rushed for 98.9 yards per game. He also caught 16 passes for 117 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 243 yards and a touchdown.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 11 in the 2012 postseason countdown.

Making the case for Gurley: Named to preseason watch lists for the Maxwell, Doak Walker and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards, Gurley returns as arguably the nation's best running back. He really does have it all, too. Gurley can either plow his way through or wiggle between the tackles or break out on the edge and hit big-yardage plays. He's extremely strong and explosive and can also make plays out of the backfield in the passing game as well. Gurley's strength is what really makes him special. He had a tendency to carry defenders with him and power his way to extra yardage all year. Last season, Gurley rushed for 100 or more yards in nine of his 14 games. He also scored multiple touchdowns in five games. Gurley's longest run of last season might have only gone for 55 yards, but he can still be a game-breaking, home-run hitter for the Bulldogs. He averaged more than 8 yards a carry in five games last year, even though he did most of his damage through the middle of the field. Gurley joined Herschel Walker as the only true freshman at Georgia to rush for more than 1,000 yards and his 17 touchdowns set the Georgia freshman running back record. It'll be tough for Gurley to duplicate what he did in his first year on the field, but Gurley has said that he feels like a better player this year. He's taken good care of his body and used the spring and offseason to work on his footwork and his ability to breakdown opposing defenses. If those improvements show on the field this fall, they should make him even tougher to stop and turn him into a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

The rundown