We’re now down to the top 10 in our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players, and blocking the No. 10 guy on our list isn’t anybody’s idea of fun.
No. 10: Jerrell Powe, NT, Sr., Ole Miss
2009 numbers: Recorded 34 tackles, tying for the team lead with 12 tackles for loss. Included were three sacks.
Most recent ranking: Not ranked in preseason or postseason countdown in 2009.
Making the case for Powe: The 6-2, 320-pound Powe emerged as a dominant presence in the middle of the Rebels’ defensive line last season. He enters this next season as the top interior defensive lineman in the league. His 12 tackles for loss a year ago led all SEC defensive tackles, and that’s not counting all the times he completely wrecked a play with his penetration -- allowing somebody else to make the tackle behind the line of scrimmage. A second-team All-SEC selection last season by the Associated Press, Powe will be the centerpiece of an Ole Miss defensive line in 2010 that should be one of the best in the league. Every great defensive line has that immovable force in the middle, and Powe is that guy for the Rebels. Still, he’s remarkably athletic for a player his size and has improved his conditioning by leaps and bounds since coming to Ole Miss. One of the Rebels’ more popular players in recent memory, Powe first signed with Ole Miss in 2005 and waged a long and winding eligibility battle before finally being cleared to play in 2008. His perseverance paid off … for him and for the Rebels.
No. 12: Stephon Gilmore, CB, So., South Carolina
No. 13: Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Sr., LSU