This edition appeared in The Sun on July 15 and is reprinted here for those who are not into viewing the three videos which appeared that day on the site.
By Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu, Sun staff writers
You can call it a cop out.
Every year we do the Top 25 SEC football players heading into the season. This year we did 30.
Not because it was easy, because it was hard. Didn’t John F. Kennedy say that about going to the moon? But it was hard to narrow this list to 30 players, that’s how talented the league is this year.
And we are sure we left off some players who will be named All-SEC in December.
Still, this is the list, The Sun’s Top 30 players in the SEC:
1. Raekwon Davis, Alabama defensive lineman: The latest in a long line of defenders who can take over the game. Has speed to go with imposing size.
2. Jeffrey Simmons, Mississippi State DL: We’ve seen glimpses of how good Simmons can be. This year we get the whole package.
3. Drew Lock, Missouri quarterback: Nobody throws a deep ball better than Lock, and, if his receivers can step up, he’s a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.
4. A.J. Brown, Ole Miss wide receiver: As good as it gets at the position, Brown put up awesome numbers last year that only figure to get better.
5. Damien Harris, Alabama running back: This is a bit of a hunch, that, while everyone is trying to figure out the Alabama quarterback situation, Harris is going to run wild.
6. Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas offensive lineman: May be the best technique blocker in the league and a surefire first-round NFL pick.
7. Deandre Baker, Georgia defensive back: Baker thought about turning pro, but instead will use his speed to harass SEC receivers.
8. Deebo Samuel, South Carolina WR: If he can stay healthy, watch out because Samuel is the best big-play man in the conference.
9. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri tight end: The NFL is drooling over this guy, big and fast with good hands and a great quarterback.
10. Greedy Williams, LSU DB: The only question about whether Williams is an All-American or not depends on how much teams are willing to test him.
11. Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama OL: He has already graduated and gives the Tide exactly what you want in the middle of the line.
12. Jake Fromm, Georgia QB: Fromm is going to be asked to do a lot more this year and there is no reason to think he can’t do it.
13. Josh Allen, Kentucky linebacker: This guy is just a tackling machine who would be a lot better known at a Top 25 program.
14. Devin White, LSU DB: White is another reason why LSU can make a DBU argument. The latest to come out and be dominant.
15. Montez Sweat, Miss. St. DL: He led the SEC in sacks last year and he’s coming off the edge again.
16. Rashard Lawrence, LSU DL: You ever just have a feeling a guy was due to have an All-SEC season?
17. Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M DL: There’s a run on defensive linemen and there is a good reason. Guys like Keke make this league so difficult.
18. Dylan Moses, Alabama LB: He’s still learning and a foot injury late last year set him back, but watch him get 100 tackles.
19. Cece Jefferson, Florida LB: The 3-4 seems perfect for him and we are assuming he’ll be healthy, because UF is bringing him to SEC Media Day.
20. Greg Little, Ole Miss OL: Physically dominant and a potential top-10 pick in the NFL draft. What’s not to like?
21. Nick Fitzgerald, Miss. St. QB: New coach, a new system and coming off an injury. But the guy can ball.
22. D’Andre Swift, Georgia RB: It’s his turn to be the man and with his speed there seems to be no doubt he’ll have a big year.
23. Marco Wilson, Florida DB: There is a chance he could one day be better than his NFL brother.
24. Jonah Williams, Alabama OL: Another stud that seems to grow on trees for coach Nick Saban.
25. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn QB: Stidham seems destined to have a big year now that he has the system down.
26. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama, QB: You think Alabama was powerful before? Wait until he takes over and starts launching bombs.
27. Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky RB: There is a lot of competition in the Kentucky backfield, but Snell is they guy who makes things go as his 32 TDs in two seasons would attest.
28. Trey Smith, Tennessee OL: Smith has the size and the talent to be on an All-SEC team at year’s end.
29. Jordan Scarlett, Florida RB: The guy has been out a year, but looks like he’s ready to atone for his mistakes.
30. Derrick Brown, Auburn defensive tackle: ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. called him a “rare, rare talent.” He started every game as a sophomore and may dominate as a junior.