USA TODAY Sports Network | Nashville Tennessean
Even in a league as deep and talented as SEC football, talent finds talent.
Maybe that’s why Alabama and Georgia combine to have six of the top 10 overall players in the league, regardless of position, in a poll of 17 experts who cover the league for the USA TODAY Sports Network.
The Crimson Tide placed four players on the list. Georgia landed two, with the two schools that played in last season’s national championship game combining to have the top four. Tennessee also placed two players on the list.
A total of 35 players from 11 schools received votes: Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina were the only schools without a player to get at least one vote. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote down to one point for a 10th-place vote.
Here is a look at the top 10 players in the SEC:
1. Will Anderson Jr.
Alabama, junior linebacker (154 points, 11 first-place votes)
Anderson led the nation with 17½ sacks and 34½ tackles for loss in 2021 and might have won the Heisman Trophy if not for it being a traditionally offensive award.
2. Bryce Young
Alabama, junior quarterback (146 points, 5 first-place votes)
Young has the unique challenge of trying to become the second player to win the Heisman Trophy twice after a 2021 season in which he threw for 4,872 yards, 47 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
3. Brock Bowers
Georgia, sophomore tight end (97 points, 1 first-place vote)
Bowers had a monster freshman season with 56 catches for 882 yards and a program-record 13 TD catches.
4. Jalen Carter
Georgia, junior defensive tackle (88 points)
Even playing on a defensive line with three first-rounders, the Apoka, Florida, native flashed with 8½ tackles for loss, three sacks and three blocked kicks.
5. Kayshon Boutte
LSU, junior wide receiver (77 points)
Boutte is a projected first-round pick and already has 14 career touchdown catches despite missing half of last season.
6. Hendon Hooker
Tennessee, senior quarterback (34 points)
Hooker had the highest passer rating in the SEC last season, and his 31 TDs to three interceptions marked the best ratio in FBS among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.
7. Jordan Battle
Alabama, senior safety (31 points)
A second-team All-American in 2021, Battle is a reliable safety whose 8.5% missed-tackle mark was one of the best among regular starters on the Alabama defense, per Pro Football Focus.
8. Emil Ekiyor Jr.
Alabama, senior guard (27 points)
Ekiyor is heading into his third season as a starter after allowing zero sacks and five hits in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.
9. Cedric Tillman
Tennessee, senior wide receiver (25 points)
Tillman’s 1,081 yards receiving and 12 TDs lead all returning wide receivers in the SEC.
10. Tank Bigsby
Auburn, junior running back (24 points)
Bigsby’s combination of skill and power makes him the centerpiece of Auburn’s offense and one of the top running back prospects for the 2023 NFL Draft.