We are a mere 53 days away from the first College Football Saturday – and yes, that is a proper noun – of 2013.
It’s about time, then, you get a primer for this upcoming season, because we all know the thirst for college football in this nation, or football of any kind, is never quenched no matter the season, day, or hour.
As Mizzou prepares to enter season two in the SEC, I took it upon myself to rank the 10 best players you will see on the field this year. Lists like these are always met with scorn from someone for some kind of omission or disagreement. That’s fine.
What I will attempt to do is make the subjective as objective as possible.
Players will be ranked on a scale from 0-10 in three most important categories that determine a player’s overall relative value: Talent, Production, and Projection (to the NFL).
Sure, some players in college can put up 5,000 yards passing, but in reality, are not the same caliber of player or athlete that someone who posts only 2,500 yards passing. If that was the case, Timmy Chang would be one of the best college players of all time.
Now, that’s not to say production isn’t important. Clearly, it is. If you don’t produce when on the field, it doesn’t matter how big and fast you are. You’re worthless.
All that being said, here is the list (plus an honorable mention) of the 10 best SEC players you will see on the football field this season. Think and Mizzou Tigers made it? Time to find out…
10) Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt - Grade: 25.7 (8.5 T / 9.4 Prod / 7.8 Proj)
Consider Jordan Matthews the Marques Colston of the college game. He’s never going to be the biggest, fastest, or strongest wide receiver, but he almost always produces.
Matthews caught 94 passes as a junior in 2012 for 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns. Five of his seven 100-yard receiving performances last season came against SEC defenses, including performances of 147 against South Carolina, 119 against Georgia, and 131 against Florida.
Those are legit defenses.
His lack of superior athleticism and speed is the only thing that keeps him from being truly elite.
9) Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU – Grade: 26.1 (9.7 T / 6.9 Prod / 9.5 Proj)
He isn’t the first. He won’t be the last. He’s just the latest defensive talent produced from Baton Rouge that has NFL scouts salivating.
Johnson, nicknamed “The Freak” of course, came to LSU as a highly-touted five-star recruit, the top defensive tackle recruit in the country. He’ll finally get his chance to blow up after waiting to play behind 14 other first round draft picks (only a slight exaggeration) on the Tigers d-line.
Despite being stuck behind Benny Logan and Josh Downs for much of last season as a starter, Johnson still managed 30 tackles, a whopping 10 tackles for a loss, and three sacks.
Oh, and Johnson is nicknamed such because he reportedly runs a 4.7 40 at 300 pounds.
8) Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida – Grade: 26.7 (9.8 T / 7.4 Prod / 9.5 Proj)
Purifoy is athletic and talented enough that head coach Will Muschamp was giving him snaps at wide receiver this spring to help boost a Florida passing attack that was abysmal last season.
He is already entrenched as the leader of a cornerback group that could end up producing three first round NFL draft picks in the future: Purifoy, fellow junior Marcus Roberson, and incoming freshman Vernon Hargreaves III, the top cornerback recruit in the country.
Last season, quarterbacks rarely challenged Purifoy so he had no interceptions and only five pass break ups but he did record 51 tackles and forced three fumbles.
He’s also a demon on special teams. Purifoy blocked two kicks in 2012 and will be the Gators kick returner in 2013.
As you can see, this young man is extremely athletic.
7) Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia – Grade: 27.3 (9.1 T / 9.2 Prod / 9.0 Proj)