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, including top vote-getters Will Anderson Jr. and Bryce Young. 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.
The USA TODAY Sports Network is counting down to SEC Media Days, scheduled for July 18-21 in Atlanta, by revealing its top players at each position grouping.
Here is a look at the top 10 players in the SEC:
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- Will Anderson Jr.
Jan 10, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31) leaves the field following the 2022 CFP college football national championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Georgia defeated Alabama 33-18. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
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.
- Bryce Young
Dec 11, 2021; New York, NY, USA; 2021 Heisman winner Alabama quarterback Bryce Young poses for pictures with the trophy during a press conference at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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.
- Brock Bowers
Georgia, sophomore tight end (97 points, 1 first-place vote)
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers led Georgia with 56 catches for 882 yards and set a Bulldog single-season record with 13 touchdown catches.
Bowers had a monster freshman season with 56 catches for 882 yards and a program-record 13 TD catches.
- Jalen Carter
Dec 31, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) tackles Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara (12) during the second quarter in the Orange Bowl college football CFP national semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia, junior defensive tackle (88 points)
Even playing on dethe fensive line with three first-rounders, the Apoka, Florida, native flashed with 8½ tackles for loss, three sacks and three blocked kicks.
- Kayshon Boutte
LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte scores a touchdown against McNeese State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)
LSU, junior wide receiver (77 points)
Boutte is a projected first-round pick and already has 14 touchdown career catches despite missing half of last season.
- Hendon Hooker
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) during Tennessee football spring practice at Haslam Field in Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
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.
- Jordan Battle
Alabama defensive back Jordan Battle (9) defends during the Cotton Bowl NCAA College Football Playoff semifinal game, Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
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.
- Emil Ekiyor Jr.
Alabama offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor Jr. (55) seeks a block against Mississippi during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
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.
- Cedric Tillman
Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) warming up for the NCAA college football game between the Tennesse Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, November 27, 2021.
Tennessee, senior wide receiver (25 points)
Tillman’s 1,081 yards receiving and 12 TDs lead all returning wide receivers in the SEC.
- Tank Bigsby
Auburn Tigers running back Tank Bigsby (4) walks off the field after warm-ups during the A-Day spring practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
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.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Here are the 10 best players in SEC football for the 2022 season
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