Based on various factors including natural speed, acceleration and quick burst ability, here is the list of the fastest players in the SEC heading into this season; 40-yard dash times courtesy of NFL Draft Scout.
Speed Kills Top 10
10. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama, Jr., CB (4.49, 40-yard dash) — Kirkpatrick looked fast as a prep senior in the All-American Game and has only gotten faster at Alabama. He has NFL scouts drooling over his 6-foot-3, 192-pound frame and moves well with his length. A defensive back with a knack for getting to the football, Kirkpatrick’s a terror for opposing quarterbacks in the Crimson Tide secondary.
9. Morris Claiborne, LSU, Jr., CB (4.45) — Claiborne is a freak of an athlete in Baton Rouge with Patrick Peterson-like instincts. An All-SEC second-teamer last season, Claiborne is one of the fastest corners in the SEC and can shut down anyone’s top receiver. Claiborne was a sprint champion in high school.
8. Ace Sanders, South Carolina, Soph., WR (4.41) — Small in size but heavy on talent, Sanders looks faster than he is since he’s so low to the ground. Less than six feet tall, he’s tough to cover in the open field and could play a factor in South Carolina’s return game this season.
7. Ronnie Wingo Jr., Arkansas, Jr., RB (4.42) — A touch quicker than Knile Davis, Wingo Jr. is the No. 1 running back this season for Bobby Petrino’s bunch after Davis went down with an injury. Expect Wingo Jr. to showcase his speed early in an impressive SEC West – college football’s most-talented division.
6. Onterio McCalebb, Auburn, Jr., RB (4.38) — As Auburn’s return specialist, McCalebb is dangerous in the kicking game and on offense. He thrives in Gus Malzahn’s spread and can turn an 8-yard reverse into a 72-yard touchdown at any time. Watch out, the Tigers’ double reverse usually results in big gains.
5. Branden Smith, Georgia, Jr., CB (4.38) — If you’re looking for blazing speed, Smith has it. His 4.19 time in the 40 as a senior at Booker T. Washington High seemed a bit outlandish until the 5-foot-11 corner followed it up with an official 4.28 time in Athens as a freshman. Mark Richt and company need to utilize Smith more often this season, perhaps in a role similar to former do-everything Bulldog, Champ Bailey.
4. Jarius Wright, Arkansas, Sr., WR (4.34) — One of many threats on the outside for the Razorbacks, Wright has the most speed of any of Arkansas’ talented wideouts. Taken during spring practice, Wright is tied with Wingo Jr. for the fastest recorded 40 time on the team at 4.27 seconds. He caught fire in his final six games as a junior, scoring five touchdowns.
3. Chris Rainey, Florida, Sr., RB (4.35) — Mini-Demps is a big-play threat for the Gators marred by off-the-field problems much of his career. If Rainey stays healthy in 2011, he’ll make the most of his touches and help a Florida offense that flatlined a season ago. Like Andre Dubose, he’s one of a handful of undersized Gators blessed with quickness.
2. Brandon Boykin, Georgia, Sr., CB (4.35) — One of two speedy cornerbacks between the hedges, Boykin showcased his afterburn as a sophomore against South Carolina, bludgeoning the Gamecocks for 187 yards on four kickoff returns. His 100-yard runback in the first quarter gave the Bulldogs momentum that evolved into a 41-37 win.
1. Jeff Demps, Florida, Sr., RB (4.26) — This guy is Flash Gordon in pads and by far the SEC’s top speed demon. Demps has been clocked at 4.24 in the 40 on multiple occasions and can sprint from goal line to goal line in 10 seconds. If you haven’t seen Demp’s track and field highlights at Florida, check out them out YouTube.
Just Missed The Cut
* Damiere Byrd, South Carolina, Fr., WR (4.32) — Hard to put a player in the Top 10 who hasn’t seen the field as a collegian, but if Gamecock coaches are correct, he could be the fastest player in football by the time he gets acclimated to the SEC. A 4.32 time in New Jersey as a prep senior is eye-popping.
* Trent Richardson, Alabama, Jr., RB (4.55) — The Crimson Tide’s thunder to Mark Ingram’s lightning, it’s hard to bottle up Richardson when he’s in the open field. He’s not the fastest player on Nick Saban’s team, but his sub 4.5 speed is impressive as a bruising running back.
* Jeff Scott, Ole Miss, Soph., RB (4.66) — One of the few returning weapons in Houston Nutt’s offense, Scott averaged 6.5 yards per carry last season and scored one of three touchdowns on an 83-yard scamper against Auburn. The sophomore from Miami is the Rebels’ top speedster.
* Bradley Sylve, Alabama, Fr., WR (4.43) — Jaws dropped in Tuscaloosa when the 5-foot-11 freshman from Louisiana arrived on campus in 2011. He moves swiftly with the football and makes multiple defenders miss. Sylve returned a kickoff 91 yards in last year’s Under Armour All-American Game.
* Justin Hunter, Tennessee, Soph., WR (4.41) — Hunter should be one of quarterback Tyler Bray’s top targets this fall with good hands and one of the quickest first steps off the line in the SEC. Seven of Hunter’s 16 catches last season went for scores.