SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to that sexy No. 1. We don’t just rank stats or project players at the next level based on athletic superiority, but we rank players based on the season they had in 2012. I know you’ll agree with every single one…
No. 8 – Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
2012 stats: 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two INTs, 20 pass breakups, 22 passes defended, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble
Why he’s worthy: Dee Milliner made the loss of Dre Kirkpatrick a distant memory. In fact, he completely erased the loss of Kirkpatrick in his first year as a starter, and he helped put an exclamation point on the end of the word “secondary” when everyone had a question mark behind it.
Entering 2012, we had questions about Alabama’s defense. Namely, how would they replace three of four in the secondary, including both corners Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie? We knew Milliner would have an impact, but I’m not sure we anticipated he would turn into the best college cover corner in the country, not even having started a full season.
The former five-star blue chip blossomed into one of the best corners in the Nick Saban era. And yet, teams continued to pick on Milliner throughout the season. One day we’ll know why Notre Dame tried to go right at Milliner in Miami. That didn’t work out too well. He recorded 20 pass breakups and 22 passes defended this season. Usually when one corner locks down one half of the field, teams look elsewhere to make plays. And Milliner was still seen making play after play on bigger receivers and tight ends.
Milliner’s most memorable game of 2012 came against Michigan at JerryWorld. The way he ate the Wolverine receivers’ lunch showed he was ready for a big breakout year as a junior. His pick against Denard Robinson was beautiful, but it became even prettier with a full head of steam putting Robinson on his butt after the attempted tackle.
There was little doubt after the clock struck 0:00 in Miami that Milliner was ready for the big stage in the NFL, and he’s just one of many of Alabama’s NFL-ready secondary players.
Milliner is one of the few that certainly lived up to the five-star hype.
- No. 9 Luke Joeckel
- No. 10 Kevin Minter
- No. 11 AJ McCarron
- No. 12 Barrett Jones
- No. 13 Matt Elam
- No. 14 Cobi Hamilton
- No. 15 Chance Warmack
- No. 16 Jake Matthews
- No. 17 Jordan Matthews
- No. 18 CJ Mosley
- No. 19 Mike Gillislee
- No. 20 Cordarrelle Patterson
- No. 21 Chris Smith
- No. 22 Tyler Bray
- No. 23 Tyler Wilson
- No. 24 Johnthan Banks
- No. 25 Sam Montgomery
Photo Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports