SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.
Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.
67. Christion Jones, Sr., ATH, Alabama
It’s a safe bet that the SEC West’s top playmaker on special teams will score a touchdown on a kick or punt return this season, something he did three times last fall during a first team all-conference junior campaign. Opposing teams must account for where the 5-11, 185-pounder is on the field at all times, even in special teams coverage where he accumulated nine tackles including a bone-jarring hit on Mississippi State’s Brandon Holloway while he was fielding a punt last November.
The league’s most feared utility player, Jones is Alabama’s third option at receiver behind Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White but has shown he’s capable of being a targeted contributor at the position. Matching last year’s impact in the return game is unrealistic, but Jones’ impact in the passing game with first-year quarterback Jacob Coker could hit its peak.
Still in search of his first career 100-yard receiving game, that may come before Alabama opens SEC play against Florida on Sept. 20. The Crimson Tide have three tuneups prior to playing the Gators including matchups with Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss — squads with secondaries that won’t be able to match Alabama’s speed down the field.
2013 statistics: 36 catches, 349 yards, 2 TD; 952 total return yards, 3 TD
2014 projection: 43 catches, 448 yards, 5 TD; 690 total return yards, TD
Photo Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports