Looking for a playmaker with break-neck speed? A guy that can take it to the house anytime he touches the football?
Back by popular demand is SDS’s fastest players in the SEC preseason list, complete with standout athletes’ most recent 40 times. Five of last season’s 10 are now in the NFL. Four others are a year older and possibly even faster.
Times were calculated using a variety of rankings with low and high times taken into consideration. Times documented at NFLdraftscout.com.
10. Robert Lester, Alabama, FS, Sr. (4.54 40-yard dash) — A rangy 6-foot-2 hard-hitter in the Crimson Tide secondary, Lester assumes a leadership role this season on a defense depleted by the NFL Draft. It’s almost mind-boggling how a player so strong has such great speed. With a stellar final season, Lester locks himself into a high-round pick. Lester reminds me a lot of Dre Kirkpatrick.
9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia, FS, Sr. (4.52) — Along with Jarvis Jones, Rambo’s makes up one of the SEC’s nastiest defenses. The Bulldogs seems to have all the tools to make a BCS run this season and Rambo will help spearhead the effort. He’s a first-team preseason all-conference selection despite being forced to serve a four-game suspension for a failed drug test. You remember, the marijuana-laced brownies.
8. Tyrann Mathieu, LSU, CB, Jr. (4.51) — The Honey Badger. Known more for his moves on special teams and stripping ability as a corner, Mathieu is also fast off the snap and one of the league’s fastest defenders. As LSU’s most dynamic player, Mathieu will get plenty of time in the spotlight this season and could make a run at the Heisman Trophy with his wheels.
7. Justin Hunter, Tennessee, WR, Jr. (4.49) — One of many weapons on the outside for returning quarterback Tyler Bray, expect Hunter to hit double-digit touchdowns as a junior. He’s tough to defend for any undersized corner and nearly impossible to catch from behind.
6. Damiere Byrd, South Carolina, WR, Soph. (4.46) — A football and track star in high school, Byrd can cover 40 yards in just over four seconds. He’s been timed at 10.41 in the 100m and is clearly Steve Spurrier’s fastest player. Byrd is up there with West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas as one of the fastest players in all of college football in the open field.
5. Bradley Sylve, Alabama, CB, R-Frosh. (4.44) — Coaches can’t wait until Sylve sees the field this season. A member of my “Just Missed The Cut” rankings in 2011, Sylve has solidified himself as one of Alabama’s top speedsters with a solid spring. He’ll be a household name in due time.
4. Ace Sanders, South Carolina, WR, Jr. (4.43) — Sanders is only 5-foot-7, so he looks faster than reality, but paired with fellow waterbug teammate Damiere Byrd, the duo creates quite a threat for South Carolina’s offense. Sanders is a guy that can turn a 5-yard hitch into a 50-yard touchdown with a quick turn of the hips.
3. Andre Debose, Florida, WR, Jr. (4.40) — Debose once ran a 4.26 prior to his sophomore season but most scouts recognize him in the 4.39 to 4.41 range, so we’ll keep him here. Florida’s all-purpose has blazing speed any way you look at it and will be a factor on offense and the return game this fall. When he made the catch, Debose averaged 27 yards per reception as a sophomore.
2. Branden Smith, Georgia, ATH, Sr. (4.39) — Smith is one of 49 finalists on the preseason Paul Hornung Award watch list, a honor given to college football’s most versatile player. Smith starts at corner but sees action on offense and special teams for the Bulldogs. Smith takes over for 2011 Hornung winner Brandon Boykin in a fast UGA secondary. He may have the quickest first step in the SEC, one of the reasons Smith’s so deadly.
1. Onterrio McCalebb, Auburn, RB, Sr., (4.38) — McCalebb IS Auburn’s running game this season after the dismissal of oft-troubled bruiser Michael Dyer. As one of his team’s — and the conference’s — fastest players, McCalebb makes any defensive coordinator re-think his scheme when the Tigers have the football.
Just Missed The Cut
LaDarius Perkins, Miss. St., RB, Jr. (4.42) — Perkins rarely got to showcase his speed in the open field last season but did manage 422 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries. An extended role in the Bulldogs’ offense this season should highlight Perkins’ getaway ability from defenders.
Raymond Sanders, Kentucky, CB/RB, Jr. (4.42) — One of the gems in Kentucky’s 2010 recruiting class, it has taken awhile for the Wildcats to see production from the speedster. Sanders had arthroscopic knee surgery last season and could move to the secondary, away from a crowded backfield that returns its four leading rushers this fall.
Knile Davis, Arkansas, RB, Jr. (4.43) — Blazing speed for a guy 6-1, 226 pounds is unfair, but it remains to be seen whether or not Davis can return to 2010 form. The Hogs’ co-starter along with Ronnie Wingo Jr. is coming off a severe ankle injury that caused him to miss all of last season. Will he lose a step? Time will tell.
Victor Hampton, South Carolina, CB, Soph. (4.49) — Hampton steps in as the probably full-time starter at cornerback this season after departed veterans C.C. Whitlock and Stephon Gilmore. He showcased his speed numerous times as a freshman last season for the Gamecocks.