SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2013, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1. I know you’ll agree with every single one…

No. 5 Michael Sam, DE, Missouri (SR)

2013 stats: 48 tackles, 19 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 2 FF

Why he’s No. 5: Michael Sam played out of his mind in 2013, leading Missouri’s defense to make a run at an SEC Championship. He racked up an SEC-leading 19 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Those are Clowney numbers, but Sam did it as an undersized, yet explosive, defensive end.

The former two-star nobody from Texas blew into one of the best players in the country, and he was the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year for his tremendous efforts. There has been much talk about Sam the person lately, but lets stick to Sam the football player.

He’s athletic; he’s explosive; he’s fast. Yes, he may be small and may not project well at the next level, but he could make an easier transition to outside linebacker than what most think.

The unanimous first-team All-American was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award and the Nagurski Trophy. He’ll be remembered for being a relentless pass rusher who lived in the offensive backfield in 2013.

Top 25 player rankings:

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports