Each SDS roundtable discussion involves the SDS staff providing individual answers and comments to questions covering a wide range of sports and non-sports topics. In this discussion, we ask the question: Who is your favorite player from every SEC program?

Previous roundtable discussions:

Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist

  • Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa
  • Arkansas: Darren McFadden
  • Auburn: Carnell “Cadillac” Williams — The nickname alone was why a 13-year old kid on the other side of the country wanted to see him play. Honestly, though, I developed more of an appreciation for Cadillac after his career ended. The highlights were part of that. Who could forget the 80-yard score he had to kick off the Iron Bowl? But I liked Cadillac off the field getting to chat with him a few times. Someone who was that unselfish — he could’ve gone to the NFL after his junior year and probably still been a first-round pick — is always easy to root for.
  • Florida: Tim Tebow
  • Georgia: Roquan Smith
  • Kentucky: Lynn Bowden — Recency bias? Perhaps a bit. I waffled on Bowden and Benny Snell, both of whom are solid choices. I went with Bowden because what he did to sacrifice for his team was incredible. That Belk Bowl performance was something that we’ll hopefully still be talking about 10 years from now. His loyalty to Mark Stoops was the type of stuff coaches dream about. From the time he played hooky as a recruit to avoid meeting with Ohio State to his final touchdown in a Kentucky uniform, Bowden was the ideal recruit. Oh, and he was electric every time he touched the ball.
  • LSU: Jacob Hester — Hester has become a friend through this job, yes, but go back and watch that 2007 season and tell me you weren’t rooting for him. The guy got the last scholarship to play for the in-state school, and he turned into an LSU legend. He could have walked on water the night he plowed through Florida to give LSU that all-important victory. He was such an ideal fit with that LSU offense back in the day. Someone who truly maximized every ounce of physical potential he had made him a fan favorite for LSU and non-LSU fans.
  • MSU: Montez Sweat
  • Mizzou: Drew Lock
  • Ole Miss: Patrick Willis
  • South Carolina: Deebo Samuel
  • Tennessee: Peyton Manning
  • Texas A&M: Christian Kirk — Johnny Manziel is the obvious choice here, but I was always a huge fan of Kirk. His approach was second to none. Again, not every college receiver is wolfing down liver smoothies to keep his body right. Kirk did it all for the Aggies. He could catch balls all over the field, run end-arounds, return punts and kicks and do basically anything Kevin Sumlin ever asked of him. He never missed a game, and he was as steady as they came. If only he could have played alongside Manziel and Mike Evans.
  • Vanderbilt: Ke’Shawn Vaughn

Chris Marler, The SDS Podcast co-host

  • Alabama: Amari or Tua. Or Shaun Alexander. Idk. All of em except Chris Capps.
  • Arkansas: Darren McFadden. Incredible to watch. Troy Smith over him was an absolute joke.
  • Auburn: I wasn’t alive, but Bo Jackson. Final answer.
  • Florida: I should go with my boy Chris Doering, but I gotta say Ike Hilliard or Reidel Anthony. I still wear knee braces even watching their highlights.
  • Georgia: Todd Gurley or Nick Chubb. So much fun watching Gurley dominate. Was a shame what the NCAA did to him.
  • Kentucky: Lorenzon. Craig Yeast was a close 2nd.
  • LSU: Joe Burrow. Not for anything on the field as much as what he did for that fan base off the field. Cecil “The Diesel” Collins close 2nd.
  • Miss. State: Fred Smoot. That ’99 MSU team as a whole was fun to watch.
  • Mizzou: James Franklin. Outside of Chase Daniel nobody ran that offense better. Also was fantastic in 2013 and never got enough credit for it.
  • Ole Miss: Patrick Willis in a helmet. Laremy Tunsil in a gas mask.
  • South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore or Stephen Garcia. Both broke my heart in October 2010, but both were so much fun to watch.
  • Tennessee: I don’t know. One of the Colquitts or Claussens. There were like 100 of ’em.
  • Texas A&M: If anyone says anything other than Johnny Football, they’re a cop.
  • Vanderbilt: Jay Cutler. Or Jamie Winborn. I’m pretty sure he had roughly 1,000 career tackles.

Neil Blackmon, Florida columnist

Percy Harvin.

He’s the most electric football player I’ve ever seen in orange and blue. Harvin, who doubled as a receiver and running in back in Florida’s spread offense, averaged over a first down a touch (11.5 yards) and accounted for 32 touchdowns in 3 seasons at Florida, an impressive number considering Tim Tebow swallowed up most the goal-line touches and touchdowns. Harvin was an SEC Championship Game MVP as a freshman and should have been the MVP of the BCS Championship Game in January 2009, where he broke off 2 huge, game-changing runs to ignite the Florida offense, all while playing with a broken bone in his foot. Harvin was fast, tough, and a ferocious competitor and if there’s any justice, he’ll get a spot next to Tebow on Florida’s Ring of Honor.

As for the others …

  • Alabama: Julio Jones. One of the guys that changed everything for Nick Saban. Great speed, power, polished route runner. Just impossible to cover.
  • Arkansas: Darren McFadden. Chop that wood!
  • Auburn: Bo Jackson. A man among children.
  • Florida: see above.
  • Georgia: David Pollack. Dude just flat dominated. A mean machine in red and black.
  • Kentucky: Lynn Bowden Jr. Nothing he wouldn’t do to win and the greatest single-wing offense quarterback in SEC history.
  • LSU: Joe Burrow. Guy was good at football.
  • Mississippi State: Dak Prescott. Imagine being so good that you make Mississippi State the No. 1 team in the first College Football Playoff rankings. Dak was magic.
  • Missouri: Drew Lock. The ultimate gunslinger.
  • Ole Miss: Eli Manning. The son who stayed home.
  • South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore. Injuries ended his career far too soon but if you saw him play as a freshman when he was healthy, it was a sight to see. He had it all: speed, vision, power, intangibles. A complete football player.
  • Tennessee: Jauan Jennings. The one guy in fifteen years who could torch Florida. Respect.
  • Texas A & M: Johnny Manziel. That performance vs. Alabama is one for the ages.
  • Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews. How good do you have to be to have over 2,000 yards receiving and 200 receptions in your final two seasons at a place like Vanderbilt? Really, really good.

Michael Bratton, News editor

  • Alabama: Albert Means
  • Arkansas: Frank Ragnow
  • Auburn: Chris Davis
  • Florida: Tim Tebow
  • Georgia: Whichever Bulldog it was that drew the unsportsmanlike penalty leading up to Tennessee’s Hail Mary in Athens in 2016
  • Kentucky: Jared Lorenzen
  • LSU: Joe Burrow
  • Mississippi State: Preston Smith
  • Missouri: Chase Daniel
  • Ole Miss: Chad “Swag” Kelly
  • South Carolina: Connor Shaw
  • Tennessee: Eric Berry
  • Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel
  • Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews

Adam Spencer, Newsletter editor

  • Alabama: Henry Ruggs III
  • Arkansas: Darren McFadden
  • Auburn: Cam Newton
  • Florida: Tim Tebow
  • Georgia: Sony Michel
  • Kentucky: Benny Snell
  • LSU: Joe Burrow
  • Mississippi State: Dak Prescott
  • Mizzou: Chase Daniel
  • Ole Miss: AJ Brown
  • South Carolina: Jadeveon Clowney
  • Tennessee: Eric Berry
  • Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel
  • Vanderbilt: Zach Cunningham

I obviously trend more toward offensive guys, and I skew toward more recent players, too. It was a tough call between Drew Lock and Chase Daniel for Mizzou, as both were incredible. Daniel had more team success, though, so I went with him. For the Gamecocks, I picked Clowney for his hit on that Michigan running back alone. I can watch that play on repeat for hours.

Before y’all jump on me in the comments, I only included players I’ve actually watched play. That means no Herschel Walker, no Derrick Thomas, no Bo Jackson. Fortunately, there have been plenty of incredible players I have been able to watch since I started paying attention to SEC football around 2000.

Chris Wright, Executive editor

Props to Bratton on his favorite Georgia player. That’s classic SEC “It Might Mean Too Much” fodder.

  • Alabama: Jalen Hurts
  • Arkansas: Darren McFadden
  • Auburn: Bo Jackson
  • Florida: Percy Harvin
  • Georgia: Herschel
  • Kentucky: Lynn Bowden
  • LSU: Honey Badger
  • Mississippi State: Dak Prescott
  • Missouri: Jeremy Maclin
  • Ole Miss: Laquon Treadwell
  • South Carolina: George Rogers
  • Tennessee: Peyton Manning
  • Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel
  • Vanderbilt: Ralph Webb

I’m old-school but still relatively new to the SEC. My list reflects that. There were a lot of great players in between Manning and Manziel that I just didn’t pay attention to because I was working in other parts of the country. If I had to pick 1 guy above everybody else, it’s Herschel. I saw several of his games on TV, which wasn’t easy to do in 1980. Even now, watching his highlights never gets old. He’ll always be my SEC gold standard.

Cover photo of Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow courtesy of University of Florida Athletics.