Who wore it best? Best SEC player for every jersey number, 1-99
Sure to invoke memories of glory days past and to inspire debate because, well, how can you pick just one player, we bring you a numerical roll call of SEC greatness, from 1 all the way to 99.
There are two things to remember as you question and appreciate this grand numbers list: 1) each choice is based on the player’s SEC career only; and 2) star players like Von Miller (number 40) and George Rogers (38) aren’t eligible because they played for Texas A&M and South Carolina, respectively, while those schools were not part of the SEC.
Our journey through the decades includes two Mannings, two Majors, two Stinchcombs and 93 other very worthy all-time SEC stalwarts.
1 — Percy Harvin, Florida
The versatile speedster was the first Florida player to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving in the same game and was part of both of Urban Meyer’s national championship teams.
2 — Cam Newton, Auburn
He electrified fans on the Plains with his ability to run and throw, and smile while doing it, and Newton didn’t stop daring defenders to stop him until he had led the Tigers to the national title in 2010.
3 — Kevin Faulk, LSU
Before he became part of Super Bowl teams in New England, Faulk was a three-time first-team All-SEC performer who finished with 5,157 yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns during a dominant four-year run in Baton Rouge.
4 — Champ Bailey, Georgia
The dazzling Bailey was a 1998 All-American who found success on offense, defense and special teams in Athens before ultimately settling on cornerback in the NFL.
5 — Joe Haden, Florida
The spectacular cornerback was a national champion in 2008 and a unanimous All-American and first-team All-SEC player in 2009, so Gators fans could forgive him for forgoing his senior year.
6 — Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt
The gunslinger gave Vandy a rare gift of knowing it had an elite talent, as Cutler made first-team All-SEC in 2005 and threw for 8,697 yards and 59 touchdowns during his four seasons carving up SEC defenses.
7 — Danny Wuerffel, Florida
With a respectful nod to fellow elite number 7 Patrick Peterson, Wuerffel was the ultimate winner, leading the Gators to that elusive first national championship in 1996 and winning two SEC Player of the Year awards.
8 — Julio Jones, Alabama
The All-SEC force was the ultimate weapon on Alabama’s first national championship team of the Nick Saban era, piling up 179 catches for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns during an astonishing three-year run.
9 — Amari Cooper, Alabama
After Jones departed Tuscaloosa, there was Cooper, who took the baton from Jones (with one year in between their Bama careers) and rolled up 3,463 yards on 229 catches and 31 touchdowns and also won a national title.
10 — Fran Tarkenton, Georgia
Tarkenton made defenses dizzy in Athens before doing it for the Vikings, being named to two first-team All-SEC teams to narrowly edge Eli Manning for No. 10 honors.
11 — Steve Spurrier, Florida
Before he coached the Gators to their first national title in 1996, Spurrier starred for UF at quarterback, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1966 and being named to two first-team All-America teams.
12 — Joe Namath, Alabama
Namath barely edges fellow No. 12 Crimson Tide signal-caller Ken Stabler, going 29-4 as a starter with a national title in 1964 to Stabler’s 28-3-2 mark that could have included his own national crown in 1966 if not for the undefeated Tide getting snubbed.
13 — Alex Brown, Florida
The ferocious pass rusher was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2001 and was a two-time first-team All-American.
14 — Eric Berry, Tennessee
Berry was a two-time unanimous All-America safety and was the 2008 SEC Player of the Year, finishing with 241 tackles and 14 interceptions.
15 — Tim Tebow, Florida
With all due respect to Myles Garrett and Dak Prescott, the No. 15 honor was a no-brainer, going to the guy who some consider the greatest college quarterback of all-time.
16 — Peyton Manning, Tennessee
Like No. 15, the prize at No. 16 was a no-doubter, as Manning stacked four seasons of greatness on top of each other in Knoxville, missing only the national title the next guy on our list would win the following season.
17 — Tee Martin, Tennessee
The dynamic Martin, with a little help from Peerless Price and a rock-solid defense, took down Florida State to win the 1998 national title and prove that the Volunteers were just fine at quarterback in the aftermath of Manning.
18 — Archie Manning, Ole Miss
Interestingly, Archie starred with the same number in college that his son Peyton would wear heroically in the pros, and the elder Manning had that number retired by Ole Miss after a career that landed him in the College Football Hall of Fame.
19 — Hines Ward, Georgia
The elusive receiver and running back even played some quarterback at Georgia and finished with 3,870 all-purpose yards, second only to Herschel Walker.
20 — Billy Cannon, LSU
The legendary two-time unanimous All-American led the Tigers to the 1958 national championship, and his punt return against Ole Miss on Halloween night in 1959 is treasured by every serious LSU fan.
21 — Fred Taylor, Florida
Taylor helped the Gators win three SEC titles, that elusive first national title in 1996, and finished his epic college career with 3,075 yards and 31 TDs.
22 — Emmitt Smith, Florida
Mark Ingram was a great No. 22 at Alabama, winning the first Heisman Trophy in Alabama history, but there was only one Emmitt, who owned 58 school records at the end of his Gators’ career.
23 — Ronnie Brown, Auburn
The two-time second-team All-SEC running back was the Citrus Bowl MVP in 2003 and finished his Tigers’ career with 2,707 yards and 28 touchdowns despite starting only 21 of the 47 games he played in.
24 — Anthony Dixon, Mississippi State
Dixon quietly piled up an astounding 3,994 yards and 42 touchdowns, dazzling fans in Starkville years before Dak Prescott came along, and he was a first-team All-SEC player in 2009.
25 — Y.A. Tittle, LSU
Tittle was a first-team All-SEC player in 1946 and ’47 whose passing totals remained tops at LSU until Bert Jones came along in the early 70s.
26 — Willie Gault, Tennessee
Before Gault shredded NFL defenses with the legendary ’85 Bears, he made magic in orange, being named an All-American in 1982.
27 — Arian Foster, Tennessee
Foster put his head down in Knoxville and ruined defenses, and when he looked up he had 3,464 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and 23 touchdowns to go with 83 career catches.
28 — Chris Doering, Florida
Doering was a key member of three SEC title teams in Gainesville, was a first-team All-SEC player and second-team All-American in his final season in 1995, and is renowned in UF lore for his winning catch against Kentucky in 1993.
29 — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The defensive back is still carving out his legacy in Tuscaloosa but is off to a dazzling start that gets him on this list after two years, as he was named a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC performer in 2016. In 2015, he was named a Freshman All-American by the Sporting News in helping lead the Tide to the national title.
30 — Dont’a Hightower, Alabama
An All-American and All-SEC linebacker, Hightower was the heart of a Bama defense that won two national titles, and he finished his career with 235 tackles.
31 — Jamal Lewis, Tennessee
Lewis will be remembered in the pros for his 2,000-yard season, but his fans at Tennessee won’t forget his 2,677 yards rushing, including 1,364 as a freshman in 1997.
32 — C.J. Mosley, Alabama
The fearsome linebacker was a two-time All-American and won the Butkus Award in 2013, helping the Tide to two national titles.
33 — Errict Rhett, Florida
Rhett was the man in the backfield at the time Steve Spurrier’s Fun ‘n’ Gun offense got cranking in the early 1990s, and he was a first-team All-American, a first-team All-SEC player twice and is in the UF Hall of Fame.
34 — Herschel Walker, Georgia
A god among SEC gods, Walker edges another legendary No. 34, Bo Jackson, after rolling up 5,259 yards and 49 touchdowns in Athens to Jackson’s 4,303 yards and 43 touchdowns at Auburn. You can’t lose with either one.
35 — William Howard, Tennessee
The running back helped the Vols capture the 1985 SEC title, was a second-team All-SEC pick in ’86, and during his four years in Knoxville compiled 1,711 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns while catching 70 passes for 610 yards.
36 — Ed Molinski, Tennessee
Molinski was one of those old two-way linemen, and he did both superbly, being named an All-American in 1939 and ’40 and helping the Vols go 31-2 in his three seasons.
37 — Shaun Alexander, Alabama
The first-team All-SEC bulldozer piled up 3,433 yards and 40 touchdowns during a four-year run (1996-99) in Tuscaloosa that got better with every season.
38 — John Michels, Tennessee
The guard powered the Vols to their first consensus national title in 1951, helping them set school records for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and rushing yards per game, and he was an All-SEC pick in ’51 and both an All-SEC and All-America selection in ’52.
39 — Ryan Karl, Tennessee
The home-state boy from Franklin, Tenn., posted a career-high 85 tackles in helping the Vols to the 2007 SEC title game, and the linebacker rolled up 170 career tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 pass breakups in three solid seasons in Knoxville.
40 — Bill Bates, Tennessee
Bates starred at Tennessee for four years, the first two at free safety and the last two at strong safety, earning second-team All-SEC honors as a junior and senior, before he became a Dallas Cowboys’ lifer who won three Super Bowls.
41 — Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
The defensive tackle won two national titles at Bama and blossomed into an All-SEC and All-America player during his senior season in 2011, when he had 52 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
42 — Eddie Lacy, Alabama
Lacy’s years at Bama were synonymous with glory, as the big back powered the Tide to two national titles (he redshirted during the 2009 title season) in his three seasons, during which he had 2,402 yards and 30 touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per clip.
43 — Antonio Langham, Alabama
Langham had a great career at Tuscaloosa but really he could have almost made this list on the strength of “The Play that Changed College Football,” when he intercepted a Shane Matthews’ pass and ran it back for a touchdown to lift Alabama to victory in the 1992 SEC title game.
44 — Bobby Majors, Tennessee
He is the younger brother of more famous Tennessee hero Johnny Majors, but Bobby did quite well for himself in orange and white, as the defensive back and punter of the late 60s and early 70s was named to the 2011 SEC Football Legends Class.
45 — Johnny Majors, Tennessee
Before Majors made his name as a legendary coach in Knoxville, he was a two-time SEC MVP as a halfback in 1955 and ’56 for the Volunteers.
46 — Kevin Minter, LSU
The hard-hitting linebacker was first-team All-SEC in 2012, when he had 130 tackles and four sacks, and he finished his college career with 206 tackles.
47 — David Pollack, Georgia
“Three-time first-team All-American” is the headliner in a long list of accomplishments for the big-play linebacker whose pro career was cut short by injury.
48 — Stephen Davis, Auburn
A two-time All-SEC bruiser of a running back, Davis graduated as the program’s fourth all-time rusher behind Joe Cribbs, James Brooks and Bo Jackson, not bad company.
49 — Patrick Willis, Ole Miss
The bonecrushing tackles delivered by Willis typified what the two-time first-team All-American brought to the Rebels’ defense, especially in his final two seasons when he had 128 and 137 tackles, respectively.
50 — Chip Kell, Tennessee
In 1970, the two-time All-American and three-time All-SEC guard helped the Vols bulldoze their way to 2,365 yards, their most in 19 years, and he helped Tennessee compile 1,996 passing yards that season, its most in school history to that point.
51 — Brandon Spikes, Florida
Spikes on defense meant winning for Gators fans, as the three-time first-team All-SEC and two-time All-America linebacker was a part of those two national titles in 2006 and ’08.
52 — Harry Gilmer, Alabama
Gilmer did it all for the Crimson Tide in the mid-1940s, running and throwing for more than 20 touchdowns at both quarterback and halfback. He was also a special-teams dynamo who averaged more than 28 yards on kickoff returns and more than 36 yards per punt return.
53 — Glenn Streno, Tennessee
The center on the Vols’ offensive lines of the early 1980s, Streno was the only No. 53 to achieve All-SEC status at Tennessee, and he led the Volunteers to a Citrus Bowl victory in 1983.
54 — Lee Roy Jordan, Alabama
The legendary linebacker and center was an All-American and All-SEC performer in 1962, earning a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame and a wave of memories from playing for Bear Bryant.
55 — Derrick Thomas, Alabama
Before the linebacker became feared as a Kansas City Chief, Thomas gave quarterbacks nightmares at Bama, where he’s among the all-time best if not the best to ever wear a Crimson Tide jersey.
56 — Robert Shaw, Tennessee
57 — Dwight Stephenson, Alabama
The two-time second-team All-American was the glue at center for the Tide in the late 70s, anchoring offensive lines in 1978 and ’79 that won national championships.
58 — Todd Kelly, Tennessee
Kelly was a first-team All-SEC defensive end in 1992, piling up 21 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, and his 22.5 career sacks are the fourth-most in Volunteers history.
59 — Mark Hovanic, Tennessee
Hovanic spent all four of his seasons in Knoxville tearing up backfields from his defensive tackle position, finishing with 19 career sacks and earning first-team All-SEC honors as a senior in 1987.
60 — Chris Samuels, Alabama
The offensive tackle won the Outland Trophy in 1999, was a first-team All-SEC performer, and started 42 games in a row from early in his freshman season until his last regular-season game as a senior without giving up a sack.
61 — Zeke Smith, Auburn
The All-American and Outland Trophy-winning guard won a national championship at Auburn in 1957 and was a Tigers football giant in the 1950s.
62 — Terrence Cody, Alabama
Cody was a monster defensive tackle on Nick Saban’s first national championship team at Bama in 2009, earning first-team All-SEC honors and unanimous All-America honors twice each.
63 — Bob Dobelstein, Tennessee
The right guard earned All-America honors as a junior in 1944, when he led the Vols to an undefeated regular season, but he starred on the defensive line, too, and he was the only junior to be a Tennessee team captain until 2003.
64 — Jack Reynolds, Tennessee
The linebacker didn’t like losing, earning the nickname “Hacksaw” in 1969 after cutting an abandoned 1953 Chevy Bel Air in half with a hacksaw after his unbeaten Volunteers got back from a 38-0 loss at Ole Miss, and his successful run at Tennessee launched him into an NFL career full of All-Pro selections and Super Bowl titles.
65 — Chance Warmack, Alabama
The offensive guard backed up the great Barrett Jones as a freshman on the 2009 national title team, was a second-team All-SEC player while leading Bama to the 2011 national crown, then came back for one more season instead of turning pro and helped power the Tide to a third championship in four years while earning unanimous All-America honors.
66 — Alan Faneca, LSU
Before he reached NFL stardom with the Steelers, Faneca led the way in Baton Rouge, twice earning first-team All-SEC honors at guard to earn a ticket to the Louisiana Hall of Fame.
67 — Ted Daffer, Tennessee
Daffer dominated on the defensive line in the glory-filled early 1950s, getting named to All-America teams in 1950 and ’51, helping the 1950 squad go 11-1 and earn the national championship in one poll and then powering the ’51 team to the consensus national title.
68 — Bruce Wilkerson, Tennessee
He anchored the Vols’ offensive line in the mid-1980s, garnering first-team All-SEC honors in 1985 and ’86 and powering Tennessee in 1985 to its first SEC championship since 1969.
69 — Warren Bryant, Kentucky
The 6-6 offensive tackle anchored the Wildcats’ 1976 co-SEC championship team, which is still Kentucky’s last conference title.
70 — La’el Collins, LSU
The first-team All-SEC guard captured the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 2014 and was a second-team All-American, and Collins was also versatile, being able to move over to left tackle.
71 — Andre Smith, Alabama
The offensive guard was the sixth overall pick in the draft after a memorable career at Bama in which he was a two-time All-SEC player, a unanimous All-American and the Outland Trophy winner in 2008.
72 — Glenn Dorsey, LSU
Dorsey anchored the defensive line that helped the Tigers win the 2007 national title, and the two-time first-team All-American finished with 179 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 15 sacks.
73 — John Hannah, Alabama
We mistakenly overlooked the Bama legend last week when choosing the best SEC player on every NFL team (the Patriots), but this week we won’t forget the offensive guard who blocked his way to the College Football Hall of Fame.
74 — Tracy Rocker, Auburn
The defensive tackle ruled 1988 on the Plains, winning the Outland and Lombardi honors to cap a stellar career that saw him pile up 354 tackles, 21 sacks and 48 tackles for loss.
75 — Barrett Jones, Alabama
The dominant offensive guard captured the 2012 Rimington Trophy, the 2011 Outland Trophy, was a two-time first-team All-SEC selection and a two-time All-American.
76 — Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Joeckel was a first-team All-SEC pick and won the Outland the year after Jones did while clearing passing — and running — lanes for Johnny Manziel.
77 — Barry Krauss, Alabama
Say “goal-line stand” to any real Alabama fan and they’ll take you back to the 1979 Sugar Bowl, when Krauss turned back Penn State at the one-foot line and won the Tide another national title.
78 — Jon Stinchcomb, Georgia
The offensive tackle was a 2002 Walter Camp All-American and was part of a line that helped standout David Greene throw for almost 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns.
79 — Matt Stinchcomb, Georgia
The older brother of Jon, Matt was a two-time All-American at Georgia, earning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in 1998. In 2009, Matt was named to Georgia’s Circle of Honor, the highest level of distinction for any Bulldogs student-athlete.
80 — Dwayne Bowe, LSU
Bowe became Jamarcus Russell’s favorite target, averaging 17.3 yards per catch in 2005 before catching a school-record 12 touchdowns in 2006.
81 — Frank Sanders, Auburn
In 2013, the All-American and All-SEC wideout was named to the SEC Football Legends Class, the reward for a career in which he racked up 121 catches for just under 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
82 — Ozzie Newsome, Alabama
The Wizard of Oz before the St. Louis Cardinals shortstop was called that, Newsome caught 102 passes for 2,070 yards and 16 touchdowns during a career at Bama that got him into the College Football Hall of Fame.
83 — Mark Adams, Tennessee
The dependable tight end was the only No. 83 in Tennessee history to achieve All-SEC status, accomplishing it during his senior year of 1991.
84 — Marcus Spears, LSU
The consensus All-American and All-SEC defensive end dished out punishment for the Tigers, including in their run to the 2003 national title, and he capped it off in 2004 with 49 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
85 — Jack Youngblood, Florida
The tough-as-nails defensive end was a first-team All-American and All-SEC pick in 1970 who had a College Football Hall of Fame career at Florida, where he is one of only five players in the UF Ring of Honor.
86 — Keith McCants, Alabama
The linebacker/defensive end ruled the opponents’ backfield in 1989, when he was named All-SEC, a first-team All-American, Iron Bowl MVP and helped lead the Crimson Tide to the SEC championship.
87 — Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Matthews made his mark at wideout at Vandy, not easy to do, piling up 262 career catches for 3,759 yards and 24 touchdowns, with all three being school records.
88 — Wilber Marshall, Florida
The linebacker dished out punishing hits in Gainesville long before he was a member of arguably the best NFL defense of all-time in Chicago, earning first-team All-SEC honors three times.
89 — Wes Chandler, Florida
The dazzling wide receiver was a two-time first-team All-American in Gainesville, and he still holds UF records for yards per catch (21.3) and touchdown-to-reception ratio (one TD per 4.18 catches).
90 — Kevin Greene, Auburn
The mad sackmaster had 11 sacks during his senior year in 1984, when he capped off his stellar career that began as a walk-on by winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
91 — Doug Atkins, Tennessee
The defensive end earned his way into the College Football Hall of Fame after a legendary run in Knoxville in the early 1950s, and his number was retired by Tennessee.
92 — Reggie White, Tennessee
Another one of those no-doubters, the All-America defensive end set records at Tennessee because he wouldn’t be denied, piling up sacks (32) and tackles (293) and a legend that will last forever.
93 — Richard Seymour, Georgia
The defensive end was a two-time first-team All-SEC player and a first-team All-American who had 223 tackles (106 solo), 25.5 tackles for loss and 35 quarterback pressures in a stellar four-year career.
94 — Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland, LSU
The first-team All-America defensive tackle played his way straight into LSU’s hall of legends, starting as a true freshman in 1995 and making quarterbacks shiver over the next four seasons.
95 — Dee Ford, Auburn
A first-team All-SEC linebacker in 2013, Ford had 63 tackles and 16.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Auburn, where he won two SEC titles and was a member of the 2010 national championship team.
96 — Kevin Mays, Tennessee
Mays began his career as a defensive tackle in Knoxville before switching over to offensive guard and blossoming into an All-SEC performer in 1994.
97 — Cornelius Bennett, Alabama
A three-time first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player, the College Football Hall of Famer won the Lombardi Award and SEC Player of the Year in 1986 and finished his career with 287 tackles and 21.5 sacks.
98 — John Henderson, Tennessee
The defensive tackle was a monster on the interior of the Vols’ line, being named to All-America and All-SEC teams in 2000 and 2001, winning the Outland Trophy in 2000 and finishing his career with 165 tackles and 20.5 sacks.
99 — Johnie Cooks, Mississippi State
The linebacker made second-team All-SEC as a freshman and didn’t stop there, becoming a first-team All-SEC player, an All-American and an SEC Defensive Player of the Year who helped the Bulldogs end their 22-game losing streak to Alabama in 1980.