SEC Football: The 5 Toughest Players to Tackle in the SEC
When you think of the SEC, the second thing that should come to mind behind soul-crushing defenses are unstoppable players.
After all, in a conference with such an emphasis on elite defenses, you must have players who can break tackles. Little wonder that some of these players go on to claim the Heisman.
Who are the five toughest players to tackle in the SEC? Read on.
Amari Cooper, Alabama
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Tennessee, Texas A&M, Auburn, Georgia and Notre Dame still have nightmares about Amari Cooper. After all, he had more than 100 yards receiving against each of those teams.
Cooper has great hands, and he's hard to bring down after the catch. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdowns. And remember, Alabama is very much a run-first offense.
Notre Dame sure couldn't catch Amari in the national championship game, as he racked up 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Tre Mason, Auburn
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Tre Mason may not be the most iconic player in the SEC, but he's proved his salt.
After all, he was pretty much Auburn's entire offense.
The fact that he was able to pick up an average of 5.9 yards per carry and 1,002 yards on the season was remarkable, given how little help he got from the Tigers' mediocre quarterbacks. It wasn't enough to help Auburn win more than three games, but if Auburn can at least get a halfway decent quarterback, Mason could really take off.
During Auburn's 49-0 drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the one silver lining was that Mason picked up 82 yards and broke the 1,000 yards rushing mark. Pretty salty given that the Crimson Tide is the No. 1 rushing defense.
Todd Gurley, Georgia
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
If you can pick up 125 yards rushing against the No. 1 total rushing defense in the country (Alabama, giving up only 76.4 yards per game), you deserve to pat yourself on the back.
Defenses all across the SEC had trouble slowing Gurley down as he averaged 6.2 yards per carry. He's got great awareness and speed, as he showed when he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Granted, it was against Buffalo, but still.
And when paired with fellow freshman phenomenon Keith Marshall, you've got a duo that rushed for over 2,000 yards last season.
T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
While T.J. Yeldon isn't quite in the same mold as a Trent Richardson or an Eddie Lacy, he's still a handful for any unfortunate defender to try to take down.
Yeldon faced two of the toughest defenses in the nation in his final two games of 2012. He ran for 152 yards against Georgia and another 108 yards against Notre Dame, and he did all of this while splitting carries with Lacy.
Yeldon isn't exactly what we've seen from recent Alabama star running backs. He isn't the bruise-them-up back that Trent Richardson was known for. He's a bit taller at 6'2" and weighs 216 pounds.
Rather, he runs a 4.43 40 and has great field vision and elusiveness. It was almost comical to see both Bulldog and Fighting Irish defenders miss tackle after tackle when trying to take down Yeldon.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
While a lot of quarterbacks would be a sitting duck against the best defensive lines in the country, Johnny Football is anything but.
Johnny Manziel is the kind of quarterback every defensive player hates to cover. He is able to escape from pressure and pick up positive yards with his feet if the pocket breaks down. He can also buy enough time for somebody to break open downfield, and then he can get him the ball.
Manziel took just 22 sacks in 2012. Compare that to Florida's Jeff Driskel, who took 36, or LSU's Zach Mettenburger, who went down 32 times last season.
Manziel's evasiveness allowed him to pick up 5,116 yards of total offense and 47 total touchdowns.