The Southeastern Conference has been arguably the most talented conference in college football in recent years—as proved by all the crystal footballs.
This incredible competition doesn't leave too much room for players to be overrated, as the opposition often times weeds out the weaker players. But at the same time, some players do manage to skate by solely on their reputation.
On the other hand, this heightened competition can also result in talented players being overshadowed by their peers.
Let's take a look at a few of those players who have been underrated in America's toughest conference, as well as a few that are still floating on inflated reputations.
When watching the Gamecocks, don't expect a flashy affair from Connor Shaw.
The Flowery Branch, Ga., native is the definition of an old-school football player: a gritty leader who has fought through a slew of injuries in his career, only to keep coming back.
He'll probably never throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season, but his leadership of USC can't be discounted—even though it often is.
It takes a special kind of player to watch his backup—Dylan Thompson in this case—notch two 300-yard games and then come right back without a hint of jealousy when healthy.
But that's who Shaw is. He's the guy who held the Gamecocks together when star running back Marcus Lattimore suffered a gruesome injury right in the middle of their home field.
And he was also USC's second-leading rusher last season.
Again, it isn't always pretty, but with Shaw at the helm, the Gamecocks will almost always have a shot at winning, week in and week out.
Dorial Green-Beckham came to Missouri with as much hype as wide receiver prospect could possibly have.
He chose to stay in-state and sign with the Tigers as the best recruit in the country according to the 247Sports composite ratings, and he was expected to have a major impact immediately and help lead Mizzou in its first year in the SEC.
But the incredibly physically gifted (6'6" 220 pounds) freshman didn't come close to those expectations in year one.
The Springfield, Mo., native caught just 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns—production that isn't exactly consistent with his label coming out of high school.
Now DGB will have even more responsibility on his shoulders as he'll be expected to pick up the production left by the graduation of MIssouri's other star receiver, T.J. Moe.
Green-Beckham is still just a sophomore and has plenty of time left to blossom into a true star in the SEC, but it hasn't happened yet.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin struggled a bit through an injury-riddled first season in the SEC.
After nearly reaching the 3,000-yard mark in his sophomore campaign, he didn't even touch 2,000 as he missed the better part of five games in 2012.
However, when he's healthy, Franklin is arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.
He's a well-built 6'2", 230 pounds and also has great mobility, though a knee injury took away that part of his game last season.
In 2011, Franklin ran for 30 or more yards in all but one game and had nine games with more than 50 yards on the ground.
If he can regain and maintain his health in 2013, the Tigers will have a great chance at finding their way back to a bowl game at season's end.
When quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally landed at LSU and earned the starting job, he was expected to be a massive upgrade from the relatively dysfunctional duo of Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee.
However, Mettenberger's first year under center for the Tigers wasn't nearly as spectacular as expected.
He finished the season with just 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions, which was actually a downgrade from the 21 touchdowns and five picks tallied by Jefferson and Lee.
Going into the 2013 season, Mettenberger will have to be better—particularly in the red zone.
If he makes improvements, LSU will once again be a contender for the SEC West crown, but if he doesn't, the Tigers will be battling for second or third in the division.
Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews was actually named first-team All-SEC in 2012, so in that regard, he certainly isn't underrated.
However, on the national scene, the Madison, Ala., native hasn't received the respect that he has earned out on the football field.
Matthews was No. 2 in the SEC last year with 1,323 yards, which figures to more than 100 yards per game.
What is most remarkable is that total equaled more than half of the production of starting quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who threw for 2,539 yards.
If you don't know the name "Jordan Matthews," learn it—it belongs to one of the best receivers in college football.
Not to intentionally pick on LSU, but the Tigers have again made the overrated list—this time with running back Jeremy Hill.
Hill put up some impressive numbers while sharing time in the crowded LSU backfield.
In his freshman campaign last year, he tallied 755 yards and 12 touchdowns off 142 carries.
However, a number of his long carries came after his teammates—namely Spencer Ware—had worn down the opposing defense.
Not to say that all of Hill's numbers were a product of luck, he is a skilled back.
But a number of his teammates, including Ware, Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue, were just as talented as Hill in 2012.
That will also be the case in 2013. Hill is expected to share carries with seniors Blue and Hilliard, along with Terrance Magee, a junior who recently made the move back to running back after spending time out wide.
With so many talented running backs in the SEC, it is easy for certain players to be lost in the shuffle.
This is the case with Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins.
Perkins tallied an impressive 1,024 yards and eight touchdowns as the focal point of the Bulldogs offense.
However, he was outshadowed by the likes of Todd Gurley, Eddie Lacy, Mike Gillislee and Zac Stacey.
As Perkins makes his return for his senior season, he's one to keep an eye on in the SEC.
Defensive tackle Dominique Easley has been solid so far in his career at Florida.
However, he hasn't lived up to the billing he carried from high school to Gainesville.
He was rated the No. 1 defensive tackle and No. 4 overall player in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite ratings, but he hasn't been that at the collegiate level.
To this point, Easley has been just another player on Florida's very good defense.
Many of his teammates, including Jelani Jenkins, Jon Bostic, Josh Evans and Matt Elam, have simply made a greater impact so far.
Going into his senior season, Easley has one final chance to have an enormous year.