SEC: Best Player Ever For Each Team
The Sugar Bowl...the Swamp....Geaux Tigers....The Iron Bowl....The Worlds Largest Cocktail Party.
Traditions run deep here, and its fans are adamant it is the best league in the nation. Lately, they've been backing it up on the field with their recent dominance of the BCS Bowl Championship series.
Who is the best player of each program? With All-Americans galore, the choice was difficult for virtually every team. Here are the selections.
ARKANSAS: Billy Ray Smith Jr.. DE
Billy Ray Smith, Jr. completed one of the greatest stories in the history of college football.
His father, Billy Ray Smith Sr., lettered two years as a tackle at Arkansas and was all-Southwest Conference in 1956.
Billy Ray Jr. lettered four years as a defensive end and was unanimous All-America in 1981 and 1982. Both father and son were named to the Arkansas All-Century Team. Billy Ray Jr. was Arkansas captain in 1982.
As a sophomore, he was named Defensive MVP in the Hall of Fame Bowl against Tulane. Billy Ray Jr. set a school record with 63 tackles for loss in his career. He had 229 total tackles. He was on the dean's list and graduated with a degree in finance.
He was consensus All American his Senior year, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
He played 10 years with San Diego in the NFL, 1983-92.
ALABAMA: Don Hutson, E
Don Hutson redefined the game in many ways, and was the first true modern receiver.
Fluid in motion, wondrously elusive with the fake, inventive in his patterns, and magnificently at ease when catching the ball, Don Hutson set the standard for pass receivers.
Hutson and fellow Hall of Famer Millard "Dixie" Howell became football's most celebrated passing combination as they thrilled Alabama fans in the 1930's, the infant years of the aerial weapon. Tall, willowy and blessed with deceptive speed and varied gifts, Hutson was the first to perfect the techniques of catching the ball "in traffic."
He made the end-around a devastating threat and shifting speeds a must. When Hutson grabbed six passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's 29- 13 victory over Stanford in the Rose Bowl, West Coast writers hailed him as "the greatest pass-catching speed merchant end".
Hutson made All-America at Alabama in 1934. He scored the winning touchdown on a 9-yard, end-around play as Alabama beat Tennessee 13-6. He caught six passes, two for touchdowns, against Clemson.
Hutson, 6-1 in height, 183 pounds, was at one end for Alabama. The other end was Bear Bryant, a future coaching great.
Hutson also played centerfield for the baseball team and ran for the track team. He was timed in 9.8 seconds for the 100-yard dash, blazing fast for his day and age
After his Alabama days, Hutson played 11 years with the Green Bay Packers, 1935-45. He was all-pro nine times, led the league in pass receptions eight times, led the league in scoring five times, and twice was named Most Valuable Player. He finished his pro career with 488 pass receptions. The next best player at that time had 188.
Hutson was named to the all-time college football team in 1969 and the all-time pro team in 1996. He is a member of both the College and Pro Foootball Hall of Fames.
AUBURN: Bo Jackson, RB
Bo knows football.
Bo Jackson was a 4-year starter at running back for Pat Dye at Auburn. He was a consensus All-America as a sophomore in 1983. In 1984, he had a shoulder injury and missed six games. He came back in 1985 and was unanimous All-America.
He averaged 6.6 yards every time he ran the ball from scrimmage. His top games in yardage were 290, 256, 242, and 205. His longest runs were 82, 80, 76(twice), 71, 67, 53(4 times), and 51 yards.
He was Most Valuable Player in the Sugar and Liberty Bowls following the 1983 and 1984 seasons and Outstanding Offensive Player in the Cotton Bowl after the 1985 season.
In 1985, he won the Heisman Trophy and was named Player of the Year by the Walter Camp Foundation, the Sporting News, and United Press International.
He played centerfield for Auburn's baseball team, batting .401 one season. he was on the track team, running 100 meters in 10.4 seconds.
After Auburn, Jackson played pro football with the Los Angeles Raiders from 1986-90 and major league baseball with the Kansas City Royals from 1986-90, the Chicago White Sox from 1991-93, and California Angels in 1994.
He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
FLORIDA: Emmitt Smith, RB
Emmitt Smith came to the University of Florida as the national player of the year, scoring 109 touchdowns in high school. He became an instant sensation as a freshman.
In his first game, he broke the school single-game rushing mark in an upset of Alabama. He gained 1,341 yards as a freshman, and finished ninth in the Heisman voting, only the second time a freshman had broken into the top ten. He also earned national freshman of the year honors that initial season.
Smith was not the biggest or fastest of backs. But coaches marveled at the way his vision, balance, and instincts allowed him to gain the extra yard or two more often than would reasonably be expected.
In his 1989 junior season, he finished third in the nation in rushing, was a near-unanimous All-America selection, and placed seventh in the Heisman vote.
In three years he set 58 school records rushing for 3,928 yards, scoring 36 touchdowns and earning SEC Player of the Year honors. He then entered the NFL draft and was the first round pick of the Dallas Cowboys.
After 15 pro seasons, he was the games’ all-time leading rusher scoring 164 touchdowns and was a member of three NFL title teams. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, and is sure to be elected to the Pro version once eligible.
GEORGIA: Herschel Walker, RB
Herschel Walker played three years at Georgia and was unanimous All-America every year.
When he left after his junior year, he owned 41 school records, 16 Southeastern Conference records, and 11 NCAA records.
As a freshman in 1980, he led Georgia to a 12-0 record and the national championship. United Press International named him Back of the Year. He rushed for 1,616 yards. This was an NCAA record for a freshman and lasted until 1996. In the Sugar Bowl he rushed for 150 yards and was named Outstanding Player as Georgia beat Notre Dame 17-10.
Georgia had records of 10-2 in 1981 and 11-1 in 1982. Walker placed third in Heisman Trophy voting in 1980, second in 1981, and first in 1982.
In 33 regular-season games, he scored 55 touchdowns, and rushed for 5,259 yards (an average of 159 a game). His best games in rushing yardage were 283, 265, 235, 225, 219 (3 times), 215, and 205.
After he left Georgia, Walker played three years in the U. S. Football League with the New Jersey Generals 1983-1985, and 12 years in the National Football League with Dallas, Minnesota, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants 1986-97.
He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
KENTUCKY: Vito "Babe" Parilli, QB
Vito "Babe" Parilli brought Kentucky national recognition as he introduced Bear Bryant's "T" Formation that baffled opponents and spectators alike.
On the field or in the stands, you simply lost sight of the football once Parilli had it in his magical Houdini hands. Defenders tackled backs not carrying the ball as Parilli miraculously seemed to repossess it and toss it into hands that suddenly appeared from obscurity.
In 1949 and 1950, Parilli directed teams that ran up 684 points against 115 opposition points. The Wildcats held 10 of 22 opponents scoreless, and all but three to 7 points or less. In 1950, while Parilli was breaking a long list of Southeastern Conference records, Kentucky won the Southeastern Conference title.
In his illustrious career, Parilli threw 50 touchdown passes, led Kentucky to wins over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and TCU in the Cotton Bowl, and won first team All-America honors in 1950.
He ended his remarkable college career with All- America honors again in 1951 and Most Valuable Player citation in the College All-Star Game.
Parilli played professional football with the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Patriots, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
LSU: Billy Cannon, HB/KR/PR
The only player in LSU’s storied football history to have his number retired, Billy Cannon clinched the 1959 Heisman Trophy with a punt return against Ole Miss on Halloween night that has simply become known as “The Run”.
The leader of the Tigers’ 1958 National Championship team, Cannon rushed for 1,867 yards and 19 touchdowns and amassed 965 yards in punt/kick returns during his career.
He received unanimous First Team All-America honors and placed third in Heisman voting in 1958 en route to earning consensus First Team All-America laurels and winning both the Heisman and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award the following season.
Drafted in the first round of the 1960 AFL Draft, he played 11 professional seasons with the Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
MISSISSIPPI: Archie Manning, QB
Archie Manning had many great days as a Mississippi quarterback.
Against Alabama in 1969, he passed for 436 yards and ran for 104. The combined figure, 540 yards, was a Southeastern Conference record for total offense in one game. He had a 362-yard game against Louisiana State in 1968, and a 341-yard game over Southern Mississippi in 1970.
In 1969, he was Mississippi Sportsman of the Year and recipient of the Nashville Banner Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the Southeastern Conference. Archie was fourth in the Heisman voting in 1969, and third in 1970. He made the Southeastern Conference's 25-Year Team.
He followed his astonishing college career with 14 years as a star on the pro circuit with New Orleans, Houston and Minnesota. He was the youngest person ever voted into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame, and is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
MISSISSIPPI STATE : D.D. Lewis, LB
D.D. Lewis played on losing teams but he was recognized as a star.
Mississippi State was 7-23 in his three varsity seasons, but Lewis made all Southeastern Conference twice and All-America once. His All-America season was 1967.
Opposing coaches praised him. Vince Dooley of Georgia called him "the best linebacker we faced." Bill Yeoman, Houston coach, called him "the best linebacker I saw all year." And Bear Bryant of Alabama went even further, calling him "no doubt about it, the best linebacker in the country."
Lewis played in the Senior Bowl and the Blue-Gray Game. He had a pro career of 13 years with the Dallas Cowboys and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
SOUTH CAROLINA : George Rogers, RB
He played four years as a running back at South Carolina, was a two-time All-America 1979-80, and won the Heisman Trophy, saluting the nation's best player, in 1980.
Rogers had 27 games in which he rushed for 100 or more yards. His best was 237 yards against Wake Forest as a sophomore in 1978. He had 224 against Duke in 1980 and 217 against North Carolina State in 1979.
In 1980, he led the nation in rushing with 1,781 yards and a 6.0 yards-per-carry average. Rogers set school records for career rushing (4958) yards), season rushing (1894), and rushing average per game (112.7).
In four years, he scored 202 points. He returned 12 kickoffs for an average of 28.3 yards. In his last two years, South Carolina had a 16-6 record and was in the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl and 1980 Gator Bowl.
Rogers was named Most Valuable Player in the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl.
Rogers played pro with the New Orleans Saints 1981-84 and Washington Redskins 1985-87. He was pro football's Rookie of the Year in 1981 and led the pro league in touchdowns (18) in 1986.
He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
TENNESSEE: Reggie White, DT
As an ordained Baptist Minister, Reggie White was appropriately called the "Minister Of Defense." When White played, his opponents prayed.
One writer called him a "moving nightmare." He was certainly a quarterback's worst dream as he was a consistent presence in the opposition backfield.
He became the Volunteer record holder in sacks in a game (4), season (15), and career (32). He also accumulated 201 unassisted tackles, 92 assists and four fumble recoveries while a Vol.
In his sophomore season, White was named as the Coach Johnny Major's most improved player. As a senior, he won all-conference, Unanimous All-America, and SEC Defensive MVP honors as well as being a finalist for the Lombardi Award. At the conclusion of his career, he was named to the all-time Tennessee team and the SEC team of the 1980's.
After college White signed with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL where he played for two seasons before joining Philadelphia in the NFL. In a 13-season career with the Eagles and Packers, he was NFL Rookie of the Year, an 11-time Pro Bowl performer, and a member of a Super Bowl winning team.
He is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames.
VANDERBILT Carl Hinkle C/LB
Carl Hinkle was a defensive genius and the captain of Vanderbilt's famed "Iron Men" of 1937, a team which missed a Rose Bowl invitation by inches.
The Commodores were playing Alabama in the final game of the season and a victory would bring the bowl bid. But, a Crimson Tide field goal produced a 9-7 Alabama victory, and Vandy's dream faded.
Hinkle was the most decorated lineman in the South in 1937, winning the Southeastern Conference's Most Valuable Player honors as well as All-America recognition. He led the team in tackles and was among team leaders in pass interceptions.
He was later named to the All-Time SEC team. In 1937, he played 60 minutes in seven of Vanderbilt's games. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Following graduation, Hinkle obtained an appointment to West Point. He was not eligible to play on the Army team but he helped with coaching .
During World War II, Carl served as a pilot and won the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Medal of Commendation, France's Croix de Guerre and a Presidential Citation Unit with Oak Leaf Clusters.