Texas A&M Aggies: 2013 SEC final player countdown

The SEC's 25 best players: No. 4

January, 30, 2014
The No. 4 player in our countdown racked up quite a few highlights this season against some of the best teams college football had to offer. He was also the go-to guy for Johnny Football.

No. 4: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M, Soph.

[+] EnlargeMike Evans
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesMike Evans had 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013.
2013 summary: When he was on, Evans was pretty hard to stop. He finished with 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns, the latter two statistics being Texas A&M single-season school records. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and became the first receiver in SEC history to record two games of 225 receiving yards or more, which he did against Alabama and Auburn.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 17 in the 2013 preseason countdown

Making the case for Evans: For quite some time, Evans appeared to be the frontrunner for the Biletnikoff, and at times, he was even considered a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate (head coach Kevin Sumlin certainly went to bat for his player in that regard). The way he dominated two of the country's best teams, Alabama and Auburn, made it hard to argue.

A late season swoon that saw him catch no more than four passes for no more than 51 yards in three of the final four regular-season games probably hindered those chances, but that doesn't take away from what he meant to Texas A&M and Manziel. He was Manziel's go-to guy for two seasons, and his ability to catch passes under any circumstance -- jump balls, double teams, triple teams, tightroping the sideline -- helped Texas A&M's offense be as explosive as it was. He has every tool he needs to be a great receiver, and he utilized them all.

Making all that even more impressive is that he played only one season of varsity football at Galveston (Texas) Ball High. As a result of his elite production while in the maroon-and-white, he's headed to the NFL draft after only two seasons in college -- as a likely first-round pick.

The rundown:

The SEC's 25 best players: No. 9

January, 29, 2014
The next player in our countdown looks like a potential top-10 pick in the first round of May's NFL draft and a player who has famous bloodlines, especially among offensive linemen.

[+] EnlargeJake Matthews
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsJake Matthews anchored the Texas A&M offensive line as a senior and will be one of the top selections in the NFL draft.
No. 9: Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

2013 summary: Matthews earned himself a spot at the finalists' table for the Outland Trophy with his play this season and was a first-team All-American. He moved from right tackle to left tackle and was part of a unit that helped Texas A&M lead the SEC in scoring offense (44.2 points per game) and total offense (538.4 yards per game). Matthews excelled in pass protection and was equally effective as a run blocker.

Most recent ranking: Ranked No. 6 in the 2013 preseason countdown.

Making the case for Matthews: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Matthews is what coach Kevin Sumlin liked to call a "low-maintenance great player." The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake is a worker and film junkie who consistently performed at a high level. He wasn't perfect -- there were times he was beaten, as will happen when facing the elite defensive linemen in the SEC -- but he anchored a line that offered quarterback Johnny Manziel top-notch pass protection and helped open running lanes for a quartet of talented running backs. He would have been a first-round pick in last year's draft but by returning for his senior season and moving to left tackle, Matthews likely played his way into the top 10 of the draft and perhaps the top five.

The rundown:
No. 10: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia, Sr.
No. 11: Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn, So.
No. 12: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU, So.
No. 13: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn, Sr.
No. 14: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, So.
No. 15: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina, Jr.
No. 16: Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 17: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, Jr.
No. 18: T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama, So.
No. 19: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU, Jr.
No. 20: Cody Prewitt, S, Ole Miss, Jr.
No. 21: Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn, Jr.
No. 22: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama, Jr.
No. 23: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State, Sr.
No. 24: Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt, Sr.
No. 25: E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri, Jr.


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