Best SEC football players this century – 44. John Henderson, Tennessee, Defensive Tackle (2000-2001)
John Henderson technically started his college career in the 90s, but he was truly dominant at the turn of the century. Next to Albert Haynesworth, they put together one of the best defensive tackle pairings of this era. In 2000, Henderson was a dominant pass rusher on the interior, earning him the Outland Trophy thanks to his 11 sacks.
He did everything he could as a defensive tackle. He forced fumbles, deflected passes at the line, knocked out running backs and rushed quarterbacks with ease. He was once again voted as consensus All-American in 2001. Henderson was a dominant force for a Tennessee team that still felt like one of the best in the country.
Best SEC football players this century – 43. Roquan Smith, Georgia, Linebacker (2015-2017)
Roquan Smith had one of the strangest recruitments. He verbally committed to UCLA on National Signing Day, but he refused to sign his letter of intent. He eventually used social media to announce his commitment to Georgia. It was worth the wait for Mark Richt and the Bulldogs. Smith started appearing in games in his freshman season.
He became the starter in his second season. He led all Georgia defensive players with 95 tackles. However, there was nothing like his third season in Athens. He went all the way to 137 tackles in 15 games, 14 of which came for a loss. He sacked the quarterback 6.5 times despite that not really being his role. He was a monster in the Rose Bowl, recording 11 tackles and jumping in on a sack. He won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.