Best SEC football players this century – 36. Maurkice Pouncey, Florida, Center (2007-2009)
Maurkice Pouncey was the main cog on the offensive line for the championship Florida Gators in the middle of this era. It’s rare that the top guy on the offensive line comes right in the middle, but Maurkice Pouncey achieved that. Maurkice was actually the center while his twin brother Mike Pouncey was the guard on the same team. It was quite the sight, two massive dudes who looked exactly alike crushing 300 lb. defensive linemen.
He was incredibly consistent in 2008, the year Florida won the National Championship. He continued that consistency, winning almost every play in his junior season in 2009. There were very few offensive linemen of his caliber, even when considering the left tackles. In his final year, he ended up being named a consensus All-American and he took home the Rimington Trophy. That’s given to the best center in the country.
Best SEC football players this century – 35. Joe Haden, Florida, Cornerback (2007-2009)
Joe Haden feels like he’s been in the NFL for a generation and in terms of NFL years, that’s probably right. However, prior to dominating in the secondary for the likes of the Browns and the Steelers, he was making plays in the Swamp. He was a starter right away. He was the first cornerback to ever start on opening day for Florida as a freshman. It’s impressive in itself, but Haden’s legend only grew from there.
Haden as a sophomore was silly good in the BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma. He made 10 tackles and broke up three passes. Oklahoma did its best to keep the pressure on the Gators secondary and Haden stepped up. In his senior year, he was the unanimous All-American at cornerback and was named to the All-SEC team. The Sporting News even named him the Defensive Player of the Year.