Kiper Rates Tennessee's Best

ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, who rates college football talent for the network's NFL Draft coverage, is picking the country's top players one team at a time.

Recently, the noted potential appraiser listed the top five players for each team in the SEC East and he thinks highly of the Vols linebackers and receivers. Heading the list Tennessee is the California connection of linebackers (No. 1) Kevin Burnett and No. 2 Kevin Simon. At No. 3 Kiper grouped UT wideouts Tony Brown, Robert Meachem, James Banks and Jayson Swain saying: "(they) make up one of the most talented receiving groups in the country."

Kiper lists offensive tackle Michael Munoz at No. 4 for the Vols, citing the fifth-year senior's decision to return for another year of college competition. At No. 5 is tailback Cedric Houston, who has led the Vols in rushing for the last two seasons, but must prove his durability. Kiper even throws in a No. 5A for UT in cornerback Jason Allen, the Vols only returning secondary starter.

The starting QBs for UT's primary rivals in the SEC East rank high among their teams talent according to Kiper. He puts Chris Leak at No. 1 for Florida and David Greene No. 3 for Georgia. Behind Leak for the Gators is linebacker Channing Crowder, center Mike Degory, defensive tackle Ray McDonald and running backs Ciatrick Fason and DeShawn Wynn. Leak, Crowder, McDonald and Wynn are sophomores. Greene is preceded by No. 1 David Pollack (senior defensive end) and free safety Thomas Davis.Greene is followed on Georgia's talent parade by linebacker Odell Thurman and wide receiver Fred Gibson.

Sophomore running back Demetris Summers is selected as South Carolina's best player while defensive end Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns and offensive lineman Justin Geisinger earn top honors for respectively for Kentucky and Vanderbilt. By the way, Geisinger is said to be able to perform 43 reps with 225 pounds in the bench press and max out at over 600 pounds. He is one of 10 offensive starters returning for the Commodores.

Behind the Vandy strong man is QB Jay Cutler at No. 2 followed by defensive end Jovan Haye, linebacker Moses Osemwegie, wide receiver Erik Davis and fullback Matthew Tant at No. 5A.

Behind Burns for the Wildcats is No. 2 Keenan Burton (wide receiver), No. 3 Mike Williams (safety), No. 4 Durrell White (linebacker), No. 5 Shane Boyd (quarterback) and No. 5A Jason Rollins who is a three-year starter at guard.

Kiper rates defensive ends George Gause No. 2 and No. 3 Moe Thompson behind Summers as the Gamecock of the walk. That big-time tandem is followed by fullback Daccus Turman, guard Jabari Levy and linebacker Marcus Lawrence. Levy, a junior, checks in a hefty 6-foot-7,340 pounds.

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