With the wealth of talent that is always in the SEC, picking a preseason all-conference squad is never easy. But it was even harder this season, because the NFL raided the conference of most of its big names.
No fewer than 10 players from the SEC were taken in the first round of the NFL draft, the most since 1998 when Peyton Manning was the first of 10 SEC players taken in the first round. Still, while the names may not be as familiar, there was plenty of talent to name the Rivals.com 2005 Preseason All-SEC team.
Last season's division champs, Auburn and Tennessee, lead the way with nine selections each, followed by Florida with eight and LSU with seven. The Gators actually have the most first-team selections with seven, so expectations will be high in the first year under Urban Meyer.
2005 Preseason All-SEC First Team
: Chris Leak
6-0, 195, Florida (Jr.)
Gators fans are licking their chops knowing that Leak, who passed for more than 3,000 yards and 29 TDs last year, will now run Urban Meyer's offense.
: Stanley McClover
6-3, 247, Auburn (Jr.)
Simply devastating on the edge when rushing the passer, McClover is almost impossible to block one-on-one. He had 7.5 sacks for the Tigers last year.
: Gerald Riggs
6-0, 217, Tennessee (Sr.)
Riggs combines great size, speed and power, and he's coming off a breakout season in which he rushed for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns.
: Parys Haralson
6-2, 248, Tennessee (Sr.)
Haralson plays with great energy and has been a reliable playmaker. He had 53 tackles last season, including 13.5 for losses and seven sacks.
: Jerious Norwood
6-0, 202, Mississippi State (Sr.)
Norwood was one of the few bright spots in 2004 for the Bulldogs, as he finished with 1,050 yards and seven TDs, while averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
: Jesse Mahelona
6-2, 297, Tennessee (Sr.)
An unblockable force in the trenches, Mahelona racked up 18.5 tackles for losses last fall, and he should post similar numbers in 2005.
: Courtney Taylor
6-2, 204, Auburn (Jr.)
Taylor has good size and speed and can make plays across the middle or be a deep threat. He caught 43 passes for 737 yards and six TDs last season.
: Kyle Williams
6-2, 295, LSU (Sr.)
Williams racked up 57 tackles, 12 for losses, and six sacks in 2004. He teams with Claude Wroten to form a dynamic tackle tandem for the Tigers.
: Andre Caldwell
6-1, 195, Florida (Jr.)
Caldwell has deceptive speed, and he emerged as one of Leak's favorite targets in 2004, finishing with 43 catches for 689 yards and three TDs.
: Brandon Siler
6-2, 230, Florida (Soph.)
Improved dramatically throughout his freshman season, and his ability to make plays will help Gators fans forget about Channing Crowder.
: Leonard Pope
6-7, 250, Georgia (Jr.)
A huge target, Pope hauled in 25 passes for 482 yards, 19.3 yards per catch, and six touchdowns in 2004. He's also a very good blocker.
: Travis Williams
6-1, 207, Auburn (Sr.)
Williams isn't the biggest linebacker, but he's aggressive and hits like a truck. He recorded 80 for the Tigers last season, including nine for losses.
: Marcus McNeill
6-9, 337, Auburn (Sr.)
McNeill graded out at better than 90 percent in all but one game for the 2004 SEC champs. He'll be coveted by NFL personnel next spring.
: DeMeco Ryans
6-2, 232, Alabama (Sr.)
The leader of what should be one of the nation's best defenses, Ryans posted 78 tackles, including seven for losses, and forced two fumbles last season.
: Randy Hand
6-6, 305, Florida (Sr.)
A fixture at left tackle, Hand has started 28 straight games for the Gators, and he led all offensive linemen on his team with 803 plays in 2004.
: Jason Allen
6-2, 202, Tennessee (Sr.)
Allen racked up 123 tackles as a safety a year ago but will move back to corner for his senior season, the position he projects to play at the next level.
: Max Jean-Gilles
6-4, 340, Georgia (Sr.)
A starter in Athens since his freshman season, Jean-Gilles will look to lead the Bulldogs to an SEC East title before embarking on a long NFL career.
: Demetrice Webb
5-11, 190, Florida (Jr.)
Webb always had speed but his game improved as he became more physical. He recorded 61 tackles, 10 pass break-ups and three picks a year ago.
: Cody Douglas
6-4, 330, Tennessee (Sr.)
A foot injury limited Douglas' availability and effectiveness a year ago, but he is the best player on a tremendous Vols' offensive line.
: Ko Simpson
6-1, 199, South Carolina (Soph.)
Simpson was a big play waiting to happen as a freshman. He posted 61 tackles, had six interceptions, six pass break-ups and recovered three fumbles.
: Mike Degory
6-6, 306, Florida (Sr.)
One of the best centers in the nation and the anchor for a good offensive line, Degory is a tremendous run blocker and also solid in pass protection.
: LaRon Landry
6-2, 187, LSU (Jr.)
Landry has good size and loves to deliver the big hit. He finished with 92 tackles last season and led the Tigers with four interceptions.
: Eric Wilbur
6-2, 192, Florida (Jr.)
Wilbur's greatest strength is the hang time he gets on his kicks. He averaged 42.3 yards per punt and had 11 punts downed inside the 20 in 2004.
: John Vaughn
6-1, 201, Auburn (Jr.)
Vaughn was solid for the Tigers a year ago, converting 12 of 15 field goal tries, including 2-for-2 from beyond 40 yards, and all but one of his 52 PATs.
: Thomas Flowers
5-10, 197, Georgia (Soph.)
Also a promising cornerback, Flowers is deadly on punt returns. He averaged better than 15 yards per attempt last season, including a long of 74 yards.
: Tyrone Prothro
5-8, 176, Alabama (Jr.)
Prothro does a bit of everything, but he's most dangerous on kick returns. He averaged 26 yards per attempt in 2004, taking one back for a TD.
: Skyler Green
5-10, 195, LSU (Sr.)
The speedy Green was hampered by an ankle injury throughout 2004, but when he's healthy, he as dangerous as any player in the conference.
2005 Preseason All-SEC Second Team
: Jay Cutler
6-4, 225, Vanderbilt (Sr.)
Cutler often is overlooked as a signal caller because of the Commodores' struggles, but he's big, strong and good in the pocket or on the move.
: Wallace Gilberry
6-2, 251, Alabama (Soph.)
Gilberry wreaked havoc in opposing backfields as a freshman in 2004, piling up 13 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks for the nation's No. 2 rated defense.
: Kenneth Darby
5-11, 205, Alabama (Jr.)
As tough as any back in the nation, Darby was the Tide offense, with more than 1,000 rushing yards, last year when QB Brodie Croyle went down.
: Willie Evans
6-2, 259, Mississippi State (Sr.)
Evans is a force for the Bulldogs, and he spends a lot of time in opposing backfields. He had 67 tackles in 2004, including 14.5 for losses.
: Joseph Addai
6-0, 210, LSU (Sr.)
The Tigers are loaded at running back, but power and speed set Addai apart. He rushed for 680 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2004.
: McKinley Boykin
6-2, 285, Mississippi (Sr.)
Boykin clogs the middle for the Rebels defense, and his stats, 36 tackles, including 8.5 for losses, in 2004, don't begin to measure his importance.
: Marcus Monk
6-6, 224, Arkansas (Soph.)
Monk has great size and knows how to use it. He had 37 catches for 569 yards and six TDs last season and could be primed for a breakout year.
: Ray McDonald
6-3, 285, Florida (Jr.)
McDonald is strong enough to hold his own at the line of scrimmage, but he's also explosive and had 39 tackles last season, including 10 for losses.
: Dwayne Bowe
6-3, 213, LSU (Jr.)
Bowe didn't take up football until his junior year in high school, but he's a rising star. He had 39 catches for 597 yards and five TDs last year.
: Freddie Roach
6-2, 239, Alabama (Sr.)
Teams with Ryans to form a solid 1-2 punch at linebacker. Roach had 57 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks for the Crimson Tide a year ago.
: Cooper Wallace
6-4, 265, Auburn (Sr.)
Known primarily for his blocking skills, Wallace is also a capable receiver. He hauled in 19 passes for 302 yards in 2004 for the SEC champs.
: Kevin Simon
5-11, 234, Tennessee (Sr.)
A knee injury ended Simon's 2004 season after two games, but he piled up 115 tackles in 2003 and is healthy now heading into summer practice.
: Andrew Whitworth
6-7, 325, LSU (Sr.)
Whitworth is mobile for his size and has great feet. He's started 39 games in his career and could become the first LSU player to ever start 50 games.
: Moses Osemwegie
6-0, 228, Vanderbilt (Sr.)
Osemwegie has been the one constant for the Commodores defense. A big hitter, he racked up 94 tackles a year ago, including six for losses.
: Aaron Sears
6-4, 338, Tennessee (Jr.)
The Volunteers' most versatile lineman, Sears played three different positions a year ago despite nagging ankle injuries. He'll be the left tackle in 2005.
: DeMario Minter
6-0, 198, Georgia (Sr.)
Minter has solid coverage skills and will be counted on heavily by the Bulldogs this season. He had 51 tackles and 10 pass break-ups a year ago.
: Ben Grubbs
6-3, 302, Auburn (Jr.)
Grubbs moved to guard from tight end in the spring of 2004 and had a solid year at his new position, starting all 13 games and grading out at 91 percent.
: Montavis Pitts
6-3, 206, Auburn (Jr.)
Pitts has great size and he's good in coverage but also not afraid to deliver a big hit in run support. He finished with 46 tackles last season.
: Rob Smith
6-4, 306, Tennessee (Jr.)
A great student, Smith was the only Vols' offensive lineman to start every game in 2004. He was twice named the SEC's offensive lineman of the week.
: Greg Blue
6-2, 214, Georgia (Sr.)
Blue was overshadowed by Thomas Davis a year ago, but he's a big hitter who makes plays. He had 80 tackles and forced three fumbles in 2004.
: Rudy Niswanger
6-5, 293, LSU (Sr.)
A 4.0 student who's already graduated with a pre-med degree, Niswanger started at four positions last season. He'll stay at center in 2005.
: Charlie Peprah
5-11, 193, Alabama (Sr.)
Peprah made a successful move from cornerback to safety in 2004 and finished with 51 tackles and a pick. He's started 33 straight games.
: Kody Bliss
5-11, 177, Auburn (Jr.)
Extremely consistent, Bliss averaged 42.3 yards per punt for the Tigers last season. He also had 17 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
: James Wilhoit
5-10, 198, Tennessee (Jr.)
Wilhoit hit on just 10 of 17 field goal attempts in 2004, but he beat Florida in the closing seconds with a 50-yarder and was 17 of 24 the year before.
: Jonathan Lowe
5-7, 172, Mississippi State (Soph.)
Lowe is dangerous with the ball in his hands and in the open field. He averaged 11.5 yards per punt return in 2004, including a 73-yarder for a TD.
: Mike Espy
6-0, 195, Mississippi (Sr.)
Also a very good possession receiver, Espy averaged 20 yards per kickoff return for the Rebels last season, including a long of 44 yards.
: Peyton Hillis
6-2, 238, Arkansas (Soph.)
Razorbacks coaches are expecting a lot of Hillis in 2005. He's a solid runner and receiver, and he also can return kicks. He scored eight TDs last year.