SEC Football history: 50 best players of all time

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Alabama football
Alabama football (Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports) /

John Hannah. 5. player. 829. . OL. Crimson Tide

5. Best SEC football players of all time: John Hannah, Alabama football

The Alabama Crimson Tide are well-represented on this ranking of the top-50 players in SEC history, and for good reason. They have produced elite talent in every decade, and back in the 1970s, John Hannah became not only a legendary player but the best lineman that head coach Bear Bryant had ever coached.

Playing both guard and tackle for the Crimson Tide, Hannah was a standout player from 1970 through 1972, a player who appeared born to play up front along the offensive line. A consensus All-American in 1972, and a two-time All-American overall, Hannah played with a high motor and was known for how hard he practiced to become one of the best ever.

Not only did he play football at Alabama, but he also wrestled, threw the shot put, and the discus, showing the kind of all-around athlete he was. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Hannah also won the Jacobs Award at Alabama, given to the best lineman in the SEC, and is a member of Alabama’s All-Century team.

After leaving Alabama for the pros, Hannah continued to dominate the opposition, and some believe he’s the single best offensive lineman in the history of the game of football. The fourth overall pick in 1973, he would go on to be named to nine Pro Bowls, was an All-Pro ten times, and is a member of the NFL’s decade teams for the 1970s and 1980s. His number is retired by the New England Patriots.