Defending champs LSU still loaded

Defending co-national champion LSU returns plenty of talent and the rest of the SEC West is not far behind.

Originally Published: July 7, 2004
By Mel Kiper Jr. | Special to ESPN Insider
Editor's note:'s Mel Kiper Jr continues his look at the best players in the country by examining the top five players on the rosters of teams in the SEC West (schools listed in alphabetical order).

Alabama Crimson Tide
1. DeMeco Ryans, LB, jr. -- Led the Tide with 126 tackles last season and set a school single-game record with 25 tackles in the double-OT game against Arkansas.
2. Wesley Britt, T, sr. -- Broke his leg last season and sat out spring practice, but the staff feels Britt will be as good this year as second-round draft pick Justin Smiley was last season.
3. Brodie Croyle, QB, jr. -- Battled injury last season and did not see any contact in the spring. A gutsy player with throwing ability, Croyle needs more help in terms of protection.
4. Roman Harper, S, jr. -- Racked up 111 tackles last year and will be utilized in many different ways this season.
5. Cornelius Wortham, LB, sr. -- Did not play last year due to injury but was outstanding in spring practice and could give the defense a nice boost from the middle linebacker spot.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst
Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.