Most Exciting SEC Players Since 2000

Over the weekend, former West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin sparked a massive debate on Twitter. He shared a list labeled "Most Exciting College Football Players (All-Time)," and man, did all hell break loose soon after.

Apparently, it wasn't Austin's list. It was one ESPN did, and people kept tagging Austin in it.

The damage was done, however, and the football world was left in chaos. Criticism, praise and ongoing debates roared online, and that got me thinking. I love lists, and I love a good debate. Why not tackle something similar?

And now you understand how we got here. Instead of doing the exact same thing, I narrowed the focus a bit: the most exciting players from the SEC since the year 2000. And folks, I quickly discovered something while going through this process: it's hard -- like, really hard.

There are deserving talents that didn't crack the top 10. Heck, there are tons of deserving talents that didn't even make the list of honorable mentions. What were the requirements? Well, it's all about my perception of a player.

There have been plenty of statistically dominant players who weren't overly exciting to watch. Julio Jones was a monster at Alabama and has continued that level of play at the NFL level. But in some ways, he's steady. This isn't a list of the best SEC players; it's a list of the most exciting.

Anyways, let's get started.

Honorable mentions: WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama; LB Patrick Willis, Ole Miss; CB Patrick Peterson, LSU; RB Leonard Fournette, LSU; QB Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama; RB Cadillac Williams; QB Dak Prescott, Miss State; TE Kyle Pitts, Florida; WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama; DE David Pollack, Georgia

10. QB Joe Burrow, LSU

Joe Burrow had one of -- if not -- the best statistical seasons of all time. Was he the most exciting, though? No, but he was fun to watch. His ability to elude pressure and create plays on the run made him extremely tough to stop -- just ask Alabama's defense.

9. S Eric Berry, Tennessee

There were a handful of guys who immediately popped into my head when I decided to do this list, and Eric Berry was one of them. This is a safety who struck fear into every receiver trying to work the middle of the field. He was a heat-seeking missile, but his 14-career interceptions proved he was more than that.

8. RB Najee Harris, Alabama

This might seem like recency bias, but think about it. This is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back who put up almost 3,500 yards over the last two seasons with 50 touchdowns (11 receiving). He's an excellent runner and also effective out of the backfield. Plus, those hurdles are a blast to watch.

7. DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

There's a reason a Jadeveon Clowney went No. 1 overall as a defensive player. At over 6-5, 266 pounds, he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash with a 37.5-inch vertical at the NFL Combine. His 24-career sacks are good -- not great. But let's not act like we weren't all sitting around waiting for another one of these hits:

6. RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas

People forget how much fun Darren McFadden was to watch at Arkansas. Almost 5,000 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns in three seasons was impressive, but there were some jaw-dropping runs in there where he'd split defenders. True home run speed, and Mr. Consistent.

5. DB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU

Tyrann Mathieu had a lot of haters at LSU. Some of that, the Honey Badger brought on himself, but he deserves a spot on this list. With four interceptions, 11 forced fumbles, six sacks and two defensive touchdowns in two seasons, the scrappy, undersized defensive back had a knack for creating big plays. We also can't forget his ability as a punt returner.

4. WR Percy Harvin, Florida

Statistically speaking, there are a lot of other guys who deserve this spot more than Percy Harvin. But this isn't about statistics, it's about SEC players who were exciting to watch. Harvin definitely fits that mold, as Dan Mullen got creative in how he used the dynamic playmaker. As a runner or as a receiver, it didn't matter.

3. QB Tim Tebow, Florida

Tim Tebow might be the most passionate football player I've ever seen. His play backed up his energy, too -- or at least it did in college. The man was built like a tight end or power back, and his career rushing stats (2,947 yards, 57 touchdowns) reflect that. He was also an effective thrower, but it's his passion that makes him unforgettable.

2. QB Cam Newton, Auburn

It's criminal that we got only one season of Cam Newton -- he just had to steal that laptop at Florida, didn't he? Anyways, what he gave us in that one season more than makes up for it. At 6-6, 250, this was a high-caliber dual-threat quarterback trapped in a defensive end's body. Thrower, power runner, elusive runner ... it doesn't matter. Dynamite.

1. QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

I have a feeling this ranking is going to upset some people. If it does, you're not looking at Johnny Manziel, the football player. You're looking at Johnny Manziel, the person. Bad move because I choose to remember the electric, chaotic style he brought to Texas A&M's offense.

Name a quarterback statistic, and Johnny Football dominated it. Passing yards? Close to 8,000 in two seasons. Passing touchdowns? Sure, 63. Completion percentage? Yup, that too ... 68.9 percent. Oh, and he also had 2,169 rushing yards and 30 scores on the ground.

In 2012, this guy finished second in the SEC in passing yards (3,706) and FIRST in rushing yards (1,410) and rushing touchdowns (21). He took a step back as a runner in his second season, but he led the league in passing yards (4,114) and passing touchdowns (37).

This one play against Alabama summarizes his career perfectly:

Love him or hate him, he's the only choice here.

Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.