While there are numerous notable Southeastern Conference college baseball standouts, the best all-time SEC baseball player is one who is still playing the game at the professional level. Todd Helton of Knoxville, Tennessee entered Major League Baseball play as a member of the Colorado Rockies since the 1997 season. But, before that he was the star first baseman (and pitcher) for the Tennessee Volunteers.
In high school, everyone knew Helton was going to make it big. At Knox Central High School, Todd lettered in both football and baseball. As a senior, Helton boasted a batting average of .690 and accumulated 12 home runs, resulting in his selection as the Regional Player of the Year.
When he graduated from high school, Helton entered the University of Tennessee and became a star pitcher and first baseman. He eventually earned All-American and All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) honors in 1993, 1994, and 1995. A handful of times, Helton was selected as SEC Player of the Week, and even once was named the top SEC Pitcher of the Week. As a Volunteer, Helton also represented Team USA as one of two freshmen on the squad.
In 1995, Todd Helton was named the National Collegiate Player of the Year and before he would begin a career with the Colorado Rockies, he would leave Tennessee with a large collection of honors. These included the Dick Howser Player of the Year Award; The Collegiate Baseball's Co-National Player of the Year; and, the Southeastern Conference's Male Athlete of the Year Award (only second baseball player to ever win that). He was a first-team All-American two years in a row. Helton won numerous other awards - too many to recount all of them here.
Helton became a well-known and important member of the Tennessee team, as he helped lead the Volunteers to three straight NCAA Regional appearances, as well as a 3rd-place finish at the 1995 College World Series. Helton was named MVP of the SEC Baseball Tournament three years in a row.
In his last season with UT, Helton had an impressive .407 batting average and led the SEC in:
Todd Helton was drafted in the 1st round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) 1995 draft and was the 8th overall pick. While he fine-tuned his game with a few A, AA, and AAA teams, his major-league debut came in July of 1997.
Helton soon proved himself an outstanding MLB first baseman, capturing three Gold Glove Awards in 2001, 2002, and 2004. He also (so far) has claimed Colorado Rockies club records for hits, home runs, doubles, walks, RBIs and on-base percentages.
Oh, by the way, Todd Helton also played football for the Vols. He was on UT's football team during the '92-94 seasons. In fact he started at quarterback (and played pretty well) for three games in the 1994 season.
All in all, Todd Helton is clearly the Best All-Time SEC Baseball Player.
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