Published July 26, 2012 - 11:00am
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Freshmen are supposed to be seen and not heard. That’s the way it has always been in college athletics. You enter college with little respect from upperclassmen, and they try to rub your face in the mud at practice. But sometimes freshmen turn into being some of the top players on the team and give your squad a different advantage that you didn’t have last year.
In case you missed it, SDS already looked at the top freshmen in the West.
Here are five freshmen in the SEC East who will be heard from this year:
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri
I have DGB penciled in as the biggest freshman impact player in the SEC. Besides being the consensus No. 1 high school prospect in the country and very physically gifted, he’s quite possibly walking into one of the better situations in the SEC for a receiver. He has a veteran quarterback returning who threw for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore. DGB blends in very nicely with an already solid receiving corps, led by senior TJ Moe. He could have a monster impact in year one.
Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
Marshall was a top running back prospect who committed to Georgia earlier on in the process. Now with Isaiah Crowell gone, Marshall becomes the premier talent of all the backs on campus. He was an early enrollee, so he has a bit of the offense under his belt. He’s very fast and shifty and gives Georgia the homerun threat in the backfield. Obviously with any incoming freshman, especially smaller backs, durability is always a concern. Crowell was beat up – mentally and physically – in his freshman year but managed to rush for over 800 yards. If Marshall can grasp the offense, he gives Georgia a big-play threat every time. But UGA has always signed a top back in each class. Let’s see how he develops, but he should be an impact player in year one.
Antonio Morrison, LB, Florida
Morrison was not a consensus linebacker coming out of high school, but Will Muschamp put a target on Morrison as the guy he would build his future defense around. He was an early enrollee and has a head start on other guys at the position. Two veterans in Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins lead the backers, and Morrison is expected to back up Bostic at the MIKE position. But I think he makes a bigger impact than most think. He showed tremendous speed in closing in on the ball carrier and was all over the field in the spring game. Michael Taylor could start as the third linebacker, but look for Morrison to make some sort of impact on this Gators defense in year one.
Latroy Pittman, WR, Florida
It’s a great time to be a wide receiver heading to Gainesville this year, because there are zero proven offensive weapons at the position. Like Morrison, Pittman was an early enrollee at Florida, and he had people taking note of his game during the first few days at practice and definitely in the spring game. Pittman isn’t Percy Harvin with shifty moves or blinding speed, but he’s a bigger physical receiver who can block and make big possession catches. He caught two passes for 51 yards, but his blocking on the edges was just as impressive. I look for Pittman to make a much-needed impact on this receiving corps in year one.
Shaq Roland, WR, South Carolina
Roland was another in-state monster pickup for the Gamecocks. He is the former Mr. Football in the Palmetto State, and he should have a big impact in his first season. He’s physically ready to play at 6-1, 173lbs at receiver. Roland caught 79 passes for 1,546 yards and 19 TDs. He is the type of player to reign in another Alshon Jeffery-like career at receiver. He is a star in the making.