Everybody loves impact freshmen, but many freshmen never make an impact until a few years into their career. And that’s completely fine, because it takes time for guys to develop and hone their skills.
Let’s look back at the SEC’s five-star signees from 2013 and how they performed this past season. This list doesn’t count redshirt freshmen – just true freshmen:
*Rankings are based off 247Sports’ Composite Rankings
1. Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss: Were you disappointed with Nkemdiche’s freshman season? Don’t be. The former top overall player made 34 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks, and he flashed superior athleticism while even playing some running back.
3. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida: All Hargreaves did was become the SEC’s top cover corner as a freshman. He recorded 38 tackles, 11 pass breakups and three INTs en route to becoming a freshman All-American and a first-team All-SEC performer.
4. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss: Tunsil showed why he was the country’s top offensive tackle prospect exiting high school; he stepped into a starting role immediately, and he was one of the SEC’s top-rated tackles, only yielding one sack the entire season. Tunsil was an All-SEC second-team performer.
6. Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Foster played in nine games, making 12 tackles for the Tide. Alabama’s depth chart was stacked full of linebackers, and Foster will be a key player in 2014.
10. Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn: Adams played in 12 games, making 20 tackles and seven QB hurries. He’s going to be a great player, and he can really move for a big guy.
12. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama: Several told Henry he’d be a tight end or linebacker at the next level. However, Alabama said they’d give him a shot at running back, and judging by the Sugar Bowl alone, he’ll be a bull in 2014. Henry recorded 382 yards rushing and three touchdowns as a rookie.
14. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss: Treadwell led the Rebels with 72 catches his rookie year, good for 608 yards and five touchdowns. He has first-round pick written all over him.
17. Jonathan Allen, OLB/DE, Alabama: Allen played in 12 games and made 16 tackles and forced one forced. Like fellow former five-star Reuben Foster, Allen will be key to Alabama’s 2014 defense.
18. Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State: Jones shot up the rankings as a high school senior, and he justified the hype as a freshman. He recorded 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks, along with 10 QB hurries. Of the freshmen defensive linemen, Jones led the way last season. He has a big future.
19. OJ Howard, TE, Alabama: Howard proved why he’s a mismatch and a headache for SEC defensive coordinators. At 6-6, 240 pounds, Howard looks more like a receiver. He caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 19.2 yards per reception. Look out for Howard in 2014.
21. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: Lawson finished second on the team in sacks (4) and tackles for loss (7.5), and he’s going to be a monster this coming season. Lawson will step in for Dee Ford immediately, and he plays violently.
22. Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida: It took Florida long enough, but they finally played Taylor consistently about the halfway point of the season. He finished with 508 yards rushing and four touchdowns. He was Florida’s only legit threat on offense.
23. Robert Foster, WR, Alabama: Foster redshirted for Alabama in 2013.
25. Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M: RSJ played in just two games, and his season was cut short due to a knee injury. He made just three catches for 84 yards and one touchdown. RSJ could be Mike Evans’ replacement.
32. Tony Connor, DB, Ole Miss: Connor finished as Ole Miss’ third leading tackler, making 66 total, including five tackles for loss. He also recorded one INT and six pass breakups. He hits like a truck.
33. A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama: Slated to either play offensive or defensive tackle, Robinson is the nose tackle Nick Saban will build his 3-4 defense around. He finished with 38 tackles, eight tackles for loss and led the Tide with 5.5 sacks.
Ranked lower: Alex Collins (Arkansas), TreDavious White (LSU), Hunter Henry (Arkansas), Marquez North (Tennessee), Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina), Darian Claiborne (Texas A&M), Skai Moore (South Carolina), Cameron Sutton (Tennessee)
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