The SEC is known for its wily and talented veterans, but it’s also known for landing some of the biggest high school prospects in the country who make immediate impacts. And 2013 was certainly no different.
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Not only are the following the top duos in the SEC, but they are the best around college football, too.
Alabama: RB Derrick Henry and TE OJ Howard
Granted, we didn’t see much of Derrick Henry, but what we saw is terror for the rest of the SEC in 2014. Henry rushed for 100 yards on eight carries against Oklahoma, as well as caught one pass for 61 yards and a touchdown. At 6-3, 240 pounds, Henry is like a defensive end moving at a 4.5 40 clip, and with his size and athleticism, he’ll remind you of former Ohio State Heisman winner Eddie George. OJ Howard is a big play waiting to happen, and he caught 14 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns during the season, including ripping off a 50-yard touchdown reception against LSU. Maybe Lane Kiffin will recognize what a weapon he could be on offense and target him more than Doug Nussmeier seemed to.
Arkansas: RB Alex Collins and TE Hunter Henry
Arkansas may have had a forgettable season, but true freshman RB Alex Collins and TE Hunter Henry gives Hogs’ fans hope for the future. Each are two core players in whom to build the future offense around. Collins led all college football freshmen with 1,026 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He reminds me of a mix between Trent Richardson and Maurice Jones-Drew – low, compact and can make you miss with quickness and vision. Hunter Henry was one of the best tight ends in the SEC, and he caught 28 passes for 409 yards and four touchdowns. His ability and athleticism is obvious, and he’ll be a force for at least the next two years.
Related: SEC All-Freshman Team 2013
Florida: RB Kelvin Taylor and CB Vernon Hargreaves
Florida didn’t give Kelvin Taylor enough touches until the season was 75 percent in the books. Taylor rushed for 508 yards on 111 carries for four touchdowns. Just wait until he has a semblance of a passing game to make him even better. Taylor’s quickness and vision are second to none. I thought Vernon Hargreaves was the best SEC cover corner this past season. Hargreaves was explosive in and out of breaks, and Hargreaves Island is alive and well in landlocked Gainesville. He made 38 tackles, 11 pass breakups and three INTs. Hargreaves will be 2014’s best corner in college football.
Ole Miss: WR Laquon Treadwell and DE Robert Nkemdiche
Laquon Treadwell could have more upside than every player on this list. Treadwell led the team with 72 receptions for 608 yards and five touchdowns, and he’s got a brilliant career ahead. Sometimes, top receiving prospects are all steak and no sizzle, but Treadwell isn’t. He’s such a fluid athlete, and his 6-3, 215-pound frame screams playmaker. Maybe Robert Nkemdiche didn’t have the huge season everyone thought, but it’s easy and obvious to see he’s an athletic specimen. At nearly 300 pounds, Nkemdiche has the athleticism of a running back who could play linebacker. He made 34 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks this season. We’re only scratching the surface of what he’ll eventually become.
South Carolina: WR Pharoh Cooper and LB Skai Moore
Pharoh Cooper is one of the best players you’ve never heard of. He’s a do-it-all future star in Steve Spurrier’s offense, and he rushed 20 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown this past season, along with catching a touchdown, returning nine punts for 40 yards and returning 16 kickoffs for 359 yards. Cooper will be a weapon in Spurrier’s offense. Skai Moore blew into a big-time linebacker for the Gamecocks. He led the team with four INTs, including two in the bowl game, and he also led the team with 56 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss. Moore is versatile and explosive as a freshman linebacker.
Tennessee: WR Marquez North and CB Cameron Sutton
If there’s a freshman receiver that rivals Laquon Treadwell, it’s Marquez North. His 6-4, 215-pound frame oozes playmaking potential. The biggest obstacle will be Tennessee finding a quarterback who can get him the football. North caught 38 passes for 496 yards and one touchdown, along with making arguably the best catch of any receiver this past season against South Carolina. Cameron Sutton is going to be a baller, and he’s going to be a corner to watch for the future. Sutton was thrown into the fire as a freshman, and he delivered, making 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, nine passes defended, seven pass breakups and two INTs.
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