SDS will rank the SEC’s potential instant impact freshmen–using the month of March–by ranking them No. 31 down to No. 1. This gives our readers an idea of which 2014 signees we believe will step up in the fall and possibly contribute in a big way. Junior college prospects are always players to keep an eye on, obviously, as they’ve already played college ball … and high school prospects at certain positions sometimes flourish early.
Here’s a look at who we think has the ability to step into a good situation and be in for key snaps, and be sure and check out all the impact newcomers at the bottom.
No. 24 – DaShawn Hand, Alabama
HOMETOWN: Woodbridge (Va.)
RANK: Five-star prospect; No. 5 overall prospect in America.
THE SKINNY: He’s big, he’s quick, he’s incredibly intelligent … he’s the consummate package at the defensive end position. Hand bucked the predictions and bypassed Michigan to go with Alabama. Hand is just a pure wrecking ball in the offensive backfield–it’s just hard to get any kind of consistency going when he’s rolling. He had 56 sacks in high school.
WHERE HE’LL MAKE AN IMPACT: Put Hand on any other roster in the country, and he’s a top five “instant impact” lead-pipe lock. And he could very well end up being exactly that at Alabama, but as we all know, there is quality depth at Alabama. Hand will definitely have an impact, we think the only thing that might keep him from having a monster true freshman year is depth–because it certainly won’t be for a lack of talent. There certainly are starting positions to be won, but there is quality ahead of him.
HAND TELLS SDS: “Everybody is good at football here. It’s just like going in the backyard with your friends, and everybody can do a backflip and we’re just all wondering who can do the prettiest one. That’s all this is.”
COACH SAYS: “I think we added fast-twitch, pass-rushing athletic guys to the defensive line category as being a higher priority because of spread offenses, more spread offenses, more athletic quarterbacks.” — Alabama coach Nick Saban
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to ratings follow the 247Sports.com composite rankings for high school prospects.
Other impact newcomers:
- No. 1 Leonard Fournette, LSU
- No. 2 Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
- No. 3 Dontavius Blair, Tennessee
- No. 4 D’Haquille Williams, Auburn
- No. 5 Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
- No. 6 Jalen Tabor, Florida
- No. 7 Malachi Dupre, LSU
- No. 8 Bijhon Jackson, Arkansas
- No. 9 C.J. Hampton, Ole Miss
- No. 10 Tony Brown, Alabama
- No. 11 Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
- No. 12 Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
- No. 13 Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
- No. 14 DaVonte Lambert, Auburn
- No. 15 Kyle Allen, Texas A&M
- No. 16 Roc Thomas, Auburn
- No. 17 Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
- No. 18 Avery Gennessy, Texas A&M
- No. 19 Thaddeus Snodgrass, Kentucky
- No. 20 Fahn Cooper, Ole Miss
- No. 21 Nifae Lealao, Vandy
- No. 22 Rod Taylor, Ole Miss
- No. 23 Drew Barker, Kentucky
- No. 24 Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
- No. 25 Jermaine Eluemunor, Texas A&M
- No. 26 Cory Johnson, Kentucky
- No. 27 JoJo Robinson, Arkansas
- No. 28 Nate Brown, Mizzou
- No. 29 Abu Lamin, South Carolina
- No. 30 Trey Quinn, LSU
- No. 31 Xavier Dampeer, Auburn