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. 23 – Drew Barker, Kentucky, QB
HOMETOWN: Hebron (Ky.)
RANK: Four-star prospect; No. 119 overall prospect in America.
THE SKINNY: Six of the 14 SEC schools wanted Barker, and South Carolina nearly got him. But he decided to stay home and try to build something special at Kentucky, and his presence as a top national QB and top in-state product helped in recruiting. Barker threw for 2,700 yards and 33 touchdowns last fall and rushed for nearly 900 yards and 9 TDs.
WHERE HE’LL MAKE AN IMPACT: Barker was on campus in January and will be a part of spring drills this year, and Maxwell Smith–who has taken a lot of snaps at QB the past few years at Kentucky–is injured and will miss valuable time. The competition seems to be wide open for the QB position, and let’s face it: This is Stoops’ chosen guy. Don’t be surprised if he’s starting this fall.
BARKER TELLS SDS: “At the end of the day I sat down and thought what would it be like if I went to South Carolina and I looked over to UK and they are doing great thinks and I can think, ‘Oh man, I really missed out on that.’ The vibe is just completely different. They’ve upped everything and went to new paths people didn’t think Kentucky football can go to.”
COACH SAYS: “A guy who’s very important to us and this program because he’s one of the best players in the state and we all know how important it is lock down your own state and to start the recruiting within your state.” — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops
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