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 the SEC countdown of impact newcomers at the bottom.
No. 21 – Nifae Lealao, Vanderbilt, DE
HOMETOWN: Sacramento (Calif.)
RANK: Four-star prospect; No. 103 overall prospect in America.
THE SKINNY: This was clearly Derek Mason’s biggest recruiting victory when he came over from Stanford in the 11th hour, and it’s truly one of the Commodores’ top gets in years, if not a decade or two. Lealao is extremely athletic, and having the Polynesian pipeline going is huge for the Commodores. If Mason and his staff can continue recruiting the west and getting kids that normally would stand out at Pac 12 schools, watch out.
WHERE HE’LL MAKE AN IMPACT: This is one true freshman you can bet will get some serious reps this fall. Look for him to be in contention for the SEC all-freshman team, and look for a wonderful career in general.
LEALAO SAYS: “Everyone out there in the whole Vanderbilt staff, the students and the players all had this thing about them. The kindness and the environment they love to spread and share. I felt that and that’s pretty much what geared me toward Vanderbilt.”
COACH SAYS: “Actually, Nifae was a little reluctant because it’s so far away from home, and he’s a family guy. (He) came here and really was a little distant, to say the least. I think by the end of the first night, within 24 hours of being here and having had a chance to spend time with the recruits here, he felt at home.” — Vandy coach Derek Mason
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