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. 16 – Roc Thomas, Auburn, RB
HOMETOWN: Oxford (Ala.)
RANK: Five-star prospect; No. 23 overall prospect in America.
THE SKINNY: Thomas was named Mr. Football in the state of Alabama–no small feat. He rushed for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns. He finished his career with more than 5,500 yards and 76 touchdowns, and he helped lead his high school team to a 9-3 record this year.
WHERE HE’LL MAKE AN IMPACT: With the way Auburn performed this year, Thomas looks like a really smart guy—as he chose the Tigers before the 2013 season. Thomas isn’t going to dazzle anybody going East-West, but this kid can tote it like one of the best. Let’s face it, the point of football is to go north-south anyway, and he’s a load to bring down and is close to the ground. Look for him to exhibit that talent.
THOMAS SAYS: “I feel like I can come out of the backfield and do a lot of great things in this offense. I have good hands, good speed and good balance. They can send me on routes and I can catch the ball.”
COACH SAYS: “He was the top running back on our guy’s board. Our offensive staff identified him early and they recruited him extremely hard. A key to this class. He was very loyal to us. He could’ve went anywhere and he chose to not. He stayed with us and we really feel like he has the ability to come in immediately and make an impact.” — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn
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