6 SEC rising sophomores ready to terrify the opposition in 2014


While the SEC is losing some spectacular underclassmen to the NFL Draft, several rising sophomores are ready to take the reins and run with them. All six of these freshmen excelled – and many others did too, and they are set up for a big 2014.

RELATED: 24 SEC underclassmen have declared for NFL Draft

Here are six players who could terrify the opposition in 2014:

Alex Collins, RB, Arkansas
2013 stats: 190 carries, 1,026 yards, 4 TDs, 5.4 YPC
Buzz: The biggest threat Arkansas had this past season was freshman Alex Collins. The one thing that could make Collins much nastier is a passing game. Still, as he physically matures and gets an offseason to hit the weight room and meal plan, Collins will become more dangerous. But the only way to truly maximize his talent and explosiveness is to offset the running game with a passing game. Will that happen? That’s A#1 on the list, but Collins is still Arkansas’ biggest threat.

RELATED: One player from every SEC West team who will be missed most

Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
2013 stats: 38 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 3 INTs
Buzz: Gators’ Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson will both be drafted into the NFL, but they weren’t even the best corners on the team. That title belonged to freshman All-American Vernon Hargreaves. Hargreaves very well could be college football’s top overall cover corner in 2014, and he’ll let Will Muschamp play him on an island against top receivers. He’s that good, and he’ll lock down one side of the field for the Gators. Finding his complement could come in many forms, but one thing is for sure – Hargreaves will be a first-round pick – maybe top five – in two years, and he’ll smother receivers in 2014.

RELATED: Could Florida be the SEC’s hottest recruiting finisher?

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
2013 stats: 36 carries, 382 yards, 3 TDs, 10.6 YPC
Buzz: We know the least about Derrick Henry of the other six on the list, but what we do know is that he is terrifying. At 6-3, 240 pounds, Nick Saban has taken an All-American defensive end or linebacker who could transform the Tide’s offense. If the Sugar Bowl was any indication, Henry needed about 10 more touches per game this season. He’s lethal in the open field, and he will run it down your throat. Several said he wouldn’t be an SEC running back, and now, everyone thinks he could become an All-American. Have fun tackling Derrick Henry.

RELATED: SEC losing serious QB talent in 2014

Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi State
2013 stats: 32 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 sacks, 10 QB hurries
Buzz: Through all the smoke of other highly rated five-star prospects exiting high school, I thought Chris Jones was the best freshman defensive lineman in the SEC. Jones played in all 13 games, and he looks like a massive defensive tackle with elite defensive end quickness. He racked up seven tackles for loss, three sacks and 10 QB hurries this season, and he’s going to be a monster next year.

Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
2013 stats: 34 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks, 3 QB hurries
Buzz: Robert Nkemdiche may not have lived up to his full potential as a freshman, but it’s easy to see his athleticism is off the charts. At 6-5, 300 pounds, he’s a rare breed that is the perfect combination for the biggest jumbo athlete in the country. He entered as a defensive end, and Hugh Freeze says he’s a defensive tackle. He could easily play linebacker or running back; he’s that athletic, and he’s going to be a headache for offensive coordinators in 2014.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
2013 stats: 72 catches, 608 yards, 5 TDs
Buzz: Laquon Treadwell is the total package. He lived up to the five-star billing, and he’ll continue to be a monster in the SEC West. Treadwell has the ability to take over games, and he’ll be a massive part of the game plan next season. With a senior quarterback next season, Treadwell — or Laquon Football — is set up to have a huge season in Oxford and give nightmares to any defensive coordinator.

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Henry looked good against Oklahoma, but there’s probably a reason he didn’t show up much before then. Not saying he won’t be good, because he had a hell of a prep career, but one impressive game isn’t much on which to base an opinion.
    On a different note, I think I’d add Leonard Floyd to this list.

  • How about Dorial Green Beckham him and Mauk are deadly

  • Leonard “Railroad” Floyd will be the biggest gamechanger in this class. He is unblockable. Also: look out for AJ Turman who I believe redshirted this year. If K Marshall Redshirts then he may see some snaps in 2014 and he has been nothing but a beast in practice from what I hear.

  • I don’t disagree that this guys on this list are going to be great, but honestly the best sophomore this coming season is Laremy Tunsil at Ole Miss. He started all but the first game of the season at LT. He only gave up one sack on the last play against Auburn that wasn’t even his fault. Giving up a single sack as freshman is unheard of. He is probably the best LT in the country coming into his sophomore season.

  • Everyone on this list seems to have a bright future, and I suppose you can’ t include everyone, but ….
    I would’ve expected to see Carl Lawson on this list.

  • Skai Moore, USC linebacker might be one to keep an eye on…