10 potential first-year SEC starters in 2016 class
Numerous SEC signees will become factors for their respective teams this fall, but there’s only a handful who could turn heads as Week 1 starters:
McTelvin Agim, DE, Arkansas
Agim was reportedly practicing with the Razorbacks to help with bowl preparations, so he’s going to have the equivalent of two spring football sessions before training camp and the 2016 season roll around. Having that extra experience and coaching in addition to being a 6-foot-3, 270-pound specimen should give Agim a leg up on the rest of the class.
Tyrie Cleveland, WR, Florida
Cleveland, the second-highest rated receiver in the nation, gives the Gators their first real legitimate top-end receiving threat in several years. Given there isn’t much on the depth chart besides Antonio Callaway, Cleveland should see plenty of action at the Swamp this fall.
Ben Davis, LB, Alabama
I’m always apprehensive of putting an Alabama defensive player here because they generally redshirt or play on special teams, but Davis is a special case because he’s physically ready and linebacker is a position of need for Alabama. He’ll have to put in the work during the summer to earn Nick Saban’s trust, but I think Davis can get quality minutes this fall.
Kyle Davis, WR, Auburn
Wide receiver was a big need for Auburn and Davis is one of the best in the nation. He’s a big prospect, about 6-1, 220 pounds, so he’s the type of downfield target that Jeremy Johnson likes to get the ball to. Being an early enrollee will help significantly.
Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia
It’s tough to project quarterbacks, but I have the feeling Eason will be given every chance to beat out Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey for the starting position. New head coach Kirby Smart faced both returning quarterbacks in 2015 and probably wasn’t impressed. Look for Eason to be the opening-day starter or get significant work early in the season.
Gregory Little, OT, Ole Miss
Little might be the best example of a guy ready to play right away. If Ole Miss doesn’t want to throw him in at left tackle, they can easily put him at right tackle for the year or until they feel he is ready to move over. But Little is too talented to sit and a redshirt should be out of the question unless something forces it.
Jonathan Kongbo, DE, Tennessee
The only JUCO transfer on the list, Kongbo is the type of prospect who will try to get in, produce and move on to the next level as soon as possible because he hangs his hat on his best skill — pass rushing. He could be very productive even if Tennessee limited him to most pass-rush situations.
Saivion Smith, CB, LSU
Smith may have an edge over the rest of the talented defensive backs coming into the program because he’s already on campus and working out with the team in the weight room and player-initiated workouts. He’ll also try to work his way into a good role on the special teams return game.
Landon Young, OT, Kentucky
If Young were an early enrollee this would be a no-brainer. As it is he might be a little light at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, but he’s too talented and Kentucky is in too much of a need for quality offensive linemen to keep him sitting for a whole season. If Young can come in the summer and get some additional size, he could start pretty early.
Brendan Scales, TE, Missouri
Missouri flipped Scales from Alabama, and with a fairly young offense on the field next year, I expect Scales to have plenty of opportunities to get involved in the receiving game. Scales likely would have been a greyshirt candidate at Alabama, but he should see the field early at Mizzou.