Impact freshman for every SEC West team
Every season, there are young guns in the SEC that take the conference by storm. Last year, Vernon Hargreaves for the Gators and Derrick Henry for Alabama are just two of the names that come to mind.
It’s merely a matter of hours until we kick off the 2014 college football season, so what are the incoming freshmen that could contribute the most to their respective teams? Let’s take a look at the impact newcomers for each SEC West team.
Cam Robinson, LT, Alabama
There was a few different ways to go here. Besides Robinson, Da’Shawn Hand saw increased reps in fall camp these past few weeks and figures to play into the defensive line rotation. Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey will also see the field quite a bit at the cornerback position, but I decided to go with Cam Robinson. The left tackle was named the starter at the position yesterday by Nick Saban. Robinson was the nation’s top offensive tackle recruit and someone who gives full effort on each play. One of Alabama’s primary strengths in recent years has been their dominant offensive line. For a true freshman to start, it really speaks volumes about just how good he is already. He’s farther along than most true freshman lineman in his skillset and will more than likely be the next great Alabama lineman.
Jared Cornelius, WR, Arkansas
Head coach Bret Bielema has tabbed seven true freshmen as a part of the depth chart for the Auburn game, which shows the Hogs will be relying on a lot of youth for success in 2014. Jared Cornelius will be the one to watch out of that group. He’s listed as a backup WR, but make no mistake about it, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound receiver will get playing time. Fortunately for him, Cornelius went through spring ball with the team and has had more time to adjust to college football. He’s big-play receiver and perhaps the most talented one of the group.
Roc Thomas, RB, Auburn
Here’s a shocker – Auburn likes to run the ball. They led the nation in rushing yards per game, racking up 328 yards per game through Gus Malzahn’s hurry-up, no-huddle offense. True freshman Roc Thomas will be No. 3 will be a part of the rotation at running back and possibly even as a kick returner. Auburn’s offense opens up a lot of opportunities for big runs and Thomas’ explosiveness within his 5-foot-11, 196-pound frame will bode well as he can often break long runs.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
This was too easy. Already picked as a the first true freshman to ever win the Heisman, Leonard Fournette enters college as one of the most hyped freshman in recent years. He was a dominant running back in high school, plus his 6-foot-1, 230-pound body looks already NFL-ready. His own head coach compared him to Michael Jordan. He’ll intially get reps as the backup for the season opener, but if the hype is for real it won’t be long before he’s the Tigers’ newest featured back.
Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss
Head coach Hugh Freeze has already said they hope to not have to play as many freshmen as they have in the past. The Rebels have played at least 10 true freshmen each of the last three years. However, there is one true freshman listed as a starter for Ole Miss’ season-opening game. Defensive end Marquis Haynes was only a three-star recruit, but the 6-foot-3, 220-pound prospect enrolled early to Ole Miss, giving him the opportunity to go through spring ball with the team. It remains to be seen if any true freshman will make a significant impact for the Rebels this season, but Haynes’ chances seem to be about as good as anyone.
Gerri Green, LB, Mississippi State
At 6-foot-5, 240-pounds, Gerri Green has the look of a SEC linebacker. He’s not too bad on the field, either. Green was a four-star prospect and one of the top players in the state of Mississippi. He is coming off of knee surgery, which may ultimately hinder his chances of establishing himself in the linebacker rotation. However, if he stays healthy, Green could be an important piece to the puzzle for a Mississippi State defense that was ranked fourth in the SEC last season. Green has the ability to play both inside and outside for the Bulldogs.
Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M
Similar to LSU, selecting the Aggies’ impact true freshman is a piece of cake. If you haven’t heard of Speedy Noil yet, you will…trust me. This guy is electrifying and he’s showed it since enrolling back in January. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound receiver was the nation’s No. 1 athlete in high school and he’s named Speedy for a reason. In the Aggies’ inital depth chart, Noil is listed as both the starting wide receiver and starting punt returner. If that doesn’t tell you what the Aggies think of Noil’s dynamic play, look no further than his No. 2 jersey number. It may remind you of somebody.