College freshmen aren’t supposed to be able to do what the SEC’s true freshmen did in 2014.

They’re not supposed to rush for 1,000 in just seven starts. They’re not supposed to run through upperclassmen like running through tissue paper. They’re not supposed to post double-digit sacks or catch 40-yard jump balls or drill 50-yard field goals. Those are jobs better suited for a team’s star upperclassmen.

Instead, SEC freshmen are expected to develop on the practice field Sunday through Friday, then sit the bench Saturday to “watch and learn.”

But not this year’s freshmen.

The SEC’s 2014 rookie class was one of its deepest in recent years, headed by dynamic tailbacks, explosive defensive ends, dangerously athletic wideouts and some of the conference’s premier special teamers.

Georgia tailback Nick Chubb — the likely choice for SEC Freshman of the Year — began the year stashed on the Bulldogs’ bench, yet he still closed the season second in the SEC with nearly 1,300 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in only seven starts. He ran for at least 100 yards in every start, and was as unstoppable as any upperclassmen in the nation, no less the conference.

And were it not for Chubb, LSU’s Leonard Fournette would be the freshman tailback giving the best imitation of an upperclassmen this season. Fournette finished 12th in the SEC with 891 yards rushing and eight touchdowns, and his physical downhill running style more closely resembled a grown man than a kid who was in high school at this time last year.

And if it weren’t for Chubb and Fournette it might have been Kentucky’s Boom Williams (650 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns) or Tennessee’s Jalen Hurd (777 rushing yards and three touchdowns) who dazzled fans despite their youth.

Are you beginning to see my point? There’s more.

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett broke Jadeveon Clowney’s freshman sack record (8) by posting 11 sacks as a rookie this year. Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett passed Clowney’s mark as well with 10 sacks on the year. Ole Miss freshman Marquis Haynes came just a half-sack short with 7.5 for the season.

Aggies’ wideout Speedy Noil caught a whopping 44 passes and amassed more than 500 yards and five touchdowns this season. Three other freshmen had at least 300 yards receiving and four touchdowns in 2014.

Alabama punter JK Scott led the SEC in averaging more than 47 yards per punt. Kentucky place kicker Austin MacGinnis was the SEC’s fifth most accurate kicker, and his three field goals of 50-or-more yards led all SEC kickers freshman or otherwise.

You get the point — the SEC boasted a handful of exceptional freshmen playing well beyond their age, and we haven’t even discussed the true freshmen quarterbacks getting their first taste of SEC football this season. Florida’s Treon Harris and Texas A&M’s Kyle Allen might not have starred the way many of the other aforementioned freshmen starred this year, but they earned their way onto the field with less than one season of experience at the Division I level.

The results were far less impressive, but the raw talent was certainly there. Even Tim Tebow didn’t earn a full-time starting job until his sophomore year.

In a day and age in which size, speed and strength matter more than ever before, a group of 18 year olds showed raw talent can produce results in the SEC in a shorter time frame than once thought. I’m not sure what has me more intrigued: picturing this year’s freshmen as sophomores next year, or picturing how good the next freshman class will be in 2015.

And therein lies the true value of such a strong rookie class. The SEC will continue to attract top talents to play in the conference just as it has for decades, but this year’s freshmen aren’t going anywhere for at least two years. Barring injuries, these players will continue to improve and dominate the conference in the coming years.

Normally fans will tell you “the future is bright” in the SEC. But this year that’s simply not true. The future isn’t bright; it’s already arrived.