It’s that time of year once again where football junkies day dream about the future of their teams, and we are certainly no different as we begin to project future years’ rosters and the impact that fresh blood will have on them. The 2014 All-Recruit Team featured immediate contributors like Cameron Robinson, Jeb Blazevich, Jalen Tabor, Leonard Fournette, Speedy Noil, Myles Garrett and others. 10 players selected on last year’s list were named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2014, and this year should be no different. This list does not only mention players who were rated the highest on the different recruiting sites but also players who could possibly make an immediate impact for their respective schools. This list comprises incoming freshman only; it will not include Junior College transfers.
- OFFENSE -
QB- Blake Barnett/Alabama
The SEC was shocked when Blake Sims beat out Jacob Coker for the starting job as the Alabama quarterback in 2014. While Coker is the odds-on favorite to win the starting job this season, Barnett can make a statement during spring and summer practices as the 6’5” quarterback is already on campus working and impressing the Tide faithful. Saban is not known for recruiting quarterbacks; but he got one of the best in the country. Lane Kiffin’s ties to the state of California prove to be a great asset as the Tide have expanded their footprint to the West Coast. The only thing standing in Barnett’s way is Coker, who is looking to get his chance to be the starter at a top program. Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have their quarterback of the future in Barnett, whether he starts this season or next.
RB- Damien Harris/Alabama
Harris walks into a great situation at Alabama, but will have to prepare to share the spotlight in the backfield. T.J. Yeldon is moving on the NFL but Derrick Henry is the heir apparent to Yeldon’s position. Kenyan Drake continues to recover from his leg injury that he suffered in the Ole Miss game and will most likely be ready for the season barring any setbacks. With two established runners ahead of him, and fellow freshman Desherrius Flowers behind him, Harris will have to establish himself quickly. But Saban never sticks with one or two running backs. Harris, the one-time Michigan commit, can be an immediate contributor as a third-string tailback and could eventually move up the depth chart. Harris is not as big as Henry, but he has great strength and can create his own running lanes if he needs to, and has good breakaway speed. Harris should be on the field next season and will continue the line of excellent running backs that go through Tuscaloosa.
RB- Derrius Guice/LSU
Similar to Harris at Alabama, Derrius Grace will have to establish himself in the shadow of one of the best running backs in the nation. After a slow start, Leonard Fournette solidified himself as an early Heisman favorite for 2015 particularly in his dominating performance against Notre Dame in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Guice has good speed and power and has the tools to be a good second option for Les Miles. With no real proven back behind Fournette, Guice has an excellent chance to take the backup position. There have been plenty of running backs who have seen important time as a second or even third string RB. Also—and no LSU fan wants to hear this—but if Fournette goes down for any reason, Guice could be the next man up.
OT- Martez Ivey/Florida
Ivey might be the cornerstone of Jim McElwain’s recruiting class. Florida is losing some experience off of the offensive line especially at the OT position. Tackles Chaz Green and D.J. Humphries are both moving on to the NFL, along with fellow offensive linemen Max Garcia, Trent Brown and Tyler Moore. Ivey has a great chance to play somewhere on the line even if it’s not as a tackle. Redshirt sophomore Rod Johnson saw some great action in 2014 and has most likely locked up one of the tackle positions. Sophomore, David Sharpe, played in six games last season and is a talented and big player, but no returning player is safe as Jim McElwain tries to find the best fits for his systems. Ivey has the best chance of any incoming player to make an immediate impact because of his skill, and the lack of depth in the Gator offensive line.
OG- Maea Teuhema/LSU
LSU has the running back in Leonard Fournette; they have some incredible talent at the skill positions and could have found their big name in the offensive trenches. Similar to Martez Ivey at Florida, Teuhama has an incredible chance to make a name for himself with La’el Collins moving on to the NFL. Teuhama is big, strong and mean and could make an easy transition to the hard nose SEC style of play. Standing at 6’5” and weighing in at 330 lbs., Teuhama, the one-time Texas commit, will need to improve his quickness but has trimmed down since the beginning of his senior season. If Teuhama can improve his quickness but keep up his physical style of play, he will prove to be a major asset for the LSU ground game as well as protecting Anthony Jennings.
C- Tyler Jordan/Florida
While Tyler Jordan mostly played tackle in high school, he will most likely make the transition to center with Martez Ivey headlining the recruiting class. Whether he is center, or tackle, Jordan is a big guy who finishes his blocks and looks good doing it. He will have to bulk up a bit more but has the frame to be a dominant player. Jordan dominated in high school and was pretty consistent with getting to the second level. Jordan, along with the rest of these recruits, will have some growing pains because he is undersized, but will bulk up in a weight program. With Max Garcia graduating, Jordan will have the opportunity to step in and take the starting role.
OG- Javon Patterson/Ole Miss
After the beat down that they took against TCU, the Rebels needed to find a punishing blocker. It was clear that the Rebels had no answer up front for the Horned Frogs defense that continued to make their way to Bo Wallace. Ole Miss loses no one on the line of scrimmage but might need a shake up after the Peach Bowl. Plus, with Laremy Tunsil’s injury that he suffered against TCU, there might be a shake up on the offense line which could give Patterson some playing time. Patterson is big standing at 6’3” and weighing in at over 300 lbs. but also has a good first step off the line. He has some more room to develop into his frame but is still a big time get for Hugh Freeze.
OT- Drew Richmond/Tennessee
“Brick by brick:” Tennessee and head coach Butch Jones’ mantra. Last season, the Volunteers signed over 30 players, and in 2015 they had another great haul of bricks. Along with all of his individual bricks, Butch Jones also signed an entire brick wall in Drew Richmond who was committed to Ole Miss before switching over to the Vols. Standing at 6’5” and 323 lbs. Richmond was a must get for Tennessee, which was clearly hurt this season with a lack of experience in the offensive line. Tennessee was abysmal at the start of last season allowing 43 sacks. The Volunteer offense was young at the start of the season but continued to improve as the season moved forward. However, Richmond is one of those players that can make an immediate impact and can compete for a starting position. With Josh Dobbs running the offense, Jalen Hurd in the backfield, and Josh Malone and Marquez North poised for big seasons at WR, Richmond could prove to be the last piece of the puzzle to bring the Volunteers back to national prominence.
TE- C.J. O’Grady/Arkansas
O’Grady might have to wait a bit to make an impact for the Razorbacks but the 6’5” tight end might have too much talent for Bret Bielema to look past. He might not be the most graceful player but he is a big body and has impressive vertical skills for a guy his size. Arkansas likes having two options at tight end and with A.J. Derby graduating there may be room for the freshman to contribute. Hunter Henry will be the main option at tight end, but O’Grady can catch and has the size to be a punishing blocker like the rest of the Razorback offensive line.
WR- Calvin Ridley/Alabama
Ridley has all of the tools to be the next big receiver that Nick Saban lures into Tuscaloosa. The nation was amazed with Julio Jones’ blend of power and speed. In his junior year, Amari Cooper turned into a household name and a must-get for any NFL squad in need of a wideout. In his first season as the Tide offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin took Amari Cooper, a good wide receiver, and turned him into a Heisman finalist and a clear first round draft choice for a lucky NFL team. With Cooper moving on, Ridley can immediately step in and be a main option for the Tide offense. Ridley has good size at 6’1” but will need to bulk up. He has a great set of hands and incredible breakaway speed. It would be no surprise if Kiffin can turn Ridley into a star with all of the tools and skills that he possesses.
WR- Tyron Johnson/LSU
The next Odell Beckham Jr. might have signed with LSU. Ok…that might be a bit of a stretch, but Tyron Johnson has an incredible skill set and can be a dangerous contributor for the Tigers. Johnson is fast, has great vision and can make an immediate impact on offense or on special teams. A good portion of Johnson’s film from high school was of him returning punts, and Les Miles would be foolish to not let Johnson take a stab at returning punts right away. LSU has some home run options with Travin Dural and Malachi Dupree. Johnson could prove to be another option if Anthony Jennings can improve his play at QB. He is an electrifying athlete who has all of the tools to make an immediate impact and continue the tradition of standout receivers that come out of Baton Rouge.
Athlete- Terry Godwin/Georgia
Godwin scared the Georgia faithful on signing day keeping his decision close to his chest. Rumors were swirling that the long time UGA commit would sign with Auburn, and leave the Dawgs scrambling to find another athlete. Athens breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Callaway High School product signed with the Dawgs. Godwin will make an immediate impact on offense, and first year offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, will find ways to get this playmaker into the game. Georgia loses two sure-handed receivers in Chris Conley and Michael Bennett and needed to reload at the position. Godwin can hit that second gear and is a smooth route runner. He has sure hands, can snatch the ball out of the air, and can stop on a dime. Mark Richt got his freshman studs like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie in on offense early last year, and that trend might continue with Godwin. But don’t be surprised to see Jeremy Pruitt use Godwin in the defensive secondary.
- DEFENSE -
DE- Byron Cowart/Auburn
The nation’s number one recruit according to Rivals confused fans when he signed Letter of Intents to both Florida State and Auburn. Eventually, Cowart sent in his LOI to the Tigers and made Will Muschamp a very happy man who is in his first year as the Defensive Coordinator. This is Muschamp’s second time around as the Tiger’s DC (2006-2007) and might hold the key to Auburn’s defense improving after a tough year. The Florida native stands at 6’4” and weighs almost 260 lbs., the perfect size for an elite defensive end. He for sure looks the part, and could make an early impression on his new defensive coordinator.
DT- Trent Thompson/Georgia
Trent Thompson has been Georgia’s number one target since day 1. Thompson is big, mean and deceptively quick for a 300 lb. man. Along with Terry Godwin, Thompson could be the piece to move Georgia into that next level. Jeremy Pruitt is starting to get his players and they don’t look too shabby. Thompson, Rashad Roundtree and a haul of defensive backs are going to be under a microscope by coaches and fans during summer workouts. Every player has the ability to turn heads, but none more than Thompson who was the state of Georgia’s number one recruit and the number one recruit in the nation according to 247 sports. Those are quite the expectations to live up to, and the Bulldog faithful will see if this kid is for real.
DT- Terry Beckner Jr/Missouri
This was a huge recruit for the Missouri Tigers, no pun intended. With Shane Ray and Marcus Golden both heading to the NFL, the Tigers will need to quickly find the next playmakers on the line of scrimmage. The East St. Louis, Illinois product received offers from just about everywhere, but decided to stay close to home and play for coach Pinkel. The Tigers consistently reload on the defensive line, and Beckner is one of those players that can get immediate playing time. He stands 6’4” weighs 298 lbs. and runs a 4.90 40-yard dash. His blend of size and speed makes Beckner a versatile athlete who can play anywhere on the line of scrimmage and not just at the tackle position. New Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom could use Becker to make an immediate impact.
DE- CeCe Jefferson/Florida
It took a little longer than expected, but CeCe Jefferson, the 5-star defensive end, finally sent in his Letter of Intent in to the University of Florida almost a week after National Signing day. A day late, a week late or a month late, it doesn’t really matter. Jim McElwain now has two key playmakers on Florida’s line of scrimmage. Both the offensive and defensive lines are losing some big playmakers, which will allow some young guns to step up. Dante Fowler Jr is a projected top 10 draft pick and has been the Gators main defensive weapon for a couple years. Jefferson has all of the physical qualities and also the chance to step in and fill the huge void at the defensive end position.
LB- Jeffrey Holland/Auburn
Jeffrey Holland has a knack of making offensive lineman look silly and SEC offensive lineman better be ready. Holland is a little undersized at 6’2” and weighing in at about 230 lbs., but makes for it in intensity and instincts. He has a great first step off the line and finds his way to a quarterback and running back with ease. With all of these intangibles Holland played in a 3-4 scheme in high school, which put him up right at the line of scrimmage. But Holland will have to adjust to Will Muschamp’s 4-3 scheme, and will need to be ready to protect the edge and no longer rush the quarterback. But if Holland continues to grow, don’t be surprised to see him with his hand in the dirt.
LB- Leo Lewis/Mississippi State
Lewis has that dangerous blend of power, speed and excellent timing. The tempo of the game in college will change, and Lewis will have to adjust; but he has the ability to break into the backfield and run sideline to sideline. Lewis has good size, and could grow another couple of inches, but it’s his speed and intensity that makes him a huge steal for Dan Mullen, and the Bulldogs. The Mississippi product was once committed to Ole Miss before eventually signing with the Dawgs. The number one rated inside linebacker according to 247 sports and the second best according to ESPN and Rivals bring some much needed help to the Miss St. defense. The Dawgs gave up over 500 total yards in 5 of their games including 532 yards against Ole Miss and 577 against Georgia Tech’s potent offense in the Orange Bowl. Lewis could be a key piece to help Miss St. get back on track after a tough end to a great 2014.
Roquan Smith has been the most interesting character in the singing day story. Many pundits thought that Smith would end up at Georgia, but shocked everyone when he committed to UCLA. However, Smith did not fax in his Letter of Intent and decided to re-open his recruiting process. On Friday, February 13 the outside linebacker from Montezuma, Georgia committed to the Dawgs completing this saga…for now. Smith will not sign any Letter of Intent which will allow him to decommit from UGA if there are any more coaching changes. Smith’s saga could change the recruiting process and how players deal with coaches leaving. There is a reason that UCLA wanted this kid, and why he was pursued by UGA, Michigan and Texas A&M as well. Jeremy Pruitt now has a stable of young talent at the outside linebacker position.
DB- Kevin Toliver II/LSU
Kevin Toliver remained true to his commitment to LSU for over two years. The five-star cornerback from Jacksonville, Florida was courted by many schools but never publicly wavered from his LSU commitment and enrolled in January. Toliver brings a unique blend of speed and also size to LSU’s backfield. While every defensive back needs to be fast, many of them are undersized when going up against 6’3”+ receivers. Standing at 6’2” Toliver has all of the physical attributes to be able to lockdown a tall Marquez North or keep up with a quick Speedy Noil. He also has an advantage to learn the playbook, add a bit more bulk to his almost 200 lb. frame and also get to know new defensive coordinator, former Alabama linebacker coach, Kevin Steele. Toliver is a special player who has the opportunity to show his talents during Spring and summer practice. His height and speed negates any advantage that a tall receiver or speedster has and could be a great weapon for the Tigers come September.
DB- Jamal Peters/Mississippi State
Jamal Peters is just what Dan Mullen needs in the Bulldog secondary. Along with fellow incoming recruit, Leo Lewis, Peters is the big physical player that State needed last season. Peters is raw and still needs to improve on some of his techniques, but his size, speed, and physical style of play can’t be overlooked. The Dogs are depleted at safety and Peters probably has the best chance to get immediate action. Jay Hughes and Justin Cox are gone and Kendrick Market might be sidelined until November with a torn Achilles. When Peters enrolls in the summer, he will have a great opportunity to get some reps with the first string and improve on his technique.
DB- Deionte Thompson/Alabama
The Crimson Tide’s defensive secondary was the brunt of quite a few jokes this season. Even with Landon Collins anchoring the defense, the future first round draft pick wasn’t able to pick up the slack of his teammates in the backfield. Now that Collins is moving on to the NFL there are still more questions than answers. Thompson could be one of those impact players to put this unit back on track. Like Kevin Toliver, Thompson has stuck with his commitment to Alabama for two years and enrolled in January to start taking classes and learn the playbook. Thompson has great size and speed and should only get faster and stronger in Alabama’s ridiculous weight program. While incoming cornerbacks have to compete with players like Eddie Jackson and Cyrus Jones, Thompson has a chance to sneak into that Landon Collins safety spot.
DB- Minkah Fitzpatrick/Alabama
This final spot for the All-Recruit team could have gone to Fitzpatrick or his teammate Kendall Sheffield. Both players are fast and physical and could play right away, but unlike their teammate Deionte Thompson, both have quite a bit of competition in their way. Cyrus Jones and Eddie Jackson return to their respective corner positions looking to improve on a tough year. Marlon Humphreys and Tony Brown, who made the All-Recruit team last year, both look make a push for playing time and maybe the number one spot on the depth chart. Fitzpatrick's size is what makes him a hair better than Sheffield as a prospect. Sheffield is faster than Fitzpatrick, but not by much, and Fitzpatrick height and weight does give him a leg up the physicality associated with SEC style of play. Don’ be surprised to see both guys get some playing time on special teams and eventually be the Tide’s main cover corners.
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