The SEC is renowned for being a tough, physical conference. A freshman often needs time to settle in. Many don’t see the field until their second season.
Though that’s not true of all of them. Quinshon Judkins burst on to the scene at Ole Miss last season and goes into his sophomore year as one of the leading running backs in the country.
In this piece we look at three SEC freshmen who have been tipped to dominate from day one. Look for these players to make an immediate impact on Saturday’s.
Nyckoles Harbor (South Carolina)
A highly lauded five star recruit. Harbor is a physical marvel. So much so he was voted number 1 on Bruce Feldman’s annual freaks list.
Listed as an edge rusher / athlete as a recruit, Harbor is 6’5″ 241lb and has an official 10.28 seconds in the 100m. That is truly elite long speed.
To give some context, hall of famer Calvin Johnson was 6’5” and 237lb when he played. Tyreek Hill has a best 100m on record of 10.19 seconds.
Speculation has followed Harbor since he signed with the Gamecocks in February. Many anticipated a positional change to wide receiver or tight end. During July’s SEC Media days, South Carolina issued a media guide which confirmed the switch. He is now officially listed as a wide receiver.
Look for everyone to quickly become familiar with Harbor when the season kicks off. With an athletic profile like his, he should make an immediate contribution as a freshman. We don’t know how refined he will be, but the upside is mouth watering.
He should go on to be a household name and highly sought after NFL draft prospect.
Harbor was an injury doubt heading into last weekends loss against the UNC Tar Heels and didn’t really contribute but once fully ready to go I think he’ll dominate.
Caleb Downs (Alabama)
With Brian Branch, Jordan Battle and DeMarco Hellams now plying their trade in the NFL, there is at least one spot in the back end of the Alabama secondary available.
There won’t be much of a competition though as Downs looks all but a lock to secure the position alongside the returning Malachai Moore. In week 1 Downs made an immediate contribution with 4 solo tackles and 1 assist. He was constantly around the football showing strong instincts.
A top 10 recruit, freshman Downs is a rare blend of speed and physicality. At 6’0 and 203 pounds he will give you nostalgic vibes for great safeties of days gone by.
Head coach Nick Saban has praised his maturity and what he adds to the secondary. Downs announced himself to Crimson Tide fans during the spring game.
He collected eight tackles including five solo stops, a tackle for loss, and an interception.
I anticipate he’ll quickly become a dominant player on the back end that teams will have to scheme away from particularly after his partner Moore got dinged up in the season opener.
Anthony Brown (Kentucky)
It feels like the identity of the Wildcats offense for the last decade or so has been all about a ground and pound running game.
However last year under OC Liam Coen that began to change. True freshmen Barion Brown and Dane Key both contributed as they caught passes from now Tennessee Titans QB Will Levis.
Enter this years freshman wide receiver hoping to make an impact, Anthony Brown.
A top 10 prospect out of the state of Ohio and top 100 prospect nationally, Brown is a pocket rocket of a receiver who should line up all over Coen’s offense. He dominated at the high school level using his elite track speed to create separation and YAC.
I expect him to feature consistently moving forward in the Wildcat’s offense despite not troubling the box score in this weekends opening win against Ball State.