Spring's fresh faces: Eastern Division

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
2:10
PM ET
Spring practice concludes in the SEC this weekend with Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee all holding their spring games.

Who were those new faces on campus who made the biggest splashes this spring, transfers and early enrollee true freshmen?

We’ve come up with 10 in the Eastern Division, and will unveil 10 more in the West later today.

Here's a look at the East:

Reggie Carter, LB, Georgia: Carter tore his ACL his junior year of high school, so he wasn’t that highly rated. But the early enrollee made quite an impression at inside linebacker this spring and will push junior Ramik Wilson for playing time.

Riyahd Jones, CB, Tennessee: The Vols needed all the help they could get in the secondary, and Jones came in from junior college and was the second-best cornerback on the team this spring behind Justin Coleman.

Tray Matthews, S, Georgia: One of the stars of the spring for the Bulldogs, Matthews certainly didn’t play like a true freshman. If the season were to start today, he would be the starter at free safety. He’s a big-time hitter and is exactly what defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is looking for in terms of being an enforcer at the safety position.

Connor Mitch, QB, South Carolina: Steve Spurrier has liked what he’s seen from Mitch. The true freshman got plenty of reps this spring after enrolling early and can really throw the football. He’s not going to unseat veterans Connor Shaw or Dylan Thompson, but looks like he’s the Gamecocks’ quarterback of the future.

Tyler Moore, OT, Florida: The transfer from Nebraska took a big step this spring toward winning the starting right tackle job. Moore started his first four games at Nebraska in 2011 as a true freshman, but spent last season at St. Petersburg Community College.

Chris Mayes, NG, Georgia: By the end of spring practice, the 330-pound Mayes had established himself as the Bulldogs’ second-team nose guard. The junior college newcomer will be a key part of what will be a deeper rotation on Georgia’s defensive line next season.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida: He hurt his ankle and missed some practice time, but made a spectacular diving catch in the spring game, the kind we haven't seen Florida receivers make in a while. Robinson’s only a true freshman, but he is the most talented receiver on campus.

Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky: He picked up quickly after coming over from junior college, and the Wildcats liked what they saw this spring with Smith and Alvin “Bud” Dupree manning the two end positions. Smith's best football is ahead of him. He didn't start playing until he was a senior in high school.

Corey Vereen, OLB, Tennessee: Even though he’s only a true freshman, Vereen showed enough this spring that the Vols think he can help them rushing the passer. He’s not big enough to be an every-down end, but could line up in a hybrid role on passing downs.

Reggie Wilkerson, CB, Georgia: After Sheldon Dawson was injured, Wilkerson moved to the top of the depth chart and started in the spring game. The Bulldogs are thin at cornerback, so the opportunity is there for a true freshman to play in the fall.

Chris Low | email

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