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Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Todd McShay's top 25 freshmen

By Edward Aschoff

It looks like the youth movement in the SEC is pretty strong.

According to Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay, the future truly is now as eight players from the SEC made his list of the top 25 freshmen Insider. The SEC led all conferences in participants, while the Pac-12 had the second-most with five.

For a conference known more for its defense, McShay had five offensive players to just three defensive players from the SEC.

Also, real shocking that LSU led the SEC with three members. Georgia was second with two.

Here is how the SEC fared and some added analysis from McShay:
2. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Clowney will continue to get bigger and stronger, but he already looks like a grown man in pads, has an outstanding frame and is well-proportioned for his age. He's not an elite speed rusher but shows the versatility to rush off the edge as well as inside.

4. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia: Crowell shows quick feet and the ability to stop and start quickly, and his patience and feel for running lanes is impressive for such a young back. He lacks elite top-end speed but has burst through the hole and can bounce inside runs to the sideline once he hits the second level. Crowell also runs hard and with good balance, but he'll need to get stronger to break more tackles in the future.

8. Malcolm Mitchell, WR, Georgia: A tall, lean player with confidence and big-time talent, Mitchell shows great body control and can climb the ladder in jump-ball situations. He is a bit robotic in his routes at times, but he's a playmaker who should become more savvy with experience and already knows how to adjust to the football. He excels on back-shoulder fades and comeback routes, and he gets upfield quickly after the catch.

9. Chaz Green, OT, Florida: Green possesses a thick, massive frame along with natural strength. Once in position he flashes the ability to get movement as an inline blocker in the running game, and he's an above-average athlete who packs a powerful punch in pass sets.

10. Odell Beckham, WR, LSU: Beckham's size is just average and he didn't show breakaway speed on film, but a combination of above-average hands, ability to produce after the catch and toughness lands him on this list. Though he dropped a bullet on a quick-hitter in the Tennessee game, Beckham extends his arms and plucks the ball out of the air more often than not.

14. Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU: Johnson needs to play with more consistent pad level and is still developing in terms of finding and reacting to the play. However, he is on this list because he has a very high ceiling. He is physically mature beyond his years and possesses a well-proportioned frame, shows natural brute strength and flashes exceptional power to shock and control blockers.

17. A.J. Johnson, LB, Tennessee: Johnson is a tough between-the-tackles run stuffer who uses his hands to keep blockers from getting to his frame. He shows above-average discipline and rarely is caught out of position. While he's an average athlete and is exposed in space on occasion, he's a strong wrap-up tackler who doesn't let ball-carriers slip though his grasp once he's latched on.

25. Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU: Hilliard is a bruiser who came on late in the season. While he lacks elite top-end speed and elusiveness, he does have nimble feet and runs with upper-echelon power and balance. Hilliard consistently shows the ability to absorb hits, stay on his feet and churn out hidden yardage. He is effective in short-yardage situations and can be a nightmare to bring down when he gains a head of steam in the open field.