Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Poll: Which frosh will have biggest impact?
By Edward Aschoff
Now that we've fully digested national signing day, it's about time we put a little pressure on some of the incoming freshmen.
Today, we're asking you to determine which true freshman will have the biggest impact for his team this fall. In the past, this would have seemed like a pretty silly poll, but more and more we're seeing true freshmen make immediate impacts for their teams. There's nothing that tells us that 2012 will be any different.
The headliner of the 2011 SEC signees is Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest). He was the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the 2012 class and caught 119 passes for 2,233 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior. He's been compared to A.J. Green, Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones, and is expected to compete for a good chunk of playing time in the Tigers' offense this fall. Missouri is looking for a consistent deep threat in its passing game and it appears DGB has the tools to be that player, but there will certainly be a learning curve.
Another wide receiver to keep an eye on is South Carolina's Shaq Roland (Lexington, S.C.). The Gamecocks are losing Alshon Jeffery and will need someone to step up at wide receiver. South Carolina failed to find a consistent receiving threat in its offense outside of Jeffery last year. There are some qualified players on South Carolina's roster, but Roland might have the most potential and could be quite the player for the Gamecocks. We've seen freshmen receivers succeed in this league in the past and Roland appears to have enough talent to get on the field early.
Then there's Georgia's Keith Marshall (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook). The nation's No. 2 running back enters a pretty crowded backfield in Athens, Ga., but he enrolled early and will get a head start on the offense this spring. Marshall needs to work on his inside game, but when he's in space there is nothing easy about getting a hold of him because of his elusiveness and speed. With Marshall coming in early, he'll get to compete side-by-side with Isaiah Crowell and could give him the push he needs.
Kentucky needed to find playmakers in its class and athlete Patrick Towles (Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands) could be a perfect fit for the Wildcats' offense. He was a solid dual-threat quarterback at the high school level and is expected to come in and immediately compete with current Kentucky quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton. Neither was great last season, although it seems as though Smith has moved ahead on the depth chart. Still, nothing is set in stone and Towles will get his shot to run Kentucky's offense, where his athleticism should go a long way.
Finally, we look to the offensive line for another potential impact player for the fall. Arguably the top player in Florida's 2012 class was offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek). He was rated the nation's top offensive tackle and now that he's on campus early, he'll not only compete for playing time at a position that needs help but his body will get a taste of a college regimen early ... and that's always good for linemen. The Gators were shaky at tackle last season and Humphries could help early. Improving the O-line would help that offense tremendously in 2012.