Friday, June 13, 2014
Impact newcomers: Eastern Division
By Chris Low
Greg Ostendorf took a look earlier today at 10 impact newcomers in the Western Division for the 2014 season.
Again, these are players who are just arriving on campus this summer and doesn't include any of the early enrollees who went through spring practice.
We now shift our attention to the Eastern Division and 10 newcomers who could make a difference this coming season. They're listed alphabetically.
Jeb Blazevich, TE, Georgia: Ranked by ESPN as the No. 2 tight end prospect in the country, the 6-5, 233-pound Blazevich is a perfect fit for Georgia's offense. He has exceptional hands and catches everything. He will probably be a little behind as a blocker, but is the heir apparent to step into Arthur Lynch's role.
Nate Brown, WR, Missouri: The Tigers took a hit at receiver, especially with Dorial Green-Beckham getting kicked off the team, so the 6-3, 205-pound Brown will get a chance to show what he can do immediately. He caught 21 touchdown passes as a senior at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., and stuck with his commitment to Missouri despite late overtures from Georgia and South Carolina.
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia: Yes, Georgia has Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, but as the Dawgs learned last season, you can never have enough quality running backs. Chubb and fellow true freshman Sony Michel are both ESPN 300 prospects who look SEC-ready right now. If Marshall isn't all the way back from his knee surgery, either freshman (or both) could have big years.
Shattle Fenteng, CB, Georgia: The Bulldogs are seemingly losing defensive backs by the day, so Fenteng can't get on campus quickly enough. The 6-2, 185-pound Fenteng was among the country's top-rated junior college cornerback prospects, and the Bulldogs didn't sign him so he could ease his way into the lineup. He could be a starter from Day 1.
Ryan Flannigan, LB, Kentucky: Linebacker help was a huge priority in this class for Kentucky, and Mark Stoops made sure he landed somebody in the junior college ranks who would have a chance to come in and contribute right away. Flannigan could factor in at any of the three linebacker spots. He's a good enough run-stopper to play in the middle, but also has the speed to play on the outside.
Wesley Green, CB, South Carolina: The Gamecocks needed reinforcements at cornerback, and Green shouldn't have to wait long to get on the field. He and fellow ESPN 300 prospect Chris Lammons are both good bets to factor prominently in the South Carolina secondary this coming season.
Dewayne Hendrix, DE, Tennessee: There's a reason the Vols went out and signed seven defensive linemen in this class. They're in serious need of more beef up front, not to mention some big-play guys off the edge. It's difficult for a true freshman to come in and play right away at end, but Hendrix has all the tools to be an excellent pass-rusher.
Michael Sawyers, DT, Tennessee: The Vols will take all the help they can get on the interior of their defensive line, which is why flipping Sawyers from Vanderbilt late in the process was such a coup. He's a 6-2, 300-pound space-eater and physically strong enough to step in as a true freshman and give Tennessee some much-needed muscle in the trenches.
Emmanuel Smith, S, Vanderbilt: One of the Commodores' most important signees, the 6-2, 205-pound Smith has the size and instincts to play right away in the secondary. He was the epitome of versatility in high school and is exactly the kind of athlete Vanderbilt was looking for to fill the void at safety with Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall both departing.
Gerald Willis III, DT, Florida: We've seen a long line of true freshmen make big impacts on defense for the Gators over the last few years, and Willis has everything it takes to be the next. He was ranked by ESPN as the No. 2 defensive tackle prospect nationally out of New Orleans could have gone anywhere, but chose the Gators. Look for him to find a spot in their defensive line rotation right out of the gate.
Others to watch: Matt Elam, DT, Kentucky; Treon Harris, QB, Florida; Todd Kelly, Jr., S, Tennessee; Nifae Lealao, DL, Vanderbilt; Malkom Parrish, S, Georgia.