SEC: Alonzo Lawrence
Even coaches admit it’s hard to predict who will play early and who won’t. Everybody adjusts to the college game at a different pace.
Soon after picking the 10, I started thinking about highly-rated guys who’ve come into the SEC in recent years and were expected to make a big impact early, but haven’t to this point for various reasons. Several have already bolted for another school.
In some instances, injuries have held them back, while other players were simply overrated, couldn’t cut it academically, ran into trouble off the field or just never adjusted to the whole college scene.
A few are still hanging in there, and perhaps this will be their season.
So before we get too caught up in who is supposedly a “can’t-miss” prospect, remember some of these guys, who are listed in alphabetical order:
Brendan Beal, LB, Florida: Said last week he plans to transfer after struggling with injuries and playing sparingly.
DeAngelo Benton, WR, Auburn: Still trying to work his way up the depth chart after catching just six passes as a freshman last season. Signed with LSU twice before landing at Auburn.
Bryce Brown, RB, Tennessee: Had a solid freshman season, but didn’t go through spring ball and plans to transfer. Several on the team thought Tauren Poole was better.
Gary Brown, DT, Florida: Dismissed from the team earlier this year following his arrest on battery charges. Redshirted last season after showing up overweight.
Marlon Brown, WR, Georgia: Hopes to see his role increase after catching just two passes last season as a true freshman.
Enrique Davis, RB, Ole Miss: Coming off a solid spring, Davis wasn’t a factor his first two seasons after arriving as the No. 1 prep school player in the country.
Torrey Davis, DT, Florida: Struggled with grades and off-the-field issues his whole career and left the program following the 2008 season.
Chris Donald, LB, Tennessee: Came to Tennessee as one of the top linebacker prospects in the country, but was never able to get on the field and transferred to Chattanooga.
David Gordon, CB, Arkansas: Showed some promise last season as a true freshman, but was arrested this month on drug charges and plans to transfer to Oklahoma State.
Omar Hunter, DT, Florida: Injuries have been his biggest problem, but he’s yet to live up to the hype. Remember how much Urban Meyer talked him up?
Alonzo Lawrence, CB, Alabama: A big-time defensive back recruit for the Crimson Tide who wound up transferring to Southern Miss.
Tyler Love, OT, Alabama: One of the top-rated offensive line prospects of the 2008 class. Love is still trying to crack the Tide’s rotation.
Nu’Keese Richardson, WR, Tennessee: Arrested on robbery charges and dismissed from the team. Caught just eight passes last season as a freshman.
Tyrik Rollison, QB, Auburn: Once thought to be Auburn’s future quarterback, Rollison is leaving the program and transferring to Sam Houston State.
Chris Strong, LB, Ole Miss: Academic issues derailed Strong’s career. He left school following his freshman season after making a few starts at middle linebacker.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
After consulting with ESPN recruiting guru Tom Luginbill and several others around the conference, here's a look at the 15 freshmen (true and redshirt) most likely to have the biggest impact this season.
Obviously, this could change depending on injuries, academics and upperclassmen making a move this August. It's also not necessarily a list of the 15 most talented freshmen or 15 highest rated freshmen.
It's 15 guys who could have a profound impact based either on need or the fact that they're just that good. They're listed alphabetically:
Jake Bequette, DE, Arkansas: After redshirting last season, Bequette was good enough during the spring that the Razorbacks were able to move Malcolm Sheppard inside to tackle. Bequette finished the spring as one of the Hogs' most improved players, according to Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino.
Aaron Boyd, WR, Kentucky: Boyd is the younger brother of former Kentucky quarterback Shane Boyd. He had plenty of offers, but stayed home to play for the Wildcats. He fills a huge void at receiver, where just about everybody who made a play for the Wildcats last season is gone.
Enrique Davis, RB, Ole Miss: He signed with Auburn originally out of high school, but settled on Ole Miss after attending Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy last year. And why not? Davis is Houston Nutt's type of back -- big, bruising and blessed with breakaway speed. He'll get the ball early and often this season.
Aaron Douglas, TE, Tennessee: Shoulder surgery has slowed Douglas somewhat, but he's the kind of athletic tight end new offensive coordinator Dave Clawson is looking for in his West Coast offense. The Vols will use two tight ends a good bit this season if everybody's healthy.
Robert Elliott, RB, Miss. State: One of the country's top-rated running back prospects two years ago, Elliott showed flashes of brilliance last August in camp, but was held back by some fumbling problems. He's had the reshirt year to mature and will team with Anthony Dixon and Wade Bonner to give the Bulldogs a potent running game.
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: One of the top receiving prospects in the nation last year, Green could quickly become one of Matthew Stafford's favorite targets. The Bulldogs are looking for more playmakers at receiver, and Green is one of those guys who stretches the field with the best of them.
Jerrell Harris, LB, Alabama: It's no secret that Alabama needs linebackers. Harris could factor in on the strong side immediately. He has great speed and finds the football. The Crimson Tide had some pretty good success with another freshman linebacker last season ... Rolando McClain.
Will Hill, S, Florida: The 6-3, 200-pound Hill is a punishing hitter who figures to get a shot right away in the Gators' secondary. They won an intense recruiting battle with Florida State and Southern California to get him and won't waste any time putting him out there.
Omar Hunter, DT, Florida: The unofficial count of how many times Urban Meyer mentioned Omar Hunter's name this spring was somewhere around double digits. The Gators need defensive tackle help, and the 6-1, 300-pound Hunter has all the tools to be a great one.
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: He has the look of a five-year NFL veteran. The 6-4, 210-pound Jones was one of the crown jewels of Alabama's top-rated recruiting class. Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson will be looking for a big, athletic target this season, and Jones certainly fits that bill.
Caleb King, RB, Georgia: Get ready for a one-two punch at tailback in Athens. Knowshon Moreno was the redshirt freshman everyone couldn't wait to see at Georgia last season (and with good reason). This season, it's King, who gives the Bulldogs another explosive running threat in their backfield.
Alonzo Lawrence, CB, Alabama: Nick Saban played a lot of nickel and dime packages last season and is always looking for more depth in the secondary. Lawrence made his name by shutting down fellow Alabama signee Julio Jones in the Alabama vs. Mississippi high school all-star game.
Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU: A highly rated prospect coming out of Texas, Lee redshirted last season. But with Ryan Perrilloux gone, Lee moves to the forefront of the Tigers' quarterback race along with junior Andrew Hatch. Another one to watch is 6-5, 220-pound true freshman Jordan Jefferson, especially if he can handle the mental jump to college football.
Charles Mitchell, S, Miss. State: The state of Mississippi's top prospect last year, Mitchell is enrolled in second-session summer school classes at Mississippi State. He'll start out at safety, but could play just about anywhere -- including offense. He's one of those rare prospects who was physically ready to play college football the day he signed.
Chris Rainey, RB, Florida: The star of the Gators' spring game, Rainey received a medical redshirt last year after injuring his shoulder. Not only is he super fast, but he has moves that are even scarier for a defender in the open field. Rainey has beefed up and is now pushing 180 pounds. He has a chance to be one of the SEC's most exciting players.