SEC: freshmen

Gamecocks' Whitlock another freshman to watch

July, 11, 2008
7/11/08
2:33
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

I was prepared for the onslaught of responses (some nice, some not so nice) to my list Thursday of the 15 freshmen most likely to have the biggest impacts this season in the SEC.

Going into the project, I knew there would be some oversights, and South Carolina's Charles Whitlock was an obvious one. There's a reason everybody in the SEC wanted the Chester, S.C., native.

And to be honest, there will be a handful of freshmen that come out of nowhere to surprise even their coaches this season. There will also be a few that we're all expecting big things from that never get close to the field during a game.

Anyway, here's a few more that warrant mention as likely impact freshmen this season, and remember it can be true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. They're listed alphabetically:

Akeem Auguste, CB, South Carolina: The Gamecocks are deep and experienced in the secondary, but senior cornerback Carlos Thomas had better not get too comfortable. Auguste, a prep school player from Fork Union, looked more than capable in the spring.

Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt: Originally signed with Virginia Tech, but transferred after a semester there. A quarterback in high school, Barden was impressive as a scout team tight end a year ago.

Mark Barron, LB/S, Alabama: Rated by some as a defensive back in high school, Barron may grow into a linebacker at Alabama and brings the kind of speed Nick Saban is looking for in that unit. He also rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a senior running back in high school.

Quindarius Carr, WR, Auburn: After redshirting last season, Carr raised his stock with a productive spring. He's bigger, more in tune with what's expected of him and more consistent. The Tigers are counting on him to be a part of their rotation this season.

Jeffrey Demps, RB, Florida: There's fast, and then there's Jeffrey Demps fast. He ran a 10.01 in the 100 meters last month at the U.S. Olympic Trials, the fastest time ever for an American teenager. Urban Meyer is drawing up plays as we speak to get Demps the ball.

Jamie Graham, WR, Vanderbilt: A redshirt freshman, Graham was a defensive stopper on the Commodores' basketball team last season. He'll move from defensive back to receiver in football and should be one of the most explosive athletes on the team.

Tavarres King, WR, Georgia: Most of the hype has centered around A.J. Green, but King went through spring practice and didn't take long to make an impression on the Georgia coaches with his ability to get open and make plays.

Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida: The Gators were painfully young in the secondary last season, but Jenkins is physical and can cover. What's more, Florida will take any help it can get in the secondary this season.

Tyler Love, OT, Alabama: The Crimson Tide will be looking for some help along the right side of their offensive line, and Love has what it takes as a true freshman to step in there and contribute this season.

Ahmad Paige, WR, Tennessee: The Vols don't really have a deep threat at receiver right now, and the wiry Paige might end up being that guy. He redshirted last season for the Vols and needed the extra year in the weight room.

Tristan Strong, LB, Vanderbilt: With Marcus Buggs now trying to make an NFL team, there could be a spot at outside linebacker for a freshman. The 220-pound Strong is a leading candidate.

Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama: Anybody who can play linebacker is going to have a chance this season with the Crimson Tide, and Upshaw was one of the most heralded outside linebacker prospects in the country last year.

Charles Whitlock, WR/CB, South Carolina: He went through the spring at receiver after graduating high school early. He can also return kicks and has shown great closing speed at cornerback, which may wind up being his future home.

O'Neal Wilder, WR, Miss. State: A world-class track athlete, Wilder brings some of that speed the Bulldogs are desperately seeking on the offensive side of the ball. He was also able to go through spring practice after graduating high school early, so the coaches know what he can do.

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