SEC Impact Recruits
By Matthew Osborne
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A number of 2013 recruits will have an opportunity to make an instant impact in the SEC.
We are now two weeks away from National Signing Day and it is time to start evaluating what each school has in their current stable of commits.
In every class, there are always a handful of prospects who go on to make impacts at the college level immediately.
Although SEC schools are not finished assembling their 2013 recruiting classes, let’s take a look at some current verbal commitments who could make an immediate impact in the SEC in 2013.
Alabama – TE O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy – Prattville, AL)
With the losses of Michael Williams to the NFL and Kelly Johnson to graduation, Alabama’s leading returner at tight end in 2013 will be Brian Vogler, who caught just two passes in 2012. Widely considered to be the top tight end prospect in the country, Howard will be given every opportunity to play right away in Tuscaloosa. He may not be ready to handle blocking assignments in the SEC, but he will certainly be a difference-maker in the passing game.
Arkansas – TE Hunter Henry (Pulaski Academy – Little Rock, AR)
Much like the Crimson Tide, Arkansas will need a playmaker to emerge at tight end with the loss of Chris Gragg. Also like Alabama commit O.J. Howard, Henry is an exceptional athlete whose presence will likely be felt more in the passing game early in his career. With Jim Chaney bringing his pass-happy attack to Fayetteville, Henry will be a mainstay in the rotation from day one.
Auburn – WR Tony Stevens (Evans HS – Orlando, FL)
It is no secret that Auburn struggled mightily in the passing game in 2012. With Gus Malzahn returning to the Plains, the Tigers will be looking to get the ball into the hands of their best athletes, and Stevens is definitely a prime candidate to receive a healthy portion of those touches. A former Texas A&M commit, Stevens is an exceptional athlete who is already very polished as a route-runner.
Florida – RB Kelvin Taylor (Glades Day School – Belle Glade, FL)
The son of former Gator great Fred Taylor, Kelvin has many of the same traits that made his father a dominant NFL running back. Possessing great vision and balance, Taylor doesn’t amaze with his speed, but he is a handful to get on the ground. Mike Gillislee has left for the NFL, and there will be plenty of carries available for Taylor as a true freshman.
Georgia – LB Reggie Carter (South Gwinnett HS – Snellville, GA)
The Bulldogs are losing three of their top four inside linebackers from 2012 and will be looking for a couple of young players to play their way into the rotation. Carter has tremendous instincts and is a very physical presence in the middle of the field, which should lead to a fair amount of early playing time. Carter is also one of Georgia’s 13 early enrollees, which will give him an advantage on the other young linebackers.
Kentucky – DE/OLB Alvonte Bell (Everglades HS – Miramar, FL)
Bell still needs to add some weight before he garners serious consideration for a starting job, but his supreme athleticism will get him on the field early in Lexington. Kentucky loses both starting defensive ends from 2012, so the Wildcats will need some help rushing the quarterback this upcoming season. Look for Bell to be brought in as a pass rushing specialist on third down situations.
LSU – DL Frank Herron (Central HS – Memphis TN)
LSU has been decimated by early departures on defense, meaning that a number of young players will earn playing time. Herron has added significant weight since the end of his junior season and already has a frame capable of handling the pounding of an SEC schedule. His technique is not perfect, but Herron possesses a very rare blend of size and agility, which will impress LSU’s coaches.
Mississippi State – WR Corey Smith (East Mississippi JC – Scooba, MS)
The Bulldogs are set to lose a lot of production and experience at the wide receiver position, which is why junior college transfer Corey Smith will find his way into the rotation immediately. Smith is a very good athlete who is dangerous with the ball in his hands. His combination of athleticism and experience gives him an advantage over the other young players vying for playing time at wide receiver.
Missouri – RB Chase Abbington (Fort Zumwalt South HS – St. Peters, MO)
Kendial Lawrence was a workhorse for the Tigers last season, and the coaching staff will be looking to replace his 200 carries from 2012. Marcus Murphy has tremendous speed, but there are concerns that he may not be durable enough to be a feature back. Abbington is an extremely tough football player with outstanding vision and elusiveness. He is spending the offseason bulking up in preparation for the 2013 season.
Ole Miss – WR Laquon Treadwell (Crete-Monee HS – Crete, IL)
Ole Miss isn’t necessarily lacking depth or experience at wide receiver, but Treadwell is an elite talent who simply can’t be kept off the field. Standing six-foot-three, Treadwell is adept at elevating in traffic to bring down tough catches. He also possesses elite speed, which makes him very dangerous on vertical patterns. There are still parts of his game which need tweaking, but Treadwell’s athleticism is too great to be ignored.
South Carolina – RB David Williams (Imhotep Institute – Philadelphia, PA)
Losing running backs Marcus Lattimore and Kenny Miles, South Carolina is going to need a young running back to step up and take some carries alongside Mike Davis. Williams, who is best known for his speed and balance, will compete for the starting job from day one. Even if he is not named as the starter, he will get plenty of opportunities to prove his worth early in his collegiate career.
Tennessee – ATH Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Northeast HS – Clarksville, TN)
The Volunteers are in serious need of athletic help on the defensive side of the football and Reeves-Maybin should be exactly what the doctor ordered. It has yet to be determined what position he will play in Knoxville, but Reeves-Maybin is the best athlete for Tennessee in this class and he will get a chance to make an impact somewhere. He is also an early enrollee, which will expedite his transition to SEC football.
Texas A&M – WR Ricky Seals-Jones (Sealy HS – Sealy TX)
Wide receiver will be one of the few question areas for the Aggies heading into 2013. The good news for Kevin Sumlin, however, is that he has recruited very well at the position in the class of 2013. Seals-Jones is the best of the bunch in the current class, and his size (six-foot-five) and athleticism will make him a favorite target of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Vanderbilt – CB Ryan White (Trinity HS – Louisville, KY)
The Commodores aren’t likely to have many immediate needs that will force a true freshman into action in 2013, but White is certainly a candidate to find his way on to the field in special personnel groupings. Despite his lack of ideal size, White has been a shutdown corner at the high school level and has also doubled as an elite return specialist. One way or another, White will see time on the field this fall thanks to his athleticism.