10 SEC Freshmen Who Will Likely Leave School Early for the NFL
Let's take a second and recognize some of the young guns taking the SEC by storm in 2012.
It's a few years away, I get that, but the 10 players featured here are proving they belong in the best college football conference in America, and will take their show to the NFL as underclassmen in just a few short seasons.
Barring injury, transfer or the apocalypse, the 10 guys on this list will be leaving their respective programs much too early for fans of said programs.
That doesn't always work out the greatest—just ask Everette Brown—but these guys have the talent to at least give it the old college try.
10. John Theus, OL, Georgia
Theus is one of three Bulldogs on this list.
He is also the least appreciated.
One of the big question marks going into the season for UGA was its offensive line. Theus has been a large part of the solution to that problem.
He has started off the season well, showing consistency as well as the ability to block with the "big boys."
Tennessee and South Carolina are next on deck for the Dawgs, and Theus will have plenty of opportunity in those two contests to demonstrate why he will be one of the best in the nation by the time he leaves school.
9. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
Thus far, the DGB experiment has been less than successful.
However, fans and followers need to keep in mind that Gary Pinkel has appeared to be overly reluctant to get this young man involved on a high level for Missouri.
That said, it's not going to be long before his freakish athletic talent begins to assert itself, especially as the Tigers get into SEC play and he is needed more in the passing game.
Be patient, and Green-Beckham will eventually show us all why he was so hotly pursued coming out of high school.
8. Trey Williams, RB, Texas A&M
This one is kind of out there, I know, but Williams has shown some tremendous potential.
He has excellent speed and has been an effective weapon in the return game for the Aggies.
Once the backfield picture clears up a bit for A&M, and Williams is the only/primary option, his numbers are going to skyrocket and he will wind up being one of the most talented running backs in the history of the program.
7. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
The Alabama offense is not exactly known for its explosive passing game, but the team continues to produce monsters at wide receiver.
Cooper appears to be next in line.
He has only scored one time this season, and has been thrown to only on limited occasions.
Even so, he is second on the team in receiving yards, with 138, and continues to be a difficult matchup for opposing secondaries.
6. Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
Georgia is hoarding talented young running backs.
Marshall is the first on this list, sitting at second on the team in rushing, and demonstrating on a regular basis why he was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school.
Todd Gurley has been getting more carries and all the press, but let's not overlook the excellent season Marshall is having, especially for a freshman that is the second option at the position.
He averages 6.3 yards per carry on the season.
5. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
And the great tradition of punishing running backs continues at Alabama.
This time, it's Yeldon that's making some noise and creating nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.
In spite of splitting carries with Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler, Yeldon leads the team in rushing yards and continues to improve.
He exploded into our consciousness with his 111-yard performance against Michigan in the season opener, and while his numbers have gone down slightly, he has All-American potential.
The chances of him remaining in Tuscaloosa for four years are pretty slim.
4. Jalen Mills, DB, LSU
Yes, Tyrann Mathieu is missed by LSU, but not nearly as much as you might expect.
Mills is the reason.
He has 19 total tackles already on the season, and has picked off two passes from his corner position.
While Mathieu was a playmaker, making the interception or forcing a fumble at crucial moments, Mills has been an excellent shutdown cornerback, keeping wide receivers from making the big play with frightening regularity.
3. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
If I am going to be honest, I did not see this guy coming.
Manziel has been excellent for A&M this season, both passing and rushing the ball, in spite of his status as a freshman.
He's thrown seven touchdowns and found the end zone five times with his legs through only three games for the Aggies.
By the time he's done in College Station, Manziel may very well be the best quarterback in the conference, and will not be around as long as Aggie fans might like him to be.
2. Evan Boehm, OL, Missouri
Boehm was highly touted coming out of high school, and so far, he continues to impress.
Gary Pinkel's faith in him has been rewarded, as Boehm has been one of the few consistent pieces of the Missouri offensive line.
He's a mobile guy who has shown he can stand up and make a difference against one of the toughest defenses (Georgia) in the nation.
Mizzou is fortunate to have this guy on the field and being so productive as a freshman, but chances are he won't be around for his senior season.
1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
If you haven't been paying attention to what this guy has been doing, it's time to sit up and take notice.
Gurley is a true freshman who is splitting carries with Keith Marshall, another freshman for the Dawgs.
But his lack of experience has not been all that obvious.
He kick-started his season with a 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown, and has yet to look back.
Gurley leads the SEC in rushing yards, with 406 through four games. He has scored in every game and hit the 100-yard mark in three of the four contests.
With talent like that, it will be a huge surprise to all of us if he hangs around Athens for all four years.