10 SEC Freshmen Who Will Soon Be Household Names
The SEC is stacked with young talent this season, which comes as no surprise to those that follow recruiting.
The conference is headlined by veteran playmakers, but there are 10 freshmen who contribute and will soon be household names.
With Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, Georgia has found a one-two punch that may be the best backfield in the country.
Jalen Mills has stepped up into the role left by Tyrann Mathieu in the LSU secondary.
When Alabama was looking for a running back to provide stability behind Eddie Lacy, they found T.J. Yeldon.
Here are the freshmen that will bring constant chatter around the league for the next three to four years.
Keith Marshall: RB
Keith Marshall was expected to help fill a void left by Isaiah Crowell’s departure at Georgia this season, but no one expected him to become a part of the most dangerous running back tandem in the league.
Marshall has been consistent from the backfield, pounding out 465 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. He's averaging 7.3 yards a carry.
There have been two games this season that Marshall has topped 100 yards. Tennessee was his best game, as he finished with 164 yards on 10 carries.
Todd Gurley: RB
The second half of Georgia’s freshmen tandem is Todd Gurley.
Gurley was heavily recruited but there were no indications that he could be as good as he has been this season. He's gained 575 yards and rushed for nine touchdowns in six games, rumbling for 7.1 yards per carry.
Between the two impact freshmen, Gurley runs the biggest. He is a little larger that Marshall, but brings a real hitters mentality to the backfield. He also has very deceptive speed. That speed killed the Tennessee defense as they struggled to find tackling angles against the young back.
Johnny Manziel: QB
Texas A&M lost one of the most prolific quarterbacks in recent memory when Ryan Tannehill was drafted by the Miami Dolphins this past April. The Aggies must be surprised by the lack of drop-off that has come at the quarterback position with a freshman calling the shots.
Manziel has thrown for 1,285 yards this season and tossed 11 touchdowns. He only has two interceptions and is completing 69.3 percent of his passes.
Manziel can pick apart opposing defenses, but he also shreds them on the ground. He has rushed for 100 yards in three of the Aggies first five games. He has a total of 495 running yards and has punched in seven scores on the ground.
Ricardo Louis: WR
Auburn is in trouble offensively and the search for playmakers has been pushed into overdrive.
Enter Ricardo Louis.
The Tigers have been looking for more options in the passing game—to take the focus off of star senior Emory Blake—and Louis has stepped into the spotlight.
Louis has been a beast on special teams for the Tigers. He finally earned some offensive snaps in the past few games, snagging a catch in the loss against Arkansas. He will continue to receive offensive snaps, increasing his exposure to the conference.
Now the Tigers have to find a quarterback to get him the football.
Dorial Green-Beckham: WR
Dorial Green-Beckham has been virtually nonexistent in Missouri box scores this season. There were a lot of expectations that followed him to Missouri, but the effort has been minimal so far.
Green-Beckham has seven catches for 128 yards on the year. Last week, he finally caught his first touchdown pass against Central Florida.
There will have to be a bit of a wait to see Green-Beckham bolster his stat lines. He was recently suspended for a marijuana related incident with no determined timeline for his return.
T.J. Yeldon: RB
T.J. Yeldon is one of many young running backs that have made it to the big SEC stage this fall. He is second on the depth chart to starting running back Eddie Lacy at Alabama, but Yeldon has the obvious talent to start for the Crimson Tide.
Averaging 5.8 yards per carry, Yeldon has churned up 292 yards on the ground. He's also pounded the ground for two touchdowns.
Don’t be surprised if Yeldon finishes the season with the majority of the carries out of the Alabama backfield.
He's possessed the ability to pull the full load from day one.
Jalen Mills: DB
LSU needed a playmaker to make moves in the secondary this fall. Tyrann Mathieu was suspended before the season started, instantly dropping an All-American performer from the Bayou Bengals roster.
Jalen Mills has stepped into the void left by Mathieu and has performed at a very high level. The young freshman has continued the tradition of instant impact freshmen in the LSU secondary.
Mills was not a highly recruited player out of high school, yet he has made a difference in his first year in Baton Rouge, already receiving Freshman of the Week honors from the SEC in Week 1.
Brian Kimbrow: RB
James Franklin is doing his best to build his Vanderbilt team into one of the best teams in the SEC. While he isn’t likely to get the Commodores to challenge for championships on a regular basis, he can bring in talent and win more games than he loses.
Brian Kimbrow was a huge recruiting pickup for Franklin last season. Kimbrow has been an instant performer for Vandy, making plays from the backfield and in the return game.
Kimbrow has 183 yards on 23 carries this fall, including one rushing touchdown. He's also added 328 return yards to the stat line.
Kimbrow is a big part of the future that will be the James Franklin Vanderbilt.
John Theus: OL
Rarely do true freshmen step into an offensive line position and earn quality starts for their team.
John Theus has become one of the exceptions, starting for the Georgia Bulldogs at tackle this season.
Theus was a highly recruited player coming out of high school and has proved why he was so highly regarded. He has become an intricate part of the Georgia offensive line.
There have been some growing pains and a nagging ankle injury, but overall his performance has been very impressive for the Bulldogs.
Quay Evans: DL
Quay Evans made waves across the recruiting landscape when he chose the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Evans was an early enrollee for the Bulldogs, and was a big impact player this spring.
Though he hasn’t made an impact on the field so far this season, Evans is a future staple along the Mississippi State defensive line.
Evans will be a household name in short order as he begins to wreak havoc on backfields everywhere.
He is one of the most talented young defensive linemen in the SEC.