Power Ranking SEC Football's Most Impressive Freshmen so Far

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIOctober 7, 2013

Power Ranking SEC Football's Most Impressive Freshmen so Far

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    In a conference as talent-laden as the SEC, it isn't easy for freshmen to shine through and impress ahead of experienced upperclassmen.

    However, as a new wave of skilled freshmen join the fray every year, several youngsters emerge as stars in college football's best conference.

    Arkansas running back Alex Collins has been one of those breakout freshmen this season, falling in line with big seasons by Todd Gurley and T.J. Yeldon from last year.

    Also, a number of athletic defensive backs have made an immediate impact, including Florida's Vernon Hargreaves and Tony Conner of Ole Miss.

    But which SEC freshman has been the most impressive of the bunch?

12. J.J. Green: RB, Georgia

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    A composite 3-star freshman sitting behind former blue chippers Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, J.J. Green was an afterthought in the Georgia backfield.

    After garnering just five carries over the first four games, that scenario was playing out as expected.

    Then Gurley went down with an ankle injury against LSU and Marshall tore his ACL the next game against Tennessee, thrusting Green into action.

    Going from being a non-factor to playing a lead role in an instant, Green stepped up in a big way, rushing 17 times for 129 yards against the Volunteers.

    With Marshall gone for the year and Gurley day-to-day, Green will undoubtedly carry a major role in the UGA offense going forward. If his debut against UT showed anything, he could be poised for a big year.

11. Carl Lawson: DL, Auburn

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    Carl Lawson had a breakout game last week against Ole Miss and earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors.

    The Alpharetta, Ga. native came to Auburn as a 247Sports composite 5-star and the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in the nation and is already filling that potential.

    Lawson is tied for first among all SEC freshmen with four tackles for loss this season and has tallied 10 tackles, two sacks, two hurries and a forced fumble.

    The 6'2", 258-pound freshman is looking like a star for years to come for the Tigers.

10. Robert Nkemdiche: DL, Ole Miss

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    Also in a tie with Lawson with four tackles for loss is Ole Miss freshman Robert Nkemdiche.

    In the best recruiting class in school history, Nkemdiche was the headliner as the No. 1 overall prospect in the nation.

    So far, he hasn't disappointed. In addition to the four TFL, Nkemdiche has 14 total tackles, two pass breakups and a hurry.

    He showed off his incredible athleticism by running a fake punt for a first down in his first game against Vanderbilt, which was perhaps the most impressive single play by any SEC freshman this year.

9. Laquon Treadwell: WR, Ole Miss

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    Former composite 5-star and No. 1 receiver Laquon Treadwell was another headliner in Ole Miss' outstanding recruiting class.

    Treadwell has been fantastic so far and leads the Rebels and all SEC freshmen with 24 receptions. In the process, the Crete, Ill. native has tallied 250 yards, though he hasn't found the end zone yet.

    At 6'3", 215 pounds, Treadwell has the physicality of a senior and will blossom into a top NFL prospect by the time he is done in Oxford.

8. Evan Engram: TE, Ole Miss

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    While Treadwell has received most of the attention among Ole Miss' offensive freshmen, tight end Evan Engram has made the biggest impact for the Rebels.

    He leads all SEC freshmen with two touchdown catches, tallying 211 receiving yards.

    A composite 3-star, Engram was an afterthought in Ole Miss' 2013 class, but has made an enormous impact already in his career.

7. Hunter Henry: TE, Arkansas

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    Between Treadwell, Engram, Marquez North and other expected impact freshmen, none have managed to lead SEC newcomers in receiving.

    That honor goes to Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry. The Little Rock, Ark. native was a composite 4-star and a big haul for the Hogs in 2013.

    So far he is No. 1 among SEC freshman with 55.2 receiving yards per game. He has totaled 276 yards and a touchdown and also helped pave the way for a powerful Razorback rushing attack.

    While the tight end is being fazed out in some college offenses, Henry is keeping hope alive for tight ends everywhere.

6. Cameron Sutton: DB, Tennessee

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    Of all the highly-touted SEC recruits, Cameron Sutton flew under the radar as a composite 3-star. However, the Tennessee corner has made a 5-star impact already.

    He leads all SEC freshmen with 18 solo tackles and has 21 total and one for a loss. He also has one pass breakup, a fumble recovery and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown against Western Kentucky.

    According to his UT bio, he is the first true freshman to return an interception for a touchdown for the Vols since Eric Berry.

    Now that's some nice company.

5. Leonard Floyd: LB, Georgia

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    Leonard Floyd originally committed to Georgia in 2012 but had to make a stop at Hargrave Military Academy before joining the Bulldogs in 2013.

    He ended up being well worth the wait. The Eastman, Ga. native leads all SEC freshmen with three sacks and four tackles for loss. He has totaled 21 tackles and an eye-popping 10 hurries. 

    Many players who spend a year at prep school end up never making it to the programs they originally committed to, but Floyd did and UGA is glad.

4. Tony Conner: DB, Ole Miss

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    Just when you thought we were done talking about Ole Miss freshmen, safety Tony Conner came to bring the Rebels back to the forefront.

    The former composite 5-star leads all SEC freshmen with 26 total tackles and also has one tackle for loss, two hurries, one pass breakup and an interception, which he brought in on his first collegiate series.

    A product of Mississippi football power South Panola, Conner looks to be intercepting and hitting his way to SEC All-Freshman honors at season's end.

3. Ryan Timmons: ATH, Kentucky

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    Kentucky also brought in a highly-anticipated group of freshmen and none has been bigger than all-purpose star Ryan Timmons.

    Just a composite 3-star, Timmons has exceeded expectations and shown great playmaking ability already. 

    In addition to 88 rushing yards, the Frankfort, Ky. native has brought in 209 receiving yards and a touchdown.

    He is No. 10 in the SEC and No. 1 among conference freshmen with an average of 11 yards per touch.

2. Alex Collins: RB, Arkansas

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    Alex Collins hasn't just been the best freshman running back in the SEC, he has been the best freshman ball carrier in college football thus far.

    You may remember his mother absconding with his letter of intent on signing day, but that is just an afterthought now, as Collins leads all freshmen and is ninth nationally with 651 rushing yards.

    He did struggle a bit against Florida last week, but then again so did Miami's Duke Johnson.

    The former composite 4-star is this year's Todd Gurley/T.J. Yeldon in the SEC, and it isn't close.

1. Vernon Hargreaves III: DB, Florida

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    Becoming a starter on a defense like that of Florida is no easy task for a true freshman, even one as highly touted as former composite 5-star and No. 1 corner Vernon Hargreaves III.

    However, not only did Hargreaves earn a job, but he is tied for the second-most interceptions in the nation with three through Week 6.

    An elite athlete, Hargreaves has broken up five passes and tallied 12 tackles on top of his trio of picks. How Hargreaves comes up with those picks is more impressive than the number.

    Check out his interception against Kentucky at the 1:10 mark of this video.

    So far, Hargreaves might be the best true freshman in all of college football.