2014 JUCO Recruits Who Could Make Immediate Impact in SEC
Signees are being counted on to provide instant impacts at their respective schools, and that's especially true of junior college transfers who have limited college eligibility left.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton went from junior college to the national title in one year in 2010, and Nick Marshall came within 13 seconds of repeating the feat last year.
The 2014 signing class is loaded with junior college players who could immediately become stars in the SEC. Which junior college kids are destined to shine?
Our top 10 are in this slideshow.
*All recruiting rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.com.
10. Ole Miss RB Commit Akeem Judd
Ole Miss' three leading rushers last season—Jeff Scott, I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton—all have one thing in common: They're a bit on the smaller side. Sure, Mathers is 5'11", 189 pounds, but that won't cut it between the tackles in the SEC.
The absence of a bruiser is a big reason why head coach Hugh Freeze relied on quarterback Bo Wallace to be that between-the-tackles threat a little more than he'd probably like.
Enter Akeem Judd.
At 5'11", 219 pounds, Judd has the ability to get those tough yards, and has committed to play in Oxford in 2014. The top-ranked junior college running back in the nation rushed for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns during his two seasons at Georgia Military College, and should allow Freeze to add a few more wrinkles to that offense.
9. Alabama DT Jarran Reed
Alabama's front seven has been a big reason why the Crimson Tide have been so successful under head coach Nick Saban, and it's getting some more help in the class of 2014 in the form of 6'4", 310-pound defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
The early enrollee from East Mississippi Community College is the third-best junior college defensive tackle prospect in the country, and enrolled at Alabama over Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi State.
Ed Stinson and Jeoffrey Pagan are gone from Alabama's defensive line, and while Reed is best-suited to play the nose guard spot occupied by Brandon Ivory, he does have the athleticism to move around if needed.
Reed is an elite run-stopper and will find a home in the Alabama two-deep in 2014, and could develop into a star before his two seasons in Tuscaloosa come to a close.
8. Texas A&M OT Avery Gennesy
Texas A&M has to replace starting left tackle Jake Matthews and is one year away from replacing starting right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who decided to stick around for his senior season after flirting with the NFL.
That means playing time could be available to 6'5", 307-pound offensive tackle Avery Gennesy from East Mississippi Community College. Gennesy is the fifth-best junior college offensive tackle prospect in the country, and one of two junior college offensive tackles headed to College Station.
Gennesy chose the Aggies over Ole Miss and Arkansas. He is solid as a run blocker and in pass protection, which is important for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, who likes to adapt his scheme to the specific skills of his quarterback.
Competition breeds success, and it's clear by Sumlin's recruiting plan that he intends to have a heated competition at offensive tackle this offseason. Gennesy and fellow junior college transfer Jermaine Eluemunor enrolled early, so expect some fireworks along the offensive line as the Aggies look to replace Matthews.
7. Alabama OT Commit Dominick Jackson
With a new quarterback and a stable of capable running backs to work with, new Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin needs some big men up front to plow the road.
Dominick Jackson could be his guy.
The 6'7", 307-pound offensive tackle from the College of San Mateo committed to Alabama over Arkansas, Florida and several other SEC programs. The third-ranked junior college offensive tackle in the country is an elite run blocker, is powerful at the point of attack and is a perfect fit for the pro-style offense that head coach Nick Saban will continue to employ.
Is he going to replace Cyrus Kouandjio? Probably not.
But he has the versatility to drop down to guard if he needs to. Alabama's offensive line was hit or miss down the stretch last season, and don't be surprised if Jackson becomes part of that makeover in 2014.
6. Auburn Safety Derrick Moncrief
Auburn's secondary was a hot mess last season, as the Tigers gave up 257.7 yards per game through the air. What's more, it now has to replace two starters in that secondary, including boundary safety Ryan Smith.
Derrick Moncrief may be the guy to do it.
The 6'3", 226-pounder from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is the top-ranked junior college safety in the nation, and is versatile enough to play several roles for the Tigers.
He's solid in coverage, which makes him a perfect replacement for Smith, but is physical enough to drop down and help out against the run and could push Robenson Therezie and Justin Garrett at the hybrid "star" position.
Moncrief will see the field in 2014, it's just a question of "where" he'll fit in Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 defense.
5. Tennessee Wide Receiver Von Pearson
Tennessee needs playmakers, and wide receiver Von Pearson is a playmaker.
The 6'3", 185-pounder from Feather River (Calif.) College is the second-best junior college wide receiver in the country, and will be a nice complementary piece to Marquez North this season on Rocky Top.
His height will present matchup problems to opposing defensive backs, and will likely draw the No. 2 corner—at best—in most situations since all eyes will be on North.
He had 93 catches for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and there will be more to come in the orange and white in 2014.
4. South Carolina DT Abu Lamin
Three of South Carolina's four starting defensive linemen are gone from last year's group, including 6'4", 298-pound defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.
Who could be his replacement? Abu Lamin may be the man for the job.
Lamin is a 6'4", 300-pound defensive tackle from Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College and is rated as the sixth-best junior college defensive tackle in the country. He enrolled early at South Carolina to get acquainted with defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward's system.
A good defensive line is one that is able to rotate fresh players in and out throughout a game, and Lamin is certainly going to be part of that rotation.
3. Tennessee OT Dontavius Blair
For a junior college transfer to make an immediate impact, the opportunity for immediate playing time needs to be available. Tennessee has plenty of playing time available on its offensive line, where it will break in five new starters in 2014.
Dontavius Blair will be one of those starters at either left or right tackle.
The 6'8", 303-pounder from Garden City (Kan.) Community College is the sixth-best junior college tackle in the class. He enrolled at Tennessee early to get acquainted with head coach Butch Jones' system.
He's a tremendous run blocker already, and if he can develop into a solid pass-blocker during spring practice, he'll be in the starting lineup versus Utah State in Week 1 on Rocky Top.
2. Texas A&M OT Jermaine Eluemunor
Jermaine Eluemunor joined fellow junior college transfer offensive tackle Avery Gennesy at Texas A&M this month, and will compete for a starting job at offensive tackle this spring.
The 6'5", 300-pound prospect from Lackawanna Community College in Pennsylvania had his choice of colleges, and chose the Aggies over Arkansas, UCLA and a host of others. He's the top-ranked junior college offensive tackle prospect in the country, and is already getting settled into his new school.
Got lost 3 times today I think that's a successful first day at Texas a&m— Jermaine Eluemunor (@TheMainShow_) January 13, 2014
Eluemunor will contend for the spot previously occupied by Jake Matthews. He's a well-rounded offensive tackle who can plow the road for those running backs, and also is excellent in pass protection.
He'll play a major role on head coach Kevin Sumlin's first Aggie team without quarterback Johnny Manziel.
1. Auburn WR D'haquille Williams
Auburn needs a complementary piece to wide receiver Sammie Coates, and 6'3", 213-pound wide receiver D'haquille Williams is it.
The top-ranked junior college prospect in the country regardless of position enrolled at Auburn early, and will get to transition into head coach Gus Malzahn's offense with quarterback Nick Marshall. That's important, because Marshall only had five weeks of preparation (and two-and-a-half as the starter) before Auburn's first game of the 2013 season, and he has room to improve in the passing game as well.
Williams has 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, making him a deep threat and dangerous in space. He also has the big frame to be a weapon over the middle, which gives Malzahn plenty of options with how he calls plays.
Marshall and Coates have already clicked. If Marshall can repeat the feat with Williams this offseason, Auburn's 2014 offense could be downright terrifying.