Identifying Alabama Football as having more impact freshmen than rest of the SEC

There will be plenty of freshman talent in the SEC. How many will earn starting or other key roles in the 2024 season?
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The need for elite high school players to make early impacts in the SEC has lessened. In most cases, plugging new starters and key role players into a roster is done with transfers. Though some SEC programs with less transfer success, still need new freshmen to take on key roles immediately.

A good example is the Auburn Tigers. Hugh Freeze is in bad need of impact help at wide receiver. Fortunately for Freeze and Auburn, freshman, Cam Coleman may be a starter able to make an impact from day one of the season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide has a much stronger wide receiver group than Auburn. Even so freshman, Ryan Williams is expected to have a key role for Alabama during the fall. 'Young' freshmen, meaning those who skip high school senior seasons, as did Williams, are normally not physically ready to compete. He may be a rare exception, blessed with speed and pass-catching ability.

Chris Hummer recently published the results of a major task to predict college football's top 100, impact true freshmen. Based on Hummer's assessment every SEC team has at least one. A total of 31 SEC freshmen were included. Alabama Football, with four, had more than any other SEC team. Along with Williams, Hummer included Crimson Tide defensive backs, Zabien Brown, Jaylen Mbakwe, and Zavier Mincey. There is no reason to question the potential of the new Tide dbs. They may not beat out key transfers, but all three will be in the mix during fall camp. Another Alabama freshman Hummer could have included is Red Morgan.

Auburn, Florida, LSU, and South Carolina had three freshmen on the top 100 list. A second freshman starter for Auburn could be defensive lineman, Amaris Williams. DL, LJ McCrary is likely to be an important rotational player for Florida. Gators' freshman running back, Jaden Baugh could also have a key role. PJ Woodland has a chance to start at LSU at some point during the season. Edge Dylan Stewart is expected to have a key role early for South Carolina.

Texas A&M will find a way to get Terry Bussey on the field as much as possible. Mississippi State needs help at wide receiver as much as Auburn, so Mario Craver is expected to start game one for the Bulldogs.

Even if a young man is not quite physically ready, coaches may choose to award early action. An example is 17-year receiver Hardley Gilmore at Kentucky. Like Ryan Williams, Gilmore reclassified to skip his high school senior season. If Mark Stoops does not play him much as a freshman, Gilmore will quickly become a target for transfer offers.