The SEC has become a dominant force on the field, in the NFL draft and in recruiting.
It’s quite an impressive trifecta for the strongest football conference in the nation.
All three aspects feed off one another. Strong recruiting has led to success on the field that has led to the SEC leading the nation in number of players drafted into the NFL each year.
The league’s recruiting success in 2020 is one for the record books, with Georgia and Alabama finishing one-two in the team rankings and seven SEC schools finishing in the top 10. The others in the top 10 are LSU (No. 4), Texas A&M (No. 6), Auburn (No.7), Florida (No. 9) and Tennessee (No. 10).
Given the way the league has recruited, true freshmen end up having an impact at multiple SEC schools every season. This year should be no different.
Here’s a look at 10 SEC true freshman who could be significant contributors in 2020:
Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida — Dexter picked up his fifth star late in the recruiting process and it was well deserved. He completed a dominant high school career with a senior season that was off the charts. At 6-6, 286 pounds, Dexter is a disruptive inside force (and pass rusher) at tackle. And he’s athletic enough to move outside to end. He’ll push for immediate playing time.
Xzavier Henderson, WR, Florida — His brother, cornerback CJ Henderson, became a starter in his freshman year at UF and Xzavier has a chance to match that with his combination of size and speed — and the fact the Gators must replace four productive senior wide receivers who are now with NFL teams.
Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia — One of the nation’s elite prospects, the massive Jones (6-foot-5, 298 pounds) was a long-time UGA commit who listened to Auburn late in the process, but stuck with his original choice. Some think this five-star stud can start on a Bulldogs’ line that lost both starting tackles (Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, both first-round picks) to the NFL.
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia — This five-star prospect is an example of how strong UGA’s recruiting has become under coach Kirby Smart. The nation’s No. 1 cover corner is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and had offers from every top program in the country. He has the size (6-2, 205) and ability to play right away.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama — One of the nation’s elite quarterback prospects, Young enrolled early with the hope of competing for the starting role in the spring. That didn’t happen due to the cancellation of all sports on campus. Still, he’s expected to make a strong bid in August.
Chris Braswell, DE, Alabama — Big, fast and powerful, he fits the mold of recent Alabama defensive linemen who have moved on to the NFL. He’s a five-star prospect from Baltimore who is expected to step right into the playing rotation.
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU — With first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson moving on to the NFL, All-American Jamarr Chase will have a new running mate at wide receiver in Boutte, an explosive five-star prospect who many believe will step right into the starting lineup for the rebuilding/reloading Tigers.
Arik Gilbert, TE, LSU — This big, rangy, pass-receiving five-star tight end has been compared to Florida’s super sophomore, Kyle Pitts. He has a similar skill set and could create match-up problems for opposing secondaries. And the position is wide open at LSU.
Jaylon Jones, S, Texas A&M — One of the nation’s elite safeties, this five-star recruit is expected to make an immediate impact, literally, in the A&M secondary. The word on Jones is he covers like a corner and hits like a strong safety. He’s expected to see the field early and often.
MarShawn Lloyd, RB, South Carolina — The Gamecocks had an early start to their spring practice, and in the few workouts USC had, this four-star prospect from Hyattsville, Md., made quite an impressive early impression with his speed and skill set. He’s slated for significant playing time in the fall.