Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics
There’s no conference like the SEC when it comes to recruiting.
As a result, there are always a handful of freshmen that are ready to come in and take the nation by storm. In the final piece of a 2-part series, we look at 21 instant-impact freshmen from the SEC in 2021.
Here are the members of the 2021 recruiting class that could make an instant impact as freshmen in the SEC West.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Agiye Hall, WR
Alabama needed a young guy to step up at wide receiver and Agiye Hall looks like he will be that guy. When watching Alabama’s 2021 spring game, it didn’t take long to notice how athletic and agile Hall was. In that game, Hall was one of the standouts. In fact, he caught four passes for more than 70 yards. He has flashed some serious potential all spring, and it looks like he’ll be towards the top of the depth chart to start the year.
Ga’Quincy McKinstry, CB
Like Hall, McKinstry came in and validated the recruiting hype in Alabama’s spring game. McKinstry came out of that game with two takeaways, three tackles, and a pass break-up. There’s still an ongoing competition in the secondary for the Crimson Tide, but McKinstry has as good a chance as anyone to come out as a starter. McKinstry is unbelievably athletic and plays with tons of energy. At the very least, he will be a key part of the rotation in the defensive backfield.
Raheim Sanders, RB
Arkansas brings in multiple running backs in from the 2021 class, but Sanders might be the most SEC-ready. Not only is he coming off a big spring, but he sits at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with some speed. Arkansas has veterans in the backfield with Trelon Smith and TJ Hammonds, but Sanders has potential between the tackles with his size. On top of that, he came to Arkansas as a receiver, so the pass-catching ability is certainly there.
Ketron Jackson, WR
Arkansas loses their No. 2 receiver in Mike Woods, but Ketron Jackson could be an immediate remedy. Jackson had offers to play practically anywhere he wanted, but elected to play under Sam Pittman. At 6-2 and 205 pounds, Jackson already has the frame to be a physical presence out wide. Woods will be an immediate part of the receiving group, but has the ability to push for a starting job.
Lee Hunter, DT
Auburn was desperately missing a physical prescience in the middle of its defensive line, and Lee Hunter could be a plug-and-play guy as a freshman. Standing at 6-5 and 300 pounds, Hunter is a massive prospect who doesn’t carry any bad weight. Hunter is expected to push for a starting job in the fall. As a matter of fact, he was already a big part of the rotation the moment spring ball began. Hunter might have the highest ceiling of anyone on Auburn’s defensive line, and could be the missing piece up front for the Tigers.
Jack Bech, TE
LSU needs someone to step up at tight end after losing Arik Gilbert. Jack Bech might already be the best receiver in that group. Kole Taylor is expected to be penciled in as the starter, but Bech has a much wider skill-set and can be more prolific as a receiver. Look for Bech to have a big role as the 2021 season progresses for LSU.
Maason Smith, DT
The former 5-star validated all the recruiting hype with a big spring. Smith is a massive human being who should give LSU a dynamic player in the middle of its defense. If Smith continues to grow and develop, he could end up being one of the better players on LSUs defense.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Thedore Knox, WR
Knox wasn’t on campus for the spring, but he has the skill-set to be an immediate factor in Mississippi State’s potent passing attack. Knox isn’t a big wideout, but he is blessed with elite speed and the ability to create space. Mississippi State loves to throw the ball around, so expect some shots to be taken towards Knox.
Ole Miss Rebels
Hudson Wolfe, TE
Wolfe missed extended time this spring due to offseason back surgery, but he could be the best answer to replace Kenny Yeboah. Wolfe is a large target at 6-7 and 240 pounds — with a skill-set similar to Yeboah’s. If Wolfe can stay healthy and come back at 100%, he is a guy to watch out for when September rolls around.
Tywone Malone, DT
Ole Miss is desperate for help on defense, and building a strong defensive front is where it starts. Malone, an elite prospect out of high school, will have to compete with some other newcomers and veterans up front. Still, he probably has the highest ceiling as anyone on that entire defense. Don’t be surprised if Malone becomes a force up front for the Rebels in 2021.
Texas A&M Aggies
Bryce Foster, OL
Texas A&M loses four of five starters from the offensive line in 2020. Naturally, the Aggies will need one of their highest-rated signees to step up and add some depth. There is still some talent in the room, so a starting spot isn’t guaranteed. At the very least, Foster will be a rotational piece in 2021 with the talent to push for a starting job.
Shemar Turner, DL
Texas A&M returns some talent on the defensive front, but the former 5-star is good enough to make an impact from the jump. At 6-3 and 280 pounds, Shemar has the size to play on the inside but the skill-set to play on the edge. His versatility will allow him to impact the team in some capacity as a freshman.