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Top 25 Freshmen in the SEC for the 2013 Season

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The SEC's Top 25 Freshmen for 2013

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After seeing a record number of draft picks in this past year’s NFL draft opportunities are present for a number of top recruits to make their mark in the SEC as freshmen in 2013. Freshmen starting in the nation’s premier conference used to be a far-fetched dream—even for the best recruits—but in the BCS era freshmen are expected to contribute the moment they step on the practice field.

The SEC claimed the top class (Alabama), seven of the top 13 classes, 12 of the top 26 classes and all 14 teams were represented inside the top 46 meaning the conference reloaded with potential NFL draft picks who will attempt to break the record established in 2013.

The names on this list will look familiar if you follow recruiting and a number have already locked down a spot in their team’s starting lineup, are threatening to take a starting job or project as a valuable role-player.

This list contains potential future Heisman, Outland, Thorpe, Biletnikoff, Doak Walker, Nagurski and Butkus award winners who will be among the elite in the game in the next one to three years. Of the 25 players to earn a spot on this list I predict as many as 15 develop into first round picks in the NFL draft.

Here are the top 25 freshmen in the SEC for the 2013 season. Who do you think will be the biggest rookie in the conference this season?

Patrick is a college football writer for Rant Sports and radio host on Sportstownchicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt and add him to your Google network.

Related Links

Top 25 SEC Draft-Eligible Prospects

Preseason All-SEC First Team

Preseason SEC Team Power Rankings

Top SEC Comeback Players

Top SEC Breakout Players

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25. Ryan Timmons-Kentucky

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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Timmons, a four-star running back from Franklin County, rushed for more than 2,600 yards and scored a combined 80 touchdowns through the air and ground his final two seasons in high school. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound back with 4.4 speed could develop into a versatile weapon this season for Kentucky.

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24. Larenz Bryant-South Carolina

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Larenz Bryant brings versatility to the South Carolina defense having played inside and outside linebacker as well as running back at Zebulon B. Vance high school in North Carolina. At 6-foot-1, 215-pounds the former high four-star recruit should climb the depth chart at a position of need for the Gamecocks and make a valuable contribution as a rookie.

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23. Tre'Davious White-LSU

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tre'Davious White looks eerily similar to former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, and the former five-star recruit and No. 2 ranked player at his position will continue the tradition of dominant LSU corners.

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22. Robert Foster-Alabama

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Foster is as talented as anyone on this list, but he slots in at 22 because his opportunities likely won't be as plentiful as others. He is looking up at a crowded depth chart at wide receiver for Alabama, but he is simply too talented to keep on the sidelines or even take a potential redshirt.

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21. Riley Ferguson & Josh Dobbs-Tennessee

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Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The pair of former four-star quarterback recruits have been battling for reps in a four-man competition at Tennessee for the right to start the season opener. Neither looks likely to start to begin the season, but Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs will get their opportunities later in the season when they have a stronger grasp of the offense.

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20. Montravius Adams-Auburn

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Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

At 6-foot-4, 310-pounds Montravius Adams is a bad dude. The former top-10 recruit and five-star defensive tackle will be eased into the rotation behind starters Gabe Wright and Jeff Whitaker. But he is the most talented interior lineman on Auburn's roster and will be tough to keep on the sideline as the season progresses.

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19. Frank Herron-LSU

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Herron is the next extremely athletic defensive lineman to make an impact at LSU and will be counted on helping to fill the void left by Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Lavar Edwards. He is a bit raw, but his size and speed will make it impossible for John Chavis to keep him behind Jemauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter too long.

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18. Reuben Foster-Alabama

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reuben Foster, the former No. 1 inside linebacker recruit, is behind some upperclassmen on the Alabama depth chart but can make an impact backing up C.J. Mosley and Trey DePriest. His biggest impact will come in 2014, but his ability to backup all four linebacker positions will be vital in the grueling SEC season.

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17. Fred Ross-Mississippi State

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Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

With the mass exodus of wide receivers from Mississippi State's roster from a year ago, Fred Ross will have to make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs as a freshman. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound former Oklahoma State commit could develop into Tyler Russell's go-to guy in 2013.

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16. Kelvin Taylor-Florida

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Taylor won't be the starting running back for Florida, but he will have an important role behind starter Matt Jones and reserve Mack Brown. The top running back recruit a year ago is built for the SEC and should get around 10-12 touches per game in a run-heavy Gators attack.

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15. Ole Miss-Laremy Tunsil

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Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Last year's No. 1 offensive tackle recruit was a pleasant surprise to Ole Miss who jilted Georgia on national signing day. But it will be a surprise to see Laremy Tunsil start this year for the Rebels who return four starters from last year's unit. However, he should make a contribution in jumbo packages and could work his way into the lineup at any spot other than guard in the event of injury.

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14. Daniel McMillian-Florida

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Don't be surprised if Daniel McMillian, the early-enrolee outside linebacker, works his way into the starting lineup at the weak side spot. Darrin Kitchens and Michael Taylor are fine players but don't have the extreme athletic abilities of the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Jacksonville native who could work his way into the lineup in a similar manner of Antonio Morrison did a year ago. Morrison served as the fourth linebacker but saw increased playing time as the season progressed.

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13. O.J. Howard-Alabama

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Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

O.J. Howard is such an intriguing weapon for Alabama at tight end and fits the mold of the new era model at the position. The top recruit at his position is 6-foot-6, 225-pounds and can be lined up all over the field. The Crimson Tide haven't had a receiving option this caliber under Nick Saban to give a loaded offense another dimension for opposing defenses to worry about.

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12. Tray Matthews-Georgia

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tray Matthews has already secured the starting spot at free safety for Georgia after enrolling early, and the 6-foot-0, 196-pound Newnan native should be penciled in the starting lineup until he departs for the NFL. He should be a future team captain.

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11. Ricky Seals-Jones & Sebastian Larue-Texas A&M

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Seals-Jones and Sebastian Larue will be the beneficiaries of catching passes from the reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and will see plenty of action in the Aggies' four-wide receiver set. Texas A&M has two future studs with Seals-Jones being the big 6-foot-5 target on the perimeter opposite Mike Evans and Larue at 5-foot-11, 195-pounds with 4.36 speed manning the slot.

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10. Ethan Pocic-LSU

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Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SPORTS

Ethan Pocic was one of the top offensive tackle recruits last season out of Lemont, Illinois, but his biggest impact as a freshman will be his ability to play all five offensive line spots. He started at center for LSU in the Tigers' spring game and possesses exceptional size at 6-foot-7, 280-pounds. The concussion to Josh Williford should give Pocic an opportunity to be one of the top five linemen on this unit when the season opens.

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9. Marquez North-Tennessee

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Marquez North was Tennessee's top recruit and a steal for Butch Jones to take him away from North Carolina a week before signing day. North has been impressive in fall camp and should be the next great product at wide receiver to play for the Vols.

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8. Demarcus Robinson-Florida

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Demarcus Robinson has the size at 6-foot-2, 200-pounds and the athleticism to start after taking advantage of the extra practice time he accrued by enrolling early. He impressed during the spring and with the inexperienced and injury depleted wide receiver corps at Florida should be one the Gators' top two wide receivers along with Quinton Dunbar

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7. Alex Collins-Arkansas

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Collins spurned the local Miami Hurricanes in favor of Arkansas where he should flourish in Bret Bielema's run-first approach. He will share carries with Jonathan Williams initially in his career, but the former five-star back out of Fort Lauderdale with 4.4 speed to go along with his 5-foot-11, 205-pound frame has star potential.

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6. Vernon Hargreaves-Florida

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Vernon Hargreaves is the total package at cornerback, and the No. 3 recruit in the nation should be at the least a nickelback as a freshman at Florida. If Loucheiz Purifoy sees an expanded role on offense this season he could compete with Cody Riggs for reps opposite Marcus Roberson in what is be the best secondary in the SEC. Hargreaves has the look of a future Thorpe award winner and a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.

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5. Laquon Treadwell-Ole Miss

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Laquon Treadwell, the nation's No. 1 wide receiver a year ago, could have a starting position after the injury to Vincent Sanders at Ole Miss. At 6-foo-3, 195-pounds he has prototypical size and has Donte Moncrief-like ability. He will make it difficult for Sanders to regain his spot in the starting lineup when he recovers from his broken collarbone and should give the Rebels their most potent aerial attack since Eli Manning was in Oxford.

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4. Chris Jones-Mississippi State

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Jones was the No. 2 recruit in the nation a season ago when the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Houston, Miss native was the subject of a recruiting battle between Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He has the potential to be a very special player and should be an important player on third downs lining up opposite Denico Autry to serve as a backup to he and Preston Smith. Expectations will be high for Jones as a freshman, and I can see him finishing his first season with seven or eight sacks.

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3. Carl Lawson-Auburn

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Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The top weak side defensive end recruit last season was the lynchpin for Gus Malzahn's first class at Auburn. At 6-foot-4, 250-pounds Carl Lawson has the prototypical size you look for in a rush end and should team with Dee Ford to give some life to the Tigers' pass rush. Auburn has a great deal of young talent on its defensive line, and Lawson is the best of the group which should be the strength of this team for the next three years.

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2. Derrick Henry-Alabama

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

I'm running out of superlatives to describe the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Derrick Henry who should revolutionize the running back position at Alabama. Initially he will backup T.J. Yeldon but will be a touchdown monster and could score 15 times as a backup this season. He is the all-time rushing leader for high school and ran for more than 4,000 yards as a senior. He's nasty!

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1. Robert Nkemdiche-Ole Miss

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of running out of superlatives, I have been impressed with Robert Nkemdiche, who was the top overall recruit in the nation a year ago, and my expectations were through the roof. Rarely do you see freshmen live up to the hype, but the 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive end is doing it. Nkemdiche's impact is already being felt at Ole Miss as he was largely responsible for a being the principle factor in the Rebels having a top-five recruiting class last year and why expectations for Hugh Freeze's program are sky high. He could be the next Julius Peppers.