The dust has settled on national signing day and we now know for sure where the country’s top 2017 prospects will start their careers.
But which combination of player and situation is the most intriguing as we approach their first college season? ESPN’s SEC writers share their opinions on the true freshmen they are most interested to see hit the field this fall:
Edward Aschoff: I think Georgia has a few guys to keep an eye on in 2017. Offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson immediately comes to mind because of Georgia's need at both tackle spots, while defensive backs DeAngelo Gibbs and Richard LeCounte III could come in and play right away, despite the Dawgs losing just one starting defensive back from the 2016 team. I think Wilson will play early, but I'm more excited about seeing Gibbs. He's so talented and so versatile that he could play wide receiver if needed. Gibbs will get on the field in some capacity this fall, and he might do it at multiple positions in the secondary.
David Ching: Texas A&M has not shied away from trotting out freshman quarterbacks during Kevin Sumlin’s tenure. Might we see that happen again this year with Kellen Mond? The freshman checks a lot of boxes concerning what works at his position in the Aggies’ offense -- and he’s already on campus as an early enrollee. Mond is ESPN’s No. 59 overall prospect and No. 2 dual-threat QB, so he has the tools to keep the QB run active as a key element in the offense. Maybe he is not the world’s most accurate passer yet, but he brings another dimension that Sumlin QBs such as Johnny Manziel have lacked: He’s a big kid, which could make him a bit more durable. At 6-foot-3, Mond has drawn comparisons to former Tennessee QB Josh Dobbs. Mond faces competition from veteran Jake Hubenak and redshirt freshman Nick Starkel this spring. But it would hardly be a shock to see the Aggies give the kid a shot this fall.
Sam Khan Jr.: I'm most intrigued by Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses. This is a recruit we've been hearing about for five years (literally, because Alabama and LSU were among the programs who offered Moses a scholarship when he was in eighth grade) and after so much time in the recruiting spotlight, I'm curious to see how quickly he can contribute in Tuscaloosa. He certainly has the physical tools necessary and the fact that he's an early enrollee will give him an even better opportunity to compete for playing time in his freshman season. He was the No. 1 linebacker in the country for a reason; how he fares on Saturdays will have my attention.
Greg Ostendorf: I think there will be a handful of offensive linemen that could make an early impact in the SEC next season. But if we’re talking about the player I’m most excited about, it’s Jamyest Williams. The 5-foot-9, 173-pound cornerback is the highest-ranked player South Carolina has signed in the ESPN 300 (No. 39) since Jadeveon Clowney in 2011. The Georgia native was a major coup for Will Muschamp and his staff, and the odds of him playing early are pretty high. On Wednesday, Muschamp told reporters that Williams is expected to come in and contribute at corner, nickel or as a potential returner. Basically, they just want to get him on the field early. So remember the name because you'll be hearing it a lot next fall.
Alex Scarborough: Oddly enough, the player I'm most interested in watching next season may not even set foot on the field. But if Tua Tagovailoa is as talented as we're being led to believe and he really can challenge Jalen Hurts as Alabama's starting quarterback job, buckle up because this is going to be a wild ride. Lest we forget, Hurts was SEC offensive player of the year -- as a freshman. His ceiling is incredible, even if he struggled during the College Football Playoff. But maybe Tagovailoa is that good. Maybe he's the Hawaiian Tim Tebow or the next Marcus Mariota. Only time will tell. It will take a lot to knock Hurts off his perch, and it's probably a stretch to think anyone can, but regardless it will be fun to see Tagovailoa this spring as an early enrollee. A-Day may be the only time we see him as a true freshman, or maybe it will be the start of something fun.