As SEC Media Days finished up in Hoover, AL in mid-July, we left with a concrete idea about each school’s impact players heading in to 2019. The All-SEC teams were announced on July 19th and established stars like Georgia’s Jake From and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa confidently paraded through SEC media carousel.
College football is an unpredictable monster, however, due to the emergence of under-the-radar players that rise to stardom each season. The development of younger athletes with potential into real impact players is always intriguing and makes every game must-watch television.
Let’s take a look at 10 players that could be poised for big things in 2019:
1. K’Lavon Chaisson (Buck LB, LSU)
The Texas native was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team as a freshman in 2017 but suffered a torn ACL against Miami to open last year. He has the talent to regain his starting spot and to become one of the more effective edge rushers in the SEC. “He’s really looked good in the drills we’ve been doing,” Orgeron said this past Spring. “It gives us confidence that we need in the pass rush. He’s gonna have an excellent year.”
2. Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
Surtain started 12 games as a true freshman at Alabama, something previously accomplished only by Minkah Fitzpatrick (now with the Miami Dolphins). Surtain totaled 37 tackles, including 1.5 for loss (-3 yards) and contributed seven pass breakups, added a forced fumble and one quarterback hurry along with an interception in 15 games of action this season. “He’s a total technician. He loves the game of football.” Patrick’s father, a former Pro Bowl corner for the Miami Dolphins said. “He’s constantly working on his craft. I’m not his size and I don’t run like him!“
3. Zamir White (RB, Georgia)
White is a former 5-star prospect that tore his ACL during Spring practice a year ago. Thought to be one of those generational type of players ,White will now get his chance to shine in Kirby Smart’s offense. We all know D’Andre Swift will shoulder a bulk of the load but Georgia’ success in the running game has long been determined by its depth at the position. “He’s on schedule, (and) we’re excited about where he is,” Kirby Smart has stated. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. I’m thrilled about how hard he works and the things he’s able to do. Our expectation is that he competes every day and earns some playing time.”
4. Tyler Badie (RB, Missouri)
Badie showed flashes of brilliance as a true freshman late in the 2018. He helped lead Mizzou to an undefeated November and managed to rush for 437 yards and 2 touchdowns while being the team’s third option most games. His role will grow exponentially in 2019 with the loss of Damarea Crockett. While Larry Roundtree III will garnish a lot of headlines, Badie’s contributions will be equally important to Missouri’s potentially devastating ground attack.
5. Nigel Warrior (S, Tennessee)
The only senior to make this list, Warrior will look to bounce back after his numbers dipped as a junior. Warrior, the son of former Chiefs Pro Bowler Dale Carter, has the pedigree and leadership required to become one of the best safeties in the SEC this season. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt has singled out Warrior for his ability to make corrections and fix them during tough stretches of the season.
6. Matt Coral (QB, Ole Miss)
Still just a redshirt freshman, Coral was the recipient of crucial playing time a year ago and took advantage of the 4-game rule. With offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez in place, Coral’s dual-threat skills should be fully on display.
Head coach Matt Luke spoke about Coral at SEC Media Days in mid-July: We have four freshmen quarterbacks on our team. Matt was the beneficiary of that four-game redshirt rule. So he was able to get those four games under his belt, and you can really see that in the spring. It really separated himself from the other quarterbacks.
7. Seth Williams (WR, Auburn)
Williams returns as Auburn’s leading receiver amongst current players. He is clearly the ring-leader of a very young receiving corps and will likely be the best friend of new starting QB Malik Willis. Williams average a paltry 22 yards per touch as a freshman and caught the eye of head coach Gus Malzahn who touted the production of his young receivers.
“This is the most freshmen we’ve had make an impact since I have been here,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said last year. “The group is playing at a high level. They’re not just playing, they’re starting to make plays on a consistent basis.”
8. Jashaun Corbin (RB, Texas A&M)
The Aggies will certainly lament the loss of incumbent RB Trayveon Williams this season, however, help is on the way. Jashaun Corbin appeared in 11 games a season ago and rushed for 346 yards on just 61 attempts (5.7 yards per carry). With QB Kellen Mond already established and a myriad of talented receivers in place, the A&M offense should not miss a beat with Corbin taking on the role of starter in 2019.
9. Mike Woods (WR, Arkansas)
We already know that TE Cheyenne O’Grady returns as Arkansas’ premier pass-catching weapon. The truth is, the Razorbacks are going to need SOME ONE to step up at wide receiver this year if this team is going to escape the SEC West basement. Deon Stewart has the experience, but Mike Woods could establish himself as the team’s go-to guy in 2019. He finished third on the team in receiving yards as as freshman and should be fully recovered from a wrist injury that kept him out of Spring ball.
“He (Woods) was having an outstanding Spring.” Coach Chad Morris said following the injury.
10. Kylin Hill (RB, Mississippi State)
You could argue that Hill has already broken out, afterall, he did rush for an astonishing 227 yards against K-State last year. Unfortunately, he was also hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him for the second half of the season . This year, Hill will enter 2019 as the go-to guy in the Bulldog backfield as he sets his sights on a 1,000 yard season.