It's never too early to look ahead to some of the new faces who might make an impact on the field this fall. Below are seven freshmen -- one from each squad -- who could make an instant impact in the SEC East in 2017:
Kentucky ATH Lynn Bowden: Mark Stoops and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow had effusive praise for Bowden, a versatile three-star athlete who had multiple other Power 5 conference offers. Stoops called Bowden “one of the most explosive high school athletes we’ve signed at Kentucky.” He can play multiple positions and could see some time at both receiver and Wildcat quarterback.
Missouri DT Akial Byers: The Tigers’ signing of Byers flew under the radar because it came late (Byers signed with Missouri on April 21), but he has the type of ability that could allow him to contribute quickly. A former Alabama commitment, Byers signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in February because of qualification concerns, but it appears that’s been cleared up. The No. 151 player in the ESPN 300, Byers -- who is 6 foot 4, 265 pounds -- is the highest-ranked player in the Tigers’ 2017 class. He also plays a need position -- the Tigers have been thin at defensive tackle and thus signed five players at the position -- and he’ll have to compete to crack the lineup, but he’s quick, strong and disruptive.
Vanderbilt DE Dayo Odeyingbo: Derek Mason and his staff reached into Texas to get a pair of players in the 2017 class, headlined by Odeyingbo, a four-star prospect who is the highest-rated recruit the Commodores inked. At 6-5, 255 with a quick first step, he certainly has the athleticism Mason wants to add on defense. If Odeyingbo -- the 25th-ranked defensive end in the 2017 class -- can add some more bulk, it will give him an even better chance to make a quick impact.
Tennessee OT Trey Smith: The Vols had the good fortune to sign the best player in the 2017 recruiting class in Smith, a 6-foot-6, 313-pound offensive tackle. The Vols have some good depth on the offensive line, but Smith likely will figure his way onto the field. Since arriving on campus, he has been the subject of consistent praise from Butch Jones and the coaching staff on everything from his maturity to his work ethic.
South Carolina CB Jamyest Williams: Will Muschamp said he’s concerned about his depth on defense and will have to rely on some summer arrivals to help reinforce the defensive front and the secondary. Williams, the No. 3 cornerback in the 2017 class and 39th-ranked player in the ESPN 300, can help with the latter. Despite his size (5-9, 174) he has the speed, leaping ability (40-inch vertical) and ball skills to play at corner quickly.
Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson: When you’re the No. 2 overall player in the country -- as Wilson was in the ESPN 300 -- it’s highly likely you’re going to get on the field right away. Wilson is likely to compete for a starting job when he arrives, and his massive size (6 foot 7, 350 pounds) should help him as he adjusts to life in the SEC.
Florida CB Marco Wilson: The younger brother of former Florida defensive back Quincy Wilson, Marco -- the No. 252 overall player in the ESPN 300 -- figures to come in and play quickly. The Gators lost three starters in the secondary, and Marco’s cover skills give him a chance to fit into one of those spots sooner rather than later.