Rookie review

Putting stock in statistics is a dangerous thing, since they can prove a lot or they can prove very little.

Regardless, here are some statistics I found interesting – if not especially compelling – as I perused the Freshman All-SEC football team, announced earlier today by the league office.

- Six of the 29 selections played their high school ball in Georgia. Only three attend the University of Georgia, however. Two signed with Vanderbilt and one is playing for Auburn.

- Surprisingly (at least to me), five of the freshman honorees hail from Arkansas. Interestingly enough (at least to me), all five played for the home-state Razorbacks this season.

- Talent-rich Florida was home to four of the quality rookies. Three of them played for the home-state Gators last fall – running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, plus defensive back Janoris Jenkins. The other is representing Auburn.

- Alabama produced four Freshman All-SEC picks each. The Crimson Tide landed two of the homegrown products, with Georgia and Auburn reeling in one each.

- To my surprise, three of the frosh selections hail from Tennessee but none of them played for the home-state Vols last fall. Lewisburg linebacker Dont'a Hightower starred as a freshman for Alabama. Alcoa quarterback Randall Cobb earned his spurs at Kentucky and Memphis linebacker Chris Marve played a key role for Vanderbilt.

- South Caroline and Mississippi produced two Freshman All-SEC picks apiece. Louisiana whiffed, which was a surprise. So did Kentucky, which was not a surprise.

- Only three of the 29 honorees played prep ball in non-SEC states. They were Tennessee linebacker Daryl Vereen (Charlotte, N.C.), Florida linebacker Will Hill (West Orange, N.J.) and Alabama running back Mark Ingram (Flint, Mich.).

Obviously, a lot of great players didn't make the Freshman All-SEC team because of assorted factors. Some might have been hurt. Some might have redshirted or played sparingly because they were stuck behind top-notch upperclassmen. Some might have been slow starters who will bloom as sophomores in 2009.

So, what does it all mean? Well, here's what I take from it:

Florida produces enough elite prospects to keep Urban Meyer competing for BCS bids on an annual basis.

Georgia is an even stronger talent base than most fans realize.

Alabama might be the most underrated prospect haven in the South.

Arkansas either produced a lot of quality prospects in 2007 or Razorback head man Bobby Petrino played a lot of homegrown freshmen in 2008 out of desperation.

Tennessee needs to do a better job of closing the state borders. Too many guys of the Patrick Turner/Michael Oher/Dont'a Hightower ilk have slipped away in recent years.


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