In the past, it seemed almost like a right of passage for true freshmen to redshirt at the SEC level. Nowadays, each season a decent amount of first-year college football players make an impact in the league right away. Considering how well the SEC recruits as a whole, the conference always has tons of high-level players coming in each season — and those players often get coaches and fans excited immediately.
Perhaps the best example in recent memory came during the 2017 season, when true freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench for Alabama to lead the Crimson Tide to a comeback win over Georgia in the College Football Playoff championship game.
Often, true freshmen will not claim starting spots on the two-deep ahead of the opener but like Tagovailoa will get more involved as the season goes on and make an impact as reserves.
The increased emphasis of the NCAA transfer portal means that coaches do not have to rely as much on freshmen to start, but there will still be plenty of players who change the course of the SEC season in 2022. Georgia tight end Brock Bowers did so last year, and someone else will this fall.