The annual Florida-Georgia showdowns should get much more interesting in the next few years, and not just because the Bulldogs' ended the Gators' recent dominance of the rivalry this season.
One look at the Rivals.com Freshman All-SEC team indicates why the Gators and Bulldogs should have bright futures. Florida and Georgia each have five representatives on the team to lead all schools.
Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno leads the Bulldogs' contingent as the Rivals.com SEC freshman offensive player of the year. Moreno ranks second in the SEC with 106.1 rushing yards per game and reached the century mark in six of the Bulldogs' last seven regular-season games.
Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry is the Rivals.com SEC freshman defensive player of the year. Berry leads all SEC freshmen with 83 tackles and also has picked off five passes.
Rivals.com Freshman All-SEC Team
QB Wesley Carroll, Mississippi State, 6-1/190 HIGH SCHOOL: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas BUZZ: Carroll has gone 126-of-237 for 1,353 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions while leading Mississippi State to its first bowl appearance since 2000. The Bulldogs went 5-3 in Carroll's eight starts. Carroll didn't throw an interception until Nov. 10. He tied a school single-game record by throwing four touchdown passes in a loss to Arkansas.
RB Terry Grant, Alabama (RS), 5-10/188 HIGH SCHOOL: Lumberton (Miss.) High BUZZ: Grant has rushed for 891 yards and eight touchdowns on 180 carries to set Alabama freshman records in all three categories. He ran for 173 yards against Vanderbilt, 134 yards against Western Carolina and 104 yards against Tennessee. He was a second-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America squad.
RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia (RS), 5-11/207 HIGH SCHOOL: Bedford (N.J.) Middletown South BUZZ: Moreno has rushed for 1,273 yards – the fourth-highest total by a freshman in SEC history – and ranks second in the conference with 106.1 rushing yards per game. He ran for at least 100 yards in five consecutive games against Vanderbilt, Florida, Troy, Auburn and Kentucky. He earned first-team Freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com. He also was a Rivals.com first-team selection on the overall All-SEC squad.
WR Dion Lecorn, South Carolina, 5-11/208 HIGH SCHOOL: Ocala (Fla.) Trinity Catholic BUZZ: Lecorn came on strong late in the season to finish the year with 27 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He caught 16 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the Gamecocks' final three games. That included an eight-catch, 109-yard performance against Arkansas.
WR Terrance Toliver, LSU, 6-5/190
HIGH SCHOOL: Hempstead (Texas) High BUZZ: Tolliver has caught 10 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role. He had three receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown against Louisiana Tech. Tolliver also scored against Virginia Tech and Middle Tennessee State.
TE Bruce Figgins, Georgia, 6-4/254 HIGH SCHOOL: Columbus (Ga.) Shaw BUZZ: Figgins has caught only three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown this season, but he's not making this team because of his pass-catching ability. Figgins instead made an impact this season because of his blocking skills. His emergence as an exceptional blocker gave Georgia fans reason to hope Figgins would continue the long line of outstanding Bulldogs tight ends.
OT Trinton Sturdivant, Georgia, 6-5/293 HIGH SCHOOL: Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson BUZZ: Sturdivant became the first true freshman to start at offensive tackle in a season opener for Georgia since Mike Fellows in 1989. He has gone on to start all 12 games while helping the Bulldogs allow just 15 sacks. Sturdivant earned first-team honors on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team.
OT Lee Ziemba, Auburn, 6-8/297 HIGH SCHOOL: Rogers (Ark.) High BUZZ: Ziemba became the first Auburn true freshman to start a season opener since wide receivers Ben Obomanu and Devin Aromashodu accomplished the feat in 2002. He also was the first true freshman offensive lineman to start an Auburn season opener during Tommy Tuberville's nine-year tenure. Ziemba went on to start all 12 of Auburn's regular-season games at right tackle. He was a first-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team.
G Clint Boling, Georgia, 6-5/290 HIGH SCHOOL: Alpharetta (Ga.) Chattahoochee BUZZ: Boling also has made a start at tackle this season, but he's started the Bulldogs' last nine games at guard. His blocking has helped pave the way for Knowshon Moreno's huge season. Boling was a second-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America squad.
G Maurkice Pouncey, Florida, 6-4/311 HIGH SCHOOL: Lakeland (Fla.) High BUZZ: Pouncey has made 11 starts at right guard this season for a Gators offense that has averaged 43.1 points per game. He was a first-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America squad.
C Ryan Pugh, Auburn, 6-4/282 HIGH SCHOOL: Hoover (Ala.) High BUZZ: We admit we're cheating a bit with this pick, but there weren't a whole lot of candidates for this position. Pugh signed with Auburn as a center and has filled in for starting center Jason Bosley at times this season, but he has done most of his work at left tackle, where he has made five starts.
DE Antoine Carter, Auburn, 6-4/226 HIGH SCHOOL: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard BUZZ: Although he hasn't cracked the starting lineup, Carter still has collected 14 tackles – four for loss – along with 1.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries in a reserve role. He had 1.5 tackles for loss against both New Mexico State and Vanderbilt.
DE Justin Trattou, Florida, 6-4/250 HIGH SCHOOL: Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco BUZZ: There weren't a whole lot of freshman defensive ends who earned significant playing time in the SEC this year, but Trattou probably was the best of the bunch. Trattou has collected 18 tackles – 5.5 for loss – along with 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.
DT Ladi Ajiboye, South Carolina, 6-1/294 HIGH SCHOOL: College Park (Ga.) Banneker BUZZ: Ajiboye made 10 starts this season and finished the year with 39 tackles – 3.5 for loss – and three sacks. He recorded six tackles and two sacks against North Carolina. Ajiboye made at least three tackles in five of his last six games.
DT Ricky Lumpkin, Kentucky (RS), 6-4/289 HIGH SCHOOL: Clarksville (Tenn.) Kenwood BUZZ: Lumpkin missed about a month of the season with a hip injury, but he still has 18 tackles and a sack this season. He had a dozen tackles in the Wildcats' last three regular-season games, including a six-tackle effort against Vanderbilt.
LB Rennie Curran, Georgia, 5-11/220 HIGH SCHOOL: Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood BUZZ: Curran moved into the starting lineup during the second half of the season and performed so well that he now ranks fourth on the team with 46 tackles. He also has seven tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries. Curran was a first-team selection on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team.
LB A.J. Jones, Florida (RS), 6-1/211 HIGH SCHOOL: Tampa Middleton BUZZ: After sitting out the 2006 season with an ankle injury, Jones returned this year to compile 33 tackles – 2.5 for loss – and one sack. He has started nine games and collected six tackles each against Auburn and Florida Atlantic.
LB Rolando McClain, Alabama, 6-4/255 HIGH SCHOOL: Decatur (Ala.) High BUZZ: McClain has collected 69 tackles to rank second among all SEC freshmen. He also has 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack. McClain capped the regular season by recording a season-high 15 tackles and an interception in a loss to Auburn.
CB Joe Haden, Florida, 5-11/181 HIGH SCHOOL: Fort Washington (Md.) Friendly BUZZ: Haden became the first true freshman cornerback to start his opening game in Florida history. The former high school quarterback has collected 57 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception. Haden recorded 10 tackles and an interception against LSU, and he delivered 13 tackles against Kentucky.
CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama, 5-11/185 HIGH SCHOOL: Macon (Ga.) Westside BUZZ: Jackson has started each of the Crimson Tide's last 11 games at cornerback and has 61 tackles – four for loss – and three interceptions. He picked off two passes in a victory over Tennessee and delivered another interception against LSU in the Tide's next game.
FS Major Wright, Florida, 6-1/204 HIGH SCHOOL: Jacksonville (N.C.) White Oak BUZZ: Wright ranks second on the team with 41 solo tackles. He has delivered 58 total tackles to go along with three forced fumbles. Wright earned second-team honors on the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team.
SS Eric Berry, Tennessee, 5-11/195 HIGH SCHOOL: Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside BUZZ: Berry became the first defensive player in Phillip Fulmer's 16-year tenure to start a Tennessee season opener as a true freshman. Berry leads all SEC freshmen with 83 tackles and also has five interceptions. He broke a 37-year-old school record with 207 interception return yards in a season. He intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in the SEC Championship Game. He was named a first-team Freshman All-American by Rivals.com.
K Daniel Lincoln, Tennessee, 6-4/204 HIGH SCHOOL: Ocala (Fla.) Forest BUZZ: Lincoln has gone 21-of-28 on field-goal attempts this season and has made the most field goals of any freshman in school history. He made a 48-yarder to force overtime against South Carolina and made a 27-yarder to win the game. He also had a 33-yard kick against Vanderbilt that put the Vols ahead for good in the fourth quarter. He was named a second-team Freshman All-American by Rivals.com.
P Ryan Shoemaker, Auburn (RS), 6-0/182 HIGH SCHOOL: Birmingham (Ala.) Oak Mountain BUZZ: Shoemaker ranks second in the SEC and 16th in the nation with his average of 43.2 yards per punt. He has landed 14 of his 41 punts inside the opponent's 20 to help Auburn rank third in the nation in net punting. He was a Rivals.com first-team Freshman All-America selection.
PR Chad Jones, LSU, 6-3/218 HIGH SCHOOL: Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab BUZZ: Jones is tied for ninth in the SEC with his average of 6.5 yards per punt return. He also has recorded 28 tackles as a backup safety. Jones recorded a sack and forced a fumble that led to the winning touchdown against Alabama.
KR Chris Culliver, South Carolina, 6-1/194 HIGH SCHOOL: Garner (N.C.) High BUZZ: Culliver ranks eighth in the SEC and 62nd in the nation with his average of 23.8 yards per kickoff return. He had eight kickoff returns for 225 yards against Arkansas.
ALL-PURPOSE Brent Vinson, Tennessee, 6-2/190 HIGH SCHOOL: Hampton (Va.) Phoebus BUZZ: Vinson opened the season as a wide receiver before moving to cornerback in the third game of the season. He has started the Volunteers' last nine games at cornerback and has 33 tackles and an interception.