Rare is the incoming freshman who seeks a redshirt season to become acquainted with his new school, learn the playbook and take a year to develop.
In this age of instant gratification, the buzz phrases are “early playing time” and “immediate impact.”
Every year a number of freshmen or junior-college transfers make a splash in the SEC. Some are expected to contribute — and do, such as South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who started every game last season.
Others step up when pressed into action, as was the case in 2009 with Florida offensive tackle Xavier Nixon, who did not yield a sack or commit a penalty in a 24-14 win at USC in his first career start.
A look at the five newcomers most likely to make a loud entrance:
DEFENSIVE BACK, GEORGIA
The former Strom Thurmond High star made the best of his two-year stint at Georgia Military College after failing to qualify out of high school. Hamilton racked up 88 tackles and six interceptions in two seasons and was a finalist for defensive player of the year among junior-college players.
Hamilton drew plenty of scholarship offers before picking Georgia, where he figures to be a factor in the secondary under first-year coordinator Todd Grantham.
DEFENSIVE END, MISSISSIPPI
Like Hamilton, Dorsey is a highly touted defender from the JUCO ranks. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Baltimore native was ranked the nation’s top JUCO prospect by Scout.com after averaging nearly a sack a game at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Dorsey finished with 30 tackles and five sacks despite playing in only six games. He participated in spring practice after enrolling at Ole Miss in January. With his size and pass-rush ability, Dorsey could be the rush end Tyrone Nix is looking for to replace Greg Hardy.
3. RONALD POWELL
DEFENSIVE END, FLORIDA
Dorsey is not the only defensive end expected to become a pass-rushing force. Powell is considered by some to be a more athletic version of Carlos Dunlap, the North Charleston native who left the Gators for the NFL after his junior season.
Powell, a native of Moreno Valley, Calif., snubbed Southern Cal and a host of other schools. He showed a glimpse of his athleticism by catching a touchdown pass as a tight end in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
But the Gators did not sign Powell as tight end; they expect him to be their next “Freak.”
2. MARCUS LATTIMORE
RUNNING BACK, USC
Lattimore is the highest-rated recruit signed by Steve Spurrier and USC, and — the Gamecocks hope — the answer to their sputtering rushing attack. Lattimore rushed for 1,898 yards and 31 touchdowns his final season at Byrnes High and was rated the nation’s top tailback by Rivals.com.
The Parade All-American, who picked USC over Auburn, is not shying from the expectations: Shortly after Signing Day, Lattimore said he hoped to rush for 1,000 yards as a freshman.
Given the state of their ground game the past three years, the Gamecocks gladly would take it.
1. CAMERON NEWTON
As Alabama was preparing for the BCS title game last January, its Iron Bowl rival received a boost when Newton chose the Tigers over Mississippi State.
No one on the Plains is expecting Newton to get Auburn in the national championship hunt, although he won the junior-college title last year at Blinn in Texas. Fans will be happy if the 6-6, 247-pounder can jump-start a passing attack that ranked 10th in the SEC last year.
Most believe Newton has the physical tools to be successful. But he has to prove he has matured since leaving Florida, where he was Tim Tebow’s backup, after legal problems sidetracked his career.