In the Southeastern Conference, the best team is quite often the deepest team, the one suited to withstand the gauntlet that is conference play.
Depth was Alabama's defining characteristic during championship seasons, coach Nick Saban said, and with top recruits rolling in by multiple of five every February, the Crimson Tide will be loaded once more.
There are several other schools banking on newcomers to push them over the top.
Missouri is testing out running back Marcus Murphy as a slot receiver this August, and because of that, more of the carries are going to true freshman Trevon Walters. In the first scrimmage, he had 14 carries for 98 yards, and it seems like a safe bet that he'll play this fall. While he'll still have to share carries with Russell Hansbrough, Murphy and Morgan Steward, Walters could make a big impact with fresh legs on the ground.
The Sports Xchange asked its college football correspondents to identify others like Walters, newcomers who could be positioned to crash into the conference with a tangible impact.
QB Jake Coker, Alabama: The Florida State transfer is considered the favorite to take over for the departed AJ McCarron. Coker was 18-of-36 passing for the Seminoles in backing up Heisman winner Jameis Winston last year before injuring his knee. He is eligible immediately after graduating from FSU in the spring.
TE Jake McGee, Florida: A graduate student transfer from Virginia, McGee could fill the black-hole void that UF's tight ends produced for the offense following the 2012 early departure of Jordan Reed to the NFL draft. Florida tight ends combined for just 4 catches for 42 yards and no touchdowns in 2013. McGee was a prime target at Virginia last season, finishing 2013 with 43 catches for 395 yards and 2 TDs. He figures to get plenty of targets in new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's scheme.
WR D'haquille (Duke) Williams, Auburn: The junior college transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will give the Tigers another receiving threat to take some of the pressure off Sammie Coats. Williams (6-2, 216) caught 51 passes with nine of them for touchdowns in 2013.
DE Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: The 6-foot-5, 235-pound true freshman has impressed coaches with his combination of intelligence and athletic ability. In new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's 3-4 scheme, Carter could see time at both outside linebacker and defensive end. He's another talented, speedy edge rusher for Georgia who has the ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
S A.J. Stamps, Kentucky: The junior-college transfer will be asked to make an immediate impact in the back end. His team at East Mississippi Community College won the 2013 JC national championship and he had a strong spring after enrolling at Kentucky in January. Stamps is pegged to the starting free safety and has solid coverage skills after playing at corner for most of his two JC campaigns. "He's a guy that helps fill a big void right there," said Stoops, "because I just love the way he's playing."
WR Malachi Dupre, LSU: Because it would have been too easy to ID No. 1 national recruit Leonard Fournette, we introduce Dupre. He was one of the top-rated receivers coming out of high school last season. If it weren't for Fournette being in the same class, Dupre would be the newcomer attracting the most attention. It shouldn't take long for him to attract the attention of opposing defenses.
CB Tee Shepard, Ole Miss: Shepard, a junior college transfer, was a signing day surprise for Ole Miss as he flipped his commitment from Mississippi State. At 6-1 and 195 pounds, Shepard can give receivers problems with his length and physicality. The former Notre Dame signee has made a quick impression, getting reps with the first team throughout fall camp. "I expect Tee to come in and be hopefully a lockdown corner that we've been missing," Freeze said. "He's got the size, the strength and the speed. He's physical."
TE Darrion Hutcherson, Mississippi State: Although the Bulldogs have two seniors back at tight end, Hutcherson was signed out of junior college in February. At 6-foot-7, 250-pounds, Hutcherson creates a big target for Dak Prescott to throw to. He will create a lot of mismatches in the passing game.
QB Kyle Allen, Texas A&M: His bid to become the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Aggies since World War II went by the wayside when the Aggies tapped Kenny Hill the No. 1 quarterback for the Sept. 28 opener at South Carolina. Allen figures to get his shot running the show for Texas A&M. Allen passed for more than 8,000 yards and 86 touchdowns in high school. He's not the runner that Johnny Manziel was, but that could just take the pressure off of him to be Manziel-like.
OT Frank Ragnow, Arkansas: Head coach Bret Bielema dug into his Big Ten roots, lifting Ragnow out of Chanhassen, Minn. At 6-6, 292 pounds, Ragnow has the frame of a tackle and can probably add another 20 or 30 pounds without losing his edge. While the line is one of this team's strengths, Ragnow has made an impression on Bielema in the preseason and should be a mainstay of future Razorback O-lines for years to come.