It’s hard to know which freshman player is going to come in and be sensational, or even the freshmen from a year ago that redshirted. The 2014 class was one of the best ever and who could have ever know that Georgia sensation Todd Gurley would have such problems and Nick Chubb would have done as much as he did.
Plus, it’s not always about the best player, but sometimes where the better players are needed the most.
QB: Kyler Murray – Texas A%M (5-11, 175) Allen, Texas: There is a chance that Murray is drafted very high in the MLB Draft and never plays a down of college football. But, if he does decide on football, the Aggies will only have 2 scholarship Quarterbacks. Murray was a 5 star recruit and for good reason. He is on the small side, but very quick and has an impressive looking arm. Kyle Allen is a good Quarterback and may hold him off, but I would not be surprised at all to see Murray take over and for Allen to transfer back to Arizona or Arizona State.
QB: Josh Rosen – UCLA (6-4, 205) Bellflower, California: It’s usually better to redshirt true freshmen Quarterbacks, but UCLA has a unique situation with the loss of Brett Hundley. Jerry Neuheisel played fine in place of Hundley when needed in 2014, but if he can’t handle it full time then they could turn to Josh Rosen. He has been very impressive in everything I have seen him in including the Elite 11 Camp and his game film.
QB: DJ Gillins – Wisconsin (6-3, 181) Jacksonville, Florida: New coaching staff at Wisconsin, but same ideals. They want to run the ball, but they need a Quarterback that can complete some passes. Last year’s staff all but gave up on Joel Stave and replaced him with Tanner McEvoy, who is a
talented athlete and incredible runner at Quarterback but he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a pass from 10 feet away. Gillins would give them the athlete that coaches desire at Quarterback these days with possibilities that can’t be matched. The coaches may stick with the experience of Joel Stave since he has one more year
QB: Alex Malzone – Michigan (6-1, 203) Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: This is quite the reach on my part, but Michigan needs a Quarterback to start off the Jim Harbaugh era. It’s not going to be the much more celebrated Zach Gentry because he is a project at best. The shorter, more under the radar kind of Quarterback is usually the one that comes through and Malzone was always determined to play Quarterback for Michigan no matter what and was not scared off by the recruitment of Gentry. He seems to be a kid with a lot of heart which is what is needed. I am not impressed with either Quarterback the Wolverines already have, Shane Morris or Wilton Speight.
RB: Jacques Patrick – Florida State (6-3, 235) Orlando, Florida: The Seminoles have returning backs Dalvin Cook and Mario Pender but they are different types of backs than Patrick. At 6-3, 235, with excellent speed, strength and power, Jacques Patrick has a chance at being the next great big Running Back in college football. Rated as the 3rd best back in the country and the very best in Florida, Patrick has a chance to play early in Tallahassee. Patrick is also a good receiver out of the backfield. Cook should be the guy at Florida State in 2015, but look for Pender and Patrick to emerge as well. Patrick enrolled at Florida State in January and is already turning heads.
RB: Derrius Guice – LSU (5-11, 215) Baton Rouge, Louisiana: The Tigers are going to play a lot of Running Backs even with sophomore Leonard Fournette. Grice is tough and he’s big and fast. He won’t run for a 1,000 yards as a true freshman, but he will play a lot and have some success next Fall. He appears to be larger than his listed size. This guy carries the ball with some attitude which bodes well for early playing time in the SEC.
RB: CJ Leggett – Georgia Tech (5-9, 205) Alpharetta, Georgia: Georgia Tech lost a lot of talent at both the Fullback and the Wingback/Slotback positions. Leggett redshirted last season and should be a leader to take over one of the Wingback or Slotback roles. Leggett looks perfect for the outside
Running Back positions at Georgia Tech. He is shorter, yet stocky and strong and he is quick. Not necessarily a top end burner, but he is quick and shifty. He finds his hole and with a burst is through it. The Fullbacks and the Quarterbacks in the Flexbone are going to get the most yardage generally, so Leggett won’t have huge numbers more than likely.
RB: LJ Scott – Michigan State (6-1, 217) Hubbard, Ohio: The Spartans lost reliable Jeremy Langford after last season and he had the best 40 time at the NFL Combine for Running Backs with a 4.42. Nick Hill was also a senior and Delton Williams the lone returning back with experience has been recently suspended. LJ Scott or redshirt freshman Madre London will be the next guys with the possibility of replacing Langford. Both are big backs with speed so the competition will be interesting and both may need to play.
FB: David Ducre – LSU (6-0, 240) Slidell, Louisiana: Nobody much uses a Fullback any more, but Ducre could be a special player. He’s huge and has good speed. He ran for over 1,500 yards as a senior in high school, but projects as a Fullback at LSU and they use one. The Tigers lost Fullback Connor Neighbors to graduation.
WR: DaMarcus Lodge – Ole Miss (6-2, 185) Cedar Hill, Texas: Lodge was not the top rated Wide Receiver in high school, but this guy is a play maker and he has a great opportunity at Ole Miss to play early and often. The best player at Ole Miss on offense could have been Laquan Treadwell over the last 2 seasons and he was injured severely against Auburn last season. If he is back, expect him to take right back up where he left off, but look for Lodge to supplement him instantly.
WR: Cordell Broadus – UCLA (6-2, 190) Las Vegas, Nevada: Yep, he’s the son of Snoop Dogg and yep, he is talented. He played at one of the top schools in the country and was one of the most sought after Wide Receivers in the land. Snoop Dog is a huge USC fan, but may have to switch to UCLA
now with his son playing there. The Bruins return top receiver Jordan Payton and some other talent, but could use a talent like Cordell Broadus.
WR: George Campbell – Florida State (6-3, 190) Tarpon Springs, Florida: Campbell will be a difference maker from day one at Florida State. He’s a big, strong kid with great size and speed, plus he has the hands. He will only be around for 3 years so the Seminoles will need to use him early and often.
TE: Milan Richard – Clemson (6-2, 245) Savannah, Georgia: Nephew of Herschel Walker, Richard supposedly blew away everyone on the scout team last season. Obviously, he is gifted athletically and can run. Apparently, his blocking is up to standard as well.
OT: Martez Ivey – Florida (6-6, 275) Apopka, Florida: One of the top rated Offensive Tackles in the country and he will probably need to play early out of necessity. The Gators don’t have much depth in the Offensive Line and Ivey should be able to help right away.
OT: Drew Richmond – Tennessee (6-5, 323) Memphis, Tennessee: Like Ivey at Florida, Richmond is walking into an ideal situation at Tennessee. The Volunteers were close to starting water boys last year with their complete lack of depth. Richmond looks like he could play right away if still needed.
OT: Keenan Walker – Arizona (6-6, 282) Scottsdale, Arizona: Arizona lost both starting tackles off of last season and Keenan Walker looks to have the talent to help out pretty quickly.
OT: Sterling Jenkins – Penn State (6-8, 305) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Penn State has not had a lot of depth because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Jenkins is a super talented and tough Offensive Tackle prospect that could help out pretty early.
OG: Javon Patterson – Ole Miss (6-3, 315) Petal, Mississippi: Early enrollee that is already impressing coaches and players. Should have a shot at starting as a true freshman and should do well.
OG: Garrett Brumfield – LSU (6-4, 310) Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Top Guard prospect in the nation a year ago and is projected to start at Guard for the Tigers this season after taking a redshirt.
OC: Jake Pisarcik – Oregon (6-2, 295) Medford, New Jersey: Somebody has to replace long time Center Hronus Grassu and Pisarcik could be the guy.
Since I made this list, Notre Dame Center Matt Hegarty decided to transfer to Oregon and he probably beats out freshman Pisarcik.
DE: Jashon Cornell – Ohio State (6-3, 265) Saint Paul, Minnesota: Very quick and aggressive Defensive End coming off the corner. He’s got the perfect opportunity at Ohio State to start opposite of Joey Bosa and do really well. I am pretty sure he was a 5 star at one time but dropped because he stayed with a Big 10 school. There’s certainly a lot of bias toward the SEC and Alabama in general.
DE: Bryan Cowart – Auburn (6-4, 260) Seffner, Florida: One of the top recruits in the country, This
guy is too good to keep off the field. With new Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp on board at Auburn, look for big things out of that defense pretty quickly and Cowart is outstanding.
DE: Canton Kaumatule – Oregon (6-6, 280) Honolulu, Hawaii: This 5 star recruit is walking into a great situation at Oregon with the loss of Arik Armstead. He should play from day one and should make a difference on this defense pretty quickly.
DE: Josh Sweat -Florida State (6-5, 240) Chesapeake, Virginia: Florida State always recruits well and this guy is a beast that could play in a hurry. He has exceptional quickness coming off the edge. The only problem could be that Sweat suffered a serious injury in September of his senior season. If he is fully recovered, he should help out immediately. His being ready for 2015 is a big if, but if he should make it in he could be a great one early.
DT: Kahlil McKenzie – Tennessee (6-4, 340) Concord, California: If you don’t think the Volunteers are going to be good, you clearly have not been paying attention. McKenzie is the son of a former Volunteer star and is a super star on his own merits and should make an immediate impact at Defensive Tackle.
DT: Daylon Mack – Texas A%M (6-1, 330) Gladewater, Texas: The Aggies have a real Defensive Coordinator with John Chavis coming to town and Mack will make an impact immediately. He is short, but very strong and very explosive.
DT: Breiden Fehoko – Texas Tech (6-3, 290) Honolulu, Hawaii: I am always curious when a guy from Hawaii agrees to attend somewhere like Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Did he actually visit the school before he signed? Tech has a really bad defense yearly and Fehoko should play from the minute he sets foot on campus.
DT: Trenton Thompson – Georgia (6-4, 310) Albany, Georgia: Thompson should have plenty of opportunity to log early playing time at Georgia. He was one of the top 2 Defensive Tackle recruits in the nation this year and moves really well for his size.
DT: Hjalte Froholdt – Arkansas (6-4, 285) Bradenton, Florida: He is actually from Denmark and dreamed of playing American football. He was an exchange student as a sophomore at Warren Harding High in Ohio, then returned home. But, was able to come back as a senior. Has tremendous work ethic. You can read about him here from this other post. http://collegefootballcrazy.com/hjalte-froholdt/
ILB: Darrin Kirkland Jr – Tennessee (6-2, 230) Indianapolis, Indiana: One of the top Inside Linebackers in the nation. Committed to Michigan first but switched due to a bad season by Michigan. Thanks to the loss of senior Linebacker AJ Johnson, there could be playing potential for Kirkland.
ILB: Cameron Smith – USC (6-2, 236) Granite Bay, California: Smith has been drawing praise at an Inside Linebacker position for the Trojans and looks like he has a shot to be a good player and early on in his career.
OLB: Malik Jefferson – Texas (6-3, 220) Mesquite, Texas: Top player in the state of Texas and has a bright future. Texas has losses at Linebacker and Jefferson should be an immediate player for them. He’s an extremely fast and aggressive player and has always been a team leader.
OLB: Dillon Bates – Tennessee (6-3, 220) Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida: Bates was injured last season and took a redshirt. He was highly recruited a season ago and he should be good for an improved
Volunteer team this year.
CB: Iman Marshall – USC (6-1, 195) Long Beach, California: Best Cornerback prospect in the country and should play early for the Trojans next year. Time will tell if he is on the same level with last year’s super Cornerback Adoree Jackson, also of USC. But, more than likely they will form an outstanding Cornerback tandem that will be hard to throw against.
CB: Kevin Toliver II – LSU (6-2, 193) Jacksonville, Florida: A 5 star Cornerback with great length and athletic ability and he should be a star pretty quickly for LSU. The Tigers lost top Cornerback Jalen Collins from a year ago and Toliver should be in the competition to replace him.
CB: Tarvarus McFadden – Florida State (6-3, 198) Plantation, Florida: Florida State lost both Cornerbacks from last season and McFadden is a top player that could step up right away. More than likely he probably moves to safety eventually, but everyone loves a tall Cornerback these days.
CB: Holton Hill – Texas (6-2, 184) Houston, Texas: The Longhorns lost 2 Cornerbacks from last season and Hill is one of the top prospects out there. Holton Hill or Kris Boyd could start immediately.
DB: Arrington Farrar – Wisconsin (6-2, 200) College Park, Georgia: This talented athlete will bring some skill and speed to the Badger defense and should play pretty early.
DB: Jabrill Peppers – Michigan (6-1, 210) Paramus, New Jersey: The best Cornerback from last year was injured early and took a redshirt season. Peppers will be a monster in 2015. Not only is he a top Defensive Back, but he should be a top return guy as well.
DB: Derwin James – Florida State (6-2, 202) Haines City, Florida: Like McFadden, James is just a talented Defensive Back and will be on the field pretty early more than likely. An early enrollee at Florida State, James was dominating in the Spring for the Seminoles.
DB: Davante Davis – Texas (6-3, 185) Miami, Florida: A tall and talented Defensive Back that will be an impact player at Texas and probably really early. Coach Charlie Strong knows defense. Mack Brown did not leave Strong a lot of talent at some positions so there opportunity is there for Davis.
This is a preseason list and very early so it is subject to change.