This is the third season in a row for writing about the most intriguing players in the up coming season. These are the guys that I am thinking will impress us all in the 2017 season. Maybe.
Derwin James – Florida State DB: Derwin James just might be the most impressive player in the country. He missed almost all of last season, but he showed great leadership on the sidelines trying to teach the younger guys and to keep them fired up. I admired that. That’s what being a great team player and a leader is all about and James has that in spades. This guy is going to come back with a vengeance in 2017 and prove himself to the world. James
Tremaine Edmunds – Virginia Tech LB:
Terrell Edmunds – Virginia Tech DB: Outstanding brothers at Virginia Tech. Tremaine is an outside linebacker with ideal size at 6-5, 235 with tremendous speed and play making abilities. His brother Terrell is one of the top safeties in the nation. As long as the Hokies have defensive coordinator Bud Foster, they will have a solid defense. But, it helps to have players like the Edmunds brothers. The Hokies are a team to watch this season and the Edmunds brothers are future NFL stars. Edmunds Bros
Lamar Jackson – Louisville QB: This guy was unreal for a while last season, but it seemed to fall Jackson
apart at the end with losses to rival Kentucky and to LSU in their bowl game. The youthfulness may have cost him and we didn’t see much leadership as players were fighting amongst each other on the sidelines at the end of the season. That comes from the head coach on down, but maybe we will see some improvement this season. Jackson is the defending Heisman winner and maybe looks to win it again. Obviously nobody has done that since Archie Griffin back in 1974-1975.
Sam Darnold – USC QB: As a redshirt freshman, Darnold came out of nowhere to become the Heisman favorite for this season. If he plays like last season, I like his chances. Darnold is about 6-4, 225 with nerves as cool as anyone and with some legitimate talent. With his prototypical size, his strong arm, his cool head and other attributes make him the likely first round pick in the next draft. Cool Hand Sam
Dexter Lawrence – Clemson DT: Lawrence is one of the few repeats from last season. Lawrence might have been the best true freshman Defensive Tackle that we have ever seen. When you have a guy that is 6-5, 350 and he supposedly runs a sub 5.0 40 yard dash, he is going to be a beast. He is a lot bigger, stronger, and faster than a person ought to legally be.
Tanner Muse – Clemson DB: Back in the day, there used to be big strong safeties like Charlie Waters and Hughes for the Dallas Cowboys and Nolan Cromwell for the Los Angeles Rams when they were there the first time. Muse reminds me of those guys. Of course, I am doing right now what I hate seeing others do and that is comparing white guys to other white guys. It’s long been a pet peeve of mine, but when I saw Muse block a punt in a game, that was the first thing I thought of. The word was that the coaching staff loved this Muse kid and he would be a starting Safety in 2017. I haven’t seen enough of him to know how good he will be, but he’s still an intriguing prospect at 6-2, 220. Linebacker sized Safeties that bring the wood on run support and also in the passing game are usually fun to watch. Although, they might also get removed from every game for targeting. Clemson is looking like a machine these days and they should be fun to watch again in 2017 even without superstar Quarterback Deshaun Watson who is now a Houston Texan.
Cam Akers – Florida State RB: Top Running Back recruit in the country this season and even though the Seminoles have Jacques Patrick, Akers will be too good to keep on the sidelines. In the Seminole spring game, Akers showed some of his enormous potential and he could be a star as early as this season. The Seminoles could choose to run Patrick and then throw in Akers to keep defenses off guard. Look for Akers to be a super star in Tallahassee and beyond. Akers
Porter Gustin – USC OLB: Gustin is something of a freak coming out of Utah as a 4 star recruit and he practically lives in the gym. Last year, Gustin was the team’s second leading tackler behind inside linebacker Cameron Smith and he is a force to be dealt with coming off of the edge. He is going into Porter Gustin
his junior season and the 6-5, 260 has a chance to have a really breakout season.
Trace McSorley – Penn State QB: Christian Hackenberg left early for the NFL and the Nittany Lions of Penn State actually got better with the undersized and underrated Trace McSorley. The gutsy signal caller helped his team win the Big 10 and they were within a few seconds of winning the Rose Bowl in dramatic fashion. While McSorley is not going to be leaving early and a top draft pick, he’s just the kind of guy that makes college football so fun to watch. QB
Saquon Barkley – Penn State RB: As most people’s top running back in the country, Barkley is another guy that will leave after his junior year of 2017 and be a really early draft pick. Barkley is listed at 5-11, 225 and he supposedly ran a 4.33 over the winter. If you didn’t watch the last Rose Bowl, go back and view his long touchdown run. It was a true thing of beauty. Barkley
Mike Gesicki – Penn State TE: I’ve been a fan of Gesicki since I saw his basketball videos on Youtube.com. He’s around 6-6, 250 and has a knack of making circus catches. That, after struggling in 2015 along with the rest of his Penn State teammates. Making big play after big play, Gesicki has as much responsibility for making the Nittany Lions the Big 10 champions as anyone.
Juwan Johnson – Penn State WR: Another intriguing player on the Nittany Lion roster is young 6-4, 220 wide receiver Juwan Johnson. He didn’t make a lot of plays last season, but in the Penn State spring game, Johnson was just all over the place making play after play. The production of Chris Godwin will be missed as he took his talents to the Tampa Bay Bucs. Juwan Johnson will be one of
the guys that steps up and flourishes.
Ed Oliver – Houston DT: Tom Herman’s staff signed the first ever 5 star prospect at a non power 5 school with Ed Oliver. He’s an amazing young defensive lineman like Dexter Lawrence at Clemson. Oliver is smaller than Lawrence at 6-2, 290 and a little quicker. He terrorized offensive linemen and quarterbacks a year ago as a true freshman and one must conclude that he will only get better as he matures. Oliver is a guy you will want to watch this season as his quickness makes him difficult for any linemen to block one on one.
Hjalte Froholdt – Arkansas OG: It’s exciting that Europeans and people from other parts of the world want to come to America and play our brand of football. Frohodlt is one of those guys and he came in as a defensive lineman and was switched to the offensive line in the spring two years back. He’s had his struggles, but he has developed into a nice offensive guard prospect. froholdt
Froholdt is a kid with a lot of heart and a good guy to have on your team.
Grayson Gunter – Arkansas TE: Say what you will about the Razorback head coach, but they do use the tight ends. Gunter is a back up, but he’s good sizes at 6-6, 240 and looks like a guy with a bright future. He’s got good size and athletic ability. The past few years the Razorbacks have had Hunter Henry and Jeremy Sprinkle at tight end and Gunter is one of the up and coming prospects.
Prince Michael-Sammons – Auburn OT: His first name is Prince which is the first likable thing about Michael-Sammons. He’s a Nigerian and like Frohodlt, he is new to the game. He has been so impressive of late, that the Auburn coaches have made some moves to get him on the field and at left tackle which is where you want your best offensive lineman. Last year’s starter at left tackle was moved to right tackle and Michael-Sammons moved right in to start.
Jarrett Stidham – Auburn QB: One of the highest rated dual threat quarterback recruits a few years back. He signed with Baylor, but when all of the controversy came to light and Art Briles was fired then Stidham transferred out. He’s got the arm and the wheels to be a top notch quarterback. The SEC has been a little down outside of Alabama and maybe Stidham can help bring it back. quarterback
Tua Tagovailoa – Alabama QB: A 5 star quarterback from Hawaii that had the courage to go to Alabama with Jalen Hurts already starting as a true freshman last year. Nick Saban says he won’t have a quarterback controversy, but it’s going to be really tough to keep Tagovailoa off the field. He’s Tua
just a natural with a super strong arm and very athletic and explosive.
Jalen Hurts – Alabama QB: The Crimson Tide wins the recruiting war every year, but Hurts was not rated as one of the best quarterbacks in the rankings. He was a 4 star, but was completely a surprise when he showed up and took over the job. Hurts will have his job cut out for him to keep Tagovailoa off the field, but he is more than capable. He is cool under pressure and a team leader and just a playmaker.
Jerry Jeudy – Alabama WR: Not many know who this kid is right now, but the true freshman will more than likely blow everyone away. I’m basing that off of his spring game performance. This freshman can play and it’s blatantly obvious. Jeudy will prove his talents in 2017 and beyond.
Jackson Dillon – Memphis OLB: Playing against Ole Miss 2 years ago the Rebels tried a trick play using Robert Nkemdiche to carry the ball and Dillon hit him so hard he knocked him out of the game and it was 4th down. Dillon is 6-6, 260 with enormous potential but is running out of time since this is his senior season. He missed all of last season because of injury.
Harold Landry – Boston College DE: Landry isn’t huge at 6-3, 250, but he is super quick off the edge and he led the nation in sacks a year ago with 16.5 sacks. Landry elected to return for his senior season probably to improve his draft standing and he should make a great outside linebacker in the NFL after he has another great college season.
Brian Burns – Florida State DE: The true freshman Burns seemingly came out of nowhere to dominate for the Seminoles. He’s pretty slim right now, but he will fill out. He finished up with 9.5 quarterback sacks and brought constant heat from the outside last season. He’s a fun guy to watch.
Ahmmon Richards – Miami WR: This freshman reminded of the Hurricane receivers of yesteryear. He has the speed, the hands and the moves to continue to be a big time player for the Canes. He is a playmaker that will need to be followed this season.
Joe Jackson – Miami DE: Under Mark Richt, the Hurricanes look like they are returning to their form of the past. The old Canes were explosive and dangerous, but they also played great defense with great defensive lines and linebackers. Jackson was a freshman last season but he led the Canes in quarterback sacks. Everyone makes a big deal out of the Ohio State defensive line, but Miami’s is really good, too.
Duke Ejiofor – Wake Forest DE: He’s not a well known guy, because Joe Public doesn’t follow the Demon Deacons generally. Ejiofor can play even if we can’t say his name. He was dominating last season and was one of the team’s top tacklers as well as it’s leader in sacks. The 6-4, 270 senior also had 17 tackles for loss and a pick. He’s a player to keep an eye on if you catch a Wake Forest game.
James Washington – Oklahoma State WR: The Cowboy’s big play guy was basically not recruited outside of by the Oklahoma State coaching staff. They were the only ones to offer and Washington is one of the nation’s best deep threats. Washington
Collin Johnson – Texas WR: Basically an unknown right now, but the 6-6, 220 Johnson will be hard
to stop this season for defensive backs. He is not only tall, but he is pretty fast and he has great hands and leaping ability. He is the son of a former Texas All American and All Pro safety Johnnie Johnson.
Equanimeous St Brown – Notre Dame WR: One of the few bright spots for the Fighting Irish and their miserable 2016 season. St Brown had 58 receptions for 961 yards and 9 Touchdowns. Extremely thin at about 6-5, 205, don’t be fooled and take this guy lightly. He can fly and leap and make the big catch.
Kabion Ento – Colorado WR: Ento was a Junior College transfer last season that wasn’t quite ready. But, this guy is a physical freak. He’s about 6-3, 190 and runs a sub 4.4 supposedly. He can also leap out of the gym and has great hands. Unfortunately, the Buffaloes are loaded at the receiver positions so it’s up in the air as to how much playing time he will receive.
Ryan Nall – Oregon State RB: In my opinion, Nall is a weapon that is wasted by Oregon State. He breaks long run after long run and doesn’t get the ball enough. At about 6-2, 235, Nall continues to outrun much smaller defensive backs and yet he isn’t given the ball much. NALL II III IV V
Shea Patterson – Ole Miss QB: This kid is a play maker and he has maybe the best set of wide receivers in the country. It’s not clear how the resignation of Hugh Freeze will effect the situation on the field, but Patterson can play. He was the top dual threat quarterback prospect i the country a year ago and came in and spelled Chad Kelly when he was injured. He can run and pass and he can pass on the run. He will be exciting unless the coaching staff holds him back. Shea