Last season there were more incredible freshmen than any year I can ever remember. Some of the great players were expected to do well, such as Leonard Fournette. But, there were a number of surprises. With Todd Gurley returning at Georgia, nobody expected much out of Nick Chubb. He wasn’t even the most highly recruited Running Back in his Georgia recruiting class.
Who predicted Samaje Perine at Oklahoma to be a great player other than myself? Again, he was not even the most highly recruited Running Back in his own class. But, I saw Perine in High School and he had enormous potential.
There were many other surprises, both good and bad in the 2014 season. Here are some of my picks for the 2015 season.
Seth Collins – Oregon State QB: True freshman from San Diego had modest statistics in high
school. But, he just looked impressive in the Oregon State Spring Game. He’s an incredible athlete that loves to hurdle defenders when he’s not able to run around them. Listed as having 4.8 speed in the 40 yard dash, but he looks much faster. He appears to have a strong arm, as well. It’s really hard for a true freshman to start at Quarterback, but the Beavers lost 4 year starter Sean Mannion and they lost their head coach Mike Riley to Nebraska. New coach Gary Andersen needs a Quarterback and Collins could be his guy. Luke Del Rio was thought to be the frontrunner, but he took off for Florida. The other competition could be redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell. I expect Seth Collins to start at Quarterback and to surprise a few people.
George Campbell – Florida State WR: True freshman receiver looks like a potential superstar. Campbell was rated a 5 star recruit by at least ESPN and at 6-4, 190 with speed to burn, Campbell is going to turn some heads in his first college game. Not only was Campbell a star in high school, but he was also an early enrollee in college and looked sensational in the Florida State Spring Game.
George Campbell will team with Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane, Bobo Wilson, Ja’Vonn Harrison and Da’Vante Phillips to form the best Wide Receiver group in the country.
Jacques Patrick – Florida State RB: Another true freshman, Patrick is a 6-3, 235 Running Back with excellent speed. The Seminoles have Dalvin Cook, Mario Pender but they are smaller speedy type backs. Patrick a power back that can take it the distance at any time. Patrick was the 3rd rated Running Back in last year’s recruiting class, but I don’t see the other two being better than Patrick.
Derwin James Florida State DB: Top safety recruit in the country in the 2015 class and he will be an instant impact player. All three of these guys were early enrollees at Florida State this Spring and all three are difference makers. James intercepted Quarterback Sean Maguire’s first pass in the Spring game and took it back for a score.
Over the last 2 or 3 seasons, the experts have given every recruiting title to Alabama, but the Seminoles have really out recruited them and especially with this class. This recruiting class is just loaded and so was last season’s.
Corey Clements – Wisconsin RB: The Glassboro, New Jersey Running Back will take over for All American and nation’s leading rusher Melvin Gordon in 2015. He’s not really a surprise and most
people know about him already. At 5-11, 215 to 220 pounds, Clements is another power back type of guy that can flat out fly. He torched 4 defenses last year and ran for more than 100 yards in each of those games and finished with 949 yards and 9 Touchdowns.
Peter Kalambayi – Stanford LB: Kalambayi was a back up at Linebacker last season, but is an impressive athlete and at 6-3, 245 he has a shot at being one of the best at Stanford in the past few years. Kalambayi had 6.5 sacks in 2014, but look for him to put up Trent Murphy kind of numbers for 2015. Stanford plays ball control offense and old school defense and they fly to the ball as a unit and I expect an All American season out of Peter Kalambayi.
Solomon Thomas – Stanford DE: Former 4 star recruit out of Texas will see plenty of playing time in 2015 if for no other reason than a lack of bodies returning in the Defensive Line at Stanford. The 6-3, 260 sophomore has been picked by some as a 3rd team all conference and I am fairly confident he at least matches that.
Christian McCaffrey – Stanford RB: McCaffrey I have blogged about a couple of times already: McCaffrey Family He was impressive as a true freshman and should get his hands on the ball way more often in 2015.
Jordan Howard – Indiana RB: Howard may not be much of a surprise because he’s pretty well known already. I blogged about him earlier here: Howard This transfer from UAB has the perfect opportunity to create quite a stir taking over for 2,000 yard rusher Tevin Coleman. The Hoosiers return a good Quarterback in Nate Sudfield, and a very good Offensive Line including top Tackle Jason Spriggs and top Guard Dan Feeney. I would not be surprised at all if Howard ran for 1,700 to 2,000 yards next season.
Will Grier – Florida QB: I was all in with freshman Quarterback Treon Harris last year at Florida, but he played like a freshman. Grier was the leader at Quarterback for the Gators in the Spring under brand new coach Jim McElwain. The Gators hired McElwain away from Colorado State where he did wonders with Quarterback Garrett Grayson. I am thinking he does the same with Will Grier at Florida. Grier was the 3rd rated Dual Threat Quarterback prospect in the country in the 2014 class and he was impressive in the last 2 Springs.
Josh Rosen – UCLA QB: UCLA lost 3 year starter at Quarterback, Brett Hundley. Returning is last year’s back up, Jerry Neuheisel, who performed well enough when necessary. I intended to not like
Neuheisel in the Spring Game of 2014, but it turns out he was impressive. He may be the starter for the Bruins next year.
Ricky Town committed to Alabama last year because USC had Lane Kiffin as head coach. USC fired Kiffin and hired Sarkasian. Kiffin took the Offensive Coordinator’s job at Alabama. Ricky Town must have had an issue with Kiffin because he told Bama he was not coming there and he committed to USC. He was rated the top Quarterback in the country at that time. When he committed to USC he was no longer considered the top Quarterback in the country. When fellow Californian Blake Barnett committed to Alabama, now he became the top Quarterback prospect in the country. I don’t believe Barnett is even the best freshman Quarterback on the Alabama roster, I believe that would be David Cornwell from Norman, Oklahoma.
I also believe neither Barnett or Town was the top Quarterback last year and I believe that honor belonged to Josh Rosen also of California and possibly the next big thing at UCLA. He will have to beat out Neuheisel and starting at a major college at Quarterback as a true freshman is no easy task. But, everything I have seen from Rosen is very, very impressive. The 6-4, 205 Rosen is gifted with a strong arm and a lot of promise.
David Cornwell – Alabama: Jacob Coker is still probably the favorite to win the starting
Quarterback job at Alabama for 2015, but he was also the favorite for 2014 as well. As everyone knows, Coker was in a battle with Jameis Winston at Florida State for that job, but lost in a close match to Winston. Coker elected to transfer to Alabama for playing time, but he lost the starting job to Blake Sims. Sims was a senior and is gone and now Coker is the leader again.
But, David Cornwell is a talent. He was a 4 star coming out of high school and I don’t feel he got the credit that he deserved. Cornwell is a big Quarterback at 6-5, 235 and has a big time arm. He also has tremendous feet for a big man and can move. I think he’s going to surprise some people either this season or the following and if he does then look for last year’s top Quarterback Blake Barnett to look for another opportunity to play.
There will be a few more to rise up during the 2015 season, and there always are. But, I have company at my house this week and I feel like I need to put out something in this chaos.
The Florida State trio are on my All American freshman team as is Josh Rosen of UCLA and Solomon Thomas of Stanford. Check out my Freshman AA team here: http://collegefootballcrazy.com/2015-early-freshman-all-american-team/