With the rise in early enrollments for college freshmen, we are getting an earlier glimpse than ever of what true freshmen will make early impacts in their college football careers. With most spring practices around the country now in the books, we take a look at some of the true freshman early enrollees that are already becoming big men on campus.
Jordan Leggett had a big afternoon in the Clemson spring game.
Jordan Leggett, TE – Clemson
(Industry generated) 247Composite rating: .8712 (3-star); No. 17 tight end
247Sports rating: 88 (3-star); No. 20 tight end
An ACL tear to tight end Sam Cooper this spring may spell opportunity for Leggett and he has seized what opportunity he’s been given so far. The true freshman had seven catches for 97 yards including a 50-yarder in Clemson’s spring scrimmage.
Alex Figueroa, LB – Miami
247Composite: .8500 (only rated by 247Sports)
247Sports rating: 85 (3-star); No. 1 prep school weakside defensive end
Figueroa entered spring practice atop the depth chart at strongside defensive end. He also ended the spring in the same spot. You can expect to see Fgueroa early and often for the Hurricanes in the fall.
Mitch Trubisky, QB – North Carolina
247Composite rating: .9135 (4-star); No. 6 dual-threat quarterback
247Sports rating: 95 (4-star); No. 1 dual-threat quarterback
According to head coach Larry Fedora, if North Carolina played today, Trubisky would enter the game No. 2 on the team’s depth chart. As a physically impressive quarterback, Trubisky has been everything we thought he would be early on.
Khris Francis, RB – North Carolina
247Composite rating: .8576 (3-star); No. 20 all-purpose back
247Sports rating: 87 (3-star); No. 20 all-purpose back
As North Carolina looks to replace future NFL draft pick Giovanni Bernard, the Tar Heels won’t overlook freshman Khris Francis after his spring effort. His game-high 101 yards in the spring game capped a strong few weeks of work.
Steven Elmer, OL – Notre Dame
247Composite rating: .9466 (4-star); No. 10 offensive tackle
247Sports rating: 94 (4-star); No. 12 offensive tackle
Elmer has landed in the two-deep as a true freshman already and his combination of size, length and athleticism has Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame coaching staff extremely excited.
Corey Robinson, WR – Notre Dame
247Composite rating; .8822 (3-star); No. 54 wide receiver
247Sports rating: 86 (3-star); No. 104 wide receiver
Robinson sat out the spring game due to a hyper-extended elbow but he earned that injury with the catch of the spring on a one-handed grab down the sideline. Robinson has tremendous size and his ball-skills are elite.
Brandon Facyson, CB – Virginia Tech
247Composite rating: .8737 (3-star); No. 31 cornerback
247Sports rating: 89 (3-star); No. 36 cornerback
Virginia Tech may not need Facyson to play in the fall and redshirting remains an option but the big defensive back has proven in quick time that he is capable of making an early impact with the spring he’s been able to put together.
Aaron Wimbery, RB – Iowa State
247Composite rating: .8409 (3-star); No. 1 JuCo all-purpose back
247Sports rating: 86 (3-star); No. 2 JuCo all-purpose back
A JUCO product, Wimberly looks like he has every intention of making an immediate impact following a spring that was capped with 89 rushing on 15 carries in the spring game.
Ahmad Thomas, S – Oklahoma
247Composite rating: .8668 (3-star); No. 37 safety
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 27 safety
Thomas is a safety that came in physically ready for the college game and the Miami Central product has all the athleticism you need to compete in the Big 12 as well. He’ll be competing for a starting job this August.
Davis Webb – Texas Tech
247Composite rating: .8672 (3-star); No. 25 pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating: 87 (3-star); No. 28 pro-style quarterback
Though Michael Brewer has the experience edge, head coach Kliff Kingsbury is giving Webb every opportunity to win the starting job. In three scrimmages Webb completed 52% of his passes for 461 yards and the battle for starter will continue into the summer.
Tyrone Swoopes, QB – Texas
247Composite rating: .9187 (4-star); No. 6 athlete
247Sports rating: 91 (4-star); No. 13 athlete
Leaving the spring, Swoopes is the No. 3 quarterback on Texas’ depth chart having already passed up Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. He could even get into that No. 2 spot with a strong summer and pre-season. All of this is due to terrific frame and athleticism but more importantly the mental aptitude to pick up the offense quickly.
Kevin White, WR – West Virginia
247Composite rating: .8343 (3-star); No. 19 JuCo wide receiver
247Sports rating: 84 (3-star); No. 19 JuCo wide receiver
In West Virginia’s spring game, White was the second best player on the field regardless of position, regardless of class. His five catches for 72 yards included a spectacular 46-yard touchdown and he’ll be a starter from day one in the Mountaineer offense.
Darius Mosely, DB – Illinois
247Composite rating: .8703 (3-star); No. 33 cornerback
247Sports rating: 87 (3-star); No. 52 cornerback
One of the biggest gets in the 2013 Illinois recruiting class from a rankings perspective, Mosely is already looking like a future impact performer. His 10 tackles in the Illinois spring game from his defensive back position led all performers.
Taco Charlton, DE – Michigan
247Composite rating: .9366 (4-star); No. 3 weakside defensive end
247Sports rating: 94 (4-star); No. 3 weakside defensive end
After adding 16 pounds following his arrival in Ann Arbor, Charlton is currently at 6-foot-6 and hopes to play in the fall at around 270 pounds. With that added weight, Charlton could quickly become one of the toughest matchups in the Big Ten.
Dymonte Thomas, DB – Michigan
247Composite rating: .9682 (4-star); No. 9 safety
247Sports rating: 95 (4-star); No. 11 safety
At 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, Thomas is already getting meaningful snaps at nickelback during spring practice and is likely too good to keep the redshirt on in the fall.
Courtney Love, LB – Nebraska
247Composite rating: .8762 (3-star); No. 29 outside linebacker
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 23 outside linebacker
Though he has to continue to get a better grasp of the defense, Love proved quickly that he is physically ready to compete in the Big Ten. The athletic linebacker was a standout performer all spring.
Cameron Burrows, DB – Ohio State
247Composite rating; .9719 (4-star); No. 8 cornerback
247Sports rating: 95 (4-star); No. 7 cornerback
Part of a pair of early enrollees at the cornerback position along with Eli Apple that came in highly-touted, Burrows may be slightly ahead at this point while both earned significant action throughout the spring.
Danny Etling, QB – Purdue
247Composite rating; .8967 (4-star); No. 17 pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating: 89 (3-star); No. 21 pro-style quarterback
Etling hasn’t just been satisfied being on campus getting reps where he can, the Indiana native and Elite 11 alumnus is battling for a starting job following spring practice.
Richy Anderson, APB – Penn State
247Composite rating: .8339 (3-star); No. 31 all-purpose back
247Sports rating: 80 (3-star); No. 46 all-purpose back
Following a solid spring, Anderson was outstanding in the spring game showing that he could be a player that sees time either touching the ball on offense or in the return game. His versatility and polish have proven to be unique.
Tyler Ferguson, QB – Penn State
247Composite rating: .8383 (3-star); No. 5 JuCo pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating: 91 (4-star); No. 2 JuCo pro-style quarterback
Though he is still learning the system, Ferguson remains in a heated battle for the starting quarterback position with Steven Bench and his two touchdown passes in the spring game gave a nice glimpse of his capabilities.
Sojourn Shelton, CB – Wisconsin
247Composite rating: .8672 (3-star); No. 34 cornerback
247Sports rating: 87 (3-star); No. 51 cornerback
Shelton is a south Florida native and has quickly delivered some south Florida swagger to the Wisconsin program. Though he arrived weighing only 150 pounds, he has added 15 more and he’s already the No. 3 cornerback on the roster and could add soe special teams value as well.
Raheem Falkins, WR – Alabama
247Composite rating: .8833 (3-star); No. 50 WR
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 41 WR
Alabama has all kinds of depth at wide receiver so Falkins may not make a major impact this year but this big target flashed some ability this spring that has given Alabama coaches plenty to be excited about for the future.
Tiquention Coleman, S – Arkansas
247Composite rating: .7993 (3-star); No. 19 JuCo safety
247Sports rating: 82; No. 14 JuCo safety
After looking good all spring, Coleman left his mark on the Arkansas sprig game with a game best nine tackles and an interception that he returned for 49 yards. Coleman looks poised for significant playing time.
Cameron Artis-Payne, RB – Auburn
247Composite rating: .8610 (3-star); No. 3 JuCo running back
247Sports rating: 89 (3-star); No. 1 JuCo running back
Tre Mason has got some competition in the backfield if Auburn’s A-Day game is any indication. Artis-Payne, a 5-11 208-pound bowling ball, rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown as well as 47 yards receiving on two catches.
Kelvin Taylor, RB – Florida
247Composite rating: .9896 (5-star); No. 2 running back
247Sports rating: 98 (5-star); No. 2 running back
Don’t expect Taylor to beat out Matt Jones for the starting running back job but that No. 2 spot could be his for the taking. Taylor impressed all spring and if he picks up the playbook and protection schemes, he’ll be an impact guy as a freshman.
Demarcus Robinson, WR – Florida
247Composite rating: .9639 (4-star); No. 10 wide receiver
247Sports rating: 94 (4-star); No. 16 wide receiver
Though he was limited with a high ankle sprain at times during the spring, Robinson could very well be a starter this fall as a wide receiver due to his elite frame, size and route-running ability.
Reginald Carter, ILB – Georgia
247Composite rating: .8968 (4-star); No. 16 Inside linebacker
247Sports rating: 89 (3-star); No. 23 Inside linebacker
In a way, Carter was one of the sleepers of Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class due to a knee injury but he has made a quick impact in spring practice and the physical inside linebacker has already worked his way into the second unit.
Tray Matthews, S – Georgia
247Composite rating: .9632 (4-star); No. 11 safety
247Sports rating: 94 (4-star); No. 13 safety
The word around campus at Georgia is that coaches were amazed at the physicality that Matthews brought to the safety position as a true freshman. He’s already one of the hardest hitters on the team and if he isn’t starting on day one, he’ll be playing significant minutes.
Za’Darius Smith, DE – Kentucky
247Composite rating: .8949 (4-star); No. 2 JuCo weakside defensive end
247Sports rating: 94 (4-star); No. 2 JuCo weakside defensive end
A relative newcomer to football, you would expect Smith to have a steep learning curve but the JUCO four-star has already come in with the feel of an impact player in Lexington. He topped off a strong spring with six tackles in the spring game and a tackle for loss.
Mark Dodson, RB – Ole Miss
247Composite rating: .9115 (4-star); No. 16 running back
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 22 running back
Jeff Scott returns as the starting running back for Ole Miss and despite veterans on campus such as I’Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, Dodson is firmly in the mix for that number two running back spot in Oxford after a stellar spring.
Justin Cox, CB – Mississippi State
247Composite rating: .8923 (4-star); No. 1 JuCo safety
247Sports rating: 92 (4-star); No. 1 JuCo safety
Mississippi State will face a challenge in replacing two NFL cornerbacks in Darius Slay and Johnathan Banks. Four-star JUCO standout Justin Cox played quarterback in high school, safety in college but he has proven that he may actually be the answer at corner in Starkville after an outstanding spring effort.
Jeremey Chappelle, WR – Mississippi State
247Composite rating: .8489 (3-star); No. 15 JuCo wide receiver
247Sports rating: 88 (3-star); No. 10 JuCo wide receiver
At 6-3, 210 pounds, Chappelle arrived in Starkville from the junior college ranks with an SEC-ready body. After his 114-yard performance in the spring game capped off a strong spring body of work, the former three-star proved that he’s got the skill set to make an impact as well.
Anthony Jennings, QB – LSU
247Composite rating: .9135 (4-star); No. 14 pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 16 pro-style quarterback
It has taken Jennings all of one spring to surge ahead of Stephen Rives as the backup to Zach Mettenberg and he is well ahead of fellow freshman Hayden Rettig as well. A quick grasp of the LSU offense has helped Jennings make big strides.
Christian LaCouture, DL – LSU
247Composite rating: .9004 (4-star); No. 15 strongside defensive end
247Sports rating: 90 (4-star); No. 15 strongside defensive end
A defensive lineman with a great body, LSU coaches have been thrilled with what they’ve seen out of LaCouture at both defensive end and defensive tackle. The 6-5, 290-pounder has already worked himself into the two-deep.
Ethan Pocic, OL – LSU
247Composite rating: .9728 (4-star); No. 5 offensive tackle
247Sports rating: 95 (4-star); No. 7 offensive tackle
Despite being recruited as an offensive tackle, an injury has put Pocic right in the mix for the starting offensive center job. That’s the kind of athlete that Pocic has proven to be. He looks to be a long term center or tackle for the Tigers.
Connor Mitch, QB – South Carolina
247Composite rating: .8866 (3-star); No. 21 pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating: 91 (4-star); No. 13 pro-style quarterback
The future of the Gamecocks’ passing game lies in the hands of a Connor for the foreseeable future. Over the course of the spring, Mitch made it clear that once Connor Shaw’s tenure at quarterback is done in Columbia, Connor Mitch will be ready to take over.
Corey Vereen, LB – Tennessee
247Composite rating: .8678 (3-star); No. 33 inside linebacker
247Sports rating: 86 (3-star); No. 42 inside linebacker
Defensively, linebacker is one of the few areas where Tennessee has some talented returning starters so you may not see Vereen make a huge impact right away but his four sacks in the Tennessee spring game gave fans a glimpse of what has coaches very excited about his future.
Tommy Sanders, LB – Texas A&M
247Composite rating: .8797 (3-star); No. 2 JuCo outside linebacker
247Sports rating: 92 (4-star); No. 1 JuCo outside linebacker
Texas A&M brought a slew of newcomers in at the midterm and early on it’s Sanders that has made the biggest splash. The athletic junior college linebacker is already penciled in as a starter in the Aggie front seven.
Johnathon McCrary, QB – Vandy
247Composite rating: .8839 (3-star); No. 16 dual-threat quarterback
247Sports rating: 88 (3-star); No. 19 dual-threat quarterback
McCrary played in Vanderbilt’s spring game just days after the sudden death of his father and his performance was inspired. McCrary has star written all over him with athleticism, outstanding size and arm talent. Give him a year to learn and watch out.
Kenny Bigelow, DL – USC
247Composite rating: .9949 (5-star); No. 2 defensive tackle
247Sports rating: 99 (5-star); No. 3 defensive tackle
You may not see him start from day one at USC but you’ll see Bigelow make an impact very early on. That is certainly what his spring indicated as he’s already proving to be a physical mismatch at the college level.
Max Browne, QB – USC
247Composite rating: .9939 (5-star); No. 1 pro-style quarterback
247Sports rating; 98 (5-star); No. 2 pro-style quarterback
Lane Kiffin is currently entertaining a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job and Browne is right in the thick of it. Early on in his career, Browne has shown the flashes that earned him a consensus five-star rating in the recruiting industry.
Su’a Cravens, S – USC
247Composite rating: .9960 (5-star); No. 1 safety
247Sports rating: 99 (5-star); No. 1 safety
Though his spring was slowed by an injury, Cravens will be back for the start of the 2013 season and his progress early in the spring indicates that he may be back in a starting role as a true freshman.
Justin Davis, RB – USC
247Composite rating: .9524 (4-star); No. 9 running back
247Sports rating: 92 (4-star); No. 14 running back
Davis hasn’t been satisfied just getting reps at USC. Heading into the summer, the big freshman is in a position to compete for the starting job and will battle Silas Redd and Tre Madden for the title.
Leon McQuay III, DB – USC
247Composite rating: .9852 (5-star); No. 4 safety
247Sports rating; 96 (4-star); No. 6 safety
In a depleted secondary at USC, McQuay will be asked to contribute early in his career and he’s already proving capable. He also proved this spring that he can play either cornerback or safety in the Trojan defense.
Uaea Masina, LB – Utah
247Composite rating: .8491 (3-star); No. 45 inside linebacker
247Sports rating: 87 (3-star); No. 37 inside linebacker
Masina has the look both physically and mentally of an early contributor for the Utes and led all performers in tackles in the Utah spring game with seven.
Ivan Mclennan, LB – Washington State
247Composite rating: .8693 (3-star); No. 4 JuCo outside lineabcker
247Sports rating; 91 (4-star); No. 2 JuCo outside linebacker
A super-athletic linebacker, McLennan is already adding the needed mass to go with that athleticism after bulking up 30 pounds since his arrival. That added weight has helped him become an immediate impact player in Pullman.
Jacob Seydel, OL – Washington State
247Composite rating: .8067 (3-star); No. 24 JuCo offensive tackle
247Sports rating: 82 (3-star); No. 16 JuCo offensive tackle
Seydel had his ups and downs this spring but the 6-6, 283-pounder finished the spring with an opportunity to battle for the starting right tackle spot for Mike Leach.
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