We are under two weeks until all teams play their first games this season. There have been several young players who have really made an impression on their teams and coaching staffs so far, but here are five who I think will have an impact for their teams this season.
Florida – QB Jeff Driskel, Freshman
Driskel was an early enrollee at Florida last January, and he has made a big impression on his teammates and coaches so far in fall camp. He went through spring practice and looked decent, but his head was spinning with grasping the offense at that point, which is totally normal. Now his teammates are raving about him, and Charlie Weis and Will Muschamp have named Driskel their No. 2 quarterback behind John Brantley. I see some playing time for this young man this season unless Brantley tears it up.
Georgia – LB Alec Ogletree, Sophomore
Ogletree entered Georgia as a safety, but he was moved to linebacker this past spring. He’s a big, physical kid who can really run. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham moved him to linebacker to be closer to the line of scrimmage and have more ability to make plays in the 3-4 defense. Ogletree will have a chance to make a big impression, especially with his speed, as a linebacker in this defensive scheme. I look for him to be a big-time player for Georgia this year.
South Carolina – DE Jadeveon Clowney, Freshman
We all knew it was a matter of time before Clowney started showing out in fall camp. The guy’s athleticism is out of this world. I think Clowney will have a bigger impact than what most are expecting, and it will start in game one against ECU. He has been tearing up the offense in practice. Just the other day he recovered a fumble and took it 22 yards for a touchdown. His ability is off the charts, and here’s to hoping he can stay healthy his freshman season.
Tennessee – LB Curt Maggitt, Freshman
In Tennessee’s first two scrimmages, Maggitt has worked with the first team defense at both linebacker and defensive end. Because the depth is a question at both, the Vols want to make sure he gets some experience at both. In the second scrimmage, Maggitt recorded 4.5 of his six tackles for loss and two sacks. Tennessee really needs a freshman to excel at linebacker.
Vanderbilt – RB/WR Wesley Tate, Sophomore
When you hear James Franklin talk, he talks about his running backs Zac Stacy, Warren Norman and Wesley Tate. We know what Stacy and Norman can do, and Franklin has been raving about Tate’s running ability since last spring. He loves this kid. He has the perfect combination of size, speed and vision to really make an impact in the SEC. In an event to get Tate the football more, Franklin moved Tate to the slot position at wide receiver to further help this offense and get him more touches in space.