New plays, playbooks, schemes, classes and, of course, women, sometimes cloud the minds of 18- and 19-year-old freshmen, especially early enrollees. Getting them focused isn’t the problem, but slowing their minds down to digest the new information can be.
We’re seeing more and more early enrollees hit campus to learn playbooks and earn starting jobs every single year, and this year Tennessee led the way with 14 early enrollees. All of them may be needed this season.
Here were several standout freshmen, along with several others we watched throughout spring practice who should make impacts this fall:
Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M: I keep coming to the same conclusion: Kyle Allen will win Texas A&M’s quarterback job. After Matt Joeckel’s transfer, the position became clearer, as only Kenny Hill remains as the biggest competitor. Although Allen didn’t get to showcase his ability during a spring game, as the Aggies didn’t have a spring game, he made tremendous headway during practice. Allen’s poised, talented and polished enough to win the Aggies’ starting job come fall camp.
Tony Brown, CB, Alabama: At a major position of need, Tony Brown proved this spring he’ll be a factor. Brown has elite speed and athleticism, and he, along with incoming freshman Marlon Humphrey, will make a big push to start during fall camp. Brown was limited with a shoulder injury during Alabama’s A-Day, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the game’s best players.
Brandon Harris, QB, LSU: So much speculation surrounds LSU’s quarterback job, but as it stands right now, Harris is leading exiting spring practice. He combined for 270 total yards and four touchdowns during LSU’s spring game. Harris is a dynamic athlete who could be handed the keys to Les Miles’ offense, although Anthony Jennings won’t simply hand him the job during fall camp.
Jalen Hurd, RB, Tennessee: Tennessee and Jalen Hurd are a match made in heaven. The Vols need an impact back after losing Rajion Neal, and Hurd continued to stand out this spring. Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd could become one of the SEC’s top running back tandems, and Hurd flashed all the traits to become the SEC’s top newcomer in 2014.
Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee: The Vols are loaded at receiver, and Malone still showed he’d make an impact this fall. The hype is real, as evidenced by his six catches for 181 yards and three touchdowns during Tennessee’s spring game. Now Tennessee has to figure out who will get Malone the football under center.
Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M: The former do-it-all high school star was described as a beast by his teammates this spring. Noil is the definition of elite, and he will make an impact this season. Playing in an offense conducive to getting playmakers in space, Noil could thrive in Kevin Sumlin’s spread-‘em-out system.
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida: The long and rangy Tabor lived up to the huge hype this spring, filling a huge position of need. Tabor is Will Muschamp’s type of corner, and he’s drawn comparisons to a Richard Sherman-type cover corner. He has great cover skills and is a strong tackler.
Others we were watching:
- Drew Barker, QB, Kentucky: Barker trails Patrick Towles for the starting job, but Barker has the BBN excited about his monster future.
- Logan Cheadle, CB, Missouri: At a big position of need, Cheadle did enough to earn playing time this fall.
- Duke Dawson, CB, Florida: Dawson had a good spring for the Gators, and he’ll remind you of former corner Janoris Jenkins, size-wise. Dawson earned playing time at a position of need for the Gators.
- Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State: Fitz will be running third string come fall, but Dan Mullen feels great about him, his future and the depth behind Dak Prescott.
- CJ Hampton, DB, Ole Miss: Hampton could earn playing time amidst a talented and veteran secondary this season, and he played well during Ole Miss’ spring game.
- Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss: The Fork Union Military transfer showed up well during the Rebels’ spring practice. Haynes will provide depth to what could be the SEC’s best defensive line come fall.
- Cameron Robinson, OT, Alabama: Robinson had a nice spring, and it’s easy to see his promising future, but he still has work to do to even score playing time this season.
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