Freshman are supposed to be seen and not heard, but these freshmen are making a name for themselves in Fall camp.
Amari Cooper, WR (FR): Alabama needs wide receivers, and freshman Amari Cooper is making an impression on Nick Saban. Saban has continually singled out Cooper throughout fall camp. Bama went down and got Cooper from South Florida, and it looks like he will get some major playing time this fall. He’s currently battling with returner DeAndrew White for the starting position at Split End.
Otha Peters, LB (FR): Otha Peters came into Arkansas knowing there were several veterans ahead of him on the depth chart. But camp injuries to Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith had Peters repping with the first team. He has been playing great, and even had a pick-six on Tyler Wilson in their first scrimmage. Peters could fill a big need for the Razorbacks and give them depth at the position. He’ll play this year given his burst in fall camp.
Avery Young, OL (FR): Young was a big-time get for the Tigers in the first place from South Florida. And now he’s pushing for a starting position in his freshman season. The Tigers only have two positions settled on their offensive line, and Young has been running with the first team at right tackle. After 14 practices, he’s is really starting to feel comfortable on the right side. Look for him to be an impact freshman.
Matt Jones, RB (FR): Matt Jones is a bigger running back for Florida. He is probably the biggest running back on the team, aside from Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer, both fullbacks. While Jones was brought in to be a downhill runner, I’m not sure anyone knew how he would translate over from high school to college. He was hurt a lot his senior year, raising durability questions. But he has Will Muschamp talking so far in fall practice. Florida needs a bigger back for short-yardage situations, and Jones could rise to the challenge.
Raphael Andrades, WR (FR): Raphael Andrades literally came out of nowhere in the recruiting trail last year for the Gators. He was a signing day deal, where others ahead of him on the board pulled the trigger for other schools. He, too, has Muschamp buzzing about his playmaking ability in camp so far. Florida needs wide receivers badly, and Andrades could work his way into the lineup as a freshman. He was a diamond in the rough.
Todd Gurley, RB (FR): The most hyped freshman running back coming into Georgia was not Todd Gurley. It was Keith Marshall. But Gurley is forcing Mark Richt’s hand at playing him more than expected. After the Bulldogs’ first scrimmage, Gurley was the leading rusher and had upperclassmen buzzing about comparisons to Trent Richardson. Many thought he would redshirt, but since Isaiah Crowell’s cluster, Gurley is competing for the starting position.
Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor, RBs (FR): Kentucky needs a power running game from any running back, and Dyshawn Mobley and Justin Taylor are showing signs that they are both a load to bring down. Joker Phillips said that both can “move the pile” and caused an “explosion” while blocking. The entire coaching staff is excited about these two running backs.
Reid Ferguson, SN (FR): Les Miles loves his new long snapper, Reid Ferguson. He will be the biggest impact true freshman on the roster. He’s the only freshman listed in the media guide as a starter, and he was an early enrollee for the Tigers. He’ll take over the job left by Joey Crappell.
Evan Boehm, OL (FR): Boehm entered Missouri with high hopes, and he was a big in-state get for the Tigers. But two injuries to two different starters on the line have thrust Boehm into a starting job early in his career. He’s been trying to get up to speed while running with the first team. Offensive line is tough to play as a freshman, especially in the SEC, but Boehm might be just good enough to plug right in.
Benardrick McKinney, LB (RFR): It must be nice to be 6-5, 235 pounds and run as well as McKinney does. He’s listed as a co-starter on the depth chart, along with Ferlando Bohanna, and MicKinney should end up winning that job. He has shown off his huge frame and has a knack for making big plays thus far in fall camp. This kid will be a player.
Jaylen Walton, RB, (FR): Jaylen Walton isn’t the biggest back on the roster listed at 5-8, 164 pounds, but he’s impressing the coaching staff. With starter Jeff Scott a little banged up, Walton has been getting a chance to play more. Hugh Freeze has mentioned the swivel in his hips is very impressive, and he has great vision at the second and third level of defenders. Look for Walton to have some type of impact this season.
Shaq Roland, WR, (FR): Not a day goes by that you don’t hear something about Shaq Roland at South Carolina. Everyone thought he would be impressive in camp, but he is making headlines everyday for some type of play he made. He led all receivers in the first scrimmage with 59 yards and a touchdown catch for the Gamecocks.
Jerell Adams, TE, (FR): Jerell Adams wasn’t that big of a name coming from prep school last year, but he’s making a name for himself now. At 6-6 and 224 pounds, Adams is more like a bigger receiver than a tight end. I’ll be interested to see how Steve Spurrier uses him throughout this season. He could evolve into a big producer for Connor Shaw and the offense this season.
Jason Croom, WR, (FR): While playing time will be very scarce behind Da’Rick Rogers, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson, Jason Croom has been quietly impressing the coaching staff with his consistency. The game is somewhat fast for Croom right now, but once things slow down, he will be able to play faster and more aggressively. But Croom is making a name for himself early in his career.
Mike Matthews, OL, (FR): Matthews comes from a long legacy at Texas A&M, and his brother Jake Matthews is a current junior starting at tackle. Kevin Sumlin thinks Matthews will be able to compete for playing time this year and get his feet wet at center. Sumlin knows Matthews is the future for his club on the line, and Sumlin wants him to take over center next year for senior Patrick Lewis.
Johnny Manziel, QB, (RFR): Manziel is making his case to be the starting quarterback game one for the Aggies. He turned in an impressive scrimmage last week, going 18 of 22 for 212 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s right in the mix with Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel to start. Don’t be surprised if he gets the nod against Louisiana Tech.
Josh Grady, ATH, (RFR): Grady came to Vanderbilt as a quarterback but has since been switched to wide receiver. He’ll play some wildcat, and he is quickly becoming Vanderbilt’s X-Factor on offense. He’s without a true position right now, but expect James Franklin to play him at several positions before settling on one, if he ever does. Grady should break out this year and break off some big plays for the Dores.