I am an impatient man. I want my top incoming freshman to get playing time early and get in my lineups. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be the case for most of the class. Here are a few of my favorites which I think are most likely to accomplish that.
Nicholaus Iamaleava, QB – Tennessee
I’d imagine most readers here know by now that we at C2C are much lower on Nico than the services, so why is he on here? In terms of potential freshman impact, there is a pretty short list of QB candidates in this class. Malachi Nelson and Arch Manning will almost certainly sit back and learn for a year. Dante Moore could play, but Bo Nix has eligibility left. He may want to hang on there a bit longer and build his draft stock back up even further.
This leads me to Nico. Hendon Hooker is gone after this season, and there aren’t currently any great choices behind him on the roster. They could bring somebody in through the portal. I think there is a good chance they roll with their rumored 8-million-dollar man at QB. Whether that’s a good idea remains to be seen, but the starting QB for the Volunteers is definitely someone we want on our roster regardless of our feelings about the players themselves.
Kaden Feagin, RB – Illinois
Illinois rarely brings in such a highly-rated recruit; in this case, it presents an opportunity for a highly athletic RB to produce early. At 6’2″ and 220 lbs., he is built more like an old-school back. It is apparent as soon as you turn on the film that Feagin is a bit different. As we have seen with Braelon Allen, there is certainly still a place in college football for these behemoth RBs. And just like Wisconsin for Allen, Illinois and Feagin is a perfect pairing. Illinois has the leading rusher in all of college football currently and will want to continue that playstyle in the future, leading to a tremendous opportunity for Feagin. He is currently my RB7, and with Chase Brown going off to the NFL this year, that job should be open for taking.
Jaden Greathouse, WR – Notre Dame
Notre Dame has had a pretty rough reason, and their weakness at wide receiver is very apparent. With Mayer leaving after this season, there will be a lot of vacated targets. That alone will lead to touches for the incoming Notre Dame freshman WRs, but Greathouse is the best of that group and ready to go immediately. At 6’2″ and 220 lbs., his build is certainly ready for the next level. On top of that, Greathouse also has one of the most refined games in this class and is currently my ninth-highest-graded WR in the class. The combination of Notre Dame’s need and Greathouse’s talent should lead to him immediately being a top-two receiver on the team, realistically probably first.
Jalen Hale/Malik Benson, WR – Alabama
I might be cheating by listing both here, but at least one of these guys will make an impact next year. Alabama is as thin at WR as we have seen in quite some time. Although there are some promising flashes from Bond & Prentice, the lead job next year is certainly wide open. Benson is coming in from JUCO, so although he will be a freshman by NCAA standards, he will be in his third season removed from high school. Benson is a big-time freak athlete and track stud with a 10.44 100m under his belt. He has dominated JUCO in Kansas for the past two years and is widely considered the best JUCO prospect this year. Alabama is probably hoping he can be their next Jameson.
Hale is a bit different in play style from Benson. He is not quite as fast but has a much more well-rounded game and is ready to make an immediate impact. Hale is currently my WR6 in this class, and Benson is WR14. I’m fairly high on both players’ outlooks going into next season.