Every year across College Football, there are freshmen who catch everyone by surprise. Those can be hard to find but let’s take a deep dive into who I think have the best chance. I would like to state that this will only be true freshman. So redshirt freshmen such as Justin Flowe or C.J. Stroud will not be on this list.
Will Shipley, Running Back, Clemson (Rank 31, 247 Sports Composite)
I wanted to start off with Shipley because I live 15 minutes from him. He is from Charlotte like me and this got me to see him more than any other prospect. Shipley got on Clemson’s campus in the spring and made an immediate impact.
Not many freshman running backs at Clemson get first team reps, however, Shipley did. When comparing physical profiles with Shipley and Etienne, they are very similar. 5”10 215 lbs for Etienne and 5”11 200 lbs for Shipley while having the same 40 yard dash times. Coach Dabo Swinney also had to rave about Shipley saying that he is way ahead of where they thought he would be. With Lyn-J Dixon leading the backfield early on, Shipley could be the workhorse to end the season. Maybe one that ends in a Tigers national title and shake up college football.
Korey Foreman, Defensive End, USC (Rank 1, 247 Sports Composite)
Korey Foreman was the top rated player in his class. That should already show you how respected he is by people who have seen him dominate his peers in California. Foreman will, like Shipley, not be at the top of his position when the season comes. Foreman does have a possible top 10 pick, Drake Jackson ahead of him. However, he is still good enough to make a day one impact. Foreman, I will also mention, did not enroll early for the Trojans but is now with the team for summer workouts. I would say watch for Foreman early on in his career because he looks like the real deal.
Treveyon Henderson, Running Back, Ohio State (Rank 22, 247 Sports Composite)
Ohio State, like Clemson, has a pretty deep running back room. The main load of carries will go to Master Teague, who I am very fond of. However, not fond like I am with Henderson. Henderson is just a different back in every way. The best way to describe him is a freak athlete with freak talent. I think of the two prior names I gave, Henderson will make the fastest impact and maybe the greatest impact of anyone on the list. With running backs being more devalued in today’s NFL, I still see Henderson as an easy first round talent.
Jason Marshall, Cornerback, Florida (Rank 28, 247 Sports Composite)
The first thing about Jason Marshall Jr. that you will notice is his size. He stands at 6”2 180 lbs which is a great start if you are looking for a franchise cornerback.
So far this spring his peers have had only good things to say about him. One being fellow cornerback Trey Dean who said Marshall had impressed him the most of any freshman. Marshall will have to battle to get on the field but I expect him to be a day one impact. Also expect this guy to be a future first round pick in the making.
Agiye Hall, Wide Receiver, Alabama (Rank 44, 247 Sports Composite)
To this point, Agiye Hall is the lowest rated player I have listed. However, he might be the one to be sold on the most. As Alabama continues to string out first round receivers after the next, Hall looks to be the next in line.
During Alabama’s spring game, Hall caught four passes totaling 72 yards. The number of four catches may not seem like a lot but it’s how he did it. Hall caught passes from Alabama’s second string QB and managed to get four catches in which were all contested. Nick Saban himself said that we should expect to see Hall from day one. Praise from Nick Saban doesn’t come often, especially before you have ever played your first college football game. If I had to feel most confident about a future star, it would be Agiye Hall.
The Ohio State Defense
As I was looking for a player to take my last spot I found myself stumbling across many Ohio State players. So I decided to use my last spot to give a few names on the Buckeye defense to watch.
Jack Sawyer (Rank 4, 247 Sports Composite). Sawyer enrolled early and got to participate in the spring game totaling three sacks. Ohio State seems to always pump out defensive line talent and Sawyer is no different. He will have competition being on this line but he seems to embrace it. I will also mention that the number three player JT Tuimoloau could also become a Buckeye as he takes visits. That would make this room only more crowded, however I still like Sawyer to impact no matter the situation.
Jakailin Johnson (Rank 49, 247 Sports Composite) and Jordan Hancock (Rank 72, 247 Sports Composite). I will group these last two guys together because they play the same position.
This is a cornerback duo that could cause havoc in the future, but also right now. Alabama left pain on this Ohio State secondary to end last season which means they needed a change. Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown look to be the leaders of this cornerback group early on but they need to get better as a whole. Ohio State struggled not only against Alabama, who lets be real, everyone struggled against Alabama.
I will also point out though, Ohio State struggled against most teams they played against in the pass game ranking near the bottom of college football. If Ohio State wants to win a title, as it is the expectation, they need to get better there. If Ohio State does not get better at cornerback I could see Johnson or Hancock impacting sooner rather than later
I could very well come back at the end of the season and look at this list and it be a mixed bag of wrong and right. There will be guys I missed mentioning like everyone else but I picked the players I thought would best be in position to succeed now. Not only talent wise, but opportunity.