As the level of high school football improves across the country, so to does the level of play from true freshmen in college football. This week, SB Nation will preview the true freshmen who are expected to make an impact in each of the five major conferences. Monday, it's the Pac-12.
According to Addicted to Quack, running back Thomas Tyner, a five-star, and kicker Matt Wogan are the two freshmen who should make the biggest impact. However, Tyner was recently carted off the practice field and later seen on crutches, and his prognosis for the season is unknown at the time of this writing.
Linebacker Tyrell Robinson and defensive end Torrodney Prevot probably won't start, but are likely too athletic to keep off the field for long.
Stanford brings back a very veteran team, and brought in a small recruiting class (by design). Still, head coach David Shaw expects several true freshmen to receive playing time, at tight end, linebacker, and perhaps receiver.
"We have three tight ends who are going to compete to get on the field," Shaw said. "I'm excited about our linebackers -- Mike Tyler and Peter Kalambayi. Will wide receiver Francis Owusu come in and be ready to go? We'll see."
But the adjustment to college is tough, and cracking a lineup as loaded as Stanford's isn't easy. Scout.com writes that none of the true freshmen have stood out once the pads came on.
For more on Stanford, visit Rule Of Tree.
Washington brought in an impressive recruiting class, including seven players who most recruiting analysts rated as four-stars or better. SB Nation's Washington site, UW Dawg Pound, weighs in on the chances of some of those prospects playing early:
For UW, there are a few guys who should get significant PT as true frosh. Receiver Demore'ea Stringfellow checked in at 6'4 and 235 pounds. He'll be a big factor alongside Kasen Williams and ASJ in the Husky passing attack. Expect John Ross to challenge Jaydon Mickens as a slot receiver and special teamer.
Defensively, the Huskies are hoping to redshirt most of their guys, but probably won't have that luxury on the defensive line. Defensive end Marcus Farria is almost certain to play, and the odds are pretty strong that both Elijah Qualls and JoJo Mathis become depth at DT and DE, respectively. Trevor Walker may have a shot at some playing time at safety, but is behind Sean Parker, Will Shamburger and Brandon Beaver, among others. If he doesn't redshirt, most likely he's on ST.
Those are the best candidates to play, but I'd also keep an eye on Jermaine Kelly at CB and in the return game. There's an open CB spot next to Marcus Peters, and Kelly has the size & talent to make a run for playing time there. Also, it's possible Dane Crane could see action at C. Mike Criste is the odds-on favorite to start, but with Erik Kohler nursing a foot problem, the depth is shaky, and if Criste were to go down with an injury Crane would likely play.
Farria, Stringfellow, Ross, Qualls & Mathis are the most likely to make a big impact early (and in that order).
The Bruins needed some help on defense, and they got it with a great signing class. Defensive linemen Eddie Vanderdoes and Kylie Fitts have both struggled with various injuries throughout fall camp, but are too talented to be kept off the field for long. Defensive lineman Kenny Clark also provides immediate depth thanks to his quickness off the line. Ditto linebacker Myles Jack and defensive back Priest Willis.
On the offensive side, guard Caleb Benenoch is already penciled in as a starter. At 325 pounds, he certainly has the size for the position. Receivers Darren Andrews and Jalen Ortiz seem to have the skills to compete for time as slot receivers and kick returners.
For more on UCLA football, visit Bruins Nation.
USC always seems to have a few true freshmen who make an impact. And despite signing a tiny class of 12 in 2013, that should continue for the Trojans. Enrolling early is usually a big leg up for a true freshman, and indeed the true freshmen who should make the biggest impact for the Trojans enrolled early.
Defensive backs Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay III should be able to see some playing time at safety when USC uses more defensive backs. Ditto cornerback Chris Hawkins. Defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow could see time at nose guard or end in USC's 3-4, and running back Justin Davis has enough talent to see the field early.
The name that stands out among the true freshmen for the Cougars is receiver River Cracraft, who was very lightly recruited out of high school. Cracraft has shown a better understanding of the offense than expected, and figured to be a dependable piece for the Cougars in 2013.
For more on Washington State, visit Coug Center.
The Bears are going all-in, naming freshman quarterback Jared Goff as the starter. Goff was a consensus top-15 quarterback recruit in 2013. He'll be tasked with running Sonny Dykes' new "Bear Raid" offense against one of the toughest schedules in the country. At 6'4 and 210 pounds, Goff has good college size.
For more on Cal football, visit California Golden Blogs.
The Wildcats need all kinds of help on defense. And while no true freshmen project to start immediately in 2013, plenty will see playing time.
Corners Derek Babiash and Devin Holiday could both see time, as could linebackers DeAndre Miller, Scooby Wright and Derick Turituri. On the defensive line, end Kyle Kelly and tackle Lucas Bruno should see snaps for the Wildcats.
For more on Arizona football, visit AZ Desert Swarm.
Arizona State is the pick by some to win the Pac-12 South, and won't be playing too many true freshmen, as the Sun Devils return most of their squad. However, several true freshmen will see the field this season.
Cameron Smith and Ellis Jefferson both appear to be breaking into the wide receiver rotation. Marcus Ball was in good shape to win a starting safety job before injuring his shoulder in Saturday's scrimmage at Camp Tontozona. It's unknown how long he will be on the shelf.
Zane Gonzales has impressed in fall practice and looks to be winning the kicker job over Alex Garoutte and Jon Mora. Finally, look for Chans Cox, a linebacker who has also seen time at tight end, to avoid a redshirt and play meaningful snaps.
For more on Arizona State, visit House of Sparky.