The 2017 college football season kicked off in limited fashion over the weekend. With a full slate of action scheduled for this coming week, here’s a look at the 10 true freshman players who will have the biggest impact for their teams this year.
10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The Crimson Tide signed a fantastic wide receiver class in 2017, but Jerry Jeudy is the cream of that crop. A five-star and the 21st-ranked player in the country, the 6’1″ and 187-pounder out of Deerfield Beach, Florida is ready to contribute immediately. He was on campus for spring ball and looked excellent.
While speed is certainly part of Jeudy’s game, it’s not his best attribute. He’s a slick route-runner with outstanding hands and has no trouble getting open. He can be explosive and should contribute early on the perimeter for Alabama.
9. Marlon Tuipulotu, DE, USC
USC lured a good one away from Washington late in the process in 2017, landing Marlon Tuipulotu just before he enrolled early. He was on campus for spring ball and impressed everyone with his power, quickness and instincts. At 6’3″ and 295 pounds, the four-star prospect (ranked 60th) out of Oregon is a load along the defensive front.
The Trojans loaded up on the defensive line in 2017, landing touted recruits in Jay Tufele, Jacob Lichtenstein and Brandon Pili. But Tuipulotu looks like the guy who will make an impact first, and has already seen time running with the ones during fall camp.
8. Anthony Hines, LB, Texas A&M
This linebacker out of Plano East High School is an absolute tackling machine. Anthony Hines posted two 200-plus tackle seasons as a prep player and should immediately see time for an Aggies defense that’s thin at linebacker.
Hines is well built at 6’2″ and 222 pounds, and the four-star was the 65th-ranked player in the 2017 recruiting class. He fits best as an inside ‘backer but could move outside in certain situations. Wherever he plays, he’ll be making tackles.
7. Lamont Wade, CB, Penn State
Penn State’s secondary was a problem in 2016, which is why it was such a coup when the Nittany Lions landed Pennsylvania native Lamont Wade. Wade was a four-star recruit who ranked 43rd overall nationally, but should have a much bigger impact than those ratings suggest.
At 5’10” and 187 pounds, Wade has decent size for a corner, but he’s incredibly athletic and fights receivers for the ball. He’s a tough dude, who can tackle (though he needs to work on his from) and comes across as an instinctive, pure cover man. This kid has swagger and it’s hard not to love watching him.
6. Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
A five-star with tons of big-time offers, Donovan Peoples-Jones opted to stay in-state and play for Michigan. The Wolverines will be thankful he did. The 12th-ranked player in the country, Peoples-Jones is a big receiver (6’2″ and 193 pounds) with fantastic hands and enough speed to burn defenses.