10 True Freshman that will Impact in ’14

Posted by Brad On August – 5 – 2014

"Curtis Samuel"

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

In what has become a primer to the college football season, NFL’s Future looks at ten true freshman that will not only see the field but make an impact in 2014.

With the college football recruiting landscape boiling over more each year, it’s imperative that schools get these youngsters on the playing field early in their careers. We’ll look at some names you know but a handful of names that you should be monitoring this year and well into the future.

Curtis Samuel, RB/WR, Ohio State

The Skinny: At almost every opportunity, Urban Meyer has gushed about Samuel – a versatile athlete that will see time at RB and the vaunted “H” position in Meyer’s offensive attack. At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds Samuel possesses game breaking speed but has surprised many with his physicality.

What we should expect: Samuel isn’t likely to open week one as the starting RB but don’t expect him to stay on the sidelines for long. I would anticipate Tom Herman planning 10-15 touches a game for Samuel – at RB and H.

Speedy Noil, WR, Texas A&M

The Skinny: The 5-foot-10, 180 pound Noil gets my vote for ‘freshman that will make the biggest impact’. Noil stole the show during spring camp, looking like a veteran receiver out of the slot. The TAMU coaching staff raved about Noil’s route running and fearless physicality – something you wouldn’t expect out of a 180 pound true freshman.

What we should expect: I would pencil in Noil as the starting slot receiver and a likely candidate to return kicks and/or punts for the Aggies. Don’t be surprised if Speedy is a household name after the ’14 season.

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The Skinny: Could we see Adrian Peterson 2.0 in Death Valley this season? Fournette is a man, much like Peterson was entering Oklahoma in 2004. Peterson went on to finish second in the Heisman race (to Matt Leinart) rushing for 1,925 yards. The 6-foot-1, 225 pound running back brings a similar punishing running style mixed with tremendous speed and balance for a big man.

What we should expect: Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard stand in the way of Fournette’s immediate impact but it won’t be long before he’s getting a bulk of the carries. There’s just too much talent to keep Fournette’s hands off the ball – especially given the unknowns at the QB position for Les Miles. If you don’t believe me, salivate over Fournette’s senior season highlights.

Freddy Canteen, WR, Michigan

The Skinny: Canteen enrolled early at Michigan without much fanfare – a consensus three-star recruit. It wasn’t long before he showed why he may one to watch. Canteen opened the eyes of Wolverine fans across the globe with a spectacular spring game showing off his speed taking a short completion 45 yards for a TD and opening with the starters. At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds Canteen has the quicks to play in the slot and showed during the spring that he can hang on the outside as well. I was fortunate to sit in the receivers room with Jeff Hecklinski this spring and he couldn’t stop raving about Canteen’s work ethic. Hecklinski puts a lot of emphasis on his receivers downfield blocking and Canteen showed over the two days he could hang in that arena as well.

What we should expect: Michigan is replacing Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo. It’s feasible that Canteen opens week one on the outside or inside and emerges as one of Devin Gardner’s top receiving options.

Head over to our YouTube Channel to check out Hecklinski’s perimeter blocking clinic video

One more beauty with Michigan’s WR Individual Drill Video

Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina

The Skinny: Like Leonard Fournette, Hood is ready to play from the physical standpoint. At 6-foot, 220 pounds Hood blends size, speed, and plenty of power into his punishing running style. Like any RB, Hood will have to pick up the nuances of pass protection to unseat a loaded backfield.

What we should expect: Hood has the greatest odds of anyone on this list because of the talent in front of him – T.J. Logan and Romar Morris. That said, he is too polished a back to keep idle on Larry Fedora’s sidelines.

Cam Robinson, LT, Alabama

The Skinny: One of the most highly decorated recruits has garnered little attention. Robinson was the consensus top tackle in the country last season and should open the season as Bama’s starting LT. With Cyrus Kouandijo opting to bolt for the NFL, Nick Saban needed to land the massive (6-foot-5, 330) tackle from Louisiana.

What we should expect: Cam Robinson opened Alabama’s spring game as the starting LT and we expect him to remain there throughout his freshman campaign, barring injury.

Matt Elam, DT, Kentucky

The Skinny: It’s hard to say ‘The Skinny’ when talking about Matt Elam. Elam is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-6, 370 pounds with surprising movement skills. The question for Elam will be conditioning as he carries a boatload of weight in the trenches of the SEC. Elam surprised many selecting UK over the likes of Alabama and would could see that decision pay early dividends in terms of playing time.

What we should expect: The Wildcats are fairly deep at DT but I don’t think they have a Matt Elam-type on the roster. It won’t be long before Elam is disrupting SEC backfields, if not week one.

"Tony Brown"

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Brown, CB, Alabama

The Skinny: Tony Brown is a world-class athlete, literally. An Olympic-level hurdler, Brown will partake in track and football at Bama. Based off initial practice and spring game reports it may not be long before were talking of the next first round Bama CB. Brown picked off a pass, deflected two would-be completions, and recorded four tackles in his first game action this spring.

What we should expect: Brown will enter fall camp battling the inexperienced duo of Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones for a starting gig. My bet would be on Brown locking down a role as a starter and impacting early on.

Kyle Allen, QB, Texas A&M

The Skinny: One of the more intriguing fall camp battles in college football is the heir to Johnny Football in College Station. At this point, it’s down to Allen and sophomore Kenny Hill. Allen is a highly touted quarterback from Scottsdale, Arizona. The prototype downfield passer, Allen doesn’t have the gamebreaking athleticism of Manziel but he’s also not a slouch in terms of mobility.

What we should expect: I think a tie goes to Allen – and from all reports it’s about a dead heat between Allen and Hill. Allen’s ability to push the ball vertically in this up-tempo offense is intriguing and one could make a case for Allen as the ‘biggest impact’ freshman if he wins the starting job.

Steven Parker II, S, Oklahoma

The Skinny: Parker wasn’t the most highly ranked recruit that Bob Stoops pulled in during the 2014 recruiting period – but he may be the most important this season. Parker has the size and athleticism that teams covet at the safety position. His ability to cover receivers should have him moving up the OU depth chart this fall.

What we should expect: Quentin Hayes is locked in at one of the safety spots but the other could be a wide open race. Parker will battle Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas for the spot. If Parker wins the spot it wouldn’t be a surprise if the led the Sooners in picks this season.

Five more to watch:

Jabrill Peppers, CB/ATH, Michigan

Toa Lobendahn, OG, USC

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

Bo Hines, WR, NC State

Andrew Brown, DT, Virginia

  • Duncan

    I’m really excited to see parker play! He plays so fast with his size.

    • bradc11

      I’m with you Duncan. His combination of size and speed make him a really intriguing prospect. If he sees the field with consistency, I think he’s one that comes out of nowhere for most.

  • CalebDenton

    They should have addded Nick Chubb from Georgia.
    Or Sony Michell