Freshmen To Watch In Week 1
It's that time of year again!
With the first week of the college football season only a few days away, here is my list of the top five freshmen who should be on your radar come Saturday:
1. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
Ridley, a native of Coconut Creek, Florida, is primed to be an instant success for the Crimson Tide. The 6'1, 188 lbs Monarch High School product was rated a five-star prospect by 247sports and ranked the No. 1 overall player at his position in the 2015 recruiting class. Ridley, even as a freshman, has the talent to be one of the best receivers in the country. Not only does he possess all the physical tools to be a great receiver — great size, speed, athleticism and hands — he also plays with a very high football IQ. In addition, at 20 years old, Ridley is already more mature than the typical true freshman.
With the departure of Amari Cooper to the NFL, Ridley will most certainly have big shoes to fill. Replacing the Tide's all-time leader in receptions (229), receiving yards (3,463) and receiving touchdowns (31) will be a tall order for the team, but Ridley seems more than up to the task.
No. 3 Alabama will face off against No. 20 Wisconsin this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET in Arlington, Texas.
2. USC CB Iman Marshall
Next up on this list is USC's Iman Marshall.
The Long Beach, California native was rated the No. 1 cornerback and the No. 4 overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. However, USC does return two excellent starting cornerbacks in Adoree' Jackson and Kevon Seymour, so it remains to be seen how much playing time Marshall will get. But what you can count on is that he will be a significant piece in the Trojan's defense — even as a freshman. At 6'1 and 195 lbs, Marshall has the physical tools to be successful at guarding the best of receivers. Marshall does not have elite speed but is fast and quick enough to guard most receivers down-field. Marshall's best attribute, however, is his instincts. Marshall has a very high football IQ and possesses a great ability to read and react to plays.
No. 8 USC will square off against the Arkansas State Red Wolves this Saturday at 11 p.m. ET in what should be an easy win for the Trojans.
3. Florida State S Derwin James
Derwin James, of Haines City, Florida, will be a must watch come Saturday.
James, a product of Haines City High School, was rated the No. 1 safety and the No. 8 overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. At 6'2 and 202 lbs, James has the prototypical build for an elite safety. Although he is not the most polished player, James possesses great athletic ability. He boasts a quick first-step and has excellent acceleration. James is also a heavy-hitter when it comes to tackling.
Keep an eye on James this Saturday when No. 10 Florida State takes on the Texas State Bobcats in Tallahassee at 8 p.m. ET.
4. Florida State WR George Campbell
Florida State captured a beauty when East Lake High School athlete George Campbell committed to the Seminoles. Campbell, rated the No. 1 athlete and No. 7 overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class, has tremendous upside and should greatly help the 'Noles aerial attack — especially after the departure of star receiver Rashad Greene to the NFL. Campbell, at 6'4, 190 lbs, is a big-bodied receiver and should pose as a huge target. Campbell also possesses blazing top-end speed. According to ESPN, Campbell runs a 4.37 second 40-yard-dash. Campbell's size and speed will be in the nightmares of opposing defensive backs come Saturday night.
Look for Campbell to have a good night against a Texas State defense that was ranked 99th in total defense in 2014.
5. Florida DE CeCe Jefferson
After the departure of star defensive end Dante Fowler to the NFL (and a No. 3 overall pick at that), the Florida Gators were in desperate need of an elite pass-rusher. Enter, CeCe Jefferson.
The 6'1, 275 lbs defensive end out of Baker County High School was rated the No. 2 player at his position and the No. 9 overall prospect in the 2015 recruiting class. While Jefferson may not start for the Gators come Saturday, he will most certainly have a significant impact for the Gators' defense this season. Fresh out of high school, Jefferson already has the physique of an NFL defensive end. He boasts all physical tools capable of making him an elite talent in SEC football. However, his greatest quality is his defensive versatility, which makes him an interesting prospect for first-year Florida Defensive Coordinator Jeff Collins.
Florida will play against the New Mexico State Aggies at 7:30 p.m. in the Swamp.