Every year freshmen make an immediate impact on their teams, and it all starts in spring ball. Spring games give us fans the first look at the early enrollees and what role they could play come fall. This is part 2 of a 3 part series where I highlight freshmen to watch at spring games, this part being for the teams playing on April 16th.
Miami has a good returning tight end in Will Mallory, but Skinner will likely be a factor in year one. Skinner projects best as a flexed-out tight end where he can use his absurd length and catch radius. Skinner has reportedly performed well in spring practice and could play an important role for Miami as the season progresses.
Linebacker was one of the weaknesses on the Buckeyes’ defense last season, and I imagine CJ will get an early opportunity to play. CJ is everything you want from a linebacker physically. 6′ 3″ 220 and athletic enough to be the punt returner for his high school team. He will immediately be an impact blizter and has the ball skills to become a good coverage linebacker. With a strong spring game, Hicks could play himself into getting some starts in the fall.
Alabama is losing their top 2 receivers from 2021, and guess what? They got the talent to replace them. I had Anderson as an impact player even before the Agiye Hall transfer, and while they have different skill sets, it still creates more snaps at the position. Anderson is a speedster out of the slot that is an advanced route runner for his age. He’s also an electric return man and can be used on sweeps. Alabama will find a way to get him the ball this season.
With how much talent Georgia has it may be tough for Starks to find early playing time, but he’s a fun player to watch. He likely starts his college career at the safety position but is versatile enough to eventually be at linebacker or the star position. Heck, he could make an impact on offense as well, at receiver or running back. He’s just so versatile that he’s always going to be a player to pay attention to on that defense.
The one-time Ohio State commit that decided to follow his father to Indiana will immediately be one of the Hoosiers’ best players. He’s another very versatile player that likely projects best as an edge rusher, but can also play in space as a linebacker. He will need to fill out his 6′ 5″ frame to be an effective edge rusher, so he may start his career as a box safety or off-ball linebacker. Where ever he is on the field, he’s a must-watch and will be a key piece for the Hoosiers over the next 3-4 years.