In the last Five Star Focus series we examined how last seasons blue chip prospects did and what to expect as sophomores. In this series we dive-in a take a look at what the new crop of freshman have in store for the 2012 season.
In this 2 part series, part 1 is dominated by the lineman – including a pair of DE’s for the Florida Gators who figure to be an integral part of the Gators defense, and a pair of highly touted OTs headed to Stanford who look to earn the starting LT job once held by Johnathan Martin.
Note: Ratings are based on an average of the top recruiting services around the web.
23. OT. John Theus, Georgia
-The Parade magazine All-American comes to Georgia with a chance to play immediately. He has the natural ability to play OT, but can also start as Guard right away. With current OT Kolton Houston and Kenarious Gates not exactly ‘wowing’ the coaches during spring drills, Theus could turn a strong fall practice into a week 1 starting gig against The university of Buffalo.
22. DE Arik Armstead, Oregon
-Armstead’s size, strength, and speed alone should allow him to see the field from day 1. He looks like a DT, but moves like an OLB and give Ducks’ D coordinator Nick Aliotti much to work with. After losing Terrell Turner and Brandon Hannah, Armstead has a legitimate shot to start at DE opposite of Dion Jordan week 1. Will head into the season battling Tony Washington (18 tkls, 1 sack) for the chance to start.
21. DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida
- Bullard is one of two highly touted Defensive line recruits to sign with Florida this season, and if Ronald Powell’s ACL injury isn’t fully healed come fall then he could become one of the most important. Bullard is extremely strong and physical, and has the all-around game to contribute immediately, even with several upperclassmen ahead of him on the depth chart.
20. DE Adolphus Washington, Ohio St.
-Much like fellow freshman DE, Noah Spence, Washington will have to earn his playing time behind some veteran leaders for the Buckeyes. Washington, A Parade Magazine, and US Army All-American arrives in Columbus with much hype. After dominating the High School level, Washington will be groomed behind John Simon and Nathan Williams, not to mention a couple more upperclassmen that lettered last season. It’s quite possible that he could redshirt in 2012, but Urban Meyer would be hard to ignore the skill set he brings to the table. Look for him to potentially take over as starter for Simon in 2013.
19. DE Dante Fowler, Florida
-Fowler is the other highly recruited DE to head to the swamp to play this fall. After getting cleared academically late in the process, Fowler will need to play some catch up to see the field and should be in the mix to play the backup BUCK linebacker position behind senior Lerentee McCray. Fowler doesn’t project to be that strong against the run as a freshman, but he brings an excellent repertoire of pass rushing skills that the Gators.
18. QB Gunner Kiel, Notre Dame
-After committing to Indiana, then LSU, then finally settling with the Irish, Kiel comes into the middle of a heated 4-way QB battle, led by junior Tommy Rees (2,871, 20-14) and sophomore Andrew Hendrix. After Tommy Rees was suspended for the first game, it is anyways guess who will be the starter Week 1 when the Irish take on Navy in Ireland. Kiel has the tools to earn the starting job, but will have his hands full with 3 other guys who were all here last season.
17. RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
-Aside from Johnathan Gray, Trey Williams was one of the most dynamic RBs in the country last season, and steps into a great situation down in College Station. The explosive scatback should force his way onto the field since the Aggies lack anyone of his caliber on their roster. Given that current starter Christine Michael may or may not be 100%, Williams will earn his fair share of touches early on, especially in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Williams will make you miss in the open field and will be a great compliment to Christine Michael.
16. OT Andrus Peat, Stanford
- Peat shocked many by not signing with Nebraska where brother is currently enrolled. But, With David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin both now playing on Sundays, the Cardinal were in a desperate need for talent in the trenches and more than excited he chose to play for the Cardinal. Peat possesses tremendous strength and explosiveness for his age and could be in the mix for the starting LT job.
15. DE Darius Hamilton, Rutgers
-Hamilton is one the highest ranked recruits to ever sign for Rutgers and has a chance to be very special for the Scarlet Knights. With the departure of last year’s DE Manny Abreu (29 TKLS, 3 SKS) Rutgers is in need of quality and depth at that position. 1st year Head Coach Kyle Flood said, regarding the open DE spot, “Marcus Thompson, Max Issaka, Michael Larrow and Darius are all going to get an opportunity to see where they end up.” And while that may be the case, Hamilton’s ability to both stop the run and get to the passer, will no doubt help in making a case to start in week 1.
14. OT Kyle Murphy, Stanford
-Murphy is the second of two highly rated OT to play for the Cardinal. Much like Andrus Peat, Murphy will be expected to compete, if not start at LT. The battle at Offensive line could be one of the more underrated positional battles in the entire country. Coach David Shaw said this regarding his young lineman, “Those guys, Kyle Murphy, Joshua Garnett, as well as Andrus Peat, will be right in the thick of it. We’re looking for starting roles. Not just contributing roles, but starting roles.”
13. RB Keith Marshall, Georgia
- Marshall, the #1 RB recruiting by several recruiting services was already pegged to have a significant role with the Bulldogs offense. Now with the dismissal of last year’s leading rusher, Isaiah Crowell, that role seems to have gotten larger overnight. Ken Malcome will most likely begin as the starter against Buffalo week 1, but Marshall has something that Malcome lacks – big play ability. Marshall is lightning quick with an uncanny ability to make people miss. He’s not the biggest built RB, but he has the ability to become one of the top freshmen RB in the country.
12. RB TJ Yeldon, Alabama
-The Crimson Tide has been one of the better rushing teams in country over the past several years thanks to Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. So, if Nick Saban recruits a big powerful RB, then you better take notice. Yeldon, who is 6’2 210, looks the part of a big-time RB. He won the Dixie Howell Award as the team’s offense MVP in the spring game with 179 yards of total offense. He will start the season competing with Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart for playing time behind Eddie Lacy, but Yeldon has the making of the next great ‘bama RB.
11. DT Malcolm Brown, Texas
-Brown, one of the highest ranked DTs in the country comes to Texas with much hype. Already at a solid 315 lbs, Brown looks the part to be a true force in the middle of the Texas defense with deceptive quickness and athleticism. Unfortunately for Brown, that Texas defensive line is one of the best in the nation. Playing time might be hard to come by at first, with the likes of Ashton Dorsey, Desmond Jackson, and former Alabama and JC transfer Brandon Moore all ahead of him on the depth chart. Brown might not turn heads this season, but he is defiantly someone you need to remember in the future.
2012 Freshman: 10 -1
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports