NCAA Football

5 Freshman College Football Players Who Could Make A Huge Impact In Week 3

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Which Youngsters Will Step Up In Week 3?

alex collins
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It takes some freshmen a couple of years to adjust to the college game well enough to make a noticeable difference for their team. Others come out and set the College Football world on fire in their debut. Still, others take a few games to get comfortable before having a breakout performance. Those are the players we’re looking for here – guys who have an opportunity to make a huge impact in Week 3.

Week 1 belonged to Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, who hauled in nine catches for 82 yards in his debut against Vanderbilt. No one on the field could cover the 6-foot-3 freshman, who accounted for nearly every yard on one Rebels scoring drive. He was clearly the breakout freshman of the season’s first week.

In Week 2, Arkansas Razorbacks running back Alex Collins (pictured above) stole the show with 172 rushing yards in a win over Samford. That raised his total to 303 yards and one touchdown through two games. Collins is the first Arkansas running back to have more than 100-yards in his first two games. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering he is following the likes of Darren McFadden, a two-time Doak Walker Award-winner and Heisman Trophy finalist.

So which freshmen are most likely to emerge as big-time playmakers for their teams in Week 3? There are lots to choose from, but we only have room for five on this list. You may not have heard of these guys yet (some are so unknown we couldn’t even find a photo of them), but you will know their names after Week 3.

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5. Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA Bruins

eddie vanderdoes
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Based on what we saw when these teams met in 2012, Eddie Vanderdoes will have a great opportunity to make a big impact on a huge stage in Lincoln, Neb. Last year, the Nebraska Cornhuskers gouged the UCLA Bruins defense for a half, racking up 24 points and 333 yards. Then, UCLA switched to a four-man base rush instead of the more exotic run and pass blitzes that didn't work. The change helped UCLA put a halt to Nebraska’s offensive success and win the game. That four-man rush is one UCLA figures to deploy again in Saturday morning's game, so the big guys up front, including Vanderdoes, will need to play well. Nebraska has been very effective rushing the ball so far this year, coming in fifth-best with 660 yards through two games. Vanderdoes had a great debut, recording six tackles (all solo) in the Bruins’ opener against Nevada. Look for the massive freshman to be a major disruptive force up front, helping UCLA corral the Cornhuskers for a second-straight season.

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4. Dan Voltz, C, Wisconsin Badgers

dan voltz
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If Dan Voltz gets the nod to start at center for Wisconsin at Arizona State Saturday night, his play will be critical to the Badgers’ offensive success. This game features the No. 1-2 teams nationally in defense, meaning points will come at a premium. The Badgers are No. 1, allowing just 162.5 yards per game and zero points in two games. But the Sun Devils are close behind at No. 2, allowing just 167 yards and zero points in one game. Wisconsin’s offensive success, especially in a hostile road environment, starts with the big guys up front, and it’s up to the center to make sure they know their assignments. That responsibility will fall on Voltz if he starts, or sees playing time. If he handles the pressure well, Wisconsin could notch a huge road victory and gain a lot of momentum heading into Big Ten play.

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3. Marcus Davis, WR, Auburn Tigers

marcus davis
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Auburn Tigers open the SEC schedule in Week 3 against Mississippi State carrying a 10-game conference losing streak. The Tigers have run the ball very well through two games, but need playmakers in the passing game to develop in a hurry. Wide receiver Marcus Davis, who really impressed his coaches during fall camp, could be the spark that helps Auburn improve on its average of 133 passing yards per game. The 5-foot-9 freshman is the smallest receiver on the roster, but he already has one big catch for Auburn. Last week, Davis leapt skyward and grabbed a sailing pass from Nick Marshall for Auburn’s first touchdown in a 38-9 win over Arkansas State. This week, the Tigers are facing a Bulldogs defense that is only giving up about 140 passing yards a game. But Davis, who is a former high school quarterback, has the ability to read coverages and find openings. That ability could make him a valuable weapon, especially as head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee look to open things up more in the passing game.

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2. Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, Texas A&M

ricky seals-jones
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M’s freshman phenom showed flashes of his potential in Week 1, hauling in three passes for 84 yards against Rice, including a 71-yard touchdown. But Ricky Seals-Jones disappeared from the stat sheet in Week 2, recording zero catches. That will need to change this week when the Aggies line up against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide’s stout defense. You can bet Bama will have coverages designed to limit Mike Evans’ catches, so a second option for Johnny Manziel will be crucial to the Aggies offensive success. Seals-Jones is one of a few guys who could step up and make some big catches in what is the most anticipated game of the season so far. If he has a touchdown and/or a few big receptions in this game, you can bet folks around the country will take note. He certainly hast the talent to do it and Bama’s secondary hasn’t seen anything close to what the Aggies can do in the passing game.

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1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Texas Tech

baker mayfield
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Tech Red Raiders haven’t lost a step offensively with freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield as the trigger man. This kid is already playing lights out, albeit under the radar, through two games. In his first-ever college game, Mayfield threw for 413 yards and four touchdowns against SMU. In his second effort against Stephen F. Austin, he threw for 367 yards and three scores in just one half. Mayfield currently ranks third nationally in total passing yards with 780 to go along with his seven touchdowns, but isn’t getting a lot of press run. That will change if he delivers again in Week 3 and helps his team upset No. 24 TCU in Tech's nationally-televised Big 12 opener tonight.