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NCAA Football

10 College Football Early Enrollees Who Could Contribute Immediately

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10 College Football Early Enrollees Who Could Contribute Immediately

Football
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 college football recruiting class once again featured a phenomenal group of talent across the board at every position. It featured players who will not only make an impact during their four-year career at their particular school, but make an immediate impact during their freshman year.

One of the rising trends in the recruiting industry is the addition of players enrolling early at their school in January and forgoing their final semester of high school. It is very common in this day in age to see a top recruiting class bring in up to five or more players who graduate early from high school, sign their letter of intent, and enroll in classes in January. The number of players who can enroll early varies between each team depending on the number of scholarships available and such, but just bringing in one player early is a substantial advantage.

This early enrollment process gives an advantage to not only the team, but to the player himself by a tremendous margin. Instead of waiting to enroll in June or July, the player now can go through workouts with the team and begin to learn the playbook, compete in spring practice and prepare himself to contribute immediately in the fall.

Entering this upcoming season, there are 10 recruits from the class of 2014 that have enrolled early who will make an immediate impact on their team’s season and help many of them fight for not only conference titles, but national titles as well.

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10. DE Solomon Thomas - Stanford

Stanford
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Solomon Thomas was the top signee for the Stanford Cardinal class in 2014 as the 5-star defensive end enrolled early in January. The 6-foot-3, 258-pound defensive end was rated as the second-best player at his position nationally and will fit in perfectly with the defensive scheme in Palo Alto.

Thomas is a very physical defensive lineman who has great size and strength at the point of attack. His 4.95 40-yard dash is not the best for an end, but he has a good first step off the ball and the versatility to move along the defensive line, which will help him work his way into the rotation for the Cardinal this fall.

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9. RB Dalvin Cook - Florida State

FSU
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dalvin Cook, a Miami, FL native, was once committed to the Hurricanes. He had a change of heart and committed to the Florida State Seminoles in early December, and enrolled there in January. The 5-star running back stands at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds and runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards this past season as a senior with 37 touchdowns.

At Florida State, Cook will be able to learn the playbook and work in the rotation with returner Karlos Williams. The Seminoles used three running backs last year that included NFL Draft hopefuls James Wilder, Jr., Devonte Freeman as well as Williams.

The Seminoles' style of offense plays into Cook’s favor, and he will rotate and receive plenty of carries during his freshman campaign.

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8. ILB Raekwon McMillan - Ohio State

OSU
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest recruiting wins for the Ohio State Buckeyes was going into the state of Georgia and stealing away the No. 1 inside linebacker in the nation Raekwon McMillan.

The 5-star linebacker is exceptionally talented within the box with a great frame at 6-foot-2, 240 pounds. He is very physical and can tackle well.

The Buckeyes struggled mightily on defense last season, and they lost their senior defensive leader in middle linebacker Ryan Shazier to graduation. With Shazier gone, McMillan has a great opportunity to step in and help fill the void that Shazier left in the defensive front seven as an early enrollee and make his presence felt during spring practices.

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7. CB Jalen Tabor - Florida

UF
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators has a tough time in 2014 as they won just four games, but they reeled in the ninth-best recruiting class in the country and it was headlined by 5-star corner back Jalen Tabor.

Tabor committed to Arizona at the Under Armour All-American game, but de-committed and pledged to the Gators just a week later. He enrolled four days later in Gainesville.

The 6-foot-1, 182-pound defensive back was one of the top corners in the nation for 2014 because he has arguably the best length, recovery speed and recovery quickness of any defensive back in the class.

Tabor will make an impression in the spring, and will leave head coach Will Muschamp no choice but to use his talents in the fall alongside former 5-star corner Vernon Hargreaves, who shined as a freshman this past season in Gainesville.

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6. CB Tony Brown - Alabama

Bama
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Brown was the No. 2-rated corner back in the class of 2014. He signed and enrolled at Alabama in early January after committing to the Crimson Tide at the Under Armour All-American game. The 6-foot, 190-pound corner with 4.3 40-yard dash speed was considered to be an LSU lean, but picked the Crimson Tide in a surprise upset.

Since Brown enrolled early, he will have the opportunity to come in right away and compete for not only playing time, but a starting position in an Alabama secondary that was torched throughout the season, especially in the Sugar Bowl versus Oklahoma.

Brown’s speed and instincts will allow him to assert himself in the lineup quickly, and now he has the added bonus of being ahead of the learning curve by enrolling early.

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5. QB Deshaun Watson - Clemson

Clemson
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson did not have the most dominating class in the country for 2014 as they finished 20th in the nation, but the Tigers did reel in one of the possible replacements for graduating quarterback Taj Boyd.

Deshaun Watson is a 4-star quarterback from the state of Georgia and is rated as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 class. At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Watson not only has the physical tools to step in and play as a true freshman, but also the intellectual intangibles it takes as well.

Watson was a solid Clemson commit for over a year when he enrolled in January, and he will now have a great opportunity to step in as a true freshman and take over the reins in Death Valley.

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4. WR D'haquille Williams - Auburn

Auburn
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

D’haquille Williams was the No. 1 wide receiver in the country for a reason in 2014, and he had a whirlwind recruitment.

Williams committed to LSU originally in the summer, de-committed two weeks later, then visited Auburn, signed with the Tigers officially on Dec. 18 and enrolled in January.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder has all the tools to be a playmaking wide receiver immediately in Auburn. He processes size and speed, but his ball skills and ability to make plays in the air are what separates him from the rest of the pack.

Auburn’s offense lives and dies by the run, but with Williams, they now have a deep ball threat to go to in play-action, which could dramatically hinder SEC defenses.

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3. RB Jalen Hurd - Tennessee

UT
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Volunteers landed a great class in 2014, and it was headlined by one of the best players in the state of Tennessee in Jalen Hurd.

Hurd is a 4-star running back that processes tremendous size similar to 2013 recruit and current Alabama running back Derrick Henry. Hurd stands at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and will be able to come in and provide the stagnant Volunteers offense with an immediate, aggressive downhill runner with good vision and breakaway speed.

Although Hurd missed his senior year of high school with a torn labrum, in 2012 he managed to rush for over 3,300 yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground. His impact in Knoxville will definitely be felt in 2014.

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2. OL Cameron Robinson - Alabama

Bama
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama Crimson Tide had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for 2014, and they have another player on this list that will make an immediate impact in the fall.

5-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson is coming in as the top offensive tackle in the nation as he committed to the Crimson Tide in September and never wavered on his decision as he enrolled in January.

Alabama’s offensive line loses it’s starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, and they will need to reshuffle their starting five, which is where Robinson comes into play. He has stands massively at 6-foot-7, 335 pounds, but he is athletic enough to play either guard or tackle in college.

Robinson may not be a starter to begin with, but he will see immediate playing time and eventually earn a starting job.

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1. QB Kyle Allen - Texas A&M

A&M
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas A&M Aggies lost one of their best players in the history of the program, quarterback Johnny Manziel, to the NFL Draft, but the Aggies are hopeful that incoming freshman Kyle Allen can fill his shoes for the future.

The 6-foot-3, 200 pounder was rated as a 5-star recruit and the No. 1 overall quarterback in the nation, and he solidified that by having an outstanding performance in the Army All-American game in January.

The quarterback position is wide open in College Station, and with Allen enrolling early he has primed himself to be the man leading the Aggies this coming fall as a true freshman.