Which 5-star freshmen could make the biggest impact in 2018?

Yahoo Sports
Quarterback <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/287612/" data-ylk="slk:Justin Fields">Justin Fields</a> throws a pass during during the first half of Georgia’s annual G Day inter squad spring football game Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Quarterback Justin Fields throws a pass during during the first half of Georgia’s annual G Day inter squad spring football game Saturday, April 21, 2018, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The 2018 football season is getting closer and closer. We continue our preview series with a look at where the top 15 prospects in Rivals’ 2018 recruiting rankings ended up. You’ll notice a lot of familiar schools on this list and a lot of the players included have a chance of making a big impact for their teams over the next 15 weeks. 

1. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson: The top recruit in the class of 2018, Lawrence is the presumed top backup for Kelly Bryant at Clemson and he’s got many people wondering just how much he’ll play in 2018. He enrolled early and played well in Clemson’s spring game. If Bryant struggles once or twice in 2018, there are going to be a lot of Clemson fans calling for Lawrence to take over at quarterback.

2. Justin Fields, QB, Georgia: Fields is in a similar position to Lawrence. He’ll probably be the backup to Jake Fromm, a guy who was a highly touted freshman just a year ago. Fromm took over the starting job after Jacob Eason suffered a knee injury in the season opener. Eason is now at Washington and sitting out the 2018 season due to transfer rules. Fields should push Fromm much like Fromm pushed Eason. You can never have enough quality quarterbacks.

3. Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC: Former Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown’s brother stayed in California to go to USC. With Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell gone from USC’s 2017 team, there’s a good chance St. Brown will play a significant role for the Trojans. He could be catching passes from a fellow freshman too.

4. JT Daniels, QB, USC: Daniels is competing to be USC’s starting quarterback with Matt Fink and Jack Sears. The reports out of Los Angeles have been glowing about Daniels, who seems to have as good a shot as anyone to win the job. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider that Daniels reclassified to be a member of the 2018 recruiting class and could easily be playing his senior season of high school football instead.

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5. Xavier Thomas, DE, Clemson: Thomas was the No. 5 prospect in the country and is going to find playing time hard to come by. That’s life on the Clemson defensive line. Three Tigers who could have gone pro in 2018 decided to stay for another season, giving Clemson a ferocious defensive front. Thomas has some great mentors to learn from and could see a little rotational playing time this season.

6. Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State: Parsons should jump right in and be a contributor for Penn State’s defense. He’s impressed in practice and there’s a starting outside linebacker job open. If Parsons doesn’t win that, he could at least start out as a situational pass rusher.

7. Eyabi Anoma, LB, Alabama: The Tide’s linebacker depth is a bit thin, which could mean good things for Anoma’s chances at playing time. Both Tyrell Lewis and Chris Allen have suffered knee injuries that will keep them out for the season. Freshmen were a big key to Alabama’s title game win in January.

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8. Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama: Nick Saban’s pass-coverage concepts can be complicated. But Surtain, the son of former NFL cornerback Patrick Surtain, has some pretty good bloodlines. Expect to see him contribute on special teams early before working his way into the rotation.

9. Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia: The Bulldogs return four starters on an offensive line that opened some massive holes in 2017. So playing time isn’t going to be readily available, at least immediately. But Salyer should be a key contributor in the future.

10. Zamir White, RB, Georgia: White was set to be part of the running back rotation at Georgia before he suffered a torn ACL over the weekend. The ACL tear is his second in the last 12 months.

11. Nicholas Petit-Frere, T, Ohio State: Petit-Frere probably won’t see significant playing time outside of injuries to the OSU offensive line. But like Salyer, he should be a key piece in 2019 and 2020.

12. Adam Anderson, DE, Georgia: With the departures of Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy, there are pass-rushing snaps available along Georgia’s defensive front.

13. Lorenzo Lingard, RB, Miami: Lingard looks like he’ll be the No. 2 back behind Travis Homer in Miami.

14. Tyreke Johnson, S, Ohio State: A top-15 list wouldn’t be complete without a highly ranked defensive back recruit at Ohio State, right? Johnson could see the field some in passing situations when the Buckeyes use six defensive backs.

15. Justyn Ross, WR, Clemson: Ross made this catch on Aug. 12.


With Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud gone, there are plenty of pass-catching opportunities available at Clemson. If Ross is making the boring catches along with the spectacular ones, he’s got a hell of a shot to be an impact receiver on the outside.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

To listen to the Yahoo Sports College Podcast, visit Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Google Play. (Interview segment with Houston’s Ed Oliver begins at the 37:20 mark.)

On this week’s College Football Podcast, Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Pete Thamel discuss Urban Meyer’s situation and have an interview with Houston’s Ed Oliver.
On this week’s College Football Podcast, Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde and Pete Thamel discuss Urban Meyer’s situation and have an interview with Houston’s Ed Oliver.

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