LSU Football 2012: Top Freshmen to Watch This Season

William ScottContributor IMay 9, 2012

LSU Football 2012: Top Freshmen to Watch This Season

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    If you're anything like me, you can't wait for kickoff this September. All Tiger fans have been anticipating the upcoming season and the returning talent on both sides of the ball.  

    But the Tigers also have many talented freshman prospects coming into this season. Nine of them are 4-star recruits, and all of them will make an impact on the Tigers' overall success for the 2012 season.

    In this article, I list the top five freshman to watch who should make the biggest impression on the field this season. As a side note, Vadal Alexander, Lamar Louis and Lorenzo Phillips will also have a big impact, but they didn't quite make my list. 

5. Stephen Rivers

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    In his junior season in high school, Stephen Rivers threw for more than 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns, and in his senior season, he rushed for nearly 300 yards on 73 attempts. 

    He was a 3-star commitment out of high school and ranked No. 35 for all quarterbacks in the country by Scouts.com. He was named to the PrepStar all Southeast Region List, the starting quarterback for the Alabama team in the 2010 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and was named the Most Valuable Player after leading Alabama to a 24-17 win.

    In that game, he completed 14-of-24 passes for 123 yards and had one touchdown with one two-point conversion.

    He signed with the Tigers and was redshirted last season. Although he had a poor performance in the 2012 LSU spring game, going 6-of-17 with an interception, he will be a redshirt freshman this season, backing up Zach Mettenberger. He is a very talented and smart quarterback under pressure and can fool defenses, as seen in the featured highlight film.

    His quick moves and agility will likely give LSU a rushing option at the quarterback position. Because of this, I would like to see the coaches put him in to run the wildcat. Having this option just might produce a few touchdowns, and if so, will prove to make a big difference in the Tigers' offensive attack.

    By the way, you've probably heard of Stephen's older brother, Philip, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. If Stephen has a little bit of his big brother in him, then the SEC defenses better watch out!

    Hear that Bama?

4. Jeremy Hill

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    Jeremy Hill was a 4-star recruit out of high school and rated the No. 11 running back in the country by Scout.com. In his senior season, he rushed for 2,260 yards and 36 touchdowns, breaking the Redemptorist High School career rushing record. 

    Joining the Tigers this upcoming season, many wondered if Les Miles would redshirt him. However, Les said, "No, I can't imagine that we would want to redshirt him. He's big, strong, talented. I think he'll be ready."

    So we've heard it first-hand from The Hat: Jeremy Hill will play this season! Even though he will be joining a very crowded Tiger backfield, at 6' 2" and weighing 225 pounds, the speedy Hill should be a top freshman to watch. 

    Please, give Jeremy Hill the ball and he will basically run over people!

3. Dwayne Thomas

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    Dwayne Thomas should be a great addition this season for the Tigers. With both Morris Claiborne and Ron Brooks gone, he will get a lot of playing time, possibly even starting at the cornerback position.

    He was rated a 4-star recruit by Scout.com and Rivals.com, and the No. 5 recruit in Louisiana by both of these sources. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and hopes to help the Tigers' special teams as well as their defense.

    He has proven to be an interception machine and is ready to bring his talent to LSU and the SEC. Once he gets his hands on the ball, he simply wants to take it to the house. I can't wait to see him playing alongside the Honey Badger! 

2. Avery Johnson

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    Even with Russell Shepard, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. as LSU's three main wide receivers, Avery Johnson should still come in and make some noise at the wide receiver position.

    He was a 4-star recruit out of high school and was invited to play in the 2011 Under Armour All-American High School Football Game. In his senior season, he caught for 1,752 yards and 20 touchdowns.

    He was also placed No. 7 on the Miami Herald Florida Top 101 list. During his freshman season in high school, he played with the No. 4 player on my "Top Freshman To Watch" list—Jeremy Hill.

    Oh, and did I mention that he is Patrick Peterson's step brother? Let's hope the former LSU star and now Arizona Cardinals punt returner taught his brother a few of his moves!

    Avery Johnson should make an impression this upcoming season and should be a big time threat for some good teams on the Tigers' schedule.  

1. Kwon Alexander

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    When you watch highlights of Kwon Alexander, it's easy to see why he was LSU's top recruit. He was a 4-star recruit and ranked the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect by ESPN and ranked No. 29 in the ESPNU 150.

    He was invited to the play in the Under Armour High School All-American Game but was unable to participate because of a torn ACL, which caused him to miss most of his senior season.

    In his junior season, he had 144 tackles, 17 sacks, and six forced fumbles. He was also a finalist for the High School Butkus Award, given to the nation's top linebacker. He was ranked Alabama's No. 3 high school prospect by ESPN.com.

    Even though he had a major injury, he's fully recovered, and Tiger fans should be really excited that we landed this recruit. This guy will be an absolute monster on the football field and should be a big-time player for the Tigers.

    Mark my word: After a great career at LSU, Kwon Alexander will be playing on Sundays! Until then, he'll be racking up more sacks than the guy at the end of a grocery line!  

    I'm expecting him to have an outstanding season for the Tigers, and there's no doubt that he will be the No. 1 freshman to watch. 

Biggest Impact?

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    There will be many freshman who will have a big impact on LSU this coming season, but who will have the biggest impact?

    I think it will be Dwayne Thomas and Kwon Alexander because Avery Johnson, Jeremy Hill and Stephen Rivers will all be backups. Not only that, but it's because speed kills.  

    These guys have the speed and explosiveness on the defensive side of the ball and will light up some ball-carriers with huge hits.

    I think we will see both of them control the football field, force turnovers, and by joining Tyrann Mathieu on defense, LSU will have a nest of Honey Badgers!

    I can't wait to see what these guys can do.

     

    William Scott, 13-year-old sportswriter

     

    Twitter: @wscottbr