We now know where a majority of the 2013 recruits will be playing college ball now that national signing day is over and done with. The top high school recruits in the country have made their college decisions official and will be ready to begin the next chapters of their lives starting with the 2013 college football regular season.
Every recruit makes his decision based on a number of things, but a lot these guys want to go to schools that offer immediate playing time. No recruit that was highly ranked by recruiting services wants to ride the bench for a season or be somebody's backup. So with that said, a lot of these prospects will see the field early as true freshmen.
This could be due to the kid being so talented that you can't afford to have him holding a clipboard. It could also be that the depth at the position is weak and there is no choice but to throw the kid into the lineup immediately.
So with the recruiting season slowing down a bit, here are some of the top 2013 recruits who will make huge impacts from Day 1.
You could make an argument that Derrick Green is the best running back of the 2013 recruiting class.
With his stocky size at 6'0", 220 pounds, he is ready to hit the field immediately and help out the Michigan Wolverines in the ground game. Not only is he built for the college game right now, but he also runs with terrific balance, catches well out of the backfield and has a great combination of speed and power to his game. Watching him on film, he just looks like a college running back.
With Green committing to Michigan, he fills an area of need, as the status of Fitzgerald Toussaint remains up in the air after an ugly injury he suffered late in the year.
This 5-star recruit will carry the ball plenty of times next season for the Wolverines.
If you saw the UCLA Bruins' pass defense at all last year, you would know why Priest Willis is on this list. Not only were there four games in which the Bruins allowed more than 300 yards through the air, but only one starter from the secondary is returning.
That leaves the door open for a talented young player to step in and contribute. Willis is a physical player who can line up at either position in the defensive backfield, but will likely play cornerback, with that position missing both starters from a year ago.
He has the size at 6'2", 200 pounds; and as good as he is in pass coverage, he is also a force in run support. Willis also has above-average ball skills that will help add to a defense that finished last season with 15 interceptions.
Willis has yet to sign his letter of intent with the Bruins, but it is only because his mother is out of town. All UCLA fans should expect Willis and another true freshman to start from Day 1 in the secondary.
Derrick Henry is an interesting player.
Is he is a running back or is he a defensive guy? Sure, he is the all-time leading rusher of any running back in high school history, and because of that he wants to continue to play the position.
However, the running back depth for the Tide is currently on overload and it may force Henry to switch sides of the ball, at least for one season. Henry isn't built like a running back at all, at 6'3", 240 pounds; he looks more like a linebacker or defensive end.
With Henry's physicality, lateral quickness and massive frame, Saban could do a number of things to get him on the field a lot sooner if he is willing to change positions.
It remains up for debate on which position Henry will settle in at, but one thing is for sure—he will see action as a true freshman and help the Crimson Tide go for a third-straight national title.
Johnny Manziel is going to continue to be awesome and make jaw-dropping plays with his legs, but he needs guys to throw the ball to as well. Upcoming sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans is the only returning starter from a year ago that is a proven pass-catcher.
Enter Ricky Seals-Jones and a lot of those problems are solved.
Similar to Dorial Green-Beckham from a year ago, Seals-Jones has size that is off the charts at 6'5", 230 pounds. He has speed to go along with that size, can catch the ball in traffic and is as dangerous as ever after he comes down with the ball. He is that deep threat and playmaker on the outside that SEC defensive coordinators didn't want Texas A&M to pick up.
Evans had an amazing season as a freshman last year, but the sky is truly the limit once Seals-Jones steps on campus.
The college football world knows that Alex Collins gave his verbal commitment to Arkansas, and I wrote about how he is going to thrive as a Razorback. Unfortunately for Collins, he has become part of the strange recruiting story that seems to take place every year.
At this point, nobody knows what is going to happen. His commitment could remain in the SEC and he will become a Razorback, or he could feel his mother’s pain and end up flip-flopping to stay closer to home with the Miami Hurricanes. However, he did tell NBC6 that he will in fact remain with the Razorbacks, and according to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports, he will sign with the team later today.
Whenever this incident comes to an end, Collins will be very productive, especially if he remains with Arkansas. With the Razorbacks offense looking like an empty cupboard at the moment, Collins will be looked to bail this team out offensively in his first year.
Notre Dame does return three starters from the secondary, but depth remains an issue and the safety position isn't as secure as most would think. With inexperience and guys that are nowhere near as talented as Max Redfield, the 4-star safety could lock down a starting position once fall camp arrives.
Redfield has everything you look for at the safety position, from his cover skills to his ball-hawking ball skills that make him a playmaker the Irish didn't have a year ago in the secondary. But it is his instincts that make him stand out for such a young player. He reads and reacts well to the ball and because of this, he is a force in stopping the run as well.
Really a complete player, Redfield is an instant upgrade to the Notre Dame secondary and could quickly develop into a superstar player who takes the college football world by storm.
You didn't think I was going to leave this guy off the list, did you?
Robert Nkemdiche was rated by most to be the top player of the 2013 recruiting class, and there is absolutely no way he doesn't see the field early and often as a true freshman. Ole Miss does return 10 starters on defense, but somebody is going to give up a starting spot eventually for this next great defensive player.
Nkemdiche will likely be used on pass-rushing situations early on just to get his feet wet, but with his versatility and relentless pursuit to the football, it is only a matter of time before he is a full-fledged starter. This kid can truly do it all, and with his work ethic and desire to improve, he is really only scratching the surface of his overall potential.
Rebels and fellow SEC fans will enjoy watching Nkemdiche for years to come.
Florida was painful to watch on the offensive side of the ball last year. The team couldn't find any consistency, the quarterback play was below-average and if running back Mike Gillislee wasn't rushing for more than 100 yards, the Gators found themselves in a battle for four quarters.
This is why Kelvin Taylor will be the next great SEC running back who contributes at a high rate as a true freshman. Florida needs all of the playmakers it can find at the moment and Taylor is just that. The younger son of former Gator great Fred Taylor, the 5-star recruit is extremely fast and elusive in the open field. He can also be a factor catching the ball out of the backfield.
Taylor finally gives the offense something to work with and will provide that home-run threat, something head coach Will Muschamp has lacked in his first two seasons.
Expect a lot of touches for the first-year player.
Auburn landed several great defensive players to add to a unit that already returns four starters on the line from last year, but Carl Lawson is arguably the most talented of them all.
Lawson not only has a remarkably quick first step, but he also has many different pass-rushing moves to put on opposing offensive linemen, and he uses his hands well. On top of being a great pass-rusher, Lawson also has the frame at 6'3", 245 pounds and relentless pursuit to be a force against the run.
Auburn had a defense last year that was absolutely terrifying to watch. Ranked 13th in the SEC in total defense, the Tigers need playmakers who can step on the field right now and help improve the overall performance.
Lawson is a guy who will be thrown into the rotation, and he will show why he was considered one of the top defensive players in the 2013 recruiting class.
One of my favorite players of the 2013 recruiting class is MacKensie Alexander. He brings so many things to the table at the cornerback position and really seems like he is ready to contribute at the college level immediately.
Alexander is a tough kid who likes to get physical with the receivers, and this also trickles down to him being effective against the run. He has great awareness and very rarely gets fooled or misses a tackle in the open field. He is a smart player who not only reacts well to the ball, but also has terrific ball skills and can make game-changing plays.
Also, as ESPN pointed out, Alexander has a fabulous work ethic due to him growing up in a tough environment down in Florida.
What’s not to love?
Clemson only returns one starter in the defensive backfield from last year, and it wouldn't be surprising if Alexander takes one of those spots as a true freshman.