Freshman-Year Predictions for the Top 25 2013 Recruits
Now that we know where the 25 best college football recruits in the nation will be attending school in 2013, it's time to make some predictions.
Not every one of these recruits will be a superstar right off the bat, but they all have immense potential. For some, contributing as a role player may be the most realistic expectation for freshman year. For others, major playing time in big-time situations is on the horizon.
With all that in mind, here are my freshman-year predictions for the top 25 recruits (according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings).
25. Ricky-Seals Jones, 5-Star ATH/WR (Texas A&M)
Projected Stats: 31 REC, 354 YD, 4 TD
He'll be able to stretch the field vertically as a deep threat and also be a good intermediate and short route receiver.
He should see the field a lot as a freshman, and I wouldn't be surprised if he quickly becomes one of Johnny Manziel's favorite targets.
24. Keith Ford, 5-Star RB (Oklahoma)
Projected Stats: 34 CAR, 196 YD, 2 TD
He projects to be a No. 3 back behind Damien Williams and Brennan Clay in Oklahoma's offense, and he'll be very effective as a backup.
In time, look for Ford to become the feature back for the Sooners. As a freshman, though, he'll have to play his role on the depth chart.
23. Robert Foster, 5-Star WR (Alabama)
Projected Stats: 22 REC, 415 YD, 4 TD
Robert Foster is going to be a star receiver for the Alabama Crimson Tide when all is said and done. As a freshman, I expect he'll work his way into the rotation and compete to be the No. 2 receiver.
He'll not only be able to stretch the field vertically for Alabama across from Amari Cooper, but also be effective in the slots and make something happen after the catch.
He's 6'2" and 185 pounds and runs a 4.49 40 according to 247Sports, so he projects to be very good.
22. Kelvin Taylor, 5-Star RB (Florida)
Projected Stats: 113 CAR, 415 YD, 7 TD
Kelvin Taylor should be an elite backup as a freshman. He has very good size at 5'10" and 216 pounds, so he'll be able to take a lot of carries early on for the Florida Gators.
Look for him to back up Matt Jones, but don't be surprised if Taylor competes for starting reps as well. He's ranked as the No. 2 running back in the 2013 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, so expectations should be very high.
21. Carl Lawson, 5-Star DE (Auburn)
Projected Stats: 49 TCK, 8 SCK
Carl Lawson will come in and compete for the starter's spot at defensive end right away for Auburn. That should be a gig he ends up winning by the time the season rolls around.
He's strong and big enough to really hold his own against the run, but he's also quick, athletic and agile enough to really be a pass-rushing force for the Auburn Tigers.
Lawson should have a very good freshman year.
20. Thomas Tyner, 5-Star RB (Oregon)
Projected Stats: 92 CAR, 523 YD, 8 TD
He has the size to run between the tackles and the speed to be a home-run threat. He'll most likely start out behind Byron Marshall and De'Anthony Thomas on the depth chart, but look for him to still get a good number of carries as a freshman.
He's going to be too dynamic to keep off the field, so don't be surprised if Mark Helfrich goes with a running-back-by-committee approach in an effort to utilize all the talent he has at the position.
19. O.J. Howard, 5-Star TE (Alabama)
Projected Stats: 29 REC, 204 YD, 4 TD
O.J. Howard is going to be a superstar tight end for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He's big enough to stay home and block at 6'5" and 221 pounds, but he'll also really excel at stretching the defense between the seams and being a major middle-of-the-field option for AJ McCarron.
I expect Howard will start from day one, and he'll be a big difference-maker for the Crimson Tide as a freshman.
18. Chris Jones, 5-Star DE (Mississippi State)
Projected Stats: 33 TCK, 7.5 SCK
Chris Jones is a player who will come in and make an impact right away for Mississippi State. He's a marquee recruit, and frankly, he's too good to keep off the field.
He has good size at 6'5" and 250 pounds, and he runs a 4.7 40 according to 247Sports. He'll be able to play strong against the run or as a pass-rusher, and he has the potential to be a star player for the Mississippi State Bulldogs from day one.
17. Kendall Fuller, 5-Star CB (Virginia Tech)
Projected Stats: 34 TCK, 3 INT, 1 INT TD
Kendall Fuller has superstar potential as a cornerback, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him slated in as the nickel corner as a freshman for the Virginia Tech Hokies. He has great size at 6'0" and 175 pounds, and he runs a 4.5 40 according to 247Sports.
He's also the No. 3-ranked corner recruit according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, so he has the talent to be a big impact player for Virginia Tech as a freshman. Fuller will be an important No. 3 corner in year one, but eventually he'll be a star.
16. Jonathan Allen, 5-Star OLB (Alabama)
Projected Stats: 12 TCK, 1 SCK
Alabama, per usual, will have great depth on defense. Jonathan Allen is a marquee outside linebacker/defensive end recruit, but even he's going to struggle to find substantial playing time.
Look for Allen to be a big-time rotational player for the Alabama Crimson Tide at the "Jack" outside linebacker position.
In time, he projects as a great pass-rushing linebacker, but as a freshman, Allen will have to settle for backup reps and special teams play.
15. Jalen Ramsey, 5-Star CB (Florida State)
Projected Stats: 38 TCK, 2 INT
Ramsey should be able to compete for a starting job from day one, so don't be surprised to see him lined up at corner from the get-go for Florida State. He has shutdown size at 6'0.5" and 189 pounds, and he runs a 4.53 40 according to 247Sports.
14. Laquon Treadwell, 5-Star WR (Ole Miss)
Projected Stats: 39 REC, 573 YD, 6 TD
Laquon Treadwell is going to get plenty of reps at wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels. He's a big-time target who can be a deep threat or a possession receiver, and he undoubtedly has superstar potential.
Treadwell was ranked as the No. 1 overall wideout according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings and has tremendous measurables, checking in at 6'3" and 195 pounds. He also runs a 4.4 40 according to 247Sports.
It's easy to predict that Treadwell will be one of the stars of this up-and-coming program.
13. Christian Hackenberg, 5-Star QB (Penn State)
Christian Hackenberg is undoubtedly the future quarterback of Penn State's program. He has tremendous size at 6'4" and 210 pounds, he has a strong arm and he is a very accurate passer.
That said, with Penn State signing star JUCO quarterback Tyler Ferguson and Steven Bench already on the depth chart, Hackenberg may be best suited taking a redshirt year in order to gain the extra year of experience and eligibility.
12. Derrick Henry, 5-Star RB/ATH (Alabama)
Projected Stats: 150 CAR, 953 YD, 11 TD
Derrick Henry is going to be a superstar in time for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He has a unique combination of elite size and speed, and he has tremendous potential as a running back (though some may see him as an outside linebacker).
Henry is 6'3" and 240 pounds and runs a 4.54 40 according to 247Sports.
He'll come in and contribute right away as Alabama's No. 2 running back, much like T.J. Yeldon did last season.
Yeldon should be the starter, but look for Henry to be a very strong backup.
11. Max Browne, 5-Star QB (USC)
Projected Stats: 2,743 YD, 24 TD, 11 INT
Much like Christian Hackenberg at Penn State, Max Browne is the future of USC's program.
He has terrific size at 6'5" and 210 pounds, and he's ranked as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2013 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He has a strong arm and is incredibly accurate as a passer, so I expect he will compete for and win the starting job before the season.
Up-and-down years are expected for freshman quarterbacks, so Browne will have to go through growing pains. In the end, though, he should have a good season considering that he'll be a freshman.
10. Montravius Adams, 5-Star DT (Auburn)
Projected Stats: 39 TCK, 5.5 SCK
Montravius Adams is going to be a superstar at defensive tackle for Auburn. He's talented enough to literally play anywhere on the defensive line, but he'll most likely play the 3-technique.
He has a great blend of size, speed and strength, and he projects to be absolutely dominant. He'll be able to play strong against the run, but I also expect him to put up some impressive numbers in the quarterback sack column.
Overall, Adams projects to be one of the best defenders in the country as a freshman.
9. Kenny Bigelow, 5-Star DT (USC)
Stats: 22 TCK, 2 SCK
He has good size, but he also displays great quickness and technique. He'll be able to make athletic plays as a run defender, but he should also be a good pass-rusher as a freshman.
Bigelow will see a lot of time as a sub in his first year, most likely as a backup to Leonard Williams.
8. Matthew Thomas, 5-Star OLB (Florida State)
Projected Stats: 58 TCK, 7 SCK, 2 INT, 1 INT TD
Matthew Thomas will see the field a lot as a freshman at outside linebacker. He has good size at 6'3" and 210 pounds, so he can play strong against the run. But where he'll really stand out is in passing situations.
He'll be the perfect fit as a blitzing linebacker, and he can even drop back into space and be more than effective in coverage. He's extremely athletic and will make a ton of plays on the edges and in the backfield for the Seminoles.
7. Reuben Foster, 5-Star ILB (Alabama)
Projected Stats: 24 TCK, 2 SCK
Reuben Foster will be the next great Alabama linebacker. He's built for the part at 6'1" and 240 pounds, but he also runs a 4.6 40 according to 247Sports. He's big enough to play dominant against the run, but his speed will allow him to be a sideline-to-sideline player. He'll also be very effective in pass coverage.
In regards to his freshman season, though, Foster will most likely have to be an important sub behind C.J. Mosley and Trey DePriest.
Foster will make an impact on special teams, and he'll certainly stand out as a marquee sub whenever he's in the game.
6. Eddie Vanderdoes, 5-Star DT (Notre Dame)
Projected Stats: 39 TCK, 8.5 SCK
Eddie Vanderdoes is eventually going to be a star for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He has terrific size and strength, but he's also very quick and agile.
He could end up being a tremendous eventual replacement for Louis Nix III at nose tackle, and he could even slide over to the 5-tech and be dominant there because of his speed.
I expect Vanderdoes to see a ton of playing time at defensive end as a freshman, and he could even challenge Sheldon Day for the starter's spot.
Either way, expect Vanderdoes to play a lot just about anywhere on the line. He literally projects to be that good.
5. Su'a Cravens, 5-Star S (USC)
Projected Stats: 18 TCK, 1 SCK
In time, Su'a Cravens will be a star safety for USC. He's 6'1" and 205 pounds, so he has elite size, but he also runs a 4.5 40 according to 247Sports. He'll be quick enough to get over top of routes or buzz down to the line of scrimmage against the run.
As a freshman, he should contribute as a rotational player at safety for USC. He projects to be a big-time backup behind Dion Bailey (if Bailey moves to safety), and Cravens should make a big impact on special teams as well because of his size and speed.
4. Laremy Tunsil, 5-Star OT (Ole Miss)
Landing Laremy Tunsil will go down as a marquee recruiting win for Ole Miss, especially since Hugh Freeze and his staff were able to out-recruit Alabama and Georgia for the 5-star's commitment. Tunsil projects to be elite at 6'6" and 295 pounds.
He has the strength to really set the tone in the run game, but he also has the footwork and agility to protect the quarterback at left tackle.
He should be a big rotational player at either tackle position behind Emmanuel McCray and Pierce Burton as a freshman.
3. Vernon Hargreaves III, 5-Star CB (Florida)
Projected Stats: 63 TCK, 2 SCK, 2 INT
Vernon Hargreaves III is going to be a superstar at cornerback for the Florida Gators. He has the potential to be a shutdown corner, but he'll also play extremely strong against the run.
He's a very physical defender who always seems to be in great position, whether it be defending the pass or against the run.
Hargreaves is going to compete for a starting job right away as a freshman. Marcus Roberson should be one starter, and I fully expect Hargreaves to challenge Loucheiz Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins for the No. 2 spot. At the very least, Hargreaves will be the nickel corner, but he has a great chance to start.
2. Jaylon Smith, 5-Star OLB (Notre Dame)
Projected Stats: 27 TCK, 2 SCK, 1 INT
Jaylon Smith is going to be one of the best linebackers in the country in time. He has an elite combination of size, speed, athleticism and physicality.
He can play strong against the run, cover well against the pass and projects as an elite pass-rusher.
As a freshman, Smith should see some considerable time backing up Danny Spond and Prince Shembo at outside linebacker. He's a player Brian Kelly and his staff need to get on the field, even if it's situationally as a pass-rusher or drop-back linebacker in coverages.
Smith could also make a big impact as a special teams player considering his size and speed. He's 6'3" and 218 pounds and runs a 4.44 40 according to 247sports.
1. Robert Nkemdiche, 5-Star DE (Ole Miss)
Projected Stats: 57 TCK, 12.5 SCK
There's not much that hasn't been said about Robert Nkemdiche at this point. He projects to be an elite defensive end who will play strong against the run but also be dominant as a pass-rusher.
He has terrific size at 6'4" and 285 pounds, but he also runs a 4.65 according to 247Sports. He has the strength to bull-rush defenders to get to the quarterback, but he can also use his speed and technique to be very effective on the edges. Nkemdiche should also be good at coming down the line as a run defender and making plays at the line of scrimmage.
Nkemdiche will start from day one at Ole Miss, and he projects to be an elite defensive end.