25 College Football Players Most Likely to Lose Their Job to a Freshman
Now that national signing day has come and gone, it is time to look ahead to how some rosters are going to shape out as the 2013 season approaches.
There are plenty of true freshmen who will make an impact next season, but just which incumbents will lose their starting job to a freshman from the 2013 recruiting class?
These starters did not necessarily start in 2012, but are likely to be first on the depth chart come fall practice.
Whether it be the sheer amount of talent of the incoming player or off-the-field troubles for the current starter, here are the 25 college football players most likely to lose their job to a freshman come the start of the 2013 season.
*All recruiting rankings according to Rivals.com unless noted otherwise
Max Wittek: USC, Quarterback
Max Wittek was thought to be the heir apparent to Matt Barkley, but judging by the way he played in limited action last season, he has a long way to go to hold onto the job.
He saw action in five games last year, throwing for only three touchdowns with five picks as a redshirt freshman.
The man who might take his job is Max Browne. Rated as the top quarterback in the class by Rivals, Browne no doubt has the talent and it should only be a matter of time before he overtakes Wittek.
Matt Jones: Florida, Running Back
Matt Jones was a backup last season to Mike Gillislee and will certainly step into the starting role heading into fall camp.
Last year, he rushed for 275 yards and three touchdowns on 52 carries. Not bad numbers for a freshman.
This year, he might want to watch out for incoming freshman Kelvin Taylor. Taylor is one of the top running backs in the class and should find his way onto the field rather quickly.
The two could form quite a running back tandem over the next few years.
Brian Vogler: Alabama, Tight End
Alabama is never short on talent. In 2012, the tight end position will be no different.
Brian Vogler seems likely to take over the position from Michael Williams, who could be a sleeper in the upcoming NFL draft.
Vogler only caught two passes for 21 yards last season, but may not get as much action as anticipated due to the signing of 5-star recruit, and the best tight end in his class, O.J. Howard.
Howard could be the best tight end Alabama has had in quite some time. Too bad for Vogler, it came at a time when he was set to slip into the starting role.
Korvic Neat: Ole Miss, Wide Receiver
Korvic Neat saw action in nine games last season, and he is likely to be listed as one of the starters at wide receiver for Ole Miss.
Neat caught 25 passes for 257 yards while also rushing for 34 yards on two carries in 2012.
He might not want to look over his shoulder, because incoming freshman Laquon Treadwell is going to push him big time.
Treadwell is not only the top wide receiver in the class, but he is also one of the top five players overall coming in.
Curtis Grant: Ohio State, Linebacker
Just a couple years ago, Curtis Grant was the top linebacker in the incoming class and the No. 2 player overall.
He has not panned out at all as of yet, but still appears to have a shot to start at the Buckeyes middle linebacker position come fall.
If Grant stumbles at all, Mitchell will likely be ready to step in and take over the starting role.
Silas Redd: USC, Running Back
This may be a little bit of a stretch compared to the others. But with the talent USC has coming in, particularly at the running back position, it is not out of the question for incumbent Silas Redd to lose a lot of his carries to the Trojan freshmen.
Redd split carries with Curtis McNeal last year and finished the season with 905 yards and nine touchdowns on 167 carries.
In 2013, he will be challenged by a few freshman, including Ty Isaac. Isaac is one of the top five running backs in the class and a 5-star recruit.
If Isaac does not capitalize, fellow freshman Justin Davis will also likely be in the mix.
George Atkinson III: Notre Dame, Running Back
As his name suggests, George Atkinson III was third on the Notre Dame depth chart last year behind Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick.
Both Wood and Riddick are on to the next level, leaving Atkinson next in line to take the brunt of the snaps at the running back position.
Atkinson will be entering his junior season after rushing for 361 yards on 51 carries with five touchdowns a year ago.
He needs to watch out for one of the best recruits in the Notre Dame class in Greg Bryant. Bryant is rated third as far as running backs are concerned and should make an immediate impact for the Fighting Irish.
Quinton Dunbar: Florida, Wide Receiver
Florida struggled last season on offense, and one of the reasons for that was the play from the wide receiver position.
Quinton Dunbar is one of the players slated to start in 2012, but with the incoming class, he will be pushed from the start of camp.
In 2012, Dunbar caught 36 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns.
This year Florida has some studs coming in, including a trio of 4-star players. At the top of the list is Demarcus Robinson, one of the top five receivers in the class.
Alvin Bailey and Ahmad Fulwood are also guys who could make a push for a starting role.
Gabe Wright: Auburn, Defensive Tackle
Auburn struggled on both sides of the ball last season, and like most other teams that struggle, it all starts up front.
Defensive tackle Gabe Wright returns, but he will have some competition from an incoming class that is nothing short of spectacular.
One man who appears ready to step into a starting role is Montravius Adams. Adams is one of the best defensive tackles in the class, and one of the best players in the nation.
With the way Auburn struggled last season, Adams could be a pleasant surprise for the Tigers his true freshman year.
Antone Exum: Virginia Tech, Cornerback
There is very little doubt that Antone Exum is one of the best cover corners in the ACC. He is returning for his senior season, but received awful news in January when he suffered a torn ACL.
As always with the ACL, the recovery is not going to be easy and it does not appear Exum will be ready for the start of the season.
If he is not, the Hokies might be okay with incoming freshman Kendall Fuller.
Fuller is one of the top players in the country, and he could be the latest of four very talented brothers to come through the university.
He is skilled enough to take over the starting job and move Exum to the nickel position when he is healthy enough to return.
Jeoffrey Pagan: Alabama, Defensive End
Jeoffrey Pagan is slated to step into the starting role next season for the Alabama Crimson Tide along the defensive line.
While that might be the case when camp starts, it would be a bit of a surprise if incoming freshman Jonathan Allen did not steal some snaps from him.
Allen is an absolute monster who will no doubt be one of the most prolific pass-rushers out of the 2013 class.
It is not easy for any true freshman to start at Alabama, but Allen could be one of the few.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: Michigan, Running Back
Fitzgerald Toussaint has had an up-and-down college career. As a sophomore in 2011, he went over 1,000 yards with nine scores. In 2012, he rushed for only 514 yards and five touchdowns on 130 carries.
Whether or not he is ready to play, the guy who might be taking his spot is Derrick Green. Green is the best running back in the class and could make as big an impact as any freshman in the country.
Toussaint might be on the sidelines watching this guy for the better part of the season.
De'Anthony Thomas: Oregon, Running Back
With Kenjon Barner now gone, the combination of De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall will be the most likely to get the bulk of the carries.
These two guys are very talented, but they might not be on the same level as incoming recruit Thomas Tyner.
Tyner is the No. 2 running back in the class, and will push both of these guys for the starting role.
The trio could be as good as it gets across the country.
Leonard Williams: USC, Defensive Tackle
Leonard Williams was a solid contributor last season, and with his versatility, he might be able to slide to defensive end for USC next season.
If he does not, he might lose a lot of playing time to Kenny Bigelow. Bigelow is a top-10 recruit and the top defensive tackle in the class.
He is one of many very talented recruits USC will be welcoming in, and one of a handful who could start right away.
Good news for Williams is he may be versatile enough to slide to the outside.
Tevin McDonald: UCLA, Safety
Tevin McDonald was the second-leading tackler for UCLA last season, but has suffered through a few off-the-field problems.
He was suspended for the Holiday Bowl in December, and if he is not in the good graces with head coach Jim Mora Jr. come the start of the season, he could lose his starting job to incoming freshman Priest Willis.
Willis finally signed with UCLA after a dramatic few days. He is a dynamic safety who could make an impact immediately on the defensive side of the ball.
No question, McDonald better be on his best behavior to keep his starting position.
Marcus Roberson: Florida, Cornerback
Marcus Roberson is a very talented cornerback for the Florida Gators. He picked off two passes last year while coming up with 12 deflections.
This year he is going to be the starter when camp begins, but he might want to watch out because freshman Vernon Hargreaves III is going to be right on his heels.
Hargreaves III was the best recruit in the country not named Robert Nkemdiche.
He has the potential to be a shutdown corner from the time he steps on the field. Look for this guy to be an All-American-type talent within his second year in Gainesville.
LaDarius Owens: Auburn, Defensive End
LaDarius Owens is another player along an Auburn defensive front where upgrades might be necessary.
Owens was not as productive last season as some would have liked, and the Tigers might get more production from a true freshman in 2013.
The man who could step in and take his job is top-five recruit Carl Lawson. He should not have much trouble seeing playing time early in the year, and Owens might be the man whose playing time suffers due to the success of Lawson.
Cameron Whigham: Ole Miss, Defensive End
The problem for Cameron Whigham is he does not stand much of a chance with the top recruit in the country coming in.
Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche is the most heralded recruit in the class and likely talented enough to step in right away with plenty of success.
There was no argument from any recruiting service who the top player in the country is in the 2013 class.
Now, Whigham will have to try to hold on to his job.
Nick Waisome: Florida State, Cornerback
Nick Waisome was solid last season in the Florida State secondary. He had one interception and six passes defensed.
If he does not improve, he might lose his starting role to freshman Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey is one of the top-10 players coming in and will battle for playing time from the start.
He is going to get on the field somewhere in the secondary, and stealing some snaps from Waisome seems like the most likely scenario.
Doran Grant: Ohio State, Cornerback
Doran Grant had a decent sophomore campaign in 2012, but he was not on the same level as fellow cornerback Bradley Roby.
There are a few players in Ohio State's incoming class who might have comparable talent to Roby.
One of those players is safety Vonn Bell. Bell is one of the top safeties in the class and also has the ability to move to cornerback.
Another player who will be pushing Grant is cornerback Cameron Burrows. Burrows is a local kid from near Dayton and one of the best players Ohio has to offer. Fellow Ohioan Jayme Thompson might also be in the mix.
One more name to look out for is Eli Apple. He also has the talent to contribute immediately in the secondary.
Steven Bench: Penn State, Quarterback
Matt McGloin is on his way out, and the next in line to step under center for Penn State is Steven Bench.
Bench only threw passes in two games last season as a freshman, but could be a starter for years to come.
The problem for Bench is incoming freshman Christian Hackenberg has the potential to steal his job. The 5-star recruit is one of the top quarterbacks in the class and a top-25 recruit overall.
With his potential, it would be hard to imagine head coach Bill O'Brien not giving him time from the start.
Malcome Kennedy: Texas A&M, Wide Receiver
Malcome Kennedy had a fairly productive season in 2012, catching 26 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore.
He will need to improve on those numbers in 2013 if he does not want to lose his starting job to one of four incoming freshmen.
Among the biggest names on the recruiting list is Ricky Seals-Jones. He is a pure athlete who has the talent to be the top target for quarterback Johnny Manziel next season.
Jermauria Rasco: LSU, Defensive End
With Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo now moving on to the next level, it is time for Jermauria Rasco to step in and take over the starting role.
He better be ready when camp begins because Frank Herron is going to push him to earn that starting job.
Herron has the size and athleticism to contribute in the SEC as a true freshman. He is a 5-star recruit and one of the top-25 players in the incoming freshman class.
Either way, LSU is going to be set for years to come once again along the defensive line.
George Farmer Jr: USC, Wide Receiver
George Farmer was a huge recruit coming out of high school, but he has not lived up to expectations at all so far in his first two seasons at USC.
He has only caught five passes for 49 yards in his career, but with Robert Woods departing early for the NFL draft, he has a chance to earn the starting job.
There are a few other top-notch former recruits who will be battling for the starting job, but Farmer might be the best of the bunch.
Incoming freshman Steven Mitchell is likely to steal the show from all of them. He is small in stature at 5'10" and 176 pounds, but makes up for it in sheer ability.
No matter who is named the starter before camp, Mitchell will give them a run for their money.
Trey Burton: Florida, Wide Receiver
Trey Burton is not necessarily a wide receiver, but a mixture of a running back and wide receiver. In the Florida offense, it is called the "F" position.
He will be a senior in 2013 and is slated to be the starter. Last year, he caught 18 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 190 yards and two scores on 29 carries.
However, his touches have dropped with each passing season, and that might not be a good sign with Alvin Bailey coming in. Bailey would fit the role perfectly. The 5'11", 170-pound wide receiver has the ability to play multiple positions.
He is likely to see some snaps at this spot for the Gators in 2013 and beyond.
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