College Football Recruiting 2014: 10 Prospects Most Likely to Start as Freshmen
As the 2014 recruiting cycle has unfolded, a lot of things have changed. Rankings have fluctuated, perceptions have varied, evaluations have been updated, commitments have happened and situations have changed.
Some recruits who started this year on pace to start as freshmen next season may not see the field in 2014, while other prospects have played themselves into contention for a starting job next fall. Looking at how the board looks at this point in the recruiting cycle, 10 recruits appear to have solid chances to start next season.
A quarterback could be positioned to win a first-team gig at an SEC school, while an athlete is too talented not to start immediately for a Big Ten powerhouse. Also, a Big 12 program has a pledge from a receiver who will help right away.
Note: This list focuses solely on committed prospects.
Jeff Jones, RB
Committed to: Minnesota
Jeff Jones is a 4-star running back who is the headliner of Minnesota's recruiting class. The Gophers do not boast the most talented roster in the Big Ten, so the skilled running back is in great position to start next year.
At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Jones is good runner with an all-around skill set. He shows solid quickness to skate through holes, but also has the strength and balance to break tackles and absorb hits.
Jones has above-average speed to make a couple big runs each game, plus he is more than adequate as a receiver out of the backfield. He'll notch a few starts for head coach Jerry Kill in 2014.
Josh Malone, WR
Committed to: Tennessee
Sure, 4-star receiver Josh Malone is still raw in some areas of his game. However, Tennessee is in need of help at the receiver position.
Freshman Marquez North is probably already the best player at that spot for the Vols, so that should spell how much Malone is needed in Knoxville.
An in-state commitment for Tennessee, Malone is 6'3" and 190 pounds. His size and solid strength on the perimeter help him bully cornerbacks. Yet, Malone also shows good speed to climb on top of secondaries to make big plays.
Elijah Hood, RB
Committed to: North Carolina
North Carolina is still building its roster under head coach Larry Fedora, but 4-star running back Elijah Hood will help escalate things. The future Tar Heel has the size, strength and speed to start several games as a true freshman.
Hood, who is 5'11.5" and 222 pounds, has outstanding build-up speed in the open field. He punishes defenders by delivering powerful blows to finish runs, plus he has solid quickness through alleys.
The Tar Heels run a version of the spread offense, but Hood will make the attack more balanced in the coming years.
Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts, CBs
Committed to: Auburn
Auburn's secondary is a bit long in the tooth, so there's going to be some openings in the unit in 2014. Both Stephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent are 4-star cornerbacks who were once committed to rival Alabama.
The pair of cover men both stand 6'0", have good athleticism and play with solid instincts. It wouldn't be surprising to see one start on the perimeter, while the other one wins the starting nickel job.
Plus, Bessent can also play safety.
Kyle Allen, QB
Committed to: Texas A&M
With quarterbacks such as Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill, Texas A&M should be in solid hands if Johnny Manziel bolts for the NFL after this season.
However, Joeckel and Hill will have to battle 5-star quarterback Kyle Allen for the starting gig in College Station. Allen isn't coming from Arizona to ride the bench, as the 6'2.5", 185-pound passer is a great distributor of the football.
He has above-average arm strength to make all the throws, but his accuracy and anticipation are even better. Allen also has good mobility to make a play or two with his legs, as he is a deceptive athlete who knows how to use the lower half of his body to his advantage.
Allen Lazard, WR
Committed to: Iowa State
Talent isn't exactly rich at Iowa State, which is why 4-star receiver Allen Lazard has a great chance to start in 2014. The Cyclones would be wise to get this guy the ball, especially in the red zone.
Lazard is nearly 6'5" and weighs 207 pounds, as he is a large receiver who towers over defenders. He isn't the fastest guy around, but he has just enough speed to be a threat to secondaries. Lazard has fantastic body control, which allows him to adjust with ease to all kinds of throws.
His strength allows him go up to attack balls in the middle of crowds, plus he has good hands.
Jalen Hurd, RB
Committed to: Tennessee
Jalen Hurd is a 4-star athlete who will likely play running back for Tennessee. The Vols are a young team, plus Hurd is just too good of a playmaker not to be on the field next season.
At 6'3" and 230 pounds, Hurd has great size and certainly wins the intimidation battle. However, his running style is actually based on speed, quickness and burst. He has good hole-discipline, sets up his blocks well and can skate through alleys with noticeable acceleration.
Hurd also has the athleticism and receiving skills to help out at receiver and tight end.
Ermon Lane, WR
Committed to: Florida
Anyone who watched Florida play this year knows the Gators need help on offense. There are some talented young receivers at the position in Gainesville, but 5-star receiver Ermon Lane is still talented enough to beat them out for a starting gig.
The 6'3", 193-pound Florida native has great quickness in his releases off the line.
He flashes sharp route-running ability, plus he has the athletic ability to adjust to various throws. Lane has good hands to pluck passes with his mitts, as well as the elusiveness to make a defender or two miss in the open field.
Jabrill Peppers, ATH
Committed to: Michigan
It could be at cornerback, or it could be in an offensive role, but no matter where 5-star athlete Jabrill Peppers plays next year for Michigan, he'll find a way to start at some point in the season.
The New Jersey native is a rare find on the recruiting trail, as he combines size, speed, strength, athleticism and intelligence on the field. Peppers, who is 6'1" and 205 pounds, has the skills to also play running back, safety, receiver and kick returner.
He'll quickly become a beloved Wolverine.
2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map
Use the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map to locate players who you think have a chance to start as freshmen!