College Football

2014 College Football Recruits with the Best Chance to Start in 2014

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IFebruary 6, 2014

2014 College Football Recruits with the Best Chance to Start in 2014

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    Credit: 247Sports

    National signing day is a great day for recruits and fans, but it's also the foundation for how coaches build their teams. Some 2014 recruits will be asked to develop and redshirt, while others will be counted on immediately to contribute, with some even starting.

    All recruits want to play, but not all of them are ready mentally and physically. Another key aspect to playing early is the depth chart of a recruit's school. Looking at the 2014 class up close now that national signing day is wrapping up, it's easier to see who just may indeed end up starting as true freshmen.

    LSU's stud running back recruit will get a ton of carries, while Auburn has several possible new starters. Plus, USC may have gotten two impact starters on national signing day.

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

Jeff Jones, RB

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    Credit: 247Sports

    School: Minnesota

    A 4-star running back, Jeff Jones is not staying home and going to Minnesota to redshirt. Now that he's a Gopher, Jones may be the most talented offensive player in the program.

    At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Jones has more shiftiness than given credit for. He can pick and slide behind the line of scrimmage before shooting through holes to get upfield. Jones has solid strength, plus he displays above-average speed in the open field.

    Look for Minnesota to put him to work immediately.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner, S

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    Credit: 247Sports

    School: Boise State

    Listen, Boise State is a great program that always competes with the big boys. Yet, it doesn't exactly have an abundance of elite recruits walking around campus.

    That's why 4-star safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner will be a big fish in somewhat of a small pond.

    From Texas, Sumner Gardner is a big hitter who has a great work ethic. He's going to study tape and dig into the playbook, which, combined with his physical skills, will earn him a starting role with the Broncos. 

Jalen Tabor, CB

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    School: Florida

    It's no secret that Florida needs cornerbacks, and 5-star prospect Jalen Tabor is already in Gainesville. With stud cover man Vernon Hargreaves III on one side, the Gators will need someone ready to play opposite of the rising sophomore.

    That could very well be Tabor, who is 6'1" and 182 pounds. He isn't the fastest cornerback in the nation, but Tabor's length, size and instincts could make him ready to play a boundary role in Florida's secondary.

Budda Baker, DB

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    Credit: 247Sports

    School: Washington

    Budda Baker is a 4-star athlete who will play defensive back in college. At 5'9" and 174 pounds, Baker appears most comfortable roaming around as a safety.

    Washington can't afford to redshirt him, as Baker's speed, toughness and agility already make him one of the Huskies' most talented players. Plus, he can be used in a special package on offense as a running back or receiver.

    It would be surprising if Baker doesn't have a prominent role for Washington this fall. 

Josh Malone, WR

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    School: Tennessee

    Tennessee is a young team that is on the rise. The Vols also need more firepower at the receiver position to take pressure off of rising sophomore Marquez North.

    Josh Malone is up for the challenge, as the 4-star receiver stands nearly 6'3" and 190 pounds. Malone needs to refine his route-running, but he's just about at the same stage of development as North was when he arrived in Knoxville last year.

    Look for Malone to win the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver role for Tennessee this year.

Nick Ruffin, Stephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent, DBs

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    School: Auburn

    Auburn is thin in the secondary, and several positions will be up for grabs this year. Nick RuffinStephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent are all 4-star cornerbacks who have a great chance to start for the Tigers.

    Plus, you can add 4-star JUCO safety Derrick Moncrief to the list. All four of these defensive backs have good size and speed, plus they play with solid awareness.

    Whether it be in the seams for Moncrief, on the perimeter or in the slot for the trio of cornerbacks, somebody in this group likely will start in 2014. 

Kyle Allen, QB

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    School: Texas A&M

    While Kenny Hill will have something to say about this, 5-star quarterback Kyle Allen has a solid chance to start for Texas A&M this season.

    Allen is nearly 6'3" and 190 pounds and has solid arm strength and mobility. He's an accurate passer who can use his anticipation skills to throw receivers open on the second and third levels of the defense.

    If Allen can adjust quickly and learn the offense, he has a chance to replace Johnny Manziel in College Station.

Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey, CBs

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    School: Alabama

    For as dominant as Alabama has been over the years, it hasn't gotten impressive play from the cornerback position in a few seasons.

    Enter Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey, two 5-star cornerbacks with rare skills. Brown is 6'0" and 188 pounds, while Humphrey is 6'1" and 175 pounds. 

    Both cornerbacks have outstanding athleticism and instincts, plus they're versatile defenders who have good speed and cover skills. Don't be surprised if both of these guys end up starting at some point this fall. 

Jabrill Peppers, DB

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    School: Michigan

    Jabrill Peppers is just too good of a football player not to start somewhere for Michigan. He'll begin as a cornerback, but he's good enough to start at running back, safety or receiver.

    Plus, the 6'1", 205-pound New Jersey native is also a dangerous returner on special teams. Peppers has great instincts and awareness, plus he doesn't have any athletic limitations. 

    He's a special talent who'll be on the field somewhere for Big Blue in the opening game of the season. 

Leonard Fournette, RB

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    School: LSU

    A 5-star running back, Leonard Fournette is a nearly a lock to start for LSU in 2014. The Tigers lost Jeremy Hill to the NFL, which should make a clear path for Fournette to start.

    The 6'1" New Orleans native weighs nearly 230 pounds, plus he has above-average speed and quickness. Fournette displays excellent power to carry defenders after contact, and he possesses solid receiving skills out of the backfield.

    You're looking at your starting running back for 2014, LSU fans. 

Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith, ATHs

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    School: USC

    With 5-star athletes Adoree' Jackson and John Smith in the fold, USC has two possible starters. Also, 4-star offensive linemen Damien MamaViane Talamaivao and Toa Lobendahn could all work their way into the starting lineup.

    However, the focus will be on Jackson and Smith. Jackson likely will play cornerback, where the Trojans are in need of talent and depth. He's probably athletically superior to anyone on the current roster right now.

    Smith can play safety, but look for him to begin his career at receiver. Marqise Lee is gone, and USC will need someone to help rising junior Nelson Agholor.

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    The recruits who have the best chance to start are all featured on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map!

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.

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