The 15 Most Exciting Early Enrollees to Watch This Spring

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMarch 5, 2014

The 15 Most Exciting Early Enrollees to Watch This Spring

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    Spring practices are set to begin soon, and this is an important time for a team. It's when a coaching staff can start to develop players, see which positions are weak and strong depth-wise and also install new schemes.

    Spring practices are also important because they allow coaches to get their hands on early enrollees from the newly signed recruiting class. 

    Florida State has a dazzling running back who is already on campus, while Texas A&M has two 5-star recruits who chose to head to College Station early to compete for playing time this fall. Plus, Penn State has a receiver who will surprise a lot of people this spring.

    All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247SportsPlayer evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

Joseph Yearby, RB

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    School: Miami

    Sadly, 4-star running back Joseph Yearby likely will not be seen on the field this spring in Coral Gables. The Miami native broke his fibula in December, according to Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post.

    However, Yearby is still so talented that he warrants being on this list. At 5'9" and 190 pounds, he has rare instincts, vision, quickness and agility for a running back. His burst through seams and natural playmaking ability will be assets for the Hurricanes offense once he is healthy.

De'Andre Thompkins, WR

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    School: Penn State

    De'Andre Thompkins didn't receive as much attention as other receivers in the 2014 class, but he's a 4-star prospect for a reason.

    Penn State is going to love him, as he is a 6'0", 170-pounder with good speed and quickness. He releases well off the line, plus he has great run-after-catch skills.

    Look for him to gain the trust of sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg during the spring.

Tyreek Hill, RB

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    School: Oklahoma State

    A JUCO prospect, 4-star running back Tyreek Hill is set to participate in spring practices for Oklahoma State. At 5'8" and 185 pounds, he isn't very big, but he's quick.

    He runs with more toughness and strength than defenders initially expect, plus he can get to the second level in a flash. His skill set and ability to work well in space will make him a great fit in the Cowboys spread offense.

Curtis Samuel, WR/RB

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    School: Ohio State

    Whether it's at running back or receiver, 4-star athlete Curtis Samuel should make several exciting plays at Ohio State this spring.

    At 6'0" and 185 pounds, the New Yorker has quick feet and remarkable elusiveness. He's expected to play a Percy Harvin-type of role in the Buckeyes spread-option offense, as head coach Urban Meyer had the NFL receiver while at Florida. 

Drew Barker, QB

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    School: Kentucky

    Kentucky's quarterback of the future is already on campus, as 4-star passer Drew Barker is ready to start learning the Wildcats' offensive scheme this spring.

    Barker, who is 6'4" and more than 200 pounds, has good arm strength and mobility. He's comfortable in the shotgun, and he can deliver accurate strikes to targets in the intermediate passing game.

    Don't be surprised if he makes a move for the starting job.

Elijah Hood, RB

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    School: North Carolina

    A 4-star running back with 5-star talent, Elijah Hood has all of the physical tools to become North Carolina's starting running back this fall.

    Nearly 6'0" tall and more than 220 pounds, he possesses excellent vision, power and buildup speed. He's a tough runner who challenges defenders at the point of attack, which usually results in him breaking tackles and gaining extra yards.

    The Tar Heels run a version of the spread offense, but they'll likely start to adapt their run schemes to fit Hood's style.

    Ryan Bartow of 247Sports wrote: "Keeping Charlotte’s best at home was huge for North Carolina. The power back rushed for 8,981 yards and 147 career touchdowns in high school."

Johnnie Dixon, WR

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    School: Ohio State

    At 5'10" and nearly 190 pounds, 4-star prospect Johnnie Dixon doesn't sound like a big and physical receiver. However, he has a thick frame that packs a punch, which helps him play a lot bigger than his listed size.

    Dixon, who is from Florida, has great release quickness off the line. He fits best in the slot, but he does have the skill set to be fine on the perimeter. He possesses terrific ability to detach himself from coverage at junctions, good hands and solid run-after-catch skills.

    He'll make a highlight play or two for Ohio State this spring.

Josh Malone, WR

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    School: Tennessee

    At 6'3" and 195 pounds, Josh Malone is a big receiver with huge upside. He's raw, as his route running needs work, but his athleticism and speed are impressive.

    He has a chance to develop into Tennessee's No. 2 receiver this spring, alongside sophomore star Marquez North. If Malone can adjust to the college game quickly, he should make a big impact for the Volunteers in the fall. 

D'haquille Williams, WR

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    School: Auburn

    Auburn already has 4-star JUCO receiver D'haquille Williams on The Plains for the spring. That's big, as he is capable of becoming quarterback Nick Marshall's prime option in the passing game.

    Williams has fantastic size at 6'3" and almost 215 pounds. He displays good speed on the perimeter and has the strength to outmuscle cornerbacks for balls. 

    Getting a talent like Williams is one thing, but having him in time for the spring is another. 

Deshaun Watson, QB

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    School: Clemson

    With Tajh Boyd gone to the NFL, Clemson now must find a new starting quarterback. Several candidates are in the running, but all eyes will be on 4-star quarterback Deshaun Watson.

    He will be with the Tigers for spring practices, where he will begin his quest replace Boyd. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Watson has above-average arm strength and accuracy. He also is a threat as a runner due to his outstanding athleticism and mobility. 

Andrew Brown, DT

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    School: Virginia

    Virginia head coach Mike London signed his best recruiting class in February, and one of his top recruits is 5-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown.

    At 6'4", Brown will play his freshman season close to the 300-pound mark. He has terrific quickness at the snap, as well the strength of an elephant at the point of attack. He is a future cornerstone of the Cavaliers defense and will start establishing himself this spring. 

Kyle Allen, QB

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    School: Texas A&M

    Texas A&M has to replace Johnny Manziel at quarterback this year, so the Aggies will be looking at all of their options.

    Among their best alternatives is 5-star quarterback Kyle Allen from Arizona. He is an accurate 6'3", 200-pound passer with good arm strength and anticipation skills. He has deceptive mobility and makes good decisions with the ball.

    He'll receive a lot of attention this spring.

Cameron Robinson, OT

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    School: Alabama

    Almost never does an offensive line recruit get on a list that highlights exciting players. However, 5-star offensive lineman Cameron Robinson is an exception.

    The Louisiana native is a 6'7", 335-pound dancing bear in the trenches. He bends naturally at the knees, which allows him to easily get out of his stance as a run-blocker and pass-protector. 

    He slides well in space to mirror rushers, can cut off inside moves and gets his hat on linebackers and other moving targets in the running game.

    Starting on the offensive line in the SEC as a true freshman, especially at Alabama, is almost unheard of. Yet Robinson very well could make a name for himself this spring loud and clear. 

Dalvin Cook, RB

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    School: Florida State

    After committing to Clemson and then Florida, 5-star running back Dalvin Cook signed with Florida State in February.

    The 5'11, 190-pound speedster will be one to watch this spring. His agility, ability to cut at full speed and smooth burst are exceptional assets that will have people in Tallahassee buzzing. He has some competition on the depth chart, but the Miami native will warrant some carries in the fall.

Speedy Noil, WR

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    School: Texas A&M

    Texas A&M got perhaps the most exciting player in the 2014 class with 5-star athlete Speedy Noil. He'll line up at receiver for the Aggies but also should get some snaps as a running back and return kicks and punts.

    At 5'11" and 180 pounds, he exhibits rare speed, acceleration, agility and quickness with the ball in his hands. The New Orleans native is a terror for defenses, as he's a confident athlete with natural instincts and awareness.

    With the Aggies running a high-scoring spread offense, the rich got richer when Noil decided to head to College Station. He'll begin showcasing his skill set this spring. 

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Use the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map to locate many of the most exciting early enrollees to watch this spring!


    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.