5 Rising Stars Emerging in College Football Fall Camps
Preseason camps are underway, and in two weeks, real, live college football will be played.
*Drops confetti from the ceiling*
But before the season can begin, depth charts have to be organized. It's a time for starters to cement themselves, if they haven't already, and new faces to step up. Which rising stars are emerging during August camps?
We choose five newcomers—a combination of freshmen and transfers from the five major conferences that were highly touted—who are making noise and could make an immediate impact on the field in 2014.
USC CB/WR Adoree' Jackson
Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian has kept good on his promise that Jackson will be tested on offense, defense and special teams. Via Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times:
I'm trying to find a flaw right now with the guy. But he's prepared, he studies, he gets his rest, he recovers, he comes energized and, ultimately, he knows what he's doing and he's making plays.
So, we'll see how far he can go with it.
Where will Jackson play this year? Depth in the secondary has been a problem, and with talented freshmen thrown in the mix, there will be plenty of competition at cornerback. But there's also a pressure to get dynamic athletes the ball on offense, no matter where they may be better suited.
Chances are Jackson plays a little bit of everything if he continues to impress coaches. They'll find a spot for him eventually, but right now, there's no problem in testing all the waters.
Oklahoma State RB/WR Tyreek Hill
When you're selected as the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year by media members, you must have something going for you.
Indeed, Oklahoma State running back/wide receiver Tyreek Hill looks like he'll be the next jaw-dropping playmaker for the Cowboys.
The JUCO transfer began turning heads during the spring as a utility player in the Pokes offense. Since head coach Mike Gundy keeps information about his players close to the chest, Hill has remained largely a mystery—bordering on a folk legend.
"It looks like he [Hill] never gets tired," running back Desmond Roland recently told The Associated Press (via Fox News). "That's that Olympic track conditioning he's in. His legs keep going and going. I can't wait to see him in game time."
With plenty of turnover at receiver, expect Hill to make an impact there right away. He could also be used on special teams and in the backfield as a change of pace to the bigger Roland.
But all vibes out of Stillwater about Hill have been good ones.
Texas A&M WR Speedy Noil
You could make a case that Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen could go here, but as of Thursday, he's still in a heated competition with Kenny Hill.
Fellow freshman Speedy Noil, however, seems to be emerging as a future star at wide receiver for the Aggies. Sean Lester of The Dallas Morning News reports that Noil is getting plenty of touches in practice and living up to the hype.
With the departures of three of A&M's top four receivers from a year ago—Mike Evans, Derel Walker and Travis Labhart—the young guys will have several opportunities to see the field.
Noil is on his way to becoming an impact freshman.
Michigan CB Jabrill Peppers
Like other players on this list, Jabrill Peppers' lore for Michigan began before he stepped foot on campus as a 5-star prospect. Early reports indicate the freshman is every bit as good as advertised.
Phil Callihan of UMGoBlue.com told B/R that Peppers is expected to play nickel this season. Callihan also projects some offense at running back or wide receiver could be in the cards for Peppers as well. Early scrimmages have shown Peppers fielding punts.
"I don't know how you keep him off the field," Callihan said.
With the return of starting corners Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, Peppers has experienced mentors to follow. But he could, and should, start from day one as an extra defensive back.
"Right now, it's strictly keeping him at nickel," Hoke said, via Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com, about potentially moving Peppers to safety. "That's a unique position. And I think the positive thing is, he's a pretty good athlete (and can have an impact there)."
Wake Forest QB John Wolford
Yes, Wake Forest. Consider this the off-the-radar pick.
In a statement, first-year coach Dave Clawson announced this week that true freshman John Wolford will be the Demon Deacons' starting quarterback (h/t Chip Patterson of CBSSports.com):
We will try and redshirt players but if a freshman gives us the best chance to win, we're going to play him. It's not fair to the juniors and the seniors in the program to make a decision based on what's best five years from now. He gives us the best chance to win so we will now prepare him as our starting quarterback.
Interestingly, this will be the third straight freshman quarterback, redshirt or otherwise, to start for Wake Forest—the previous two being Riley Skinner and Tanner Price.
As Patterson notes, Wolford, a 3-star prospect from Jacksonville, "broke Tim Tebow's state touchdowns record and set new state career marks for passing yards and all-purpose touchdowns."
Despite what the head coach says, this should be good for Wake Forest down the road if Wolford develops well—an important part of turning the program around.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.