2015’s Ten Most Important Freshmen

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10. WR DaMarkus Lodge, Ole Miss

The Texas native got the full court press from Texas A&M and LSU, and USC made a push, but Ole Miss came up with a coup landing one of the nation’s top receiver prospects. An interesting prospect who fits the LaQuon Treadwell mold, he’s 6-2 and 188 pounds with a power game and a knack for attack the ball. While he can move and can make plays with the ball in his hands, he’s at his best when he’s able to outmuscle a defensive back. With Treadwell’s broken leg still healing, Lodge will get every shot at finding a big role late this summer.
2015 Ole Miss Preview

9. DT Breiden Fehoko, Texas Tech

Somehow, the Hawai’i native slipped out of Alabama’s hands, and Texas Tech got him. While he’s not massive at 6-3 and 293 pounds, he’s a rock on the inside with the strength to hold down the defensive interior. However, he’s a pass rusher who cranks up the fire on every play. 121st in the nation against the run last year and 123rd in scoring D, the Red Raiders could use Fehoko right away. It’s not a stretch to call him one of the biggest keys to any defensive improvement.
2015 Texas Tech Preview

8. WR Preston Williams, Tennessee

It’s not like the Vols need more help for star quarterback Joshua Dobbs. The top ten receiving yard leaders from last year return forming the best young corps in college football, and now there’s a new option in the equation. At 6-4 and 180 pounds, Williams is a very tall, very athletic prospect with track star leaping skills – he was the Georgia state long-jump champion – and the quickness of a smaller target. He’s the working definition of a matchup problem, especially against the single coverage he’ll see all season long.
2015 Tennessee Preview

7. DT Trenton Thompson, Georgia

Auburn was close, and Alabama was in the mix, but the 6-4, 307-pound defensive tackle was hit on by Georgia first, and that’s where he landed. A pocket collapser, he has the build and the frame to work as the anchor, too. Ideal for a 3-4 scheme, he can move around where needed up front depending on the situation. First, the Bulldog coaching staff has to get their prize prospect a little experience to see what they’ve got.
2015 Texas A&M Preview

6. DT Daylon Mack, Texas A&M

Florida made a big push, and TCU and Texas had their say, but THEE MACK TRUCK, as his twitter handle promotes, chose A&M, where he’ll pair with super-soph Myles Garrett to give a rocky defense two big-time players for new defensive coordinator John Chavis to rebuild around. At 6-1 and 340 pounds he’s built like a bowling ball, but he’s an athlete on the inside and can get behind the line.
2015 Texas A&M Preview

5. S Derwin James, Florida State

Florida State is quickly joining the race to be called Defensive Back U., and it has a tremendous new one entering the mix this year. The 6-2, 212-pound safety looks like he’s ready for the pros right out of high school with the size and bulk to become a tone-setting thumper. The real question will be his exact position with the range and speed to be dangerous in the defensive backfield, and the pop to grow into a whale of a linebacker if he adds about ten pounds of good weight. No matter where he plays, he’ll be an immediate help to an already strong D.
2015 Florida State Preview

4. DT Khalil McKenzie, Tennessee

Arguably the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 2015 recruiting class – he was Scout.com’s top guy – McKenzie is a ready-made NFL defensive tackle who should be the key piece of the Tennessee defensive puzzle. At 6-3 and 327 pounds he has the size to gum up the works, but he’s more than just an anchor with good athleticism and fire off the ball. The son of former NFL star and current Oakland Raider general manager Reggie McKenzie, he’ll have no problem knowing how to act the part.
2015 Tennessee Preview

3. CB Iman Marshall, USC

A tremendous get for head coach Steve Sarkisian, Marshall was the No. 1 defensive back prospect with offers from just about every big school you can name led by UCLA, LSU and Michigan. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Marshall has the size to go along with the next-level quickness and versatility to be a big lockdown corner or a dangerous safety. A mauler of a defensive back, he’s physically ready to be a No. 2 corner from Day One. Most importantly, with teams likely to stay away from Adoree Jackson on the other side, he has the ball skills to make teams pay for going at him.
2015 USC Preview

2. DE/LB Malik Jefferson, Texas

It’s not like Charlie Strong and Texas had an awful recruiting class, but it wasn’t quite at the level the program is accustomed to. The one saving grace, though, was Jefferson, a 6-3, 232-pound hybrid pass rusher who should be ready right out of the box with cornerback speed and first step out of central casting. Expected to be the first true superstar in the Strong era, Jefferson has had to hit the weights hard after coming to school as a 217-pound athlete to bulk up for what’s going to be asked of him. While he’s not supposed to dominate right away on a defense that’s going to be solid as is, his job will be to turn into a disruptive force when he gets his chances. With his blend of athleticism and skills, he has signature player potential.
2015 Texas Preview

1. QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

The Bruins have everything in place with a loaded defense, a tremendous set of skill players, and a strong enough offensive line to do more than hold its own. The only piece of the puzzle missing is a veteran quarterback, unless you want to count Jerry Neuheisel, a 23-year-old baller with the maturity and just enough talent to be a good leader. However, Rosen is the shot for the stars with the upside and talent to be the reason UCLA wins, and not just be a Neuheisel-like caretaker. With 6-4, 205-pound size, the right moxie and attitude, and the big-time arm, the five-star talent has everything – except for the experience. At the very least, the hype is through the roof. Now, if he takes the gig, the production has to follow for a playoff-or-bust team.
2015 UCLA Preview