With the college football season right around the corner the analysis and hype is at an incredible high level. While the predictions will continue to roll in leading up to kickoff, there are plenty of unknowns that few will see coming before they actually play out this season. One of the most difficult aspects to predict is which freshman players will perform at the highest level this season. We did our research and came up with five first-year players that seemed primed for breakout years in their debut. Here is a look at the college football freshman that could make an immediate impact in 2017.
RB: Cam Akers
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State is absolutely loaded on both sides of the football. However, they will be relying heavily on their freshman running back to make an immediate impact this season. The Seminoles lost their star running back Dalvin Cook when he graduated to the NFL this past spring. He had a banner season last year and ended up being the first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. That leaves some fairly significant shoes to fill.
Now the job will be handed to Akers and junior running back Jacques Patrick. Akers has the speed, quickness, elusiveness and hands to perform at a high level in his debut this season. Florida State will be counting on a breakout performance from its talented freshman running back. If he delivers, the Seminoles should be able to deliver on the high expectations that they’re facing.
WR: Jerry Jeudy
Alabama Crimson Tide
It seems as though there is always a freshman wide receiver at Alabama that has the potential to put up big numbers in his first season. This year it will be Jeudy expected to thrive from the outset in the Crimson Tide offense. Jeudy caught five passes for 134 yards in Alabama’s spring game, which added to the hype surrounding the Crimson Tide’s latest potential star addition at the position. The 6’1’’, 180-pound receiver is polished enough to put up big numbers from the outset at Alabama this season.
LB: K’Lavon Chaisson
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron has raved about Chaisson’s pass-rushing skills throughout the spring. It will be very interesting to see what he does in his first season with the Tigers. Chaisson recorded 15.5 sacks in his senior year at Houston North Shore while helping them win a Texas Class 6A Division I State title. LSU will plug him in from the outset and allow him to do what he does best, which is attack the opposing quarterbacks.
The story of LSU’s season will be decided on the other side of the ball, though. Unless they find a way to discover a passing game along with a competent quarterback, they aren’t going to do better than they have in the previous years under head coach Les Miles.
WR: Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Wolverines lost Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and tight end Jake Butt in this year’s NFL Draft, which means they have an immediate need for help at the receiver positions. Peoples-Jones should help to fill that void as a freshman this season. The 6’2’’, speedy wide receiver leads a talented but unproven cast of first-year receivers at Michigan heading in to this year. The Wolverines will need him to make an immediate impact in order to contend in an absolutely loaded Big Ten conference this season.
RB: Salvon Ahmed
Myles Gaskin is back after rushing for at least 1,300 yards twice for the Huskies. While that could make it difficult for Ahmed to break through, his versatility and skill set are intriguing enough that he should be able to earn some opportunities in the Washington backfield. Ahmed rushed for 1,300 yards in just six games in his senior year at Juanita High in Kirkland, Washington. Ahmed can run the football, catch passes out of the backfield and return kicks. Even with Gaskin getting the majority of the carries for the Huskies, Ahmed should make an immediate impact in 2017. This should be one of the best backfields in the nation.
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