Sure, the college football season is still months away, but people who watch closely already have their eyes on the upcoming season and the fortune of their teams. With much player turnover each year due to graduations and early NFL departures, there are always new stars who arrive on the scene. Whether they are true freshman or players who’ve been waiting for their opportunity, it’s a virtual lock that you’ll hear about a new batch of players who will make their mark.
As we head toward the 2017 college football season, it’s certainly not too soon to identify some of the players expected to have big seasons. With spring practices now behind us, college football analysts have identified some of the players who turned heads in the spring and who are expected to make the most impact with their teams this year.
WR Dez Fitzpatrick (Louisville)
Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson returns for the Cardinals and is the team's biggest star. However, the team lost wide receivers James Quick and Jamari Staples and tight end Cole Hikutini. This is why Dez Fitzpatrick, who redshirted last season, will play a big role. Fitzpatrick didn’t disappoint in the spring game with 9 catches for 176 yards and two touchdowns. One score came on an 80-yard score in which he outran the secondary.
DE Rashan Gary (Michigan)
As a true freshman and one of the most highly recruited freshman last season, Gary played behind a couple of NFL draft picks in Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley. Now is Gary’s time to shine and he is ready for the challenge. Gary has excelled in both spring practices and the spring game. With amazing speed for a player his size, you can bet quarterbacks will be running for their lives in the fall.
WR Jerry Jeudy, (Alabama)
Another highly coveted recruit, Jeudy brings a four-star rating to the Tide and already garnered the MVP award in Alabama’s A-Day game this spring. With 5 catches for 134 yards and two scores, Jeudy looks like another great weapon for Nick Saban’s team. Look for Jeudy to team up with returning star wideout Calvin Ridley to provide a great one-two punch.
DE Daelin Hayes (Notre Dame)
Irish Head Coach Brian Kelly could use a pure pass rusher after his team had just 14 sacks all of last season. Sophomore defensive end Daelin Hayes could fill the bill. Hayes had a strong performance in Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold spring game with 3 sacks to go along with 7 tackles. He may just be the edge rusher they desperately need. Notre Dame Irish fans will be looking forward to watching this player.
WR Collin Johnson (Texas)
It was hard to miss Johnson in spring practice and with his performance in their spring game. At 6’6”, the sophomore wide receiver should far exceed his numbers as a true freshman when he had just 315 yards in receptions. Johnson is expected to be the Longhorns go-to receiver this year and had 8 catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s spring game.
Other players of note from the spring were WR Juwan Johnson (Penn State), Quarterback Tanner Lee (Nebraska) and Cornerback Byron Murphy (Washington).
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