Every year, there are a handful of brash youngsters that make an immediate splash on the college football scene. Most will go undrafted in college fantasy football drafts, but become hot waiver wire pickups a few weeks into the season. Here are some potential high impact redshirt freshman you should be keeping on your radar in 2012.
Impact Redshirt Freshman:
1. Michael Holmes, RB, Virginia Tech
The Hokies have produced quite a bit of talent lately at the RB position and Holmes has the look to be next in line. Only a two-star recruit coming out of high school, Holmes has displayed a good amount of ability in practices, and is the frontrunner as of now to replace the departed David Wilson as the starting tailback. Only thing holding Holmes back from becoming a top fantasy pick is the prospects behind him on the depth chart. Freshmen J.C. Coleman and Drew Harris have enough talent to unseat the unproven Holmes.
2. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
There sure is no shortage of talent at Florida State. It is very impressive the way that the Seminoles could stash away a 6’6” beast in the form of Benjamin for a year and really not miss a beat. Benjamin had a relatively quiet spring game with only four catches, but is expected to come in and make an immediate impact to boost a lackluster passing attack. Again, the issue for fantasy owners is how far up the depth chart can Benjamin go, as the Seminoles return five of their top six receivers from last season. One thing that is for sure, though: Benjamin will not be kept off the field in 2012.
3. Dominique Williams, WR, Washington State
Williams may not start for the Cougars to begin the 2012 season, but don’t expect that to last long. The 6’2” freshman was a hit in spring practices, and capped that off with a terrific performance in the spring game with five catches for 121 yards and a score. He will begin as the backup to stud wideout Marquess Wilson, but new head coach Mike Leach likes to rotate his pass catchers as much as anyone. Williams will have ample opportunities to become a starter in just his first season on the field.
4. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Adams, the team’s scout team Player of the year, is a big-bodied receiver that will be inserted right into the starting lineup with last year’s top wideout, Jalen Saunders, off to Oklahoma. Also adding to the good news for Adams is a new coaching staff that favors the pass in this no-huddle spread offense. He will begin on the outside opposite Rashad Evans, and hopes to use his fantastic leaping ability to provide quarterback Derek Carr with another option in the red-zone.
5. Corvin Lamb, RB, Louisville
There is a good mix of talent in the running back stable for the Cardinals. Jeremy Wright and Senorise Perry have great speed, while former wildcat quarterback Dominique Brown is a physically-imposing runner at 6’2”, 225 pounds. This year, Lamb joins the group as maybe the most complete back of them all. Only 5’9”, Lamb can still pack at punch and has the breakaway speed to go with. This year, head coach Charlie Strong is looking for more stability at the position and Lamb could be that guy.
6. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Maybe the best quarterback battle left to be decided will be the duel between Bryan Bennett and Mariota. While Bennett has the edge in experience, there is no doubt who the more talented option is. Add in the fact that Mariota far outplayed Bennett in the spring game, and he looks to have the inside track at the starting job. He dazzled fans with an electrifying 82-yard touchdown run, and over 200 yards passing. If he doesn’t win it this summer, which doesn’t look to be the case now, Mariota is too talented a player to be kept off the field.
7. Derek Edwards, WR, Texas Tech
Despite head coach Mike Leach not being in Lubbock anymore, that doesn’t mean the Red Raiders don’t throw the football around the yard anymore. Quarterback Seth Doege still threw for over 4,000 yards last season, but was widely inconsistent, as were his weapons on the outside. Edwards looks to change that. He wasn’t a factor in the spring game, only catching one pass, but he has impressed enough in camp to get more of a look this fall.
8. Josh Grady, WR, Vanderbilt
Grady, a former scout team quarterback, is making the transition to wide receiver after redshirting last season. It’s still unclear as to how he will be used, but if the spring game is any indication, he will get plenty of looks behind center as a wildcat weapon. He had 94 total yards of offense, including two touchdowns both in the air and on the ground. Grady is sure to add another dimension to this potentially explosive Vanderbilt offense.
9. Dee Hart, RB, Alabama
After originally committing to Michigan, Hart switched his pledge to the Crimson Tide following the firing of Rich Rodriguez. After an electrifying spring game performance in 2011 that included a kickoff return for a score, Hart tore his ACL that ended season. Now fully healthy, the redshirt freshman looks to pick up where he left off. He could potentially be a perfect complement in the ground game to the bruising Eddie Lacy. Hart will, though, have to fend off stud freshman T.J. Yeldon. But if we know anything about the Alabama offense, it’s that they love to run the football.
10. Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois
This could be one of the biggest sleeper running back in the entire nation. Illinois has had great success developing backs the past few years, and new head coach Tim Beckman looks to continue that trend. While another young back in Donovonn Young could end up being the starter, Ferguson is right on par with him in terms of talent. He got a few carries in last year as well which should help his transition to becoming a bigger part of the offense. Ferguson displayed his ability in the spring game with 150 yards rushing. He also adds the dimension of being a great receiver out of the backfield which increases his value as a fantasy performer.
Best of the Rest:
- Bashr Coles, RB, UAB
- Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
- Michael Eubank, QB, Arizona State
- Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
- Kendrick Roberts, WR, Western Michigan
- Tyriq Patrick, WR, Memphis
- Storm Woods, RB, Oregon State
- Jake Phillips, TE, UNLV
- Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
- Andre Sims Jr., WR, Michigan State
- Nick Sherry, QB, UNLV
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