Here are 10 freshmen who signed Wednesday who could see the field next season.
Deommodore Lenoir, CB/KR/PR, Oregon
The jewel of Willie Taggart’s first recruiting class in Eugene, Lenoir made his new coach wait, not committing until late in the afternoon Wednesday.
But that wait should be worth it both for Taggart and Ducks fans. Lenoir is an elite athlete who should make an immediate impact in the return game and likely on defense, too. A source close to his recruitment told FOX Sports that we also shouldn’t be surprised if Lenoir gets some touches on offense in 2017.
With Arden Key entering his junior year – after which he will almost certainly declare for the NFL Draft - expect Chaisson to play next season before taking on a starring role in 2018.
Jeffrey Okudah/Shaun Wade, CB, Ohio State
Speaking of gushing praise, Urban Meyer used every interview Wednesday to rave about his new corners – both of whom have big size for the position (each stands 6-foot-1) and are already enrolled on campus.
After three defensive backs – Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore – from last year’s team declared for the NFL Draft this winter, it’s almost certain that one (if not both) of these guys will play in 2017.
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Higgins was Clemson’s top-rated recruit in a small 2017 class and plays a position of need. The Tigers lost their three leading receivers from last year with Mike Williams (98 catches), Artavis Scott (76 catches) and Jordan Leggett (46 catches) going pro, meaning Clemson’s coaching staff might have no choice but to play Higgins.
It also doesn’t hurt that Dabo Swinney isn’t afraid to feature freshmen receivers. Both Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins had at least 50 catches in their first seasons on campus.
Tyjon Lindsey, WR, Nebraska
Yes, there are a lot of receivers and defensive backs on this list. But as the old saying goes, the further you are away from the ball, the more likely you are to play as a freshman in college football.
Add Lindsey’s name to the list. The one-time Ohio State commit was limited by injuries in 2016, but when he is healthy is one of the most explosive receivers in this class. Heck, he might just be the most explosive playmaker that Mike Riley has signed in his three years in Lincoln.
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
A one-time Alabama commit, Akers broke the hearts of home-state Ole Miss fans when he ended up at Florida State. And the Rebels’ loss is the Seminoles' gain, as Akers should spent a large part of his freshman year filling the void left by Dalvin Cook.
Solomon – one of the biggest commitments anyone landed on Signing Day – chose the Wolverines over Alabama and Georgia. And as he heads to the Midwest, expect him to live up to his billing and play right away.
Michigan will need him after losing several key defensive linemen, including Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley, from last year’s squad. Plus, Jim Harbaugh isn’t afraid to play freshmen immediately, most notably last year’s star signee Rashan Gary. Don’t be surprised to see Gary line up alongside Solomon to form one of the most freakish 1-2 defensive tackle punches in all of college football next season.
Darnay Holmes, CB/KR/PR, UCLA
The son of former Buffalo Bill Darick Holmes, Darnay should contribute immediately on special teams and in the defensive backfield in Westwood.
Like Deommodore Lenoir at Oregon, Holmes could get some snaps on in 2017. After ranking 91st in total offense last season, UCLA needs all the help it can get on that side of the ball. And Holmes – one of the top athletes in this class – could provide that if called upon. He tallied 1,400 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns during his senior season this year.
Joseph Lewis, WR, USC
Don’t expect nearly as many freshmen to see the field at USC as at UCLA. But Lewis may be the exception. One of the top-rated receivers in the country, he should be able to immediately step in and help replace JuJu Smith-Schuster, who caught 70 balls last season.
Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
Say what you want about Kevin Sumlin, but he isn’t afraid to play young quarterbacks. Johnny Manziel won a Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman, and both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray both played meaningful snaps in their first years on campus. For that reason alone, Mond should get playing time next season.
In fact, Texas A&M might have no choice but to play him. After Trevor Knight graduated in the fall, the only QB on this roster with any playing experience is little-used senior Jake Hubenak.