Editor's note: Each Tuesday from June 5 to July 17, we'll pick out a position and identify the five incoming freshmen who we think might make the biggest impact -- for better or worse -- on the field for their college teams given their current situations. We kick it off today with the quarterbacks.
Check out our series on impact freshmen for the 2012 season:
Lunt has already been named the Cowboys' starting quarterback for the 2012 opener, and that's more than enough to put him atop this list. The three-star recruit out of Illinois was the No. 21 quarterback in Scout's 2012 rankings. He has the opportunity to start because of the departure of Brandon Weeden, who is off to the NFL after being the head man the last two years in Stillwater.
"We had to make a decision based on what we thought was best for our offense to score points and then give us the best chance to win football games," head coach Mike Gundy said in a statement after the April announcement. "Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring."
Starting the opener, of course, doesn't mean he'll be starting at the end of the season, but for now Lunt is the man at Oklahoma State.
The problem with freshmen who aren't early enrollees like Lunt is that they didn't get the benefit of spring ball to show coaches what they can do. Such is the case with everyone else on this list, including Alford.
Southern Miss clearly expects big things out of Alford -- he was the No. 10 overall quarterback in the 2012 class, rated four stars. He has the ability to play other positions at the college level, but first-year head coach Ellis Johnson expects him to be a factor in the QB competition when he gets to campus.
"Can he be a great quarterback the very first year? I don't know, we'll have to see," Johnson told the Birmingham News in May. "But I certainly think he has the possibility."
With record-setting quarterback Austin Davis off to the NFL, the job is up for grabs. Redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd, junior Chris Campbell, and sophomore Arsenio Favors comprise the rest of the competition.
Rutgers has something of a tradition in recent years of giving true freshmen quarterbacks playing time, so the door is open for Rankin.
The problem for Rankin: Chas Dodd and Gary Nova -- who split time almost evenly last season -- both return this year. They combined for 3,127 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last year. That offense, though, was a disappointing 99th overall in yards per game.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to get on the field," Rankin told our ScarletReport.com. "I'm sure Chas and Gary will be doing the same exact thing."
An injury at the end of Rankin's senior season nearly derailed any talk of the No. 25 overall 2012 quarterback playing this year, but he says now he is feeling fit and ready to go.
The highly touted prospect out of Southern California says coaches have told him to expect to challenge sophomore Nick Hirschman and Texas transfer Connor Wood for the starting job once he gets to campus.
And why not? Hirschman and Wood have a combined 35 pass attempts at the college level. The Buffs were 92nd in yards per game and tied for 109th in points per game while going just 3-10 in a dreadful first year in the Pac-12. Dillon may be considered a raw talent, but Colorado can use any kind of spark it can get.
C.J. Brown is the starter for now, but head coach Randy Edsall will get either Hills or Rowe -- Nos. 29 and 30 respectively in Scout's overall 2012 QB rankings -- ready to be his backup.
Brown's game experience isn't huge -- he played in 10 games last year and threw a total of 166 passes -- and he will be learning a new offense under new coordinator Mike Locksley. It's not a stretch to imagine Hills or Rowe getting snaps later in the season.
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Honorable mention: Gunner Kiel, Notre Dame
By most accounts, Kiel is unlikely to get the reins of the Irish this season with three other quality options in the mix.
But it's June and the Notre Dame quarterback race is anything but decided. The sheer possibility that the No. 1 passer of the 2012 class might see the field this fall makes him a must-have on the list.