Top 5 impact freshmen: DL edition

It's not easy for a true freshman to come in and play at any position. But the first-year guys on this list, as of now, have a chance to make an impact right away. Take a look at our impact freshman defensive linemen.

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. Today, we look at the defensive line. It was tough to pick just five in an area where plenty of young guys should get their shot this season.


Check out our series on impact freshmen for the 2012 season:

June 5: Quarterbacks
June 12: Running backs
June 19: Receivers/Tight ends
June 26: Offensive linemen
July 3: Defensive linemen
July 10: Linebackers
July 17: Secondary

Arik Armstead, Oregon

Though he is listed as an offensive lineman in the recruiting rankings -- and no slouch at No. 1 overall at his position -- Armstead is being prepped to play defensive end for the Ducks, and they expect him to step in immediately.

Armstead enrolled early to participate in spring drills and should be ready to play in the fall. Just listen to his peers.

"As long as he continues to work," senior defensive end Dion Jordan told The Oregonian, "I think he will be ready."

At 6-foot-8 and nearly 300 pounds, Armstead figures to be an imposing presence in the Pac-12 trenches.

Jonathan Bullard, Florida

Jonathan Bullard

Florida coaches will be happy to see the No. 4 overall defensive end in Scout's rankings. The position is in bad shape and Bullard is a five-star talent -- the perfect recipe for early play.

Only one problem: Bullard is having a little trouble actually getting to campus due to a paperwork issue. He's already late, but most think that issue will resolve itself soon enough.

Once it does, Bullard says the coaches have given him every indication he should expect to compete for major time this fall.

"They always say to just come in shape and come prepared to play," Bullard told our "They say I will definitely be on the field next year as long as I earn it."

Darius Hamilton, Rutgers

Darius Hamilton

They're not exactly teeming with five-star recruits in Piscataway, so this one better be ready to play. Hamilton has been on campus since May and is already on his head coach's good side.

"I would think a guy like Darius Hamilton, who is a very physically mature guy, is somebody that I think is going to have a great opportunity to help us early," new Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood told our

If there's a knock on Hamilton, it's his size -- at under 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, he's smaller than most of the other elite talent at his position. But he's the son of an NFL defensive lineman, and it shows in his moves and smarts.

Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, Ohio State

Noah Spence

New Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer wanted to hit the defensive line position hard on the recruiting trail, and boy did it pay off.

Spence and Washington -- the Nos. 2 and 3 defensive ends in Scout's rankings, respectively -- are both Columbus-bound in the fall. They'll be joined by No. 9 overall defensive end Se'Von Pittman and No. 5 overall defensive tackle Tommy Schutt.

Meyer is certainly stacked for the future, but as for this year? Ohio State's defensive line was a big letdown in the sack department last year, and the coach expects Spence and Washington to help solve that in 2012.

"I think that's why these kids wanted to come, we're down in sacks," Meyer told our "You want to recruit guys that put their tails up in the air and go."

Sheldon Day, Notre Dame

Sheldon Day

With Aaron Lynch transferring in April, the door is open for the five-star defensive lineman. Day enrolled early and performed well enough to earn consideration for a starting gig for Brian Kelly's Irish.

Rated Scout's No. 6 overall defensive tackle, Day has been playing at defensive end in South Bend and is already impressing.

"He's way ahead of what we thought he'd be; his technique and everything," defensive line coach Mike Elston told our "He's just a solid, solid player right now."

Honorable mention: Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman, Florida State

The only reason these guys aren't higher is because of their competition. Florida State has one of the most formidable defensive lines in the country even without these guys.

Edwards (the No. 1 defensive end in Scout's rankings) and Goldman (the No. 4 defensive tackle) are both five-star talents but will have to spend a little time learning from their elders. Still, both are likely to be heard from this season, even in a back-up capacity.

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