Top 5 impact freshmen: LB 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 linebackers.

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 linebacker spot, a position where plenty of national powers loaded up in this recruiting class.


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

Joe Bolden and Royce Jenkins-Stone, Michigan

Michigan hauled in two of the biggest names in the linebacker recruiting battles, landing Bolden out of Ohio and Jenkins-Stone out of Detroit.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Bolden is fast and aggressive, and he was mentioned on Scott Kennedy's top five impact signees on the defensive side of the ball. And he'll be ready to rock in the fall.

"Michigan was clearly the best school for me, and I'm thrilled with my decision," Bolden told our Bill Greene in January. "I'm going there early to get bigger, faster and stronger, so I can get on the field as soon as I can.

Jenkins-Stone is another super-talented four-star recruit that most expect to factor into the Wolverines' early plans.

"I'm not really too vocal about it," Jenkins-Stone told our about playing as a freshman. "I still do want to play and fit in where I can. I do want to get on the field."

Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia

Josh Harvey-Clemons

It appears that Harvey-Clemons will emerge unscathed from the Isaiah Crowell incident. The incoming freshman was in the car with Crowell when the latter was pulled over and arrested on weapons charges last month in Athens.

That's good news for the Bulldogs, who could use him to pair with stud linebacker Jarvis Jones. Harvey-Clemons is one of only three five-stars in Scout's 2012 linebacker class. At 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, Harvey-Clemons also has the flexibility to step out to defensive back.

Scott Starr, USC

The No. 3 overall middle linebacker in Scout's rankings, Starr joins a Trojans team that looks to come back from NCAA sanctions with a vengeance.

Scott Starr

Starr enrolled early and the four-star prospect has already won his way into a backup role. Between that and USC's projection as a national title contender, Starr could be a key player in college football this season.

Check out highlights of Starr and other Trojans in action at a recent players-only throwing session.

Sam Lebbie, West Virginia

Lebbie enrolled early in Morgantown and has the talent to the hit the field immediately for the Mountaineers.

Sam Lebbie

He's good-sized already at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds and packs a mean punch on the field. Check out highlights of him in action.

And the Mountaineers could use a little hand there. Last year's leading tackler -- linebacker Najee Goode -- is gone to the NFL, and he was their only linebacker in the top seven on the team in tackling. If Lebbie lives up to the hype, the opportunity is there.

Keith Brown, Louisville

Another early enrollee, Brown projects as a back-up on the Cardinals' line. The four-star prospect was the No. 7 overall middle linebacker in Scout's rankings.

Keith Brown

The Miami product surprised many by choosing Louisville over more formidable local programs like Miami and Florida State, but the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder should be in a good position to compete to see time in his new home.

Honorable mention: Alabama and LSU

The national title combatants from a year before loaded up big time in the linebacker department.

LSU picked up four of the top 25 outside linebackers in Scout's 2012 class and one top 25 middle linebacker. Alabama, meanwhile, picked up the Nos. 1, 4 and 8 overall middle linebackers and the No. 11 overall outside linebacker.

With a wealth of defensive talent at both schools, it may be tough for those in this rich class to get on the field. But keep your eyes on Reggie Ragland and Ronnie Feist.

Ragland is the aforementioned No. 1 middle linebacker, who will be suiting up for the Crimson Tide. Feist enrolled early at LSU and projects to get playing time.

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