Who Will Be Bama’s Impact Freshman?

About a year ago a poll of Southeastern Conference Scout publishers asked which true freshman would be the biggest help to the team that publisher covered. I almost listed linebacker Reuben Foster, but decided the competition with C.J. Mosley and Trey DePriest in the middle would limit his opportunities.

In truth, the Crimson Tide’s depth is such that one would think it would be hard for any freshman to make a great impact.

A year ago I ended up listing tight end O.J. Howard as the freshman who would have the biggest impact for Alabama. That turned out to be a pretty good guess. Picking defensive end A'Shawn Robinson or tailback Derrick Henry would have been pretty good, too.

This year, particularly, it is not a level playing field in picking a freshman most likely to make the biggest impact for Bama. One or two who came in for spring practice are likely to be starters at critical positions – Tony Brown at cornerback and/or Cameron Robinson at left tackle.

Although he’s not likely to start, another freshman who looked very good in Bama’s A-Day Game was inside linebacker Shaun Hamilton.

A handful of freshmen who arrived this summer have gotten good reviews from Alabama players.

Marlon Humphrey, like Brown a cornerback who is also a track star, seems to be in the thick of the battle for a job. Is it possible that Bama could cure its 2013 cornerback woes with two freshmen? Probably not since returning players Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve are also reported as doing well in fall camp.

The Tide is loaded at defensive end, but a freshman is reportedly turning heads. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Da’Shawn Hand, considered the nation’s best defensive end prospect last year, is showing he can make an impact.

We have also heard that nose tackle Josh Frazier has been very impressive.

In an interview earlier this year, junior linebacker Reggie Ragland said that outside linebackers Christian Miller and Keith Holcombe are men to watch.

In addition to Robinson on the offensive line, we’ve heard very good things about guard Ross Pierschbacher. And two freshmen are behind junior Ryan Kelly at the critical center position, J.C.Hassenauer and Josh Casher.

That points up one of the elements of a freshman being able to make an impact. Not only does he have to be very good, he also has to play a position where he has an opportunity to get substantial playing time.

Alabama’s crowded wide receiver corps includes a freshman who has been mentioned by several players, Derek Kief.

There’s also a special teams player who has received much praise, punter J.K. Scott.

If I get the poll question again this year, I’m probably going to go with Tony Brown just because he’s in a position to make highlight plays. I would also be tempted to vote for walk-on linebacker Gussie Busch, because if he won he might invite me to the celebratory keg party.

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