PurpleWildcats.com Spring Ball Predictions

Our picks for standouts in Spring Ball, on offense, defense and in the redshirt freshman category.

Best Offensive Player: Trevor Siemian

I'm done with the assumptions about Trevor Siemian. I expect him to have an absolutely mammoth spring and, perhaps, ease any doubts about his potential heading into the season. Say what you want: Matt Alviti will be competing for, and probably winning, the starting job in 2015. Until then, Siemian should earn the role easily and have a better senior season than anyone imagined. It begins with a strong spring.

Best Defensive Player: Matthew Harris

There were some freshman errors from the cornerback position last year, sure, but Harris is one of the best natural talents to roll through NU in years. Pat Fitzgerald burned his redshirt immediately last year for him to play special teams, and Harris would later earn the starter's role ahead of Dwight White. It should be an exciting three way race for two spots—between Harris, Nick VanHoose and Daniel Jones (still injured).

Offensive Redshirt Freshman: Tommy Fuessel

Can't stop talking about this guy. He was the next closest player to losing his redshirt last year, but they wanted to preserve his four years of eligibility, and for good reason. From the first practice, Fuessel earned praise from teammates and coaches alike as he underwent his conversion from high school quarterback to college wide receiver. Expect him to be an impact player, and I assume he'll fight for targets from the very beginning of spring.

Defensive Redshirt Freshman: Keith Watkins

One of the most underrated practice players from last year, Watkins just happened to lack the physical gifts that Harris possessed in his freshman year. The guy had nearly an interception per practice, showing his playmaking ability and maturity as a young player. The former high school running back might not be ready to see significant action this year, but he's someone set to start in future years. Credit Jerry Brown for building a secondary that appears to be one of the team's strengths moving forward.

Show us something- offense: Kyle Prater

What's new? In his last year with the Wildcats, Prater will look to finally match the hype. The former ace recruiter never quite gelled with the NU offense in recent years, catching limited balls on limited targets. Worse for him, young players including Fuessel and Macan Wilson look like nice supplements to the wideout depth chart. At this point, there aren't many more excuses.

Show us something- defense: Nick VanHoose

He's almost certainly going to start, despite Fitz's willingness to mix up secondary personnel. Still, VanHoose almost inarguably regressed last year following his strong redshirt freshman season. He was better in later games, but still showed that he was susceptible to the deep ball. This spring, he can lock down the starter's role and regain his confidence. He's one of those guys who could use every snap.

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