SMU's Class of 2013 arrived on campus on Monday so here are five true freshmen that I see making an immediate impact or getting into the rotation for SMU this fall.
DT Zelt Minor, Houston Lamar (TX)
HT: 6-3 | WT: 260 | Position Rank: 80th DT
SMU lost all three starters along the defensive line and with limited depth at nose tackle, Minor is expected to come right in and contribute along the line. Whether he is at DE or NT, Minor's presence will vastly improve the SMU defensive line, which has a lot of unproven talent on it. Minor is the most talented player to make it to the Hilltop in the June Jones' era and will undoubtedly be asked to do a lot more than any other freshmen on the roster.
TE/WR Jeremiah Gaines, Red Oak (TX)
HT: 6-3 | WT: 235 | Position Rank: 52nd TE
There isn't a player in the receiving corps as versatile as Jeremiah Gaines will be for the Mustangs, but it will remain to be seen if Gaines will be given a true shot to compete on the outside with Keenan Holman for the starting position. With Hal Mumme's changes to the SMU offense, there's a big possibility that SMU will reincorporate the tight end/H-back position to the offense that fans haven't seen since Bradley Haynes and Patrick Fleming played the position a few years back. Gaines has all the talent, size and speed in the world to start as a freshman in the fall, but training camp will tell everyone quickly if that is going to happen.
WR JaBryce Taylor, Lufkin (TX)
HT: 6-2 | WT: 185 | Position Rank: 130th WR
Continuing with the offense, SMU is in bad shape on the outside and Taylor and Gaines both have a true shot to take the starting spot away from Holman, especially if Gaines is worked more at tight end, slot or H-back. While Taylor has trouble beating jams, so does Holman. Taylor is known for his hands and great body control. Taylor could be the jump ball threat in the red zone and provide Garrett Gilbert with a big target that Holman just hasn't been able to be. If Taylor can pick up the offense and even slightly improve his technique, there's got to be a chance for him to get playing time this season.
OLB Nick Horton, Garland (TX)
HT: 6-3 | WT: 222 | Position Rank: 161
Even though Horton isn't as highly rated as Carlos Carroll, I believe Horton has the better shot to see the field this season. Horton was injured most of his senior season, but Horton's athleticism cannot be denied with his 4.5 40-yard dash and his good size. If he can come in and put on 10-15 pounds going into the season, he may crack the rotation, but where I think he's destined for is special teams, where June Jones and company are not afraid to play freshmen. If Horton can prove he's healthy and commit to the weight room, he will be a terror for SMU on special teams this season.
S J'Marcus Rhodes, West Orange-Stark (TX)
HT: 6-2 | WT: 185 | Position Rank: 104th S
SMU has a lot of young talent in the secondary, but it's not set in concrete as far as who exactly will be starting at safety since so many players got time due to injury last year. Rhodes may have a tough time starting, but there's a chance that he could see some action over a guy like Daniel Roundtree, who just hasn't lived up to expectations so far for SMU. Overall, Rhodes is another player that can definitely be seen on special teams and with his size, he could see limited time in the secondary as well.
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