We think there are several players who should be able to play right away at the next level and will not need a redshirt season. Some players are just bigger, faster and stronger than others and can step in and make an immediate impact from day one.
The Scout staff breaks dow a player from each region of the country who we feel will not only play but contribute the second he steps foot on campus.
Lamont Wade is a five-star for a reason, and with that comes an expectation he would be ready to play as soon as he arrives on campus. He has the physical skills and strength to handle college receivers, and his savvy and maturity should help him play as a freshman. He has exceptional change of direction and his physical style means he should be able to overcome the inexperience factor. The Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Tennessee Volunteers, West Virginia Mountaineers and Duke Blue Devils are piquing his interest the most, but keep an eye on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Playing early at a high level program is when talent meets an opportunity for a specific need on the next level as most of the high profile recruits are looking into high-level universities, but I would suspect that LSU commit Austin Deculus is a prospect who is college ready at the highest level. He is a versatile as an offensive lineman, but more importantly for SEC football he is ready to go from a strength standpoint. Without knowing the exact picture for LSU along it's offensive front we suspect that Deculus is a guy who can make an early impact just like fellow Texan and OL Maea Teuhema.
Iowa Hawkeyes commit A.J. Epenesa has it all, the size, the intangibles, and he's played in a competitive conference in high school, so he has a lot of the elements needed to step in and compete as a true freshman. I believe he'll have every opportunity to do that at Iowa. They like to take their time and develop their players there, but Epenesa is a special case who I think will play early.
There are plenty of 2017 signees out of the south that will play as true freshmen, but one that stands out is running back Cam Akers. With many positions when talking freshmen, it depends on who's in front of them, but Akers is a running back and he is a natural with the ball in his hands. He has the size, strength, speed and toughness that will put him on the field right away regardless of where he signs. Some of the schools in the Akers' race are the Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Bulldogs, LSU Tigers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Mississippi Rebels and Tennessee Volunteers.
It may not be the starting job for Harris in 2017, but he will probably play right away at Alabama, assuming he sticks with the Tide. Trent Richardson backed up Mark Ingram, T.J. Yeldon backed up Eddie Lacy and Derrick Henry was a backup as a freshman. But all played as true freshmen and showed the signs right away that they would be stars in the Tide offense. Expect Harris to get plenty of carries as a true freshman before really taking over the primary running back role. UCLA is also in the mix for Harris, along with USC and others.
Scout's Brian Dohn, Chad Simmons, Allen Treiu, Greg Powers and Brandon Huffman contributed to this story