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Fresh Froshes: CFB’s Top 5 Impact Freshmen

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  • 5. Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri WR)

    These days, age ain’t nothing but a number in college football, with freshmen frequently contributing to their teams immediately. For the following five first-years, making an impact isn’t just hope. It’s an expectation and will shape their teams’ fortunes in 2012.

    When you enter college as the best wide receiver prospect since Randy Moss, much is expected from you. Such is the case for Green-Beckham. Just saying his dimensions (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) makes one’s eyes as big as saucers.

    For now, he is Mizzou’s second string “Y” wide receiver behind junior Eric Waters. But with his physical gifts and 4.4 speed, Green-Beckham is ready to pick up where the Tigers’ last great Y receiver, Danario Alexander (113 catches and 14 TDs in ’09) left off.

    Already wowing teammates in practice, expect DBG to start destroying SEC secondaries sooner rather than later.

    Photo Credit: Denny Medley/US Presswire

  • 4. Michael Holmes (Virginia Tech RB)

    After redshirting in 2011 behind starter (and future first-round NFL draft pick) David Wilson, Holmes looks poised to become the next prolific Hokies running back in a line that also includes Kevin Jones, Lee Suggs, Brandon Ore, Darren Evans and Ryan Williams.

    Ty Hodges of Fighting Gobbler says that Holmes is not as fast or athletic as Wilson. Whereas Wilson could keep plays alive a la Reggie Bush, Holmes is more of a north-south runner. But he does have the benefit of playing with a more experienced offensive line and a second-year starter at QB in Logan Thomas.

    And Holmes’ spring accomplishments — a 60-yard TD in his one scrimmage and Iron Hokie honors during strength and conditioning testing — suggest that he’s put in the work and ready to shoulder Virginia Tech’s rushing attack as the starter.

  • 3. Trey Metoyer (Oklahoma WR)

    The scouting report on Metoyer (MUH-twy-er) is “muscular shoulders, long arms and large hands” that remind Rivals of former Oklahoma State star Dez Bryant. Metoyer lived up to that reputation in spring practice, with Sooners wide receivers coach Jay Norvell calling him “a human vacuum cleaner.”

    It’s a long time coming for the Texas native. The No. 2 receiver in the Class of 2011, Metoyer was academically ineligible to play last year and spent the season honing his skills (and grades) at Hargrave (VA) Military Academy.

    When record-breaking wideout Ryan Broyles went down with a torn ACL last November, it seemed to affect QB Landry Jones the rest of the season. With Broyles now in the NFL, Jones is no doubt happy to have another target lining up opposite speedster/cross-dresser Kenny Stills.

    Photo Credit: Mark D. Smith/US Presswire

  • 2. Wes Lunt (Oklahoma State QB)

    Mike Gundy and company are quite high on Brandon Weeden’s replacement. After all, he ran a similar system at Rochester (IL) High and threw for 3,650 yards and 31 TDs in his senior season, completing an impressive 73% of his passes.

    But going from a QB in his late 20s (Weeden) to a fresh-faced teenager will be a transition, no matter how you slice it. As will Lunt’s having to throw to players that aren’t the Cowboys’ two leading receivers from a year ago, Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper.

    That said, Lunt is a precocious early enrollee working behind a veteran offensive line and with a noted QB guru in Gundy.

    The power of the Pokes’ system alone will keep their offense humming and hoping for a second straight BCS bid.

    Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire

  • 1. Marcus Mariota (Oregon QB)

    Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas are two of the most electric players in college football in space. Yet for all their talent, they need a trigger man to get them the pigskin. And that QB is no longer Darron Thomas, who foolishly left school early in January.

    Mariota, a redshirt freshman from Honolulu, survived a lengthy offseason duel with Bryan Bennett to be named Oregon’s new starter last week. He put the Ducks staff on notice during the spring game, when he completed 18-of-26 passes for 202 yards and a score while also scampering for an 82-yard TD.

    Remember, the last time coach Chip Kelly surprised Oregon fans with his QB choice, he tabbed Thomas over Nate Costa before the 2010 season. Thomas subsequently led the Ducks to the BCS title game. Similar expectations for Mariota are not out of the question for the No. 5 ranked Ducks.

    How’s that for pressure?

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