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Five from the Power Five that will make an instant impact


Recruits from across the country announced their college decisions on National Signing Day, with some of those already eyeing the spotlight and primed to make an impact as early as this coming fall. We take a look at five prospects from the different power conferences we see having major roles as freshmen next season.

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ACC - PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

Damar Hamlin
Damar Hamlin

DB Damar Hamlin, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Central Catholic

Recruitment overview: Hamlin narrowed his lengthy offer sheet down to Pittsburgh, Penn State and Ohio State. He took official visit to all three in addition to Notre Dame.

Impact potential: The addition of Hamlin is a major piece to the puzzle in the defensive backfield for Pittsburgh. The combination of Hamlin, ACC Rookie of the Year Jordan Whitehead and Terrish Webb could make a case for the best secondary in the ACC next season. Hamlin has the footwork of a cornerback and the size of a safety and Pat Narduzzi is going to love finding unique ways to use his versatile freshman. -- Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic Region Recruiting Analyst

BIG TEN - MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

Rashan Gary
Rashan Gary ()

DT Rashan Gary, Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic

Recruitment overview: The Wolverines, Clemson, Ole Miss, Auburn and USC hosted Gary on official visits but the race really came down to Michigan and Clemson. Gary ended up picking the Wolverines.

Impact potential: The consensus top player in the nation, Gary can be so impactful because he can play any of the defensive line positions. He is 6-foot-5, 300-pounds and can run like an elite defensive end but also has the size and power of a defensive tackle. Gary should see a lot of playing time his freshman year. Don’t be surprised if he is a full-time starter by the end of the upcoming season. Gary’s work ethic, determination, and desire to be better will really help him quick fit in and gel with the upperclassmen on the field. -- Friedman

BIG 12 - TEXAS LONGHORNS

Erick Fowler
Erick Fowler ()

LB Erick Fowler, Manor, Texas

Recruitment overview: Fowler took a final official visit to LSU, the school he had been committed to since last summer, but the five-star linebacker decided to stay in state, giving Texas head coach Charlie Strong an important victory on National Signing Day.

Impact potential: A renowned speed rusher off the edge, Fowler has refined his craft and transformed into a well-rounded defender. He turned in a great showing throughout the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, making a habit of getting into the backfield and forcing running backs to stay between the tackles. The Longhorns could certainly use the help on defense and it would not be at all surprising to see Fowler paired alongside Malik Jefferson, who was a start as a freshman last fall. -- Blair Angulo, West Region Recruiting Analyst

PAC-12 - UCLA BRUINS

Mique Juarez
Mique Juarez ()

LB Mique Juarez, Torrance (Calif.) North

Recruitment overview: After weeks of uncertainty, Juarez settled on the hometown Bruins in a small ceremony at his high school. The five-star linebacker, who had been committed to USC earlier in the process, chose UCLA over Alabama, BYU and Ole Miss.

Impact potential: Myles Jack is gone, meaning Jim Mora and Co. are in need of a linebacker that’s capable of stepping into the starting lineup right away. Juarez intends to enroll next month and should be on campus for in time for spring practice, giving him a chance to take a stranglehold of the position early. The No. 1 prospect in the state is a physical tackler with the athleticism to cover and rush, so he’s got the tools needed to contribute this coming season. Juarez scored 60 touchdowns as a senior last fall and could also be given some looks at running back in short-yardage situations, similarly to how Jack was used during his stay in Westwood. -- Angulo

SEC - TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

DE Jonathan Kongbo, Yuma (Ariz.) Arizona Western

Recruitment overview: The five-star defensive end signed with Tennessee on Wednesday to cap a wild recruitment that included a previous commitment to the Volunteers and a handful of official visits. Kongbo, the No. 1 prospect in the JUCO100 rankings, also had Alabama, Florida State, Ole Miss and USC among his finalists, though the Rebels posed the biggest threat to the Vols in the final moments.

Impact potential: Butch Jones made sure to point out that his staff expects Kongbo to be a star at the SEC level from the start. The former Wyoming player shows a great burst off the snap and is downright relentless in pursuit, and he possesses a deep arsenal of pass-rushing moves. It would difficult to find another junior college player with a better motor and that freakish ability off the edge should make Kongbo a force. -- Angulo