Six true freshman to watch in the Big 12
The college football season is right around the corner and there will be plenty of true freshmen who will make an immediate impact. Here is a look at six players in the Big 12 we are excited to watch this season.
Recruiting: Bridges committed to Oklahoma in September of his junior season and never really looked back. He was in Norman days before for the season-opener when he made his decision. He was later joined by five-star receivers Theo Wease and Jadon Haselwood in Oklahoma’s recruiting class.
Overview: The Sooners are loaded at inside receiver and so there’s a chance Bridges plays in some games and still gets a redshirt year. But he’s such a talented and motivated player that we’re not betting against him. In some ways, Bridges flew under the hype radar during his recruitment because he committed so early, but he has all the skills and special abilities to make an immediate contribution in Oklahoma’s offense.
Farrell’s take: Bridges was my favorite of the three five-star wide receivers signed by Oklahoma because I love his ball skills and ability to adjust to bad throws. I think he has the best career of the trio and will be hard to stop early in his career.
Overview: Replacing David Montgomery is going to be an interesting situation in Iowa State’s backfield, especially since he had 257 carries last season and those touches might have to be more spread out. Kene Nwangwu is probably the first option, but Hall was a top target for the Cyclones last recruiting cycle and he picked Iowa State over many other programs. He should get opportunities to prove his worth, and if he impresses, there’s no sense in keeping him on the sidelines.
Farrell’s take: Hall will see time this year if he picks up the offense, because he’s such a big recruit for them and is too talented to sit. He has good vision and he’s a decisive runner, so I think he hits the ground running - so to speak.
Recruiting: Parker had been committed to Texas Tech prior to Kliff Kingsbury’s firing, but after that, the four-star reopened his recruitment and Kansas and Nebraska emerged as his favorites. He ended up making his commitment to the Jayhawks and coach Les Miles.
Overview: Coaches usually don’t heap a ton of public praise on players, but Kansas defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot recently compared Parker to former Kentucky star Josh Allen, who went seventh overall in April’s NFL Draft. For a Kansas defense that’s looking for any major contribution from anybody in the front seven, that probably means Parker is going to have a major opportunity to contribute from day one.
Farrell’s take: Parker is very athletic and versatile, so he can be used in many ways and won’t be kept off the field. Miles will play those who are the most talented, regardless of age, and Parker will be one of those guys.
Overview: Texas already has a bunch of weapons at receiver, but Smith brings so much versatility to the Longhorns’ offense that an innovative play-caller could easily find ways to get the ball in his hands. Smith posted huge numbers during his high school career, and he can be utilized out of the backfield and the slot and he has tremendous playmaking ability. With a focus on big, outside receivers, Smith could be that devastating slot option to break big plays.
Farrell’s take: Smith could be a Christian McCaffrey-type of weapon for Texas, a player who does damage from all different areas. From slants to inside handoffs and reverses, he can also work his way downfield. He’s a Swiss Army Knife, and will be used well.
Recruiting: Stogner committed to Oklahoma in June before his junior season and stuck with the Sooners throughout his busy recruitment as he landed nearly 30 offers. Oklahoma won out for his services even though Stogner’s father played at Baylor.
Overview: In high school, about 20 percent of Stogner’s catches went for touchdowns, and that’s something to consider as he could be a major red-zone threat for Oklahoma this season. Grant Calcaterra will be the Sooners’ main target at tight end, but Stogner is a bigger target who could be a major red-zone option for an offense that everybody knows is going to score points.
Farrell’s take: Stogner has the ability to impress early and make some big plays despite the wealth of weapons in the OU offense. He’s just starting to hit his stride and is one of those players who will get better dramatically in college compared to his high school abilities.
Overview: Ranked as an athlete, Whittington was at first supposed to play receiver for the Longhorns, but with a depth issue at running back the four-star switched positions and has excelled so far with the Longhorns. Keaontay Ingram should handle most of the workload, but Whittington is far too talented not to see the field early.
Farrell’s take: I have always been a big fan of Whittington, because he’s a big athlete who can do a lot of things. Running back will be his first look and he should succeed there, but he can also play wide receiver or even defense if needed. He’s a can't-miss player.