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College football spring practice: Players we’re most excited to watch

College football spring practice: Players we're most excited to watch
Who are the gamers we’re excited about seeing this spring football season on every of school football’s Prime 25 teams? New quarterbacks like Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma, Jacob Eason at Washington and Justin Fields at Ohio State paved the way, along with some much-hyped recruits like Kayvon Thibodeaux at Oregon.

This is the complete listing for players we’ll be watching intently this spring season.

Oh, how the rich get richer. Yes, the Tigers return oodles of offensive talent, together with star receivers Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers. And this spring, they will welcome two extra: Frank Ladson, the No. 38 general recruit and No. 5 receiver on this yr’s class, and Joe Ngata, a 6-foot-2 monster who was also an ESPN 300 recruit. How typically they will truly work with Trevor Lawrence stays a query, as they nonetheless want loads of seasoning and stay properly down the depth chart, but as Ross confirmed throughout his 1,000-yard campaign last season, it’s still potential for a true freshman to stand out in a crowded subject. — David M. Hale

One of many largest blows to Alabama’s defense in 2018 came earlier than the Crimson Tide even started preseason camp. Outdoors linebacker Terrell Lewis tore the ACL in his proper knee and was misplaced for the season. The Alabama coaches thought the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Lewis was going to be their most disruptive pass-rusher, so not having him put a dent in the Tide’s capacity to get to opposing quarterbacks. Lewis returned to follow before the SEC championship recreation but didn’t play within the postseason. If he can keep healthy, he provides the Tide the sort of finisher off the edge that they’ve all the time appeared to have once they’ve been at their greatest on defense. The problem is that Lewis hasn’t been in a position to keep wholesome to this level. He suffered ligament injury in his elbow in 2017 and missed 10 games. Even so, he is the type of expertise that could possibly be an NFL first-round draft decide, and despite the fact that there is no purpose to push him this spring, it is going to be fascinating to see what Lewis seems like after missing so much of the previous two seasons.– Chris Low

The Sooners landed the most important free agent on the school football market this offseason in the Alabama grad-transfer QB, who has played in — and gained — numerous huge video games in his career. The previous two Heisman Trophy winners, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, have been quarterbacks who transferred to Oklahoma. Enjoying in Lincoln Riley’s system, Hurts has the pedigree and expertise to run that streak to three. — Jake Trotter

Georgia coach Kirby Sensible needed more velocity dashing the passer off the sting, especially with D’Andre Walker gone, and that is what makes junior school newcomer Johnson such a commodity. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Johnson was one of many most coveted junior school prospects in the nation final yr and has been on campus since December. He does not want a lot of an introduction, as most followers know him from the Netflix collection “Last Chance U.” Johnson, originally from Minnesota, morphed into a star at Independence (Kansas) Group College and has the mixture of velocity and power that coaches love. He’s an outdoor linebacker in Georgia’s scheme, but might also line up some at finish relying on the state of affairs. Bottom line: He can go get the quarterback, something the Dawgs need after finishing last in the SEC in sacks (20) through the 2018 common season. — Low

The Georgia transfer is just too obvious a solution to ignore. Fields has the potential to add one other gear to Ohio State’s already lethal offense together with his athleticism. He’s also never started a university recreation and can be requested to study a sophisticated offense in simply eight months. How a lot progress can he make during spring follow? — Dan Murphy

The Irish are looking for more field-stretchers on offense, and Austin is a primary candidate to assist in that position. The 6-foot-2 sophomore may have to fend off a number of challengers to lock up Miles Boykin’s spot within the receiver rotation. He has highlight-reel potential if he gets the job, which might assist Notre Dame’s evolving offense take more photographs downfield. — Murphy

The blue-chip wideout surprised the school football world when he transferred to Texas after signing with USC. McCoy will need to get a waiver from the NCAA to be eligible for the 2019 season. But he’ll be with the Longhorns this spring, with a chance to show what he can do. — Trotter

Without question, quarterback Emory Jones shall be within the highlight as he competes with Feleipe Franks for the starting job. However the player to regulate is Wilson as he makes his return from a torn ACL. Wilson showed unimaginable promise as a true freshman but performed in only two games final season earlier than getting harm. He is anticipated to follow this spring, however simply how a lot he can do stays to be seen. A wholesome Wilson might be a huge increase to the Florida secondary, particularly with CJ Henderson returning to the other starting spot. — Andrea Adelson

Jim Harbaugh stated he’s “sleeping better at night” after the Wolverines scooped up Central Michigan switch Danna to substitute some massive losses along the defensive position. Danna, who had 9.5 sacks for the Chippewas last season on his means to earning a first-team All-America grade from Pro Football Focus, should help Don Brown’s defense stay deep and aggressive at the line of scrimmage. — Murphy

Because the No. 1-ranked general participant in the ESPN 300, the beginning to Thibodeaux’s profession is of course going to be value paying attention to. He has the sort of pedigree that makes it straightforward to picture him enjoying an necessary position from Day 1 — and enjoying it properly. Those expectations may be robust to stability with the fact that there are several examples where similarly touted gamers have made little to no impression wherever they ended up. The clear consensus is that Thibodeaux must be a particular participant, which is why it’s going to be so fascinating to see what sort of preliminary impressions he makes in Eugene, the place he enrolled early. — Kyle Bonagura

The sophomore operating again figures to be the successor to departed All-SEC expertise Trayveon Williams. Jimbo Fisher’s offense places a heavy emphasis on the run recreation and Williams benefited; Corbin ought to take pleasure in comparable success once he steps into the lead position. He is fast and explosive, as evidenced by his 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown towards Arkansas last season, and with a whole lot of returnees on the offensive line, he should have plenty of alternatives to shine. — Sam Khan Jr.

The cornerback, ranked No. 1 nationally at his place in the 2019 ESPN 300, has acquired effusive praise from Ed Orgeron since getting on campus in January. Coach O expects Stingley, a 6-foot-1, 188-pound hometown product, to problem for a beginning job. He has nice ball expertise, is instinctive, and as well as to being another to continue LSU’s “DBU” custom, he additionally might be an element as a punt returner. — Khan

Washington State coach Mike Leach’s determination to go after East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew labored out higher than anyone might have fairly hoped, because the Cougars set a single-season faculty report for wins while Minshew completed fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Gubrud arrives from Japanese Washington as a more confirmed participant than Minshew was. He threw for 9,984 yards — including 5,160 in 2016 — during his time simply up the freeway in Cheney and was probably the greatest quarterbacks at the FCS. It’s affordable to anticipate he’ll be the Cougars’ starter to open the season.– Bonagura

Wimbush ranks among the biggest-name quarterback transfers in all the country after deciding to head to UCF from Notre Dame. It isn’t a foregone conclusion that he’ll win the starting job, although. The Knights will get their first glimpse at what Wimbush can do when spring football opens, as he competes with Darriel Mack Jr. to begin. UCF turned to Mack last season after McKenzie Milton went down, and he led the Knights to the American Athletic Convention championship and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. But with Milton out indefinitely, UCF wanted to add a veteran quarterback to the roster to assist with depth and competition. — Adelson

Followers acquired a sneak peak at operating again Abdul Adams and receiver Trishton Jackson within the bowl recreation, with each scoring touchdowns, but there’s still numerous excitement surrounding the two transfers. But if they are going to be successful in 2019, the larger question mark is at quarterback, which makes DeVito the man underneath the brightest highlight this spring. DeVito had some high quality moments backing up Eric Dungey final season, however he has some huge footwear to fill, and his consistency needs to take an enormous step forward. There isn’t any doubting the talent, but changing Dungey is not any straightforward activity, either. — Hale

This simply might have been defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, who had eight sacks and 20 tackles for loss last season for the Nittany Lions. But Parsons led the group in complete tackles with 83 and had 1.5 sacks on the season, displaying why he was the No. 7 recruit in the 2018 class. If Parsons was in a position to put collectively that type of a season as a true freshman, Penn State fans ought to be excited about his sophomore marketing campaign. The Nittany Lions’ defense might be in search of leaders this season, and Parsons must be on the front of the road to step up. — Tom VanHaaren

When Eason arrived for spring follow last yr, it was noteworthy but did not actually have an effect on the quick future. Everybody knew he would doubtless serve as the scout-team quarterback in the fall as he sat out the required season following his switch from Georgia. Still, the previous yr has also been an audition of types to be the starter in 2019, and spring is when that basically begins to ramp up into a transparent competition to substitute Jake Browning. Eason was ok to begin at Georgia as a real freshman, which makes him an intriguing participant to see progress from between now and, doubtless, into the season. — Bonagura

There are two standout causes to look forward to seeing Huntley this spring. First, he missed the ultimate 5 video games final season due to a damaged collarbone, so will probably be encouraging to see him on the sector, wholesome again. He was making progress earlier than he went down, however now has to shift gears to study new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig’s offense. It is truthful to ponder whether Ludwig’s arrival ought to open up a competition between Huntley and Jason Shelley, nevertheless it’s clear the Utes still contemplate Huntley the starter. Shelley helped guide the Utes to three consecutive victories to shut the 2018 common season and clinch a spot in the Pac-12 championship recreation. — Bonagura

Johnson was the top-ranked pocket passer in the 2017 recruiting class, signed with Clemson and by all accounts had a brilliant future ahead of him. Trevor Lawrence then entered the picture and Johnson transferred to Northwestern. He sat out the 2018 season and now, with Clayton Thorson shifting on, Johnson appears to be the starter for the Wildcats in 2019. We’ve not seen much of him in school, so it is going to be fascinating to see him in the spring and find out if he might be in a position to convey Northwestern’s offense to a brand new degree. — VanHaaren

As a redshirt freshman, Adebo quietly had one of the most spectacular breakthrough seasons of any young participant within the country. He was a second-team All-American according to the Football Writers Affiliation of America and a first-team All-Pac-12 choice. If he builds properly off his debut season, Adebo could be able to depart for the NFL after simply two seasons — whether he’s taken with that route or not. — Bonagura

Starter Alex Hornibrook introduced his intentions to transfer from this system, leaving Mertz, Jack Coan and Chase Wolf because the quarterbacks on the roster. The Badgers have been No. 6 in rush yards per recreation final season but 118th in cross yards. Mertz was an early enrollee and is setting his sights on taking up the starting place. Ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in his class, 21st general, he has the expertise to elevate the air assault, and will probably be intriguing to see how far alongside he’s in the spring. — VanHaaren

As a sophomore in 2018, Epenesa tallied 10.5 sacks, rating No. 9 among all FBS players and tops on the staff. He additionally led the Hawkeyes in tackles for loss, with 16.5, and will give you the chance to improve on these numbers in 2019. Iowa is dropping a couple of starters along the defensive position, so Epenesa’s position is going to improve in his junior season. His improvement ought to be enjoyable to watch this spring as he evolves into a potential NFL draft decide. — VanHaaren


One thing that’s crystal clear heading into spring follow on the Plains is that it is Gus Malzahn’s show on offense. He is the one who might be calling the plays, and though it is yet to be determined who the Tigers’ quarterback might be, most eyes shall be on Nix, a heralded true freshman. He is the son of former Auburn quarterback Patrick Nix, who coached Bo in high school. The youthful Nix, who enrolled early at Auburn, led his high school to back-to-back state championships and set an Alabama state high school report for complete offense in a career. He’s the primary player to surpass 12,000 yards. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Nix combines accuracy throwing the ball with the type of mobility that has served quarterbacks properly in Malzahn’s system. Nix still has to win the beginning job, not to mention win the group. He’ll get a leap begin on both this spring. — Low

We all know young playmakers Adrian Martinez and JD Spielman are going to be enjoyable to watch, but the odds of Nebraska’s offense persevering with to improve in 2019 may hinge on discovering a strong choice in the midst of the offensive line. Coach Scott Frost transformed Jurgens from a decent finish to a middle halfway via his freshman season. He referred to as Jurgens nearly as good of a blocker because the Cornhuskers had on their roster and caught him able where they haven’t any experience and little depth. So yes, the promise of an athletic middle main the cost for Frost’s fast-paced attack is value watching this spring in Lincoln. — Murphy

With Military’s prime three fullbacks from last season, including outgoing starter Darnell Woolfolk, gone, the Black Knights can be relying on Slomka to fill the void. Slomka, who as soon as was committed to Ohio State to play lacrosse, brings velocity and, probably, big-play functionality to the fullback spot in Army’s choice assault. — Trotter

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