The Class of 2018 featured numerous players who seem destined for stardom.
Some may develop over time. On the list below, we strive to predict which true freshmen on Florida-based college teams figure to make the biggest impact in 2018.
There are no Florida Atlantic players listed as the Owls focused on transfers. Meanwhile, Miami, with the top-ranked class in the state, has the most representatives.
Here’s a closer look:
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▪ 1: FSU’s Warren Thompson, a four-star recruit, figures to be an immediate starter in part because how decimated the Seminoles are at the position in terms of veteran players.
▪ 2: Florida’s Emory Jones, the nation’s No. 5 dual-threat passer, graduated early and will participate in spring drills. The Gators lack an established QB, which is another factor in Jones’ favor.
▪ 3: Miami’s Brevin Jordan, the nation’s No. 1 tight end, could replace graduated standout Chris Herndon.
▪ 4: Miami’s Lorenzo Lingard, the only five-star recruit on this list, is the nation’s No. 2 running back. Even if he doesn’t start, he should get substantial carries.
▪ 5: South Florida defensive end Stacy Kirby had earlier committed to FSU. With three of USF’s top four D-ends graduated, Kirby will get his chance.
▪ 6: Miami’s Nesta Silvera could be the best freshman defensive tackle in the nation. Miami lost both of its starters to the NFL in RJ McIntosh and Kendrick Norton. Watch out for Silvera.
▪ 7: UCF’s Eriq Gilyard can step right in at linebacker, where the Knights lost two of their three starters. Gilyard is an early enrollee, and he’s a big-time run-stuffer.
▪ 8: FSU’s Jaiden Woodley, the nation’s No. 4 safety, enrolled early and should make an immediate impact.
▪ 9: FSU’s Asante Samuel, the nation’s No. 9 cornerback, makes more plays than most. At 5-9, he’s a natural slot corner.
▪ 10: Florida’s Amari Burney is the nation’s No. 14 safety, and he graduated early. Burney has great size at 6-1, 215, and he could even see some time at linebacker as UF switches to 3-4 defense.
▪ 11: Miami cornerback Gilbert Frierson will get the chance to stop opposite of Michael Jackson, which assumes Trajan Bandy playing in the slot. Fellow freshmen Al Blades Jr. and DJ Ivey will have the same opportunity.
▪ 12: Florida’s Jacob Copeland is the nation’s No. 12 wide receiver and the highest-rated Gators recruit in this class. He’s been compared to ex-Gators versatile star Percy Harvin.
▪ 13: Miami’s Mark Pope may be too good to keep off the field despite solid Hurricanes depth at wide receiver, including fellow freshmen Brian Hightower and Marquez Ezzard.
▪ 14: FIU defensive back Jamal Anderson should have ample opportunity because the Panthers graduated all four of their secondary starters. He’s FIU’s highest-rated DB recruit.
▪ 15: FIU H-back Ivan Thomas should get on the field early. FIU graduated starting tight end Pharoah McKever, and Thomas creates mismatches because of his size and speed.
▪ 16: FIU’s Donovan Georges is the heir apparent to middle linebacker Anthony Wint, and that’s according to coach Butch Davis.
▪ 17: UCF wide receiver Ke’Von Ahmad runs a 10.4-second 100-meter dash. UCF recruited Ahmad out of Texas, and his speed should get him on the field immediately.
▪ 18: Miami’s Realus George is the nation’s No. 2 fullback, and he should have a role as a blocker, especially in short-yardage situations.
▪ 19: Florida kicker Evan McPherson, an All-American, should win a job right away. But he has a tough act to follow in Miami’s Eddy Pineiro, who made 29 of 30 field goals.
▪ 20: Miami kicker Bubba Baxa is expected to start as a freshman.
The Recruiting Column is a year-round feature of the Miami Herald. If you have a tip or story idea regarding recruiting or an impending college commitment, please contact Walter Villa at: email@example.com