No waiting: Instant-impact freshmen for the top 25 teams

Mater Dei

Last season, Jake Fromm was a classic example of a freshman who made an instant impact, replacing Georgia's injured starting quarterback and leading the Bulldogs to the national championship game.

This season? Fromm finds the Georgia depth chart includes quarterback Justin Fields, the top-ranked player in the ESPN 300. And Fields isn't the only first-year player who could make a difference right away.

Here are the sudden-impact freshmen for the programs in Mark Schlabach's Way-Too-Early Top 25.

1. Clemson: QB Trevor Lawrence

Kelly Bryant is the incumbent at quarterback, and he just led the Tigers to an ACC championship. Hunter Johnson, the top QB recruit of 2017, is on the roster too. But ask any Clemson fan and there's no freshman -- perhaps no player, period -- garnering more offseason excitement than Lawrence, the No. 2 overall recruit in 2018 (per ESPN) and a signal-caller that Dabo Swinney said is more ready, at least physically, than Deshaun Watson was upon arrival. Lawrence has all the tools, and if he hits the ground running, many Clemson fans will be upset if he isn't the guy running the show sooner than later. - David M. Hale

2. Alabama: DL Christian Barmore and Stephon Wynn

The Crimson Tide are losing several defensive linemen (Joshua Frazier, Da'Ron Payne, Da'Shawn Hand) so that opens things up for incoming freshmen such as Barmore and Wynn. Both are in the top 100 in the ESPN 300, and they each have the kind of size (Barmore is 6-foot-5, 290 pounds; Wynn is 6-foot-4, 308) that the Tide look for to plug in up front. -- Sam Khan Jr.

3. Ohio State: DT Taron Vincent

The Buckeyes played 14 freshmen this past season, which tied a high for coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State. The team has a lot of youth returning, so there likely won't be many spots with opportunities to get significant playing time. Vincent is a five-star and could work his way into the rotation along the defensive line. With defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis leaving, ESPN 300 defensive end Tyreke Smith might be able to see the field, as well. On offense, tight end Jeremy Ruckert is the No. 1 ranked tight end in the class and could give the Buckeyes another pass-catcher early in the season. -- Tom VanHaaren

4. Oklahoma: DE Ron Tatum III

Tatum, out of Oklahoma City, signed early to stay home after toying with Texas. He was, in fact, committed to the Longhorns until shortly after Sooners coach Lincoln Riley was promoted from offensive coordinator in June. The Sooners lose D.J. Ward up front and top pass-rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo at the second level of defense. Tatum, the No. 1-rated prospect in Oklahoma and 48th overall, has the size at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds to step in right away at a physically demanding position. -- Mitch Sherman

5. Georgia: QB Justin Fields

Last season taught us not to automatically assume that just because a quarterback played well as a true freshman at Georgia that he can't be unseated the next season. That's not to say Fields, the No. 1 player in the ESPN 300, will automatically overtake Jake Fromm at QB next season, but with Jacob Eason transferring out and Fields enrolling early, Fields will have the opportunity to compete with Fromm and probably see the field, even if it's in a reserve role early on. (Fields and Fromm are the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.) This will be one to watch. -- Khan

6. Wisconsin: Wide receivers

The Badgers were looking to add more speed to their roster with this recruiting class, and they accomplished that goal. Wide receiver was a main priority because of what they are losing after this season and next. That could give A.J. Abbott II, Taj Mustapha, Isaac Guerendo or Aron Cruickshank an opportunity to make an early impact, even with Danny Davis III and A.J. Taylor returning. Defensive back Donte Burton could help in the secondary, as could defensive tackle Bryson Williams along the line. Wisconsin only had five prospects from its previous recruiting class play this past season, so it's not likely to have many playing from the 2018 class, either. -- VanHaaren

7. Washington: WR Marquis Spiker

Outside of Dante Pettis, the Huskies didn't get much production at receiver in 2017, and now that he's gone, there is an obvious void. Spiker, ranked No. 131 in the ESPN 300, should have the opportunity to work his way into the rotation from Day 1. -- Kyle Bonagura

8. Miami: RB Lorenzo Lingard

With depth a concern for the Hurricanes, Mark Richt isn't hiding anything. The freshmen will play, and they'll likely play a lot, the coach said. The question is: Who'll be ready to make the biggest impact quickly? There are plenty of options, especially in the secondary, where Miami will need some immediate help. But the name that continues to stick out for Canes fans is running back Lingard -- the No. 4 back in the country, according to ESPN's recruiting rankings, and potentially the most dynamic runner to arrive at Miami since Duke Johnson. -- Hale

9. Michigan State: TE Trenton Gillison

The Spartans were one of the youngest teams in the country last season. They also typically don't play a ton of true freshmen. Despite having some higher-ranked defensive backs in the class, the secondary is loaded with youth. Gillison might be able to provide a boost on offense to go along with current tight end Matt Sokol. And the versatility of Xavier Henderson could get him on the field early in his career. -- VanHaaren

10. West Virginia: DE Dante Stills

Who doesn't need a big man to rush the passer? Stills, at 6-foot-4 and 284 pounds, signed with the Mountaineers in December over offers from Florida, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma and others. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson noted that West Virginia could have used Stills against Utah in the postseason, so apparently, he's ready to contribute immediately. Stills knows what to expect, as his father, Gary, played linebacker at the school and brother Darius already is a defensive lineman in Morgantown. -- Sherman

11. Penn State: LB Micah Parsons

The Nittany Lions are losing quite a bit on defense, including at middle linebacker. ESPN 300 defensive lineman Parsons is a five-star player with enough athleticism to fill in at that spot. James Franklin said it's likely Parsons could start in the middle, which would provide some immediate help. Losing receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Saeed Blacknall also will give some opportunity to five-star wide receiver Justin Shorter and ESPN 300 receivers Jahan Dotson and Daniel George. With running back Saquon Barkley headed to the NFL, running back signee Ricky Slade could see some reps with current running back Miles Sanders. The Nittany Lions also are losing quite a bit at tight end, which opens the door for Patrick Freiermuth or Zack Kuntz to help out. -- VanHaaren

12. Stanford: DE Andres Fox

At one time it could have seemed possible for defensive linemen Harrison Phillips and Solomon Thomas to be on the Cardinal's roster in 2018. That, of course, isn't going to happen, with Phillips off early to the NFL draft, joining Thomas, who declared last season with two years of eligibility remaining. Is four-star defensive end Fox, who turned down Alabama, headed for the same type of career? -- Bonagura

13. Auburn: S Quindarious Monday

The Tigers are losing quite a bit of depth at safety, where 2017 starters Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts are gone, as are their backups. Enter Monday, the eighth-ranked safety in the country and No. 118 player in the ESPN 300. He signed and enrolled early and will have a chance to get on the field quickly. -- Khan

14. Michigan: TE Mustapha Muhammad

Michigan played a lot of second-year players last season, so there isn't a ton of opportunity. ESPN 300 tight end Muhammad could play his way onto the field with Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon, as Michigan searches for more offensive weapons. If ESPN 300 linebacker Otis Reese sticks with his Michigan pledge, as he didn't sign in the early signing period, it would be tough to keep him off the field. He's an athletic, aggressive linebacker who could add a lot to the defense. Athlete Michael Barrett is an interesting prospect because he plays quarterback for his high school team, but he could be a running back for Michigan. Barrett has enough versatility that he could see himself in a key special-teams role. -- VanHaaren

15. Virginia Tech: WR Tre Turner

The Hokies' young receivers flashed potential last season, but none developed into a consistent weapon. There's still time, of course, but the arrival of four-star recruit Turner certainly adds an interesting wrinkle. At 6-foot-4, Turner brings the size to rival that of former Hokies great Isaiah Ford, and while Turner needs to add some weight to play more physically, he figures to be in the mix for playing time right away. Combine Turner with an improved Eric Kumah (6-foot-2) and Sean Savoy in the slot and the Hokies have the makings for a dangerous receiving corps in 2018. -- Hale

16. TCU: RB Fabian Franklin

Others in the Horned Frogs' class of signees came with higher rankings and more impressive numbers, but TCU needed no recruit more than Franklin out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He flipped from hometown Mississippi State in December after the departure of coach Dan Mullen to Florida. Darius Anderson returns as TCU's leading rusher, but Kyle Hicks is gone, leaving the 5-foot-11, 207-pound Franklin to compete with less-experienced backs Sewo Olonilua and Kenedy Snell for immediate playing time. -- Sherman

17. Boise State: WR Khalil Shakir

Shakir had offers from Arizona, Boston College, Colorado, Illinois, UCLA and Washington State, among others, but he decided to head to the Mountain West. Shakir's offensive versatility -- he can play slot, outside, running back, returner -- should allow him to carve out a niche for the Broncos early on. -- Bonagura

18. USC: QB J.T. Daniels

With QB Sam Darnold off to the NFL as the possible No. 1 overall pick, the Trojans only have two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. That will change this summer when Daniels arrives from nearby Mater Dei High School, where he was the Gatorade National Player of the Year this past season -- as a junior. Daniels reclassified from the Class of 2019 and will compete with Matt Fink and Jack Sears for the job. -- Bonagura

19. Mississippi State: WRs Malik Heath and Devonta Jason

With the arrival of new coach Joe Moorhead, the Bulldogs are likely to throw the ball more than they have in the past, and that's good news for the receivers. That position accounts for the top three recruits in the Bulldogs' 2018 class, including freshman duo Heath and Jason. Both standing at 6-foot-3 and 210-plus pounds, the ESPN 300 prospects each have a chance to contribute early. Jason enrolled early, which will give him a leg up. -- Khan

20. Notre Dame: S Derrik Allen

The Irish figure to have some big holes to fill on the defense, so expect a number of freshmen to see action early. Allen could be at the top of that list due to his playmaking skills and ability to hold up in man coverage. At 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, he's a matchup problem for opposing receivers, and he could be a big help for a Notre Dame secondary that coughed up 23 touchdown passes last season, tied for 94th nationally. -- Hale

21. UCF: LB Eriq Gilyard

It would be nearly impossible to replace the veteran leadership and on-field impact of the Knights' departing seniors at linebacker. Chequan Burkett and Shaquem Griffin anchored UCF's defense last season, and while there's some young talent already on the roster that could step up, true freshman Gilyard makes for an interesting option. At 5-foot-10 and 225 pounds, Gilyard is already a stout run defender, and if he can refine his efforts in coverage, he could see a big role in the early going for UCF. -- Hale

22. Florida State: CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Just two months into the job, Willie Taggert is still hoping to add to his 2018 class, but the bulk of the big names he has signed so far are in the secondary, with four of Florida State's top six recruits. With the departures of Tarvarus McFadden, Nate Andrews and Trey Marshall, that's big, and we could see Samuel step in right away to fill the void in the back end. Samuel is the No. 3 cornerback recruit in the country, according to ESPN, and he would pair nicely alongside last year's standout addition, Stanford Samuels III. -- Hale

23. LSU: WR Terrace Marshall Jr.

The Tigers bring in a bona fide five-star receiver where they need one in Marshall, the No. 10 player in the ESPN 300. Ed Orgeron said last month he thinks Marshall will be a tremendous receiver at LSU "right away." With leading receiver D.J. Chark gone, and Russell Gage too, there's opportunity to step in immediately. -- Khan

24. Texas: S B.J. Foster

The Longhorns signed the top three safeties nationally in a bid to replace DeShon Elliott, who is gone early to the NFL, and Jason Hall. We'll go with the headliner Foster, a five-star prospect and the 12th-ranked prospect nationally who picked Texas in June. He follows a star-studded path from Angleton, Texas, that previously sent fellow DBs Quentin Jammer and Quandre Diggs to Austin. Despite the stiff competition from classmates and the return of Josh Thompson in the secondary, Foster might soon start alongside Brandon Jones at safety. -- Sherman

25. South Carolina: CB Jaycee Horn

With three starting seniors gone from the secondary, there's plenty of room for freshman defensive backs to play quickly -- something that's a common occurrence under Will Muschamp. Horn, the 18th-ranked cornerback in the nation, figures to be in the mix to get on the field early. He's got NFL bloodlines too; his father is former New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn. -- Khan