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College Football Preview: 5 Impact Freshman

In case you forget last season, the Heisman winner was a freshman. More and more, freshman are being counted on to make an impact from the beginning. Here are five that have a chance to be the next Johnny Football:

Jameis Winston
Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Winston, who will likely take over the quarterback job at Florida State for Buffalo Bill E.J. Manuel, has the chance to have a magical year. The redshirt freshman has the size and arm of a NFL quarterback and his mobility is a major strength. Winston has smarts well behind his years and has showed tremendous poise in scrimmages and the spring game. But, those were only scrimmages. What happens when Winston faces Florida, with their agressive, speedy defense? It will be interesting to see how he handles it, but the raw potential is most definitely there for him.

LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Specialist, Texas A&M
If you were to make a list of the explosive players in college football who would you have on it? De'Anthony Thomas and a lot of Oregon players, I'm sure. Braxton Miller, Johnny Manziel? Add to that list Gonzalez, a four-star commit out of Cedar Hill, Texas. Gonzalez runs a 4.56 40 but seems even faster when he is on the field. Gonzalez is also extremely versatile and will get a bunch of different looks in the Aggies' offense. He can line up at back, receiver or be a primary returner. Coach Kevin Sumlin has a lot of talent on his roster but he will surely find ways to get Gonzalez the ball from the beginning, as he can score anytime he touches it.

Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida
A big reason for the Gators' success last year was back Mike Gillislee, who is now gone. That leaves a big hole in the backfield one that could be filled by the productive five-star commit Kelvin Taylor. The nation's number eight overall prospect (according to has the speed, vision and footwork needed to be an elite back. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is still learning the ropes and Will Muschamp loves running the ball meaning Florida will have a dominant ground attack. Taylor may not be the first choice; sophomore Matt Jones and junior Mack Brown should get their bulk of carries but it appears Taylor will still be an important factor.

Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Penn State enters the season with a huge question mark at quarterback as they must decide between sophomore Tyler Ferguson and Hackenberg, the nation's top overall quarterback prospect. It appears coach Bill O'Brien may be leaning towards Ferguson, because he has the edge in experience and a better understanding of the offense. Even if Ferguson wins the job, that isn't set in stone. Hackenberg will still see snaps and should still be a factor. Hackenberg has the size and strength to be a great QB from the start.

Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
Baylor has had one of the nation's most explosive offenses the past couple of years and that shouldn't change this season. The backfield is stacked and quarterback Bryce Petty is ready to step up. Add to that offense, Rhodes, a five-star commit in some scouting services. Rhodes has the speed to be a real deep threat but also has the size and strength to be a receiver who can operate in traffic. He gives the Bears quickness and smarts and should give Petty another option in the passing game behind Tevin Reese.

Others to Watch
Zach Kline, QB, Cal
Thomas Tyner, RB, Oregon
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

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