In this article, the top true freshmen in college football are ranked and discussed in terms of their Devy value.
#1 Jadon Haselwood – WR – Oklahoma
Recruited at 6’2.5”, 198 pounds and already listed on the OU roster at 206, he seems to be pushing himself directly into the Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs region of size. With a 4.57 forty and a 34.8 vertical, he doesn’t quite have the hops of the aforementioned, but it does fall in the same area as Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown. Jadon will be fighting CeeDee Lamb and Lee Morris for targets, but with 2018 leading receiver Marquise Brown going into the NFL he has a chance to work in some playtime. Fellow freshman Theo Wease looked good in the spring game, so competition will be fierce. Jadon did have a catch at the line of scrimmage during the spring game that he turned into positive yards using smart moves, but depending on the OU starting QB, he might find his way on the playing field if he is a good blocker.
#2 John Emery Jr. – RB – LSU
Recruited at 5’11” and 206 pounds with a 4.42 forty, his measurables right now look similar to a LeSean McCoy or a faster Tevin Coleman. If he adds 15 pounds of muscle and keeps his forty time the same, he will compare closely to Ezekiel Elliot. His ability to find a hole and accelerate through it look great at the high school level, and his highlight screen pass catch looked fluid and purposeful. Sitting behind Redshirt Freshmen Chris Curry, who looked strong in the 2019 LSU spring game might help him get a couple more pounds of muscle on. Tyrion Davis-Price is another freshman running back with 4.5 speed at 230 pounds. With leading rusher Nick Brossette in the NFL and Clyde Edwards-Helaire being more of a “change-of-pace” back Emery should compete with Tyrion for the early down work. If Chris Curry holds on to the starting spot Emery may become a sleeper for devy and college fantasy football folks to stash, but his talent is evident and hopefully will show up in the fall.
#3 Trey Sanders – RB – Alabama
At 6’0” and 215 pounds with a 4.52 forty time, Trey measures almost exactly like Melvin Gordon. Other similar sized backs are Chris Carson and Marshawn Lynch. Size and speed are very good already and show up on tape. Junior Najee Harris is the leading returning rusher with Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs both heading to the NFL. Brian Robinson Jr is another upperclassman back who has experience and size standing in the way of Trey starting right away. Trey shows more receiving skills on video than John Emery Jr. but seems to have more talent in front of him so he might not get as much playing time as quickly.
#4 Garrett Wilson – WR – OSU
The measured stats do not look great for Garrett. Typically a receiver posting a 4.63 forty is three to four inches taller and twenty to thirty pounds heavier. Another way to look at it is somebody sitting right at 6 feet would be two to three tenths faster in the forty. Jarvis Landry is the closest comparable player of fantasy relevance and he was thirty pounds heavier than Garrett. Once you look at the tape though, you see a player who is polished, smooth, and high-points every jump ball. Garrett blew by multiple defenders not with pure speed, but by getting them to fall down after using multiple moves on them. Garrett has K.J. Hill and Austin Mack as upperclassmen receivers who are returning in front of him, but there is some real opportunity to see playing time unless Chris Olave and Binjimen Victor mesh with whichever QB starts.
#5 Jerrion Ealy – RB – Ole Miss
Standing at 5’10” and 200 pounds with a 4.48 forty, Jerrion Ealy looks a lot like a college Christian McCaffrey. Looking at the film, both seem to enjoy cutting to the outside and have the speed to get tons of yards in the open field. 200 pounds will not work in the NFL for long and McCaffrey has bulked up to 210 coming into 2019. Jerrion regularly hits the outside and speeds past defenders and legitimately looks like the fastest player on film. Lead backs Scottie Phillips and Isaiah Woullard return to Ole Miss but with Jordan Ta’amu leaving, that opens up over 100 rushing attempts. Snoop Conner joining the team after de-committing to Memphis adds another layer of mystery to the backfield, but Jerrion should get playing time.
#6 Bru Mccoy – WR – USC
Measuring in at 6’2” and 205 pounds, with a 4.62 forty and 37.9 inch vertical puts Bru in some rare air as a player. The numbers stack up nicely to Keenan Allen who was also recruited as an athlete that became a receiver. While he is likely to be sitting out in 2019, the numbers and high school videos show a player that should be a stand out on a USC squad that didn’t have any player with more than 60 catches.
#7 Graham Mertz – QB – Wisconsin
Quarterbacks Danny VandenBoom and Jack Coan stand in the way of Graham Mertz but last years leader, Alex Hornibrook, is now at FSU. Chase Wolf is a redshirt freshman also looking to compete for playing time in the Badgers offense. Graham’s highlight video shows his ability to hit small windows and put the ball where it helps the receivers make a move after the catch. He showed enough vision to escape a small rush, but he is not a Russell Wilson type runner. His passes have a touch to them that make him similar to a slightly less mobile Aaron Rodgers.
#8 Bo Nix – QB – Auburn
Bo seems set up to start for Auburn with Jarrett Stidham going to the NFL and Malik Willis transfering. If 24-year-old redshirt freshman Cord Sandberg or highly ranked Joey Gatewood beat Bo out of the job, it might not be for long. Bo moves well and keeps his eyes downfield. In the spring game he nailed deep downfield balls that showed accuracy and touch. He reminds me of Baker Mayfield with his excited, energetic persona on the field. Like any young college QB, he will need to add muscle but he has a live arm to work with.
#9 Spencer Rattler – QB – Oklahoma
Spencer might have been the starter if a certain quarterback hadn’t transferred to Oklahoma this spring. After two straight Heisman winners, any quarterback with hype going to Oklahoma is big news. Tanner Mordecai seems to be the biggest competition to Jalen Hurts as Austin Kendall has transferred to WVU. Spencer has the ability to run when pressured and can hit the big shot down the field. It is highly unlikely Spencer plays beyond mop-up duty, he looks to be a big factor in 2020. I would mention his height is a concern but Baker and Kyler seem to be finding success at the next level coming from the same offense with the same limitations.
#10 Theo Wease Jr. – WR – Oklahoma
Big OU receivers who can catch and run seem to be all over the roster. Theo Wease blew up at the spring game showing speed, control, and great hands while catching 3 passes for 2 touchdowns. His 4.62 forty time is a small worry, but his 6’3” frame should hold more than the 202 pounds he is listed at right now. If he can put on some muscle, he might compare to Allen Robinson as someone who doesn’t have burner speed, but can make catches in tight spots. If he stays lighter and is working more out of the slot, he would compare to Cooper Kupp in size and speed if not in route running skills just yet. The OU freshman receivers should put whichever quarterback that starts in perfect position to put up video game numbers in the years to come.