The next instant-impact stars

Current freshmen making waves and the 2014 prospects you need to know

Updated: September 25, 2013, 1:50 PM ET
By Craig Haubert | ESPN RecruitingNation

The expectation to come in as a freshman and redshirt, sit, learn and grow is not what it used to be. The impact that true freshmen are having on college football has continued to rise. That was apparent last season, as players like Georgia's Todd Gurley, Alabama's Amari Cooper and Miami's Duke Johnson didn't hesitate to make an impact. This season, several true freshmen -- including 2013 ESPN 300 No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche at Ole Miss and Cal QB Jared Goff -- have wasted little time.

Considering the immediate impact that freshmen can have on the game, it's never too early to learn about the future of college football.

Current breakout freshman who has improved on an area of weakness: Pitt has seen 2013 ESPN 300 WR Tyler Boyd quickly emerge as a weapon in its offense. The true freshman is second on the team with 16 receptions and leads the team with four receiving TDs. A smooth, versatile athlete, Boyd exhibited the tools to be a very good college player, but has surprised some with his ability to make such a quick impact. At the high school level he wore multiple hats for his team, but Boyd has quickly assimilated to the WR role and been a sharper route runner than expected despite the lack of focus he had on the position. With room for growth physically and as a player, Boyd's ability to adapt more quickly than expected has allowed him to establish himself as a key figure in the Panthers' passing attack.


For a look at the recent recruits who are making plays on Saturdays and the prospects in the Class of 2014 who will be household names next fall, become an Insider today.