We're going to play a game, because if I'm going down I'm taking everyone with me. It's pretty dang hard to predict how freshmen and junior college transfers will translate to the Division 1 level, but since it's a talking point we're going to go with it. As a fair warning, I'm terrible at this.
As I like to point out, I completely whiffed on Marquess Wilson. In fact, I think a lot of people did. As we all focused on the other wide receivers, Wilson came in and immediately established himself as a heck of a player. He made an impression right away on the field and has been a star ever since. Woops!
After the jump, a stab at five players to watch. Laugh at how wrong I am, then make your own list of five players. I'm curious to see which players people think can find their way onto the field right away.
Jeremiah Allison: This one is easy for me. He's a great guy with a pretty incredible story, which makes things rather simple. Oh, and he's quite the player at linebacker -- a position the Cougars still need some help in. It's not a dire situation by any means -- and the four starters kind of established themselves during the spring -- but I expect Allison to compete right away. At the very least, it wouldn't be surprising to see Allison in the rotation this year at all.
Gabe Marks: The most highly-touted of the incoming receivers, Marks is on the skinny side -- at 6-foot, 167 pounds -- but his speed and elusiveness are enticing. Marks seems like a prototypical shifty receiver in Leach's offense; the kind of player who can get the ball in space and make defenders miss. Since Leach plans to go eight-deep at wide receiver, Marks seems like to obvious bet to jump into the rotation.
David Bucannon: The secondary needs help. Not just in terms of talent, but also in depth. By the end of spring camp, there were only a few men left standing, showing the perilous line the unit is walking. Because the secondary is lacking in bodies, Bucannon is a natural choice to see some kind of playing time. He may be a rotational player or could just be sitting back on the depth chart. But he's got a chance to make an impression early. Taylor Tailulu could also go here.
Ioane Gauta: A mammoth of a man at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, Gauta could easily find his way into the defensive line rotation. Couple his size with the fact that the defensive line is thin in terms of depth, and you've got a recipe for Gauta seeing plenty of time on the field. He has the size to, perhaps, anchor the line as a nose guard.
Niu Sale: Because he's big and the offensive line needs reinforcements. The line remains in flux after the spring camp, and the rotation is far from set. That's where Sale could jump in. He's already got the size -- 346 pounds -- and comes in as a junior college transfer, so he should be ready to play ball. And did I mention he's got size? Because he's got size.
For the most part, it feels like the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball are set. On the defensive side of the ball, every unit needs depth. When making your own lists, keep that in mind.
And remember, this list is meant to look at players who could jump in right away. A player like Austin Apodaca isn't on this list considering what he's facing heading into camp. With Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday cemented into their roles, it's tough to see any other quarterback seeing real time.