One of the great things about fall camp is being able to see the young guys on the field and competing for the first time. Many of them will redshirt, tucked away for a year and likely forgotten about until spring, but some will make meaningful contributions in the rotation. Through the first two weeks, the freshmen -- and redshirt freshmen -- are letting everyone know they've got talent and want to play.
Before we get started, Mr. Vince Grippi took a stab at the number of freshmen who may play this year. His thoughts may surprise you.
Now, on to the newcomers turning some heads.
John Fullington: We haven't said much about Fullington and linemen are typically candidates for redshirts to bulk up. For Fullington, that doesn't seem to be the case. He's already on the two deeps halfway through camp and has even been running with the ones at times. At 6-5, 268 he has the size to play guard, though he still needs to add some weight to absorb the pounding of a Pac-10 season. The coaches seem to be high on Fullington and it wouldn't be surprising to see him start out in the rotation and perhaps earn a starting spot later in the season.
Rickey Galvin: Galvin has made a name for himself quickly in camp this year. It seems like every day he's breaking off a long run and letting his presence be known. He's a shifty runner that has shown the ability to slip a tackle and break off a long run, something the Cougar rushing game was missing dearly last year. It seems like Galvin should play this year -- though the depth in the backfield keeps looking stronger -- but even if he doesn't, he's one to look out for in the future.
Marquess Wilson: At least one of the newcomers needed to step up in a receiving corps that only returned 4 scholarship players. Wilson's play has turned heads and made many stand up and take notice. At 6-3, 173 pounds, Wilson has the height but needs to add some weight to that frame. Through two scrimmages, he's caught 11 balls for 161 yards and a touchdown, leading all receivers in both. He also did this.
Expect to see plenty of Wilson this year. His emergence as a playmaker has been a pleasant surprise.
C.J. Mizell: The prize of the recruiting class, Mizell was a last minute secret signing by Wulff and company. A year away from organized football means he has some work to do in order to contribute, but it's likely he sees time as the season progresses and he picks up the scheme. He needs to become more assignment sound but there's no denying that Mizell can play.
Deone Bucannon: The safety spots are loaded but Buchannon has made the most of the time he's seen in the defensive backfield. At 6-1, 186 pounds, Buchannon already has some decent size but could use a year to bulk up. He's one who may redshirt but could make an impact next year in the defensive backfield.
Damante Horton: Horton also needs a year to bulk up, but on the plus size he's already the same size as Aire Justin. I seem to remember Horton's name popping up in the practice reports, either from tipping passes leading to interceptions or picking off passes himself. Just another example of a defensive backfield that's young but deep and talented.
Tracy Clark: We might as well make it a trifecta of defensive backs. Short but stocky (5'9 181), Clark is one to keep an eye on next year. The reps he's been getting are valuable and, like the others, he's been making the most of it. The depth at cornerback should keep him off the field, but I'd expect him to be competing for a spot next spring.
Kristoff Williams and Bobby Ratliff: While Wilson has distanced himself from the newcomers, these two are battling it out for a spot in the receiver rotation. Williams may have the upperhand, but both are competing and making a name for themselves thus far. One of the two may redshirt, but continued strong performances may make it hard for the staff to keep both off the field.
Steven Hoffart: A last minute addition from Butte College, Hoffart will provide some much needed depth on the defensive line, backing up Brandon Rankin inside at the tackle spot. Hoffart has recorded a sack in both scrimmages and should find a nice home a defensive line rotation this season.
Kalafitoni Pole: Toni Pole has quickly proven himself during the fall camp. It's likely Pole will also be used in the defensive line rotation instead of redshirting to bulk up. Listed at 6-1, 291 pounds, bulking up is the least of his worries right now. He looks ready to take the pounding of playing on the defensive line in college and should also provide some much needed depth.
Andrew Furney: Furney is making an impact right away, challenging for the starting spot in the kicking game. While inconsistent at times, he's been pushing Nico Grasu and make make an impact right away as a freshman. The kicking game needs it and having another capable kicker if Grasu falters is huge for the Cougs.
This may seem like a lot of players -- especially after looking at Grippi's list of true freshmen that may see time -- but I think it speaks to the talent in this recruiting class. It's not that the returning Cougs aren't talented this time around. Instead, the newcomers have the ability to come in and make an impact right away.
The play of the newcomers thus far is leading to some tough decisions on redshirts. While the philosophy of the staff is to redshirt as many players as possible, Wulff has shown if freshmen have the ability to play at a high level, they will see the field. The future has been on display this fall and it's something we should all be encourage about.