When you look at the multiple recruits on Hudl, ESPN, or even MaxPreps they always try to project the “upside” of a high school player once they graduate. There are recruits ranging from one to five stars, when everybody goes to play collegiate football every player cannot always be a true freshman. The Josh Rosen’s or the Trenton Thompson’s all come in different forms every year( i.e. Jameis Winston; Mario Edwards). It’s up to the “scouts” to determine who the next True Freshman will be.
This article will elaborate on players that have potential to become the next true freshman that have slipped under the radar who have a lot of talent and potential to become great players maybe one day in the National Football League.
Four star recruit Jake Browning from Folsom, California is a pocket passing quarterback who has the intangibles of a pro-style quarterback with incredible upside. He was known as one of the top signal Quarterback in the 2015 Class and he has good, not great mobility. With offers from Alabama, Boise State, and California he decided to go to Washington. He threw for a national record total of 91 touchdowns his senior year, he is still ranked in ESPN’s Football Recruiting database as the fifth best quarterback in the state in his class. Head coach of Washington Chris Petersen had never started a freshman quarterback before Browning. Folsom’s co-coach Troy Taylor when talking about Browning’s senior year stated ” As soon as our season was over here, Jake was prepping to win the job at Washington”. Determination is not something that cannot be taught, so when Browning ran onto the field against Boise State nobody in Folsom was surprised.
Browning has decent mobility in and out of the pocket, his game is reliant on accuracy and timing; every player has a weakness, Browning can sometimes struggle with pressure and try to do a little “to much”. The more experience a player gets you learn to sometimes put your pride on the back burner and take what you can get. Browning also makes some throws off his back foot, which does not allow the ball to zip through the air as free flowing. Browning yesterday against Cal had his first game in which he struggled, he was sacked yesterday five times and threw two interceptions. Browning’s QB rating dropped from 160.0 to 143.7. He’s four yards away from a 1000 passing yards this season after week three. When comparing Browning and UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, who has racked up 964 yards, seven touchdowns, and four interceptions. With a sub-par line Huskies nation should be excited to see Browning develop into a great quarterback in the competitive PAC 12 conference.
Malik Jefferson from Mesquite,Texas is an outlier in this article; he was tenth overall recruit in the country and was known as second year coach Charlie Strong’s “biggest win” during the off-season. Malik Jefferson is a five star recruit, playing the linebacker position. He was third in the country at his position with offers from almost every school in the Power 5 conferences. He was choosing between Texas A&M and Texas, he decided stay in state because of the great recruiting relationships and family. “He’s a better person than a football player,” Charlie Strong said in an interview with the Big 12 network. He enrolled into Texas in the spring and put on a show in the spring game, swarming around the field and even forcing a fumble.
How can Malik Jefferson be under the radar after all the facts of upside explained in the last paragraph? The first reason is because of his size, his scouting reports all have said a variation of the same thing when referring to Jefferson’s size, at 6’3 215 pounds Jefferson does not have “ideal” wide shoulders for his position. Jefferson is also known as a “downhill” player which mean he’s running at the ball carrier north or south, he struggles with coverage. But don’t forget, at the linebacker position if you have a nose for the ball, you will make a coach very happy and that is exactly what Jefferson can do.
Jefferson since the start of the season has put on ten pounds, also in short plays Jefferson’s quickness is elite, as well as his change of direction. His change of direction and maybe his best attribute lateral quickness helps him elude blockers and also get to the ball carrier very quickly. He is averaging seven tackles currently, while racking up thirty tackles so far this year. With linebacker Jordan Hicks going to the NFL it was really important for Strong to get a player that could fill that big void that was missing in his defense after losing six starters on the defensive side to the draft. Jefferson has incredible upside because of not only his physical intangibles but also because of his ability to make great plays at any moment.
Malik Jefferon and Jake Browning are only two freshman that this article touched on about their upside, but they stay under the radar. Remember these names you will hear from them again this season and the next couple of seasons as well.