Ranking college football's 10 impact freshmen in 2024

These college football freshmen players have a chance to make a name for themselves in 2024.
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Not every new college football recruit gets a chance to make an impact on the field right away, but every now and then, an incoming prospect can elbow their way to the top of the depth chart and earn starting snaps, or something close to it, right out of the gate.

Related: Ranking college football's top rematches in 2024

With several intriguing 2024 recruits joining their teams ahead of their freshman season, and with plenty of teams needing an injection of youth at key positions, let's take a look at the 10 freshman prospects who could make a positive impact on their teams right away...

Ranking College Football's 10 Instant Impact Freshmen in 2024

10. Jordan Marshall

Michigan RB. Sherrone Moore inherits a national championship roster that loses its top quarterback, wide receiver, and tailback. And while Donovan Edwards projects as RB1 in his return, the Wolverines need every option they can get moving the ball with an inexperienced quarterback working under pressure. Marshall has the frame and skill set not just to pound the rock on third downs up the middle, but pick up blitzes in pass protection.

9. DJ Lagway

Florida QB. Graham Mertz looks like the QB1 for the Gators after a solid effort last season, but this five-star quarterback was the most important pickup for Billy Napier's future with the program. Lagway had 75 TDs and 8 INTs in high school and could get some on-field time if Napier wants to mix things up on offense as he faces a tough schedule.

8. Ryan Williams

Alabama WR. Kalen DeBoer needs targets for Jalen Milroe to work with in his debut season, and his keeping this five-star wideout, who originally de-committed from the Tide after Nick Saban's retirement, was paramount. A back-to-back Mr. Football in the state of Alabama, Williams caught 70 touchdowns the last two years and his skill set projects perfectly in the kind of offense DeBoer wants to run.

7. LJ McCray

Florida DL. The loss of Princely Umanmielen hurt the Gators' front seven rotation, but the addition of McCray, ranked as the consensus No. 2 defensive lineman and No. 10 overall prospect in the country, should provide returns right away. McCray's ability to disrupt what's in front of him, whether pursuing the quarterback or shutting down interior running lanes, makes him a dangerous, versatile piece on the line.

6. Justin Scott

Miami DL. A multi-sport athlete who earned major carries at tailback and offensive line in high school, Scott should emerge as a credible option to replace some of the Hurricanes' outgoing scrimmage rushers. Miami was solid defensively a year ago, especially in pressuring the quarterback, and Scott presents an agility and lightness on his feet that belies his 310-pound frame.

5. Micah Hudson

Texas Tech WR. After losing a half-dozen wide receivers to the portal, the Red Raiders needed a game-changer at the position. Hudson steps in as a consensus five-star and the No. 4 wideout nationally, with lethal open field ability and the lateral skill set to bounce out of coverage.

4. Dylan Raiola

Nebraska QB. Raiola was a long-time Georgia pledge and even moved to play high school in the state, but his flip to the Cornhuskers stunned the recruiting world. And he gives second-year coach Matt Rhule the center-piece to build his offense around. Mobile and accurate with ideal size, Raiola passed for 88 touchdowns in his high school career.

3. Cam Coleman

Auburn WR. Coleman stuck out even in a blue-chip 2024 wide receiver class. Standing at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, Coleman is one of the more physical wideouts in the cycle with the speed to get over the top against any defense. Auburn's air attack needs a difference-maker for quarterback Payton Thorne to target after a lackluster showing a year ago, and Coleman fits the bill.

2. Ellis Robinson IV

Georgia CB. The top-ranked cornerback in the 2024 cycle, the former IMG Academy product should earn playing time in a Bulldog secondary that lost key perimeter defenders and allow him to show off his length and ball skills. With a notable change on the coaching staff, bringing on ex-Alabama assistant Travaris Robinson, Georgia has a fresh pair of eyes looking for new options in the back seven.

1. Jeremiah Smith

Ohio State WR. Sometimes a wide receiver's skill level just jumps off the film, and watching Smith dominate the Buckeyes' positional drills this spring was something else. The No. 1 wide receiver and overall prospect in the 2024 class, Smith brings a highly-polished route-running ability, unquestioned athleticism, and track and field speed. 19 of Smith's 90 catches as a senior in high school were touchdowns.

Related: Air Noland's future at Ohio State amid transfer rumors


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James Parks


James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.