Early enrollees, high school seniors who forgo their final semester of secondary education to get a jump on their college careers, have become as normal a part of the FBS as pep rallies and coaching clichés. The five listed below are those with the biggest potential for impact in 2013. (For more big spring arrivals, go to SI.com/mag.)
This is an article from the March 4, 2013 issue
1. Derrick Henry RB Alabama
In their true freshman years Trent Richardson (2009) and T.J. Yeldon ('12) each split carries in the Bama backfield on the way to national championships. Henry could become the next back in that lineage. The Yulee, Fla., product goes 6'3", 243 pounds and set an alltime national high school rushing record, with 12,212 career yards.
2. Su'a Cravens S USC
Lane Kiffin secured seven early enrollees, four of whom were tabbed as five-star prospects. While quarterback-in-waiting Max Browne may be the face of the group, Cravens is best positioned to contribute immediately. The USA Today All-USA Defensive Player of the Year had 97 tackles as a senior at Vista Murrieta High in Murrieta, Calif.
3. JaQuay Williams WR Texas A&M
Williams attended prep school last year after failing to meet NCAA entrance requirements, and the extra time should help him make an immediate mark. The 6'4", 205-pounder is dangerous both down the sideline and over the middle. By enrolling early, Williams will have time to establish a rapport with Johnny Manziel.
4. Eli Apple CB Ohio State
Apple was a model of versatility in high school. He served as a defensive back, wide receiver and Wildcat quarterback during his senior year at Eastern High in Voorhees, N.J. His timing and ball skills could warrant immediate playing time with the Buckeyes. Apple and fellow early enrollee Cameron Burrows from Trotwood-Madison High in Trotwood, Ohio, will be in the cornerback mix.
5. Steve Elmer OT Notre Dame
Elmer, from Midland (Mich.) High, was named the Anthony Mu√±oz Lineman of the Year at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and by enrolling early in South Bend and taking part in spring practice, he'll have an opportunity to earn coach Brian Kelly's trust. If nothing else, Elmer's smart enough to cut it in South Bend; he graduated in December with a 4.3 GPA.