AAC fresh faces: Five freshmen who have the potential to breakout in 2017

Get to know these names. They may be new, but they're important. They're the fresh, baby-faces around college football that are poised to make an immediate impact this fall.

Today, we bring you five freshmen to watch this year in the American Athletic Conference that could make an instant impact at the start of the season.

1. TJ Carter, defensive back, Memphis: This kid arrived on campus ready to compete. The DB out of Nashville has showcased a maturity level and competitive nature that has the Memphis coaching staff buzzing. Carter's a physical, scrappy defender who is also a plus athlete in the AAC. Even as a true freshman, he's making it very tough to keep him out of the starting lineup for the Tigers. He's part of what looks like a loaded freshman group for Memphis.

2. Judah Bell, wide receiver, SMU: Chad Morris' team isn't lacking for receiver talent with potential first-round NFL Draft pick Courtland Sutton and 700-yard receiver James Proche both returning from last year's roster. But Bell is talented enough to steal some catches and keep some defenses honest. Bell has already drawn Sutton comparisons out of preseason camp because of his size at 6-3, stature at 200 pounds, leaping ability and hands. The kid caught more than 100 passes for more than 2,200 yards as a senior in high school last season, and he'll snag a few as a freshman in college, too.

3. Emmanuel Greene, wide receiver, UCF: Scott Frost loaded up on wide receiver talent in the 2017 class and it looks like Greene may be the most likely to make a big impact in Year 1. Already competing for a starting job at receiver, Greene is a dynamic, explosive space player, the type of athlete that thrives in Frost's spread attack. He also brings value to the return game where you may see the undersized pass catcher returning some punts on Saturdays as well. Greene isn't alone, either. Among the other true freshmen receivers ready to flash in Orlando is Otis Anderson Jr., the son of the former All-Pro running back of the same name.

4. Cameron Sample, defensive end, Tulane: The Green Wave returns plenty of veterans on the defensive front, but don't expect that to be enough to keep a redshirt on Sample. Willie Fritz may have leaned on his Georgia Southern roots to snag Sample out of the state of Georgia, and the lightly recruited defensive end looks like he's going to pay dividends. Hailing from Shiloh High School in Snellville, Georgia, Sample is already bringing power to the edge at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds with strong pass-rush instincts. Part of what looks like a class with several contributors, Sample is the most talented of the bunch.   

5. Taijh Alston, defensive end, East Carolina: An early enrollee that has already taken advantage of the college training table and weight room, Alston looks like one of East Carolina's best pass rushers right now. The 6-foot-5 freshman looks poised to provide some value as an edge rusher in ECU's four-man front and even if he's not starting, he's a great candidate to see the field in nickel and third-down situations.  

CBS Sports Writer

Barton Simmons has been involved in college football and recruiting since 2000, first as a player and then as a reporter and analyst. As a player, he was a two-time All-Ivy League safety at Yale before... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories