With college basketball now complete and busted brackets shattered over the floor, it's officially football season again -- or, at least, spring football season. Camps have opened across the country, and early enrollee freshmen are putting on their new jerseys for the first time.
It's a period of transition: More than 30 members on theare departing for the NFL, leaving numerous holes to be filled. With all the churn in football, many of those roles could be filled by members of the Class of 2023.
Granted, not every freshman is ready to contribute right away. Finding instant impact players in the trenches can be a battle. To the contrary, the level of reps in high school means that offensive skill talent is more ready to contribute than ever.
With that in mind, here are 10 early enrollee freshmen to watch in upcoming spring games across college football.
. All times Eastern.
Peyton Bowen, S, Oklahoma
Spring game: April 22 | 3:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
After a bizarre recruitment saga, Bowen is finally on campus in Norman. Rated the No. 3 safety in the Top247 rankings, Bowman headlines the class with a big, athletic frame ready to contribute. Needless to say, the Sooners could use any reinforcements on defense after putting together their worst season since Y2K. Safety contributors Billy Bowman and Key Lawrence are back, but Bowen could push his way into the rotation. The Sooners could also try Bowman at the versatile "Cheetah" role, which blends safety, corner and linebacker into one package.
Zachariah Branch, WR, USC
Spring game: April 15 | 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
Being Lincoln Riley must be pretty nice these days. After adding the Biletnikoff winner last offseason, Riley replaces Jordan Addison with the No. 1 wide receiver in the Top247 rankings. Branch is an absolute physical freak who has earned comparisons to Tyreek Hill because of his astonishing speed, burst and coordination. Heisman-winner Caleb Williams had a sensational receiver room last season, but Branch will bring a whole new dimension to the offense this spring if he translates.
Caleb Downs, S, Alabama
Spring game: April 22 | 3 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Freshmen don't play much at Alabama, but Downs isn't a typical freshman. Rated the No. 1 safety and No. 1 player in Georgia, Downs is the kind of player who has spurned the Tide for the 'Dawgs in recent years. But now, a player called one of the "safest bets in the class" by 247Sports Andrew Ivins will have a chance to compete for a starting safety spot after the departures of Brian Branch, Jordan Battle and DeMarcco Hellams. His pedigree doesn't hurt; Downs is the brother of North Carolina All-American Josh Downs, son of NFL running back Gary Downs and the nephew of Pro Bowl corner Dre Bly.
Nico Iamaleava, QB, Tennessee
Spring game: April 15 | 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
For all the rumors about Iamaleava's NIL deal, his football skills don't get enough attention. The Downey, California, native rated as the No. 2 overall player in the Top247 rankings and earned a comparison to NFL star Justin Herbert from 247Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins. Iamaleava will compete for the starting job with super senior Joe Milton, and early reviews have been strong. He might start his career on the bench, but spring will give a sneak preview.
Braylon James, WR, Notre Dame
Spring game: April 22 | 2 p.m. (Peacock)
Simply put, James is the kind of player Notre Dame didn't sign under Brian Kelly. The four-star Texan rates as the No. 126 player in the Top247 and boasts elite top-end speed. James ran a 22.8 200-meter as a junior and translates his speed to the biggest classification of Texas high school football. Also keep an eye on fellow Austin-area standout Jaden Greathouse, who developed into a star next to now-Clemson starter Cade Klubnik at Austin Westlake. The combo should team with transfer quarterback Sam Hartman to create a more dynamic offense than Notre Dame has had in years.
Arch Manning, QB, Texas
Spring game: April 15 | 3 p.m. (Longhorn Network)
Chances are, Manning will not play major snaps for Texas in 2023. Regardless, the incoming freshman is seen as the future for the Longhorns. Because of his famous pedigree, Manning did not seriously go through the camp circuit and is therefore a slightly less known commodity than most No. 1 picks. Spring will be a great opportunity to prove his skill set and flash the tools that earned him a No. 1 overall ranking.
Francis Mauigoa & Samson Okunlola, OL, Miami
Spring game: April 14 | 7:30 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Offensive linemen typically don't contribute immediately, but a pair of five-stars like Mauigoa and Okunlola joining a team led by former offensive line coach (Mario Cristobal) makes for a unique situation. The players both rank among the top 25 recruits in Miami history and have the potential to lock down spots on the line for three years. Miami is undergoing a full face lift on the offensive line with a number of transfers competing for starting spots. Both Mauigoa and Okunlola are good enough to push for starting tackle spots.
Rueben Owens, RB, Texas A&M
Spring game: April 15 | 4 p.m. (SEC Network+)
Texas A&M has quietly been one of the most consistent producers of running backs in the past half-decade, and Owens rates as the best one coming to College Station since Christine Michael. Owens just has that "It Factor" at running back with a powerful frame that bursts through contact and finds open grass. Texas A&M has a number of talented running backs on the roster, but Owens has a great chance of winning the starting job.
John Walker, DT, UCF
Spring game: April 14 | 7:30 p.m.
The move to the Big 12 is already paying dividends as Walker opted to stay in Florida and join UCF -- over Florida and Miami -- as the top recruit in program history. At 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, Walker brings a dynamic gap-filling frame that should immediately compete for the vacant nose tackle role next to Ricky Barber. Gus Malzahn and his staff could opt to slow play Walker, but he should still get plenty of looks this spring.
Hykeem Williams, WR, Florida State
Spring game: April 15 | 4 p.m. (ACC Network Extra)
Florida State has only produced one NFL draft pick at wide receiver since 2015. Even that one was a seventh-round pick: Auden Tate. Rated the No. 4 receiver in a stacked Top247, Williams has the goods to quickly flip that trend. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Williams boasts a college-ready body with the speed and versatility to punish opposing defenses. Adding Williams to a receiver room that already features rising star Johnny Wilson could make for a spring to remember in Tallahassee for Heisman-hopeful quarterback Jordan Travis.