Rich Rodriguez has said there will be maybe up to seven true freshmen who see the field this season. Last year, it was Nick Wilson who stepped up in ways no one imagined. Now, there are a few notable standouts in camp that have performed well, and we break down some of them.
Probably the best performing freshman yet, he's bound to see the field in one way or another. The only problem is that he faces the uphill battle with the depth at wide receiver. If Rich Rodriguez truly thinks he is ready to see the field, then let's see what Brown can do. He's also in the mix for the punt return battle, which I motion for 100%, giving DaVonte' Neal the sole focus of defense. It might be a limited role, but he's the playmaker that will come up big for Arizona this year.
He had a great spring as an early enrollee and was running second team at times up top at safety. When Jamar Allah needs a breather, Brewer could easily step in and assume larger responsibilities. The spring reps will help him this semester, already having a decent understanding of the techniques, conditioning and chemistry necessary to fulfill the safety position. Watching him in drills, he's definitely one of the most athletic and agile defensive backs out there.
Another guy who is now competing for that second string safety spot is Flannigan-Fowles. The way scholarships worked out with this recruiting class, Flannigan-Fowles was able to join the team this year, with the original plan being a greyshirt season. At 6-2 180lbs, he definitely has a frame to work with and wouldn't be crazy to see him at 205lbs by the time he's a senior. It's going to be a battle for playing time in the secondary when it comes to Brewer and Flannigan-Fowles. There are shades of Jourdon Grandon in his game, and he's someone to look forward to this season if he's given the opportunity.
Kendal Franklin has a great opportunity ahead of him, coming in as the lone linebacker. Somehow, someway Sir Thomas Jackson just completely fell off the face of the Earth, recording 58 tackles as a freshman, and just a combined nine tackles the past two years. Antonio Smothers hasn't exactly lived up to his potential, and the duo of Ware and Cobb still seem to be a work-in-progress. This is where Franklin can come in and make an impact. If he can learn the defense and handle all the responsibilities of a 3-3-5 defense as the edge rush guy, I think Franklin can be a huge contributor this season.
Corner depth needs some help, and I see Sammy Morrison stepping onto the field in a limited role. With the injury history of Jarvis McCall, the inconsistency of Cam Denson, and DaVonte' Neal still adjusting to defense, there's a decent chance Morrison sees some solid reps. With a lack of depth, he could provide a Devin Holiday-type role as a freshman, coming in on certain packages and holding it down late in games with a sizable lead, gaining both confidence and experience.
If Antonio Parks was joining the team this season, he would be my pick for breakout freshman. We hope a speedy recovering for him. He will likely join the team in the spring once he bounces back from his ACL injury.