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Arizona National Signing Day 2017: Which recruit will have biggest freshman year for Wildcats?

Who can channel their inner J.J. Taylor?

Washington v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Last season, the Arizona Wildcats had a few members of the 2016 recruiting class play as true freshmen, and actually put up some decent numbers.

The most electrifying was J.J. Taylor (pictured above), but he sustained a broken ankle that sidelined him for the final eight games of the season, and left Arizona fans wanting more.

But will there be a player like that in this year’s class and make an immediate impact on this team? We chat about our most likely candidates:

Gabe Encinas: Rich Rodriguez is going to be asking a lot of these guys to step up early, and I anticipate on at least eight true freshmen taking the field. But Arizona desperately needs linebackers next season, losing their top five linebackers from 2016, so Tony Fields is my pick. He’s a little undersized right now, around 205 pounds, but he’s already on campus and will have a full spring to acclimate to the speed of the game.

Brandon Combs: I’d have to say Josh Brown or Anthony Pandy. Brown can easily fill the Mike LB spot, which is definitely a position of need this upcoming year. Pandy, because of his versatility, can play either Mike or STUD. Either way, both should be able to help a depleted LB unit.

Drake Horner: Arizona is going to depend on a lot of young guys at linebacker. DeAndre’ Miller and Brandon Rutt are the only ones returning with experience to date. So, I’m gonna go with a linebacker in Colin Schooler. He’s athletic enough to play inside or outside, and I still can’t figure out why he didn’t have more offers. Most of the freshmen at linebacker will probably play at some point though, so picking Schooler is kind of like a shot in the dark because I wouldn’t be surprised at all if any of the linebackers contributed a lot in their first year.

Jason Bartel: I think Schooler is the most likely defensive player to make an impact next year, but Nathan Tilford probably has the highest odds of getting significant snaps early in the year. A lot of that simply has to do with the position he plays...running back. Arizona fans know all to well how quickly things can change at that position, and with the injury history of Nick Wilson and Taylor to this point, Tilford could be forced into something right away, but he seems like a guy who can handle that just fine.