The Roundtable continues this week. Looking ahead to the fall, one of the fun offseason questions is to think about which true freshmen can make an early impact on their new teams. Thus, this week’s question is: Which true freshman is most likely to make an impact on your team for the 2023 season?
Mike: For Colorado State, I think RB Damian Henderson has a chance to play and maybe even start right away. The Rams are thin at the running back position, and there are a lot of carries to go around. Henderson is a talented player and is at a position that is often easy for players to get time as a true freshman. It is easy to see him making an impact over the course of the 2023 season.
Matt: Fresno State is losing a lot of production at both wide receiver and defensive end after 2022, so those were big areas of concern in the recruiting period. WR was addressed by Tim Grear, coming in from junior college. For the defensive end spot, I see Isiah Chala as the most likely to contribute early. If his stats are to be believed, he’s already college-sized at 6’5” and 250lbs. I’m not sure I can see him cracking the starting lineup right away like Jacob Holmes and Gavriel Lightfoot did, but he should definitely be a key contributor by the end of the 2023 season.
Mike: I’ll also look at Nevada. I think defensive back Jonah Lewis will be a bright spot and play right away for the rebuilding Wolf Pack. He was their top-rated recruit and can step into a position of need and gain experience in what is lining up to be another trying season. The sooner Lewis learns from freshman mistakes and understands what he needs to do to succeed at this level, the better he and the Nevada team will be in the long run.
Aiden: When it comes to Boise State, you hope that they don’t have to rely on a true freshman to make a major difference. However, the trio that pops out to me is wide receiver Prince Strachan, offensive lineman Jason Steele, and quarterback CJ Tiller. I will acknowledge that Strachan shouldn’t *technically* count since he greyshirted, but he is a young guy that is going to be a factor on Saturdays. Steele has been hyped as a talented recruit that primarily played center during his high school days, but integrating a true freshman lineman into the rotation is very rare. Lastly, Tiller is fighting Maddux Madsen for the backup quarterback position and to be the security blanket in case Taylen Green were to go down. All of these guys will see time at one point or another, but the grind of the summer months will dictate the frequency in which they take the field in 2023.
Adam: With a new offense installed in Albuquerque, one can assume that speed will be a factor. With that said, wide receiver Evan Wysong has the chance to make the biggest impact. Like his brother Luke, Evan has speed to get to the edge and then to outrun defenders. He is an ace in the hole that would benefit UNM if they can get him the ball frequently.