College football’s 2018 National Signing Day is officially in the books. Every FBS program inked recruits to a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday or in the early period in December, which means coaching staffs should have a good snapshot of how their program looks for the upcoming season. With spring practice just around the corner, the focus around the nation now shifts to the 2018 season. Some of the top names from 2018 signing classes include Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Georgia running back Zamir White, Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain and Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
There will be several impact performers from the 2018 class this season, and it’s impossible to narrow the names down to just 20. However, now that signing day is complete, let’s take a look at 20 names (plus a few bonus picks) to watch in 2018 and how they could impact their team in on-field action.
College Football's Top 20 Impact True Freshmen for 2018
Bryan Addison, ATH/WR, UCLA
Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense in Westwood is looking for help at receiver this offseason. Jordan Lasley left early for the NFL, and Darren Andrews expired his eligibility after catching 60 passes in nine games as a senior. With a void at receiver, look for Addison to push for playing time this fall. The California native caught 46 passes for 582 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior and ranked as the No. 98 prospect in the 247Sports Composite.
William Barnes, OL, North Carolina
North Carolina’s offensive line was hit hard by attrition this offseason. The Tar Heels are set to replace four starters in the trenches, including left tackle Bentley Spain. Considering the losses up front, the Florida native could work his way into a starting job in 2018. Barnes checks in at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds and ranked as a four-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite.
Jackson Carman, OL, Clemson
Clemson’s depth chart doesn’t have many glaring holes for 2018, but the line is set to lose three players on the interior. Mitch Hyatt is a stalwart on the left side, and assistant Robbie Caldwell will have to find the right mix to settle this group over the offseason. Carman ranked as the No. 17 prospect in the 2018 signing class and could slide into a rotational or starting role.
James Cook/Zamir White, RB, Georgia
Even though Georgia is losing Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Kirby Smart at running back. D’Andre Swift anchors the ground attack after an impressive freshman season, and the incoming signing class will provide help. White ranked as the No. 9 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite, while Cook wasn’t far behind at No. 41. Considering how much Georgia used three running backs last year, both Cook and White could see significant carries in 2018.
Justin Fields (Georgia)/Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), QB
The development and playing time of Lawrence and Fields will be something to watch in 2018. These are the top two quarterbacks in the 2018 signing class and ranked as five-star prospects by the 247Sports Composite. While talent isn’t the question mark, both are blocked by proven starters under center. At Georgia, Fields will battle Jake Fromm after the freshman led the Bulldogs to an appearance in the national championship. Kelly Bryant had a solid debut as Clemson’s starter in 2017, but Lawrence – a more gifted passer – is expected to push for time right away.
Emory Jones, QB, Florida
New coach Dan Mullen is searching for answers on offense this offseason. Florida’s offense averaged only 22.1 points a game and 5.2 yards a play last year. With Malik Zaire and Luke Del Rio not returning in 2018, the only quarterback with experience on the roster is Feleipe Franks (1,438 yards and 54.6%). With Mullen bringing the same style of offense that excelled at Mississippi State during his tenure there, Jones would be a good fit as a dual-threat quarterback within the scheme. The Georgia native ranked as the No. 85 prospect in the 2018 247Sports Composite.
Lorenzo Lingard, RB, Miami
A season-ending ankle injury to Mark Walton hindered Miami’s rushing attack for most of the 2017 season, as coach Mark Richt’s offense averaged only 160.8 yards a game on the ground (10th in the ACC). But help is on the way for the Hurricanes in 2018, as Lingard – a five-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite – arrives on campus this offseason poised to push for significant carries. The Orange City native earned Florida Gatorade Player of the Year honors after rushing for 1,701 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior.