10 College Football Players to Watch in Spring Practice

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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The long, grueling, when-will-it-ever-end, two months without college football has come to an end. We made it! Spring football is here, and college football returns in miniature form. It’s like getting a preview for the actual season, spring ball increases excitement for the fall. Players return to the field to put on pads and prepare for the new season. Some enter new territory, and we take a look at 10 players that fit into that category that you need to watch this spring.

QB Kelly Bryant, Missouri

Missouri found a replacement for Drew Lock, but their offense will look different. Bryant isn’t the passer that Lock was, but he runs the ball well for a quarterback. The Tigers won’t participate in the postseason this year, so they have nothing to lose. Perfect for a player who’s trying to let loose in his final season of football. Missouri’s talent level makes them a potential Top 25 team in 2019, and Bryant gives them another weapon.

QB Justin Fields, Ohio State

How good is Justin Fields? He forced Tate Martell to transfer before the competition began in Columbus. Ok, so that’s not entirely true, but that situation was confusing. Still, Fields enters as the favorite to win the job after playing a backup role to Jake Fromm in Georgia. The Buckeyes must replace talent at nearly every position offensively, so maybe this should have said “Ohio State offense besides J.K. Dobbins.”

DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson

Thomas could have started nearly anywhere else, but now gets his chance to shine. Stuck behind arguably one of the best defensive lines in the history of college football, Thomas is now the star. Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant simply weren’t getting beat last year, but both are gone to the NFL. Clemson must replace all four starters on the defensive line, but Thomas helps that transition. It’s his time to shine, and the Tigers have plenty of talent to join him.

QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts: the third consecutive Oklahoma quarterback to win the Heisman? It’s not completely out of the question, but he needs to win the job first. Incoming freshman Spencer Rattler appears to be the only serious competition, so Hurts remains the expected starter. Lincoln Riley gets yet another good quarterback to work with, and gives the Sooners a chance to win the Big 12 for the fifth year in a row.

WR K.J. Osborn, Miami

After catching 53 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns with the Buffalo Bulls, Osborn decided a change was in order. With quarterback Tyree Jackson moving on to the NFL, it looks like the right choice. Osborn now must beat out players that were chosen well ahead of him coming out of high school. Miami’s looking for a fresh start themselves with new head coach Manny Diaz, so position battles appear to be open for the most part.

QB James Blackman, Florida State

With Deondre Francois out of the picture, the job is seemingly Blackman’s now. Will less pressure result in better quarterback play? Spring practice will give us a glimpse into that answer. After finishing in the bottom half of the Atlantic division, the Seminoles are looking to turn things around quickly.

DE Chase Young, Ohio State

Last season prepared Young for life without Nick Bosa. Bosa’s injury that kept him out for most of the year thrust Young into a leadership role on the defensive line. So it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to continue that role in spring ball. If last year was any indication of what to expect, we’re in store for a monster year from him.

QB Brandon Wimbush, UCF

McKenzie Milton’s injury provided Knights fans with an uncertainty they hadn’t felt for a while. It put a dent in their depth at their most important position for this year as well. Wimbush comes in to help that while also pushing to win the starting spot. Darriel Mack took over when Milton got hurt, but will have to beat out the former Notre Dame starter. Both Wimbush and Mack need to prove that they are the more consistent passer to win the job.

RB Najee Harris, Alabama

Two years ago, there were some who believed Harris was the best back on Alabama’s roster. You can imagine the surprise that greeted them when Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris received more carries than him last year. Luckily for Harris, those two are both headed to the NFL. He finally gets his chance, but he’ll have competition. Incoming freshman Trey Sanders comes in to push Harris, and should also receive carries. Harris’ combination of size and quickness remind Bama fans of Derrick Henry, which isn’t what any other SEC team wants to hear.

QB Jacob Eason, Washington

If Eason could start at Georgia as a freshman, there shouldn’t be any reason he can’t win the job with the Huskies. After losing the starting spot to Jake Fromm, Eason returned home. Washington enters unknown territory after Jake Browning ran out of eligibility, but they’re putting their confidence in Eason for 2019. If he can improve his completion percentage (just 55.2% in his time at Georgia), the Huskies compete for a Pac 12 title once again.

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