It's not very often a true freshman plays a big part on his college team. I'm of the mind that most young men starting off at college should wear a redshirt and take care of business in the classroom. For the most part college coaches seem to agree but every once in a while you have a situation where the player is so good, or the situation is so dire, that a true freshman is thrust into the starting rotation.
Need, maturity, and ability are all factors in predicting who might play. Through that lens it's hard not to see Roubbens Joseph as the player most likely to see the field from Lance Leipold's first recruiting class.
Buffalo lost three long time starters on the line this season. The players behind them are either red shirt freshman or sophomores with little in game experience.
Joseph is 6-4 and 293 pounds which is a bit bigger than Todd Therrien and a bit smaller than Brandon Manosalvas. Physically he has the tools and he has two years of Junior College experience.
That college experience also factors into his maturity as a student athlete. Joseph has already been a guy that has to make grades, while playing football, living on his own, and even balancing a job. Moving to Amherst will not be a huge life-altering event for Roubbens.
Joseph had a lot of interest while he was playing prep ball but did not wisely attend to his academic responsibilities during his first two years of high school. So he instead had to go the junior college.
After one season he had an offer from Iowa but came up a single credit short of the requirements. His grades were not an issue, just a mistake of a single college credit.
After this season he had offers from Louisiana Lafayette, South Alabama, and UAB.
It might be cheating for me to pick a JUCO transfer but outside of the line or a kicker it's hard to see where UB has a powerful need to play a true freshman this year. Once could make an argument that a defensive line recruit will find their place onto the depth chart given that UB may move to a 4-3 defense but even then it's hard to see them starting.
Am I wrong (as per the usual)? Who do you think makes a big impact in 2015?