B1G three-star recruits that will have an immediate role as true freshmen
Once you’re on campus, the number of stars next to your name really doesn’t mean anything. All that matters at that point is whether or not you can help the team.
Sure, everyone raves about the four and five-star players, they are the ones the headline National Signing Day every year. Nobody pays much attention to the one and two-star prospects, nor the potential walk-ons. The guys with three stars beside their name are somewhere in the middle, depending on the school.
Unless it’s an elite programs, those three-star recruits are the lifeblood of a program. While they may not be the ones receiving the most attention, they’re often key pieces for every team.
Because of that, we thought some of those three-star prospects deserved a little recognition. Particularly, the guys who have the best chance to throw their high school ranking out the window and perform like a blue-chip star in their first season.
There were plenty of names throughout the B1G to choose from, but this list has been narrowed down to five. Here are some of those three-star players that should have an immediate impact in 2017:
(Note: the star rankings come from 247 Sports composite rankings).
Juwan Burgess, ATH – Indiana
The three-star athlete who Tom Allen was able to pluck from USC is the premier commitment of Indiana’s 2017 class. As such, it’s unlikely that he doesn’t make some sort of impact for the Hoosiers immediately.
Allen has stated that Burgess will likely play safety and might see time on kickoff and punt returns next season. Indiana has plenty of experience at safety with Jonathon Crawford and Tony Fields both returning, but Burgess should work his way into the rotation relatively quickly.
Burgess is virtually a four-or-five star prospect for the Hoosiers. When you’re able to land a recruit who turned down offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Michigan, you usually don’t keep him on the sideline.
Tanner Morgan, QB – Minnesota
Mitch Leidner is no longer under center for the Gophers, meaning P.J. Fleck also inherits a quarterback battle in his first spring season at Minnesota. And his three-star, pro-style gunslinger has an opportunity to win the starting job.
Conor Rhoda is the only upperclassman competing for the position and, after Fleck convinced the senior not to transfer, is probably the leading candidate for the top spot right now. But Morgan will likely be next-in-line and could even see the field as a true freshman.
Fleck may have convinced Rhoda to stick around so that Morgan could have an entire year to develop, though the newcomer has been considered the best pure passer to come to Minnesota in some time. Morgan’s early enrollment helps his cause as he works towards reworking the depth chart over the next few months.
Kendrick Green, DT – Illinois
Illinois’ defensive line is severely depleted after losing all four starters from last season. That leaves plenty of room for the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Green to work himself into the rotation.
Green is the best defensive recruit in Lovie Smith’s first full class with the Illini and was ranked as the eighth-best player from the state of Illinois. Considering the inexperience and lack of depth of front, it’s hard to imagine that Green won’t be a starter on the line at some point in his freshman season.
Because he wasn’t an early enrollee, we won’t know what Green brings to the table until the fall. Still, he’s the type of player Smith and the Illini need to develop quickly to help sure up some of those gaps on the defensive line.
Keyshawn Johnson, Jr., WR – Nebraska
With three of Nebraska’s top four receivers gone from 2016, there’s an urgency to find some guys who can fill those vacancies, and quickly. One of those candidates will be Johnson.
The Huskers do bring in a talented receiving group, headlined by four-star WRs Jaevon McQuitty and Tyjon Lindsey. But Johnson should be right in the mix, battling for snaps this season.
Johnson has already impressed offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf, who said of the freshman receiver “He’s able to line up and run plays, and that’s impressive for a freshman, especially being here two months as a freshman. So I’m excited about that for him, that he can go line up correctly and run a play.”
The three-star receiver is off to a good start in Lincoln. He might even beat out some of those four-star recruits for immediate playing time.
Josiah Scott, CB – Michigan State
Scott making this list might’ve been a bit of a head-scratcher, especially on a Michigan State team that typically rewards experience. But the freshman’s showing in the Spartans’ Green-White game changed that perception.
The early-enrollee had an interception, deflected a pass and covered receivers well at the spring scrimmage. And head coach Mark Dantonio was so impressed, he said that the Scott’s starting role might be a more permanent situation.
“He’s putting himself in position to start for us as a true freshman,” Dantonio said of Scott in the post-game press conference.
Regardless of whether Scott hangs on to his starting job, Michigan State has found a hidden gem in its 34th-ranked recruiting class. There’s no question that Scott will see plenty of snaps for the Spartans in his first season.