Fresh and Ready: Top college football newcomers from the 2019 signing class

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Terrace Marshall, Derek Stingley
Derek Stingley Jr. (#24) pulls down an interception during LSU’s 2019 spring game (Photo: Terrill Weil).

Shiny new toys are fun for kids of all ages. Major college football coaches are excited about their new toys, aka freshmen that you may want to keep an eye on this fall.

Running back Noah Cain, a native of Baton Rouge, is expected to make a fast impact at Penn State. The 5-foot-10, 208 pounder opened eyes during the spring. Ricky Slade is the expected starter for Nittany Lions, but Cain has the skills to force his way onto the field.

Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet (6-2, 215) is a strong, physical runner. It will be difficult to keep the newcomer off the field, especially with the void to fill after the departure of starter Karan Highdon to the NFL.

Texas wide receiver Bru McCoy (6-2, 205) signed early with USC but then transferred in January to Texas. He has been cleared to play this season for the Longhorns, who will benefit from the late addition of the top athlete in 2019 recruiting class nationally. McCoy rejected offers from Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State, Georgia and Washington. The UT staff likes what he’s shown thus far.

Arizona State’s QB spot is attracting lots of attention. Incumbent junior Dillon Streling-Cole replaces graduated Manny Wilkins as the starter for the moment but head coach Herm Edwards can’t take his eyes off ’19 signee Jayden Daniels.A four-year starter in high school accounting for 14,482 yards of total offense during his final two seasons, Daniels (6-3, 185) threw for 170 touchdowns with just 25 interceptions. He also ran for 3,645 yards and 41 more scores. The San Bernardino, Calif. native is drawing comparisons to current Houston Texans star DeShaun Watson.

Another top quarterback signee, Graham Mertz (6-3, 205), has taken hold of Wisconsin’s offense this spring. With former starter Alex Hornibrook’s transfer to Florida State, the door is open for the new guy. With stud runner Jonathan Taylor in the backfield (more on him in a moment), Mertz doesn’t have the pressure to carry the offense.

Bo Nix (6-2, 207) is a fine fit behind center for Auburn as a dual threat. The son of former War Eagle starting quarterback Patrick Nix was tabbed the 2018 Alabama Mr. Football after posting a 40-2 career record. The younger Nix threw for 10,393 yards with 127 touchdown passes and ran for 2,112 yards with 34 more scores on the ground. With 2018 starter Jarrett Stidham off to the NFL, Tigers coach Gus Malzahn may turn to Nix soon.

LSU cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. is a special talent. He was targeted just 18 times by opponents last season, which resulted in 11 interceptions and six passes broken up for The Dunham School. His 4.3 speed makes him a game changer.

The 6-1, 195 pounder is mentioned in the same class as former LSU instant stars Leonard Fournette and Patrick Peterson. Stingley, who lived up to the lofty expectations in spring ball for the Tigers, is being touted as a legitimate national freshman of the year candidate. He’ll have the chance as a starter taking on the challenge of replacing two-time All-SEC corner Greedy Williams.

Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeau (6-5, 243) was the No. 1 overall prospect in the ’19 class. He’s been called the next Jadeveon Clowney but he models his game more after J.J. Watt, Clowney’s teammate with the Houston Texans. Thibodeau’s uncle trains him as well as a pair of top pro running backs, last year’s top NFL rookie Saquon Barkely and star veteran Todd Gurley.

And not that note about Jonathan Taylor for the upcoming season. If Wisconsin’s junior Heisman candidate compiles 2,086 yards rushing, which is his average during his first two seasons with the Badgers, he will reach 6,257 career yards to place him fourth all-time among career FBS runners. It’s ground-and-pound Wisconsin so that total is attainable.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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