Instant impact
Instant impact
2012-04-18 00:00:00

Who are 2012's top impact freshmen in college football in Texas?

 By Jake Shaw Special Contributor

We've reached the end — at least of this three-part series.

Once again, here's how it works: I've picked one true freshman from each Texas FBS program that I most expect to earn playing time — and then I ranked them in order of expected impact, 1-12.

After counting down from 12 to 9, and then from 8 through 5, it's time to unveil the four true freshmen who will make the biggest impact this season.

4. Baylor — Javonte MaGee, San Antonio Sam Houston

This is the type of recruit that has eluded the Bears in recent years. Not only was Magee highly sought after — nearly half of the FBS offered him — but he plays a position of major need for Baylor. Though Magee is listed as a defensive end — and that's where I expect him to get his time as a freshman — once he fills out his 6-5, 262-pound frame, he should move to the interior. Last year, Baylor started a converted DE and a former walk-on at DT. This year, two former offensive linemen are penciled in as starters there. Magee is an extremely talented player with huge potential, and with a thin depth chart on Baylor's line, he should be a factor when he arrives for fall camp.

3. Texas — Johnathan Gray, Aledo (over Duke Thomas)

It's no surprise that Gray made this list. The shock is that he's not listed as the top true freshman. That comes with a caveat — Gray may be the most talented signee by a Texas program this year (he was certainly the most heralded), but he comes to a Longhorn program that had two breakout true freshmen last fall. Both Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron have already proved to be Big 12-caliber backs. If they can stay healthy, they're going to get their fair share of carries — at Gray's expense. But Gray and his family have already spoken on the record about just that. They're fine if he's eased into the system and not counted on to be the main back from the time he arrives on campus. Supremely talented and and good head on his shoulders? He may not have the biggest true freshman season, but it won't take long for Gray to make his mark.

2. SMU — Gehrig Dieter, South Bend (Indiana) Washington

June Jones will go all over the map to find the perfect pieces for his offense. He plucked Dieter out of Notre Dame's backyard, but the time spent on recruiting Dieter should start paying off immediately. Dieter — perhaps, by numbers, the receiver version of Johnathan Gray — enrolled in January and has been going through spring drills at SMU. He's coming off a senior season where he caught 82 passes for 2,182 yards (including setting a national record with 447 yards in a single game) and had 24 TD receptions. The only thing Dieter lacks is top-line speed, but he has all the tools. And in Jones' system, speed is a bonus, but great hands and quick moves are more important. Dieter has both, and with the advantage of going through spring football, he should be a big part of SMU's passing attack this fall.

1. Houston — Deontay Greenberry, Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union

You don't land a player of this caliber — stealing him from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and USC — and then ask him to sit on the bench and take it all in. Greenberry, who provided the biggest shock of signing day by picking Houston over dozens of suitors just a week after visiting the campus for the first time, likely comes to the Cougars with the promise of early playing time. He has the talent to warrant it. The top 10 national receiver put up remarkable numbers (109-2,165, 33 TDs receiving) and has drawn comparisons from scouts to Larry Fitzgerald. If this were basketball, Greenberry would likely come with the one-and-done label. But even though he'll have at least three years in Houston, only injuries will keep him off the field. Because with Houston losing its top three receivers from 2011, it's pretty obvious that Greenberry made a calculated decision. He's joining a program that has a recent history of sustained success, that will get him early playing time, and that will now compete in a BCS conference.

Jake Shaw is a special contributor to

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