Some redshirt freshmen who have made an impact in recent seasons include Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno in 2007, and Texas' Earl Thomas and LSU's Josh Dworaczyk last season.
Here is a list of players to watch this season.
REDSHIRT FRESHMEN TO WATCH
Nebraska LB Sean Fisher FROM: Omaha (Neb.) Millard North
BUZZ: Fisher, a lanky (6 feet 6/238 pounds) pre-med major, will see a lot of time at a variety of linebacker spots. Fisher, a former three-star prospect, has the wingspan and quickness to rush the passer; he also will be used as a middle linebacker in some sets.
Cincinnati SS Drew Frey FROM: Wilmington (Ohio) Clinton-Massie
BUZZ: Frey signed as a two-star wide receiver in the Class of 2007. But he suffered a shoulder injury during preseason workouts and was redshirted. Then, he broke his arm in Game 4 last season and was awarded a medical redshirt. Thus, Frey - who has great size (6-4/205) - is a third-year freshman who will start this season on a revamped Bearcats defense. He is expected to be a force in the secondary because of his size, speed and hitting ability.
Maryland LB Demetrius Hartsfield FROM: Raleigh (N.C.) Southeast Raleigh
BUZZ: The last freshman linebacker to start a game for the Terps was Ricardo Dickerson in 2002. Hartsfield, a former three-star prospect, is expected to start for the Terps on Saturday at California. Coaches like his quickness and playmaking ability.
Kansas OT Tanner Hawkinson FROM: McPherson (Kan.) High
BUZZ: KU could start three redshirt freshmen on the line, and the best should be Hawkinson, a former three-star prospect. He was an all-state tight end as a high school junior in Kansas, then an all-state defensive end as a senior. He's a good athlete with the quick feet necessary to thrive at tackle. He's still a little on the light side - he weighs about 270 pounds - but his athleticism should enable him to get by as he continues to add bulk and strength.
Georgia WR Tavarres King FROM: Mt. Airy (Ga.) Habersham Central
BUZZ: King was a four-star prospect and the No. 88 player in the 2008 signing class. Georgia is looking for a No. 2 receiver to complement A.J. Green, and King has a chance to be that guy. At the worst, he should be a starter and the No. 3 option. He played some early last season before fracturing an ankle. He has good height (6-1) and speed, though he remains a little light (182, a gain of 20 pounds since he arrived on campus).
Stanford QB Andrew Luck FROM: Houston Stratford
BUZZ: Stanford has suffered through mediocre quarterback play of late, but Luck - a former four-star prospect who was the No. 68 player overall in the 2008 recruiting class - is expected to change that. He has a good grasp of the offense, not surprising, considering his dad, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback. He also has a nice arm and good size (6-4/235).
Ball State QB Kelly Page FROM: Mesquite (Texas) High
BUZZ: New Ball State coach Stan Parrish, who was promoted from offensive coordinator, is high on Page's potential. Page, a former three-star prospect, has good size (6-3/205) and a strong arm. He'll run basically the same offense that helped Nate Davis become a star.
Clemson QB Kyle Parker FROM: Fruit Cove (Fla.) Bartram Trail
BUZZ: Parker's best sport might be baseball - he was an All-ACC selection in 2008 as a freshman designated hitter - but he beat out Willy Korn for the starting job. Parker, a former four-star prospect, has a nice arm and won over coaches with numerous mistake-free scrimmages in spring drills, then nailed down the starting job in fall drills.
Washington TB Chris Polk FROM: Redlands (Calif.) East Valley
BUZZ: Polk, a former four-star prospect, might have earned a starting job last season had he not been injured in Game 2; he missed the rest of the season. He is the starter this season, and his speed adds a needed element to what was a stagnant offense last season. His receiving ability also will be put to good use.
Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy FROM: Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne
BUZZ: He and sophomore Kevin Pickelman are vying for a vacant starting spot, and Worthy, a former three-star prospect, appears to be the likely winner of the job. For a 297-pounder, he's a good athlete, and his coaches think he can be a disruptive player in the middle.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at email@example.com.