Even though National Signing Day is not quite here yet, we can get a pretty good idea of how each AAC class is going to shape up. Most of the AAC’s classes are almost completely full. So unless a big name recruit decides against the P5, it is time to learn some of the players that might have a big impact on the league as newcomers.
Memphis QB Brady White:
We have seen this before from Memphis, despite different coaching doing the same situation. After Paxton Lynch went to the NFL, Riley Ferguson, a transfer from Tennessee, was slated as the starter for Memphis. Now that Ferguson is headed off to the NFL, Brady White, the Arizona State transfer will most likely take the reigns. Is it me or is anyone else feeling Deja Vu? White is a unique grad transfer that has two years left instead of one, which makes him a really valuable asset. At 6-2, 193 lbs, White is a pro-typical, big bodied, quarterback. The offensive scheme at Memphis should really help in making him a great quarterback, similar to his predecessors.
USF WR Zion Roland:
At 5’11’’, 184lbs, Zion Roland is ready to burst onto the scene as a receiver. He already has ideal size, in my mind, to be a successful receiver at USF. His best attribute is his instinctive abilities to make plays, and is very good with the ball in his hand. A 4.6 40 time is not too shabby either. He is currently ranked as a three star receiver, but has the offers as if he was a four or five star player. With Valdes-Scantling headed to the NFL, Tyre McCants, Ryeshene Bronson, and Darnell Saloman are the most experienced receivers on the roster that can help mold Roland into a solid target for years to come. We could have the next premier receiver that the AAC continues to churn out.
USF RB Jordan Cronkrite:
UF’s loss is USF’s gain. Cronkrite at 5-11, 205lbs, was a three star coming out of high school with plenty of promise. He is a quick runner that has receiver like ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (please Sterlin Gilbert let him catch some balls). With that bigger size, he also has good power. He truly is a do it all, All-purpose back. While this position has lost a great amount of talent, it is not a weak position. He played two seasons at Florida, but never really was given a full chance. He is also able to bring his valuable experience to the young backs on this roster.
Houston S Deontay Anderson
Wow, Houston picked up a good one here. The number 1 overall safety in 2016 has decided to take his talents to Houston. He started 1 game as a true freshman, but played in all 12. He has the perfect frame for a safety at 6-1, 220lbs and has played against some of the best teams in the nation. On top of everything, you can tell that he has swagger to him (check out his unique signing day commitment to Ole Miss here). The other good news is he red-shirted this season due to the Ole Miss sanctions. If the NCAA grants him immediate eligibility, he has 3 years remaining to wreak havoc for the Cougars secondary.
ECU QB Holton Ahlers:
He could be the one that makes the biggest stamp on his program as a newcomer just for the fact that ECU has no stability at quarterback. Although he will still have to earn his way past Gardner Minshew, he has the physical tools to surpass the incumbent. At 6-4, 235lbs, Ahlers is a four star dual threat quarterback. From watching his Hudl, he looks like he is a more polished runner than a passer. But as an early enrollee, he should be able to gain plenty of good experience. The spring game will be a good test to see if he will be able to win the quarterback competition. ECU hasn’t had real good production from this position since Shane Carden. I think Ahlers could get ECU back to stable production.
Cincinnati TE Josh Whyle
I love when highly touted prospects decide to stay home. This is the case with Josh Whyle. Whyle is a mismatch for pretty much any defensive back. . In his Hudl, you can see him going up and making plays in double coverage just because of his great size and athleticism. He appears that he has spent some time split out running routes like some receivers do. Due to this, he has absolutely great hands. The blocking aspect for him is also good, but he will have to make some adjustments in college. I would want to see some adjustments blocking at the line, but that should not be too much of an issue. Offensive production for the team has not been very good and Hayden Moore could use a reliable player like Whyle.
Houston DE Isaiah Chambers
Another solid move for Houston in the transfer market. He was a highly touted prospect out of high school that transferred from TCU to Houston to be closer to his family. Although we haven’t seen him on the field, the potential is there. He was a four star recruit out Texas and was ranked as the number 7 national prospect in the 2016 class. The talent and the physical tools are there for Chambers. Combine him in this line with Ed Oliver and Houston will be a force to be wrecking with. Houston fans should be rejoicing at the fact that they have done so well in getting top transfers to come there.
UConn QB Steven Krajewski:
Bryant Shireffs has been starting for UConn for a long time now. As he departs this year, it would appear that David Pindell would be the starter. I would not be so sure though. Even though Pindell did start a few games, I wasn’t overly impressed. Neither was Randy Edsall when he pulled Pindell during the Holy Cross game.
UConn fans do get one nice thing out of Lashlee before he left for SMU, and that is Krajewski. Krajewski is a pro-style quarterback that has great size a 6-4, 205lbs, Most importantly is his solid arm he possess. While he still has to get through Pindell, I like Krajewski to replace Pindell later in the season after UConn continues their downward spiral.
UCF LB Eriq Gilyard:
UCF has very few flaws going into next season. They have a few holes altogether, and this might be one of the ways to fill those holes. Shaquem Griffin and Chequan Burkett are both gone now. With the hole at linebacker, It might be Gilyard’s chance to provide some good edge rush (just as they used Griffin). He comes from a winning high school at Trinity Christian to a very strong UCF team. Gilyard tackles with a purpose always looking to make the big hit or jar the ball lose. He is UCF’s top recruit as of now and you can bet he is most likely going to make an immediate impact with two starters leaving.
Cincinnati DE,LB Malik Vann
A bruising defensive player. From his Hudl, it appears he likes to play on the line more than at LB. At 6-2.5, 270 lbs, he is extremely athletic and powerful. He seems to be a perfect fit with the gritty nature of this Cincinnati team. He was an extremely highly touted recruit with multiple P5 offers on the table, like FSU, ISU, and Iowa. But ultimately, he decided to stay in his home state, and is the number one recruit for the Bearcats. Cincinnati is in absolute need of some better pass rush as they were tied for 10th in sacks this year, with 12 total sacks. If Vann is able to get on the field, I feel that he will be able to provide that great pass rush as a true freshman.