What to Watch: 15 newcomers - from coaches, freshmen to transfers - to keep an eye on Saturday

On3 imageby:Jesse Simonton04/15/23


The sun is out and the flowers are blooming. Spring is here! With 27 college football scrimmages on tap Saturday, there are plenty of storylines to follow this weekend. 

We know all about the intrigue surrounding 5-star QBs Arch Manning and Nico Iamaleava. Same for new OCs Garrett Riley at Clemson and Bobby Petrino at Texas A&M

But what about the other newcomers — freshmen, transfers and coaches alike — of interest this weekend?

Here’s 15 fresh faces to keep an eye on during a loaded Saturday slate of scrimmages. 

RB CJ Baxter, Texas

While much of the focus in Austin is on the QB battle, what about replacing all-world tailback Bijon Robinson? Baxter has had the typical up-and-down freshman spring, but the 5-star signee is more than capable of showing out Saturday and becoming a future “dude” for the Longhorns. 

RB Rueben Owens, Texas A&M

Like Baxter, Owens is positioned to replace a future NFL prospect, as Devon Achane is off to the NFL. The former Louisville commit has similar multi-dimensional skills as Achane, capable of threatening teams as both a runner and a receiver. 

WR Carnell Tate, Ohio State 

With Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson all sidelined Saturday, the Buckeyes’ 5-star freshman, who has generated plenty of buzz this spring, should have ample opportunities to make some plays in the spring scrimmage.

WR Rara Thomas, Georgia

WR Dominic Lovett, Georgia

The Bulldogs grabbed the best receiver from Mississippi State and Missouri in the transfer portal, and both transfers have had their moments during the initial 14 spring practices. Thomas, an electric playmaker from the slot, has flashed the most, but both newcomers figure to be featured prominently in UGA’s offense in 2023. 

OC Dan Enos, Arkansas 

DC Travis Williams, Arkansas 

Sam Pittman reshuffled his coaching staff this offseason, hiring several new assistants including a pair of fresh faces at coordinator. Enos is back for his second tour in Fayetteville, charged with developing QB KJ Jefferson into a more complete player. Meanwhile, Williams inherits a group in transition — the secondary still projects to be bad — looking to get more out a DL that underwhelmed in 2022. 

LB Arion Carter, Tennessee 

Tennessee needs help at linebacker, so it’s been a nice storyline this spring that Carter, a Memphis native who chose the Vols over Alabama, has flashed as an early enrollee. Carter is up to 230 pounds now and is vying for a rotational role already despite being a newcomer in Knoxville.

WR Hykeem Williams, Florida State

The Seminoles return more production than any national title contender in the nation in 2023, but Williams, a Top 100 prospect, is a luxury piece that could be a difference maker as a perimeter playmaker. 

DL Peter Woods, Clemson

The Tigers’ 5-star signee has quickly impressed teammates and coaches this spring and is already vying for a starting spot on a defensive line looking to replace Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee.  

OC Chip Lindsey, North Carolina

What does the Tar Heels’ offense look like under the former Auburn and UCF OC? Phil Longo is gone, but stud quarterback Drake Maye is still in Chapel Hill. Will the Tar Heels continue their Air Raid attack or will they look to take some pressure off the OL/QB and become a more balanced unit?

DT Anthony Lucas, USC

It’s no secret that the Trojans need defensive help, and few transfers this offseason have generated more noise than the former Texas A&M blue-chip recruit. Lucas had a sack-fumble for a scoop-and-score touchdown in USC’s last scrimmage. 

QB Jaden Rashada, Arizona State

QB Drew Pyne, Arizona State

The Sun Devils are holding a three-way battle at quarterback this spring, with incumbent Trenton Bourguet in competition with both Rashada and Pyne. New head coach Kenny Dillingham has totally turned over ASU’s roster this offseason, but the key to a rapid rebuild is getting the QB1 choice correct, and that decision could come down to Bourguet versus a pair of newcomers on campus.  

OC Kendall Briles, TCU 

With Garrett Riley off to Clemson, Sonny Dykes tabbed Briles as the successor in Fort Worth. The former Arkansas coordinator is breaking in a new QB (Chandler Morris), plus implementing an offense with a bevy of transfers (Alabama playmakers Trey Sanders and JoJo Earle, OK State wideout Paul Richardson).