No matter the hype, incredible high school players aren't locked into a starting lineup as college freshmen.

When these prospects sign a letter of intent, fans and analysts alike are quick to project immediate-impact potential. However, fall camp provides a more realistic outlook of the depth chart—and some freshmen just aren't going to see many significant snaps.

Based on early reports, though, these freshmen—all of whom held top-50 rankings in the 2021 recruiting class—are inching closer to a substantial role.

The list is organized by prospect billing in ascending order, using the 247Sports composite rankings as the guide.


Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon

While the quarterback situation is most notable at Oregon, the receiving unit is a close second. Along with Dont'e Thornton, Troy Franklin is aiming to remove the latter from potential concerns.

Both players enrolled early and captured a fair bit of attention in the spring game. Franklin, who was the No. 41 overall prospect in 2021, posted four catches for 93 yards, while Thornton reeled in three passes for 89 yards and a touchdown. 

According to Zachary Neel of Ducks Wire, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal recently said Franklin and Thornton "look like veterans. They look like they belong."

At worst, the freshmen seem headed for regular snaps. And since no returning wideout has averaged more than 60 yards per game at Oregon, the opportunity for a larger role is evident.


Will Shipley, RB, Clemson

Will Shipley has demanded attention after soaring on Clemson's depth chart in two places.

Lyn-J Dixon and Kobe Pace are currently the top running backs. But if Shipley is the best option—reminiscent of Trevor Lawrence over Kelly Bryant in 2018—there's no doubt Clemson would make the switch.

"He's not like a typical freshman," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, per Sam Neumann of the Clemson Insider. "It's pretty easy to see. First of all, he came in, in January; he's going to be ahead anyway. Just how he carries himself. He's locked in all the time, everything."

Factor in Shipley working as the punt returner, and it's fair to expect the No. 32 prospect in 2021 to hold a major role.


TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State

Similar to Donovan Edwards at rival Michigan, TreVeyon Henderson has jumped to a third-string spot. But as Edwards challenges Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, Henderson has a slightly more favorable outlook at Ohio State.

Master Teague III is a two-year contributor, but he basically missed all of spring practice and seems best suited for a complementary role anyway. Henderson is largely chasing Miyan Williams, who enters 2021 with only 10 career carries.

Plus, like Shipley, Henderson is positioned to contribute on special teams. Dan Hope and Colin Hass-Hill of Eleven Warriors noted Henderson has been lining up as the first-string kick returner.

If Henderson, the No. 23 prospect in the 2021 class, has a consistently strong fall camp, it's clear he can swing this depth chart considerably.