Buffaloes 2014 Recruiting Class: Instant impact and sleepers

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Picking out some of our favorites in the Buffs newest class.

As soon as Signing Day is over we all want to know who we should expect to see on the field this coming season. The Buffaloes are finally starting to stockpile a bit of depth (although they are still well below the norm) so we likely won't see as many freshmen as years past, but there will still be plenty of opportunities for the new Buffs to produce.

Phil's picks

Instant Impact
I don't really like this category, because I don't want to see anyone labeled as a bust if they don't step up and perform right away. But the boss demands it, so here we are. I'm also excluding JC players, because that seems kind of unfair.

Shay Fields - It's got to be, right? He's an extraordinarily explosive receiver. The one thing that worries me is that he was on a team with lots of other superlative players (10 FBS signees in this class alone), so we'll have to see how he performs without the same safety net around him. But 80+ receptions and 1600+ yards do not lie.

Hayden Jones - This is a huge position of need, so if either he or Keeney can assert himself, he could be a tremendous asset. I chose Jones over Keeney because Jones has the benefit of an additional 20 pounds right out of the gate

Evan White - White has a college ready physique and appears ready to step in immediately into a prime special teams role, with the ability to also play in a big nickel package immediately. It wouldn't surprise me to see him end up as a linebacker, a la Shaq Thompson at Washington.

Sleepers
With a whole class full of sleepers, and a fan base who likely knows all of these names and has already formed opinions, this was tough. Is Donovan Lee a sleeper? Maybe nationally, but not here, so I'll do my best.

Terran Hasselbach - He's the son of a former NFL player who had been derailed by injuries for 3 years in high school. If anything screams upside, that is it. If he can put on weight, he'll be the real deal. I said it before- I would rather have him than Zach Brown, the commit he replaced.

Grant Watanabe - A short, thick linebacker from Texas who just makes tackles all over the field? Yeah, he reminds me of Zach Thomas. I'm not sure how well he'll be able to play in coverage, but he'll play well inside and stick running backs and fullbacks all day.

Jay MacIntyre - Yeah, I said it. The most controversial recruit of the year (let's generate some page views!). Based on his tape, I think he could fit in nicely as a slot receiver and punt returner. He's not going to make anyone's All-Anything list, but he could be a solid, dependable, productive player, like a Cody Crawford or a lesser Scotty McKnight (not just because he's white).

Best Bio Pic
Grant Watanabe - Because he has the CrAzY EYES!

Watanabe-grant-1_medium

Captain Awesome
Michael Mathewes - At 6'4" 223 lbs, he's already bigger than several of our current DEs and has displayed good production against excellent teams. Putting good weight on him could easily result in an all-conference defensive end.

Jon's picks

Instant Impact
Shay Fields - This is a no-brainer. One of the biggest reasons that Fields will be making his way to Boulder is because of the opportunity that exists to see the field very early. He will be expected to learn fast and has the skills to produce from day one. With the reliability of a guy like Nelson Spruce on the field at the same time Fields could be the playmaker the Buffs will need.

Evan White - White is a big hitter at safety that has already been called out by Coach Mac as a guy that could contribute in year one. The Buffaloes have been plagued by injuries in the secondary in the last couple of seasons and will once again be facing off a number of talented Pac-12 passing attacks. White could be the guy that makes conference wide receivers think twice about going over the middle and he will have the opportunity to play on special teams right away.

Michael Mathewes - Mathewes has the physical attributes that many of the current defensive ends on campus do not and could turn into a strong situational pass rusher, if not more,  for the Buffaloes. He's played against top competition and won't be timid at the start of fall camp.

Sleepers
Dylan Keeney - A 6'6 tight end with speed? Sure, we'll take that. Keeney, in his first and only season playing tight end, earned first-team All-State, All-NorCal and All-Sac-Joaquin Section honors. NBD, but KBD. He finished the year with 40 receptions for 791 yards and 13 touchdowns with almost 20 yards per catch. If he can become an adequate blocker, he could see the field a ton in 2014.

Christian Shaver - If Mathewes isn't the pass rusher to step up this season it's likely because Shaver stepped up in fall camp and took the spot. An All-Region performer in Utah that finished with 59 tackles and 6.5 quarterback sacks, Shaver, at 6'3, 235 lbs. has the size and ability to make an impact.

Lee Walker - For a lot of the same reasons we mentioned Fields above Walker also has to be considered a guy that could make an early impact. Yes, he's taken a year off of D-1 football, but he's also a year more developed. Walker was a coveted receiver before he failed to qualify and will be hungry to prove himself in spring practice.

Best Bio Pic
Eddy Lopez - Rico Freaking Suave.

Lopez-eddy_medium

Captain Awesome
Jaisen Sanchez - He's from Hawaii and his hobbies include "going to the beach". Godspeed you lucky young man.

Tell us who you're excited to see this fall below.

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