College and Devy Fantasy Football: Late-Season Impact Freshmen and Sophomores to Watch in 2024

College and Devy Fantasy Football: Late-Season Impact Freshmen and Sophomores to Watch in 2024

In the doldrums of the offseason, before we take a look ahead to 2024, let's take a quick peek at some of the freshmen and sophomores at fantasy-relevant positions who were relatively quiet for most of the season but made a splash late. Some of these young up-and-comers may have devy implications, while some may only be relevant from a college fantasy perspective.


Nico Iamaleava, Tennessee

Iamaleava was destined for a backup role entering the season with Joe Milton, sporting arguably the strongest arm in college football, heading the Vols' offense. However, Milton, like many others across the country, elected to sit out the bowl game, opening the door for Iamaleava to get a full taste of the starting gig against a tough Iowa defense, and he didn't disappoint. While he finished with just 178 total yards -- 151 passing and 27 rushing -- he also accounted for a passing touchdown and three rushing scores. Considered one of the best quarterbacks in the country in the 2023 recruiting class, Iamaleava appears set to take over under center for Tennessee in 2024.

Avery Johnson, Kansas State

Despite playing behind Will Howard, a proven commodity who has transferred to Ohio State ahead of the 2024 season, Johnson etched out a role in the Wildcats' offense as a freshman, throwing for 479 yards and five touchdowns while running 52 times for 296 yards and seven scores. He got the starting nod for the bowl game as well and delivered to the tune of 178 passing yards and two scores, adding seven rushes for 71 yards and another touchdown. He only completed 45.2 percent of his pass attempts against NC State in the bowl, so that's still an area where he could improve some. That said, the only real move Kansas State made in the quarterback room this offseason is the addition of Kellen Simoncic from Washburn, likely pegging Johnson as the starter for 2024 with intriguing upside.

Jackson Arnold, Oklahoma

Another highly-coveted quarterback recruit in the 2023 class, Arnold got his first look under center as the starter for the Sooners in the bowl game. His effort wasn't quite the resounding success of some of the others on this list, but he did throw for 361 yards and two touchdowns in the game, adding 11 carries for 38 yards as a rusher and completed 57.8 percent of his whopping 45 pass attempts. On the other hand, Arnold turned the ball over three times via interception and also fumbled one away. A one-game sample is still way too early to draw any conclusions about Arnold, and the team's minimal offseason moves in the quarterback room, simply adding grad transfer Casey Thompson, seemingly signals they have no qualms about turning Arnold's direction for the 2024 campaign.

Conner Harrell, North Carolina

A redshirt freshman in 2023, Harrell sat behind NFL-bound Drake Maye for two years, which should benefit him entering his bid for the starting job in 2023. He didn't exactly light it up in his first taste of action as the starter, throwing for 199 yards and a 1:2 TD:INT ratio, but he's got some skills on the ground and could be a name worth watching. To claim the starting job, however, he'll likely need to beat out grad transfer Max Johnson, who performed adequately as a starter for Texas A&M last season after Conner Weigman was lost for the year, though Jaylen Henderson ultimately took the gig over down the stretch.

Miller Moss, USC

Moss, like Harrell, had to wait his turn for a chance under center playing behind a first-round quarterback, and likely the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, in Caleb Williams. However, Moss seized his opportunity in the bowl game and lit up Louisville to the tune of 372 passing yards and six passing touchdowns while completing 69.7 percent of his pass attempts. That said, he faces significant turnover in the Trojans' wide receiver corps this offseason, with both Taj Washington and Brenden Rice moving on to the NFL, Mario Williams transferring to Tulane and Dorian Singer heading to Utah. Freshmen Zachariah Branch, Ja'Kobi Lane and Duce Robinson still make for an intriguing duo of targets entering 2024. Moss also has UNLV transfer Jayden Maiava looming should anything go south, but Moss still seems a pretty safe bet as the starter come Week 1.

Garrett Nussmeier, LSU

Nussmeier is another name college fans are likely familiar with, but he's never had control of the starting job for the Tigers in his three seasons at Baton Rouge. He has made appearances prior to the bowl game, but Nussmeier put on a show against Wisconsin, completing 31 of his 45 pass attempts for 395 yards and a 3:1 TD:INT ratio. Nussmeier did have a few misfires, but he's likely displayed enough to make him the clear favorite for the starting gig entering 2024. LSU did add Vanderbilt transfer AJ Swann this offseason, who may get his own chance at the starting gig, but Nussmeier seems the likely starter next season.

Caden Veltkamp, Western Kentucky

Veltkamp is a name that may fly under the radar a bit. He actually entered the transfer portal prior to the bowl game, but he elected to stick around after throwing for 383 yards and five touchdowns against Old Dominion, adding 19 carries for another 53 yards as a rusher. Even so, his path to the starting job is far from certain, as the Hilltoppers' staff added grad transfer TJ Finley to the mix from Texas State this offseason. Finley threw for 3,439 yards and 24 touchdowns last season with the Bobcats and may be the favorite to land the starting gig for WKU. Veltkamp should still get a fair shake in the spring and the fall, and even if Veltkamp doesn't win the job, he could be a name to monitor for 2025 if he remains in a Hilltoppers offense highly conducive to fantasy production.

Running Back

CJ Baxter, Texas

Some of the names on this list seem relatively obvious, and Baxter is definitely one of them. Baxter was expected to be part of a 1-2 punch for the Longhorns in 2023 but fell behind Jonathon Brooks in the pecking order for much of the season. That changed in Week 12 when Brooks went down for the season with a torn ACL, allowing Baxter to assume a heavier workload. Baxter made the most of his opportunity over the last four games, averaging 5.3 yards per tote and rushing for 269 yards and a pair of scores, adding 12 catches over that span. He will likely enter 2024 as the head honcho in Texas' backfield.

Jahiem White, West Virginia

White is a name who started the season off the radar but forced his way on in the second half of the campaign. Outside of a 12-carry showing in a blowout versus FCS Duquesne in Week 2, White totaled just 13 carries for 75 yards through the first seven games. That changed dramatically down the stretch, with White compiling 84 totes for 657 yards and three rushing touchdowns and adding four catches for 119 yards and another two scores as a receiver over the final six showdowns. CJ Donaldson figures to retain a role in the offense in 2024 and is likely the primary option around the goal line at 238 pounds, but White is still a name to monitor from a college fantasy perspective. He's likely undersized at 5-foot-7, 192 pounds to consider for devy purposes at this point, but White sports some impressive patience and burst and a willingness to take and deliver contact.

Jadarian Price and Jeremiyah Love, Notre Dame

Audric Estime's term at Notre Dame has ended, leaving the lead backfield job open in South Bend. Love was listed as the starter for the bowl game for Notre Dame and compiled the most rush attempts, running for 39 yards on 15 carries while adding a 13-yard touchdown reception. Love is likely among the candidates to claim the lead role for the Fighting Irish next season, finishing the campaign second on the team with 71 totes for 385 yards and a touchdown. Price, thanks to his 13 totes in the bowl game, closed the year third on the team in carries (47), racking up 272 yards and three touchdowns. The Fighting Irish typically prefer to feature a specific back, so there could be an opportunity for one of these two to step up in 2024.

Cameron Seldon, Tennessee

Seldon's stat line in the bowl game doesn't exactly pop at 13 carries for 55 yards, but it's certainly notable that the freshman saw plenty of work with Jaylen Wright and Jabari Small skipping the bowl game in preparation for the NFL Draft. Seldon still has Dylan Sampson to contend with for carries, but the Vols tend to rotate backs as part of the team's uptempo offense, so Seldon should be positioned to get a sizable workload in 2023 alongside Sampson. Seldon is big at 6-foot-2 and 222 pounds and runs a bit high, but he's patient and explosive and should be a strong complement to Iamaleava in the backfield.

Rickey Hunt, Ohio

Hunt entered the bowl game with just six carries for 19 yards and one catch for three yards to his name on the season, but he left it with an extra 17 totes for 115 yards and five total touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving). That's right, the freshman found pay dirt five times and showed impressive patience and receiving ability (see video below) along the way. Hunt sat behind Sieh Bangura all season, but Bangura entered the transfer portal before the bowl game and eventually found his way to Minneapolis to the Golden Gophers. While the Bobcats made their own addition via the transfer portal in Northern Arizona transfer Coleman Owen, Hunt's audition in the bowl game may put him in the driver's seat to claim the starting role in 2024.

Kanye Roberts, Appalachian State

Roberts' situation is similar to that of Baxter and White. The redshirt freshman handled all of 19 carries through the first five games, but that number grew when Nate Noel missed most of a three-game span due to injury. Even when Noel returned, Roberts maintained a role out of the backfield, and he rushed 37 times for 210 yards and three touchdowns over the final three contests. Noel has since entered the transfer portal and landed at Missouri, leaving Roberts as the potential lead back in 2024. That said, it's worth noting that Anderson Castle actually led the way with 20 carries in the bowl game, but the App State backfield is always worth keeping an eye on.

Justin Marshall, Colorado State

Marshall didn't see the field through the first 10 weeks of the season but proceeded to handle lead back duties over the final three games, amassing 57 carries for 311 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kobe Johnson, Avery Morrow, and Vann Schield all saw backfield work for the Rams last year as well, and all return in 2024, so this situation is a bit murkier than the others, but it will be worth monitoring where Marshall lands in the pecking order here.

Wide Receiver

Ja'Kobi Lane, USC

After having minimal impact during the regular season, Lane garnered some additional run in the bowl game with numerous players in the portal or declaring for the NFL Draft, and the freshman showed a pure connection with Miller Moss under center, finishing the day with three catches for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Louisville in the bowl game. Given all of the departures, Lane is firmly in the mix for a regular role out wide in 2024, and the four-star wideout has the size at 6-foot-4 to become a force in the red zone.

Jordan Faison, Notre Dame

On scholarship for Lacrosse at Notre Dame, Faison walked on to the football team in 2023 and found his footing on the football field in the second half of the season, making his first impact in Week 6 (Game 7 for the Fighting Irish), hauling in two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown against Louisville. While he wasn't a particularly big contributor over the next three contests, he finished the season strong, tallying 12 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the final three games, including 115 receiving yards against Oregon State in the bowl game. Assuming he continues to pursue football in the fall, Faison could be set up for a regular role.

Isaiah Horton, Miami

Horton sports impressive size at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds. Although that didn't come into play a ton in his freshman season, Horton's role in the bowl game greatly expanded, and he made the most of the opportunity, nabbing a season-high five passes for 54 yards on six targets. Xavier Restrepo and Jacolby George return for the Canes in 2024, but Colbie Young transferred to Georgia, leaving a starting spot that could be Horton's for the taking. His biggest play of the season came early on against Texas A&M, when he beat his defender for a 54-yard touchdown against Texas A&M.

Trech Kekahuna, Wisconsin

Kekahuna missed much of his freshman season due to injuries, but he made his first real appearance of the campaign in the bowl game and didn't disappoint, hauling in all four of his targets for 64 yards and adding 37 kick return yards. Granted, the production came against an LSU defense that was among the worst in college football in 2023, but the showing is worth monitoring in Phil Longo's offense. Chimere Dike has also transferred from Madison to Gainesville, leaving an opening for the taking, though Kekahuna, at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, is likely more suited for a role in the slot.

Dillon Bell, Georgia

Bell saw some action throughout the early portion of the season, but he didn't tally more than two catches in a game (other than the opener in a blowout against UT-Martin), though he did see a good amount of work as a runner as well. However, Bell was thrust into a much larger role in Week 12 against Tennessee and answered the call, posting five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown, a carry for four yards and even an 18-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint for the Bulldogs' first touchdown of the contest. He again showed out in the bowl game against Florida State with Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Ladd McConkey playing smaller roles than usual, and Dell led the team with five catches for 86 yards. McConkey and Rosemy-Jacksaint are gone to the NFL, and while the Bulldogs added Colbie Young and London Humphreys via the transfer portal, Bell should be firmly in the playing time mix in 2024.

Jayce Brown, Kansas State

Brown began the season with all of two catches for 36 yards through the first six contests, but that quickly changed against TCU in Week 8, when he hauled in four of six targets for 88 yards and a score. He posted another impressive outing against Texas in Week 10, amassing a 4-77-1 line, and finished the season as a regular in the offense, collecting 14 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown over the final three games of the season. Brown accounted for six of the 24 total targets (25 percent) in the bowl game and paced the team with five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. Of note is that Avery Johnson claimed the starting role in the bowl game, with Will Howard in the transfer portal and subsequently heading to Columbus to join the Buckeyes, so it appears Brown and fellow freshman Johnson have already developed a connection that could carry over into 2024.

This certainly doesn't account for all of the late breakouts across college football. If you have some freshmen and sophomores to keep an eye on for your team heading into 2024, feel free to drop a comment below!

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Chris Benzine
Chris is a sports editor for various sports on the site and also a consistent contributor in the college sports arena.
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