Of the 12 freshmen on the Southern Miss football team in 2015, only one touched the field. That means the Golden Eagles should have plenty of fresh faces ready to contribute in 2016.
True freshman defensive tackle Ladarius Harris was forced into action due to injuries. He played well with 15 tackles and two sacks off the bench in 10 games played.
The 11 other members of the 2015 freshman class will be expected to pitch in this upcoming season and here are five that appear destined to make an impact:
1. Running back Patrick Brooks: He didn't play in 2015 because he wasn't needed with three solid options at running back in Jalen Richard, Ito Smith and Justice Hayes. Brooks had a good fall camp and should see snaps in 2016, especially with redshirt sophomore Tez Parks having to work his way back following a knee injury. Brooks is a versatile player who could also play a role on kick returns and as a receiver out of the backfield.
2. Linebacker Paxton Schrimsher: An injury in fall camp prevented him from taking the field early, but the Athens, Ala., native has a shot to get on the field in 2016. USM will be replacing key players at linebacker and Schrimsher was one of the top players in the 2015 signing class.
3. Receiver Reid Rials: He was one more injury away from receiving playing time in 2015, but USM was lucky that senior Casey Martin stayed healthy at the slot receiver spot. With junior college transfer Marquez McNair set to arrive for the spring, it will be difficult for Rials to earn a starting spot at the slot. If there's attrition in the receiving corps, Rials could be a key player in 2016 thanks to the reps he received in practice last year.
4. Offensive lineman Tylor Pollard: The Oak Grove product should benefit greatly from his season as a redshirt. With USM losing both of its starting offensive tackles, Pollard will have an opportunity to see the field this year if he puts in the hard work in the spring and summer.
5. Isaiah Spencer: He's another Oak Grove product and another linebacker that will have a chance to see plenty of snaps for the Golden Eagles this year. He's destined to start at some point. It's just a matter of how much of a command he has of the defense as a redshirt freshman.