Players open the eyes of college football fans across the country each season with sterling opening-weekend performances. Whether it's a freshman taking a starring role in his first game, or a sophomore or junior making a statement that they are among college football's elite, or even a player making a comeback from injury, there are always a few players staking their place on the college football landscape early on.
We certainly saw some surprise standouts during opening weekend this season. However, Week 1 won't be the last time we hear the names of these seven players this season. Each has staying power.
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
One of the most highly recruited players in the country looked like a veteran in his Bruins debut, completing 28 of 35 passes (to 11 different players) for 351 yards and three scores in the team's 34-16 over Virginia. Sure, the Cavaliers aren't a juggernaut on defense, but Rosen's accuracy and touch against an ACC defense was impressive. Can he help UCLA be in position to battle for the Pac-12 South against USC on Nov. 28? Stay tuned.
Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
Don't get me wrong -- sophomore Myles Garrett is the star of the A&M defense, and he looked every bit like the All-American I predicted him to be against an overwhelmed, 15th-ranked Arizona State team in Week 1. The young duo of sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen and true freshman receiver Christian Kirk also stood out against the Sun Devils. But Hall's four sacks nearly equaled his career total (4.5), and the fact that the Aggies can field Hall and Garrett puts SEC opponents on notice that they should drop back to pass at their own peril.
Bug Howard, WR, North Carolina
This tall junior receiver (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) had been productive in his first two years at Chapel Hill, totaling 66 catches for 733 yards and six scores. But in a nationally televised Thursday night matchup against South Carolina, Johnathan (his mom gave him the "Bug" moniker as a toddler) really stood out with six catches for 116 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown grab. He snatched the ball from the air with ease, utilizing his strong hands, and he also ran hard after the catch, thwarting tackle attempts of defenders. I expect he'll be bugging ACC secondaries all season long.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
The Volunteers were hoping that Kamara could join with last year's freshman standout, Jalen Hurd, to form one of the best running back duos in the country. After one week, it appears Tennessee fans will be satisfied. Kamara showed strength and speed against Bowling Green, racking up 144 yards and two touchdowns, while Hurd totaled 123 yards and three scores. Kamara had a rough redshirt season at Alabama in 2013, and he spent 2014 at Hutchinson Community College before transferring to another big-time program. If he and Hurd can have more games like they did in the season opener, their potential could be realized.
Keith Marshall and Marcus Marshall, RBs, Georgia/Georgia Tech
The Marshall brothers showed they were both ready to make an impact this season. Keith has had issues with injuries the past two seasons, but looked healthy to start the 2015 campaign, running for 72 yards and two scores in Georgia's 51-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Marcus regularly found big holes on quick-hitters up the middle as the A-back in Paul Johnson's option attack, compiling 184 rushing yards and two scores in a whooping of FCS foe Alcorn State. Both Marshalls might be overshadowed by Heisman hopefuls in Georgia running back Nick Chubb and Tech quarterback Justin Thomas, but after Week 1, it appears 2015 should be a great year for the Marshall family.
Qadree Ollison, RB, Pittsburgh
Pitt's powerful junior running back, James Conner, is out for the season with a knee injury, so a big opportunity awaits Ollison. He showed signs of promise Saturday. The redshirt freshman from New York put up 207 yards on 16 carries in the second half against Youngstown State, including a 71-yard score. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound back does not stop for arm tackles in the hole and has enough burst to break off long runs; he had scampers of 46 and 52 yards to go with his long touchdown run against the Penguins.