College Football Impact True Freshmen Defensive Linemen: Jordan Hall, John Walker Highlight Top 10

Jordan Hall and John Walker lead a highly talented group of immediate-impact true freshmen defensive linemen ahead of the 2023 CFB season.

Football games at any level are won and lost in the trenches, making the incoming crop of defensive linemen one that will receive much attention and cause plenty of conversation in the run up to the new college football campaign. We break down the true freshmen defensive linemen who could have an impact for the 2023 college football season below.

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College Football Top Impact True Freshmen Defensive Linemen for 2023

Jordan Hall, Georgia

The year is 2023, and the Georgia Bulldogs have another 6’3″, 300 plus pounds monster set to patrol the heart of their defensive front and terrorize college football offensive linemen. Jordan Hall rose up the recruiting rankings as the season progressed and enters his first college campaign as potentially one of the top impact true freshmen defensive linemen in 2023.

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Georgia has found consistent success by rotating their defensive front seven, ensuring Hall should see time as a true freshman. The latest Bulldog freak has ludicrous length that he uses to be disruptive in multiple phases. He’s powerful and explosive enough to push the pocket from the interior with flexibility to attack off the edge, giving him valuable versatility.

Da’Shawn Womack, LSU

With Ali Gaye and B.J. Ojulari departing for the 2023 NFL Draft, LSU will have a new look on the defensive front for the upcoming college football season. Although LSU has been active in the transfer portal, don’t be surprised to see highly-rated recruit Da’Shawn Womack establish himself among the top impact true freshmen defensive linemen in the nation.

With a CFN Fusion grade of 97.233, Womack was a top-100 overall player in our 2023 recruiting rankings. At 6’4″ and 240 pounds, he already has good size to play the JACK spot for the Tigers. His explosion, bend, and hand usage will make him a prominent pass rusher, but it’s Womack’s ability to play well against the run that makes his early upside enticing.

Matayo Uiagalelei, Oregon

Returning Brandon Dorlus for the 2023 college campaign was a major bonus for the Oregon Ducks, but Dan Lanning’s team will still need to replace DJ Johnson’s team-high six sacks ahead of the fall. Thankfully, they got a major win in the 2023 recruiting class, prying Matayo Uiagalelei from the jaws of Ohio State and Pac-12 foe USC.

Uiagalalei was a four-year contributor for powerhouse St. John Bosco, and there’s every reason to believe he can be productive from the beginning of his college career. Boasting impressive size at 6’5″, 265-pound, the new Oregon edge presence has an alluring combination of length, elite athleticism, and technical excellence that should enable him to find early success.

Kelby Collins, Florida

The Florida Gators turned to the transfer portal this offseason to add multiple players to the defensive front. However, it’s a high school prospect they robbed from the state of Alabama who promises to be their most exciting addition. With a 97.278 CFN Fusion grade, Kelby Collins was a top-100 player in the 2023 recruiting class and can be a key contributor early on.

“You just turn the tape on, one of the more polished, ready-to-play players in the country,” Florida head coach Billy Napier said of Collins via “Just fundamentally advanced … and really a violent player, plays with effort.”

Collins has been insanely productive for Gardendale, with 20 tackles for loss and 16 sacks as a junior. His ability to get after the quarterback while playing strong against the run should ensure he emerges as one of the top impact true freshmen defensive linemen in the nation during the 2023 college campaign.

John Walker, UCF

As they gear up for their first season in the Big 12, the UCF Knights made a big splash in the 2023 recruiting class by luring defensive lineman John Walker to Orlando over offers from in-state Florida and Miami (FL) and some elite Power Five programs like Ohio State and Alabama. Walker cited “family” as his reason for coming to UCF, but what does he bring to the Knights?

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At 6’3″, 310-pound, Walker is a stout defensive linemen who eats double teams for fun. He played multiple alignments for Osceola HS and could do the same for UCF. While he can act as a plug in the ground game, Walker’s ability to penetrate as a pass rusher with agility and motor plus physicality to push the pocket like a bulldozer give him instant impact potential in 2023.

Djibril Abdou Rahman, Rutgers

Although Rutgers returns Aaron Lewis and Wesley Bailey at defensive end — two of the program’s top three sack leaders from last season — don’t sleep on Djibril Abdou Rahman enforcing himself on Big Ten offensive lines as one of the impact true freshmen defensive linemen from the 2023 recruiting class.

The Canadian national was a late-riser in the class, allowing Rutgers to sneak in and land an intriguing athlete whose relative football inexperience likely means his best football is ahead of him.

The new Scarlet Knight runs a 4.62 40-yard dash at 6’4″ and 245-pounds, with a 35″ vertical and 10″2′ broad jump. His raw explosion and eye-opening physicality should open up opportunities for the quarterback crusher from Québec.

Markis Deal, TCU

Excuse the pun, but the capture of this Texas native from under the noses of some of the biggest programs in college football was kind of a big deal for Sonny Dykes and his TCU Horned Frogs team. With a CFN Fusion grade of 93.412, Markis Deal is one of the top high school prospects heading to Fort Worth this fall, and he can be a genuine difference maker on the TCU front.

Coming off the most productive season of his high school career, when he tallied 41 tackles with seven sacks, and nine QB hurries, Deal is poised to be one of the top impact true freshmen defensive linemen in the nation. He generates impressive power from his 6’4″, 290-pound frame, while having the strength to anchor in the run game.

Bai Jobe, Michigan State

There might not be a better story in the 2023 recruiting class than that of Bai Jobe’s journey from Senegal to Michigan State. However, he’s more than just a tale of overcoming heartbreak and the odds to chase a dream. The new Michigan State defensive lineman has a shot to illuminate the Big Ten in his first season as the Spartans seek to rebound from a tough 2022.

“His potential is through the roof,” head coach Mel Tucker said of Jobe during 2023 recruiting class introductions. He’s got the quickest first step, I believe, in the country, getting off the ball. Combination of size and speed.”

For a player who is relatively inexperienced, having come to the US to play basketball, Jobe already exhibits some impressive technical elements to his game — including the ability to play with good pad level and an understanding of how to overcome specific blocks.

Brady Nassar, San Diego State

The list of defensive line starters lost by San Diego State is staggering. Between Jonah Tavai, Justus Tavai, and Keshawn Banks, the Aztecs lost 30.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks from their 2022 defense. They have some rising returners on the roster, but Brady Nassar — a 6’5″, 240-pound EDGE from Amador Valley HS — can be an impact true freshman DL in the Mountain West.

Impressively productive in his own right with 20 TFLs and seven sacks as a senior, Nassar lives in the backfield with his off-snap explosion and speed, making him a force off the edge. Meanwhile, he has the length to impact passing lanes and keep offensive linemen from disrupting his backfield advances. He was committed to Colorado before the arrival of Deion Sanders.

Tomarrion Parker, Clemson

If most programs lost three players of the quality and impact of Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee and K.J. Henry, there’d be a period of adjustment and a drop-off in production and disruption. But this is Clemson, where not only do they return Ruke Orhorhoro, Tyler Davis, and Xavier Thomas, but they dominated the 2023 defensive line recruiting class with three of the top 10 players.

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There are high national expectations for Peter Woods, but Tomarrion Parker could emerge as the top impact true freshman defensive lineman for the Tigers. At 6’3″, 248 pounds, he’s an explosive edge presence with incredible bend and lateral agility. When he adds his power and play strength into the equation, Parker has exciting first-year potential.

Who Is the Top Impact True Freshmen DL in 2023?

According to the CFN 2023 recruiting rankings, the top interior defensive lineman in the class is Texas A&M signee David Hicks, with a CFN Fusion grade of 99.494. Meanwhile, the top EDGE player (both EDGE and interior are considered in our quest to identify the impact true freshmen defensive linemen) is incoming Alabama star Keon Keeley with a 99.246 grade.

While Keeley is considered an immediate-impact type of player by most national media outlets due to his size and skill set combination, he enters a Crimson Tide defensive front seven room that is already loaded despite the loss of Will Anderson Jr.

As Tony Tsoukalas of Tide Illustrated told me, “Keeley is the crown jewel of Alabama’s recruiting class, but he might need to wait a season before carving out a significant role. Unlike Will Anderson, who started in his first season, Keeley will be behind two established pass rushers in, Dallas Turner and Chris Braswell. Alabama also returns Jeremiah Alexander, its top 2022 signee.”

Given Georgia’s propensity for cultivating performance beyond standard production measures from their defensive front players, their latest defensive tackle dominator in the form of true freshman Hall should be considered the top impact true freshman DL for the 2023 college football season.

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