From the day he first committed to UCLA, there weren't many who were under the illusion that Josh Rosen wasn't going to be the starting quarterback for the Bruins in 2015 if Brett Hundley left school early. As soon as Hundley declared for the NFL Draft, it was all but a foregone conclusion. I mean, they call him "J-Chosen" for a reason.
He is the week one starter for a talented UCLA team and there doesn't need to be much analysis from anyone as to why. He is one of the best quarterback prospects to come out of high school in the last decade and should be a three or four year starter with an NFL future.
I don't think anyone should be touting him as a sleeper Heisman pick or anything like that, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him have a better freshman season than former USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw for 15 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2009.
Rosen was an expected freshman starter from the jump, but there aren't many other freshman in the Pac-12 who others projected to be at the top of their team's depth chart in week one. Yet, there are always surprises when players are able to get on campus and compete and there are several true freshmen who are slated to start this week/weekend for their programs.
Here's a look at the others locked in to start their first ever college football game in the Pac-12:
Arizona State defensive end JoJo Wicker
I think a lot of recruiting experts would have selected USC cornerback Iman Marshall as the most likely to start right away in college, but the 4 star defensive lineman Wicker is the one who earned it for the Sun Devils. His future is going to be at three technique and he is going to be a dynamite interior pass rusher. For right now, though, he is at defensive end.
He has a fantastic first step and should make some plays in the backfield in his first season in Tempe. He'll have somewhat of a learning curve having to face older, stronger offensive linemen all season as a freshman, but he has the tools to be special. I expect he is going to gain consistency as the season progresses, but wouldn't be shocked if he flashed with a tackle for loss or two in the season opener versus Texas A&M.
Arizona cornerback Sammy Morrison
Raise your hand if any of you thought a 5'9" 166 pound cornerback, that wasn't ranked in the top 1,000 prospects in the nation, was going to be a day one starter for the reigning Pac-12 South champs? If not for his size, though, Morrison would have been likely rated quite a bit higher. He plays much bigger than what he is listed at in the program and is an extremely physical tackler. Seeing a small guy hit like he does actually reminds me of former Ohio State cornerback Antoine Winfield.
Morrison is a very good athlete that can stick his foot in the ground and explode. He is very quick out of his transitions and should only get better with more experience.
Washington State cornerback Darrien Molton
Molton wasn't on anybody's radar to be an early starter for Wazzu and a big reason why is that he played in only four games as a senior. The 5'10" 170 corner is an instinctive football player with very good ball skills. He has great speed as well.
A lot more will be known about him after the first couple of weeks this fall, but he'll really be tested when the Cougars have to go and play the Bear Raid in Berkeley in the first week of October.
Utah wide receiver Tyrone Smith
Smith is the most unique true freshman out of the bunch as a greyshirt who had to get his academics in order before enrolling at Utah in February. The 6'4" receiver from Fresno has made a splash with some spectacular catches in camp.
He likely would have never had the opportunity to start if not for the lack of depth at the position for the Utes, but he is the kind of athlete than can win a lot of 50/50 footballs and make a contribution this season.
Others who may start
Seth Collins is listed as "OR" for Oregon State at quarterback and should split time at the position in the first game of the season. Anyone who watched the Beavers spring game knows what kind of explosive athlete he is at the position and he is the dynamic runner that Gary Andersen wants at quarterback for his football team.
Jake Browning is also listed at "OR" for Washington at quarterback and the buzz is he may get the nod to start his first college game on Friday at Boise State. He'll be in tough in a hostile environment versus a good football team, although Browning may be the rare freshman equipped to succeed if he gets enough protection from the Husky offensive line. He is extremely poised in the pocket and is going to be a good one for the Huskies at some point.
USC tight end Tyler Petite may not be the first player to run out with the offense in the Trojans' first game, but he is expected to play. He may not be a great in-line blocker at the start of his career, but he could be a nice option in the passing game for Cody Kessler as the season progresses.