When looking at the class as it's assembled now and answering the question of which player will have the biggest impact as a freshman, there are really two factors to examine: skill and opportunity at the position.
When we take a look at these two factors, we can see the player's potential impact. Marquis Haynes, easily this year's best newcomer, saw the stars align for his chances at Ole Miss. He is freakishly talented and joined a team without many pass rushers. That recipe earned him freshman all-american honors after a seven sack freshman year. I don't think there's a player with the same potential to be such a game-altering force in year one, but that's more of a symptom of a deep squad than it is an indicator of lubberliness (yes, it's a word). Ole Miss just doesn't have many positions that have to be filled by a newcomer next season.
After looking at these two qualifications, I think I'm going to choose Leo Lewis, the four-star linebacker from Brookhaven.
How Good is He?
Lewis is a top 100 player according to all services. He was stellar in the practices leading up the Army All-American Bowl. He has/had offers from essentially every school in the SEC and was committed to Alabama for several months before shifting to the Rebels' class.
Here's his junior year highlight film.
I can't really judge his speed from the highlight film, but I can say that Leo Lewis is a big linebacker and a violent, violent hitter. He's likely to generate a few huge hits as a freshman and give Rebel fans a glimpse of his ability.
Does He Have an Opportunity?
Despite losses of two All-Americans in the secondary, I think Ole Miss is actually thinnest at linebacker. The Rebels lose their three leading tacklers at the position and return just two players (Denzel Nkemdiche and Christian Russell) who played any significant snaps last season.
There's plenty of room for Lewis to step up and become a star of the group, if that's something he can do this early. It's not as if there's nothing in front of him. Demarquis Gates, Tayler Polk, and junior college transfer Terry Caldwell will join Nkemdiche and Russell in competing for time, but Lewis has the most potential of the bunch. His opportunity is coming. Can he make the most of it?