Spring practice hasn't begun, but dozens of freshman early enrollees across the Big Ten are getting acclimated to their new surroundings. And the importance of having 15 extra practices cannot be overstated, as it will provide each with a leg up on the rest of the incoming class.
With that idea in mind, here are five early enrollees who could have an impact during the 2016 season:
Kareem Walker, Michigan RB
Walker, the No. 1-ranked running back in the Class of 2016, is a special talent who could change Michigan's backfield fortunes. Leading returning rusher De'Veon Smith averaged only 4.2 yards per carry last season, and Michigan hasn't produced a 1,000-yard rusher at the tailback position since Fitzgerald Toussaint in 2011. Walker, a 6-foot, 200-pounder from New Jersey, originally committed to Ohio State, which only adds fuel to the fire of an already white-hot rivalry. He'll certainly have his opportunities to impress during spring ball and could become a crucial component to Michigan's offense next season.
Richard Lagow, Indiana QB
Nate Sudfeld finished his Hoosiers career as the school's all-time leader in passing touchdowns and yardage, among other statistics. So whoever wins Indiana's starting quarterback job next season will have a tall task in living up to his predecessor. Lagow, however, could be best positioned for the role. Lagow (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) threw for 4,496 yards and 38 touchdowns with 17 interceptions in two seasons at Cisco (Texas) College. Other quarterbacks vying for the starting role will be Danny Cameron, Zander Diamont and Austin King. Diamont appeared in two games last year and completed only 15 of 31 pass attempts. Cameron, meanwhile, played in one game, completing 6 of 16 passes.
Donnie Corley, Michigan State WR
Corley comes along at just the right time for a Michigan State team that loses four senior wide receivers, including star Aaron Burbridge, off last year's team. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio is counting on Corley to be a big-play threat for an offense that will also be using a new quarterback in 2016. A year ago, Corley caught 59 passes for 1,403 yards and 16 touchdowns. He'll start his Spartans career as a slot receiver, capable of making plays all over the field. Fellow early enrollee Cameron Chambers is another player to watch in the Spartans' receiving group.
Devin Bush, Michigan LB
Bush is one of 15 Michigan recruits listed in the ESPN 300, but he could be among the first to see the field. The Wolverines lack both depth and experience at linebacker because they lost all three of their 2015 starting linebackers to graduation. ESPN's scouting services note Bush -- 5-foot-11 and 227 pounds from Pembroke Pines, Florida -- "shows the physicality and upper-body strength to stack and shed blocks inside, with the range to chase plays down sideline-to-sideline." He also "has the speed and instincts to make plays from multiple alignments." He'll hone those skills this spring as he learns a new scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown.
Austin Mack, Ohio State WR
The departures of Jalin Marshall, Braxton Miller and Michael Thomas leave an opening for Mack to step in and contribute. The trio combined last season for 118 catches, 1,599 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches. For that reason, Mack may very well be among the most important players in the Class of 2016 because of the instant help he can provide. There are other receivers in the mix at Ohio State, of course, but few have much experience, which should help Mack. He has all the tools to succeed next season.