February 3, 2010

Some 2009 signees ready to debut after redshirting

Today is National Signing Day, which means it's a day to get excited about your team's future.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming big about which prospect who signs today becomes a star and helps your favorite team win a league title.

But don't forget about last year's signing class. Specifically, don't forget about players who redshirted.

Here's a list of five players per league who are expected to make an impact this fall as redshirt freshmen.

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | C-USA | MAC | MWC | SBC | WAC

Duke QB Sean Schroeder
Sean Renfree was considered the most likely replacement for four-year starter Thaddeus Lewis, but Renfree tore an anterior cruciate ligament in November and will miss spring practice. Renfree's injury gives Schroeder and early enrollee Brandon Connette a chance to show they deserve a shot at the job. Schroeder is a former three-star prospect from Dana Point (Calif.) Dana Hills.
Miami RB Lamar Miller
The departure of Javarris James and the health status of Graig Cooper could leave the Hurricanes with holes to fill at running back. That may create an opportunity for the speedy Miller, a four-star recruit who was rated the No. 80 overall prospect in the 2009 recruiting class out of Miami Killian.
North Carolina QB Bryn Renner
Incumbent starting quarterback T.J. Yates threw 15 interceptions with 14 touchdowns while ranking 97th in the nation in passing efficiency last year. Yates' struggles could result in a challenge from Renner, a four-star prospect who was the No. 5 pro-style quarterback prospect in the 2009 recruiting class. Renner, from West Springfield (Va.) High, will play baseball, but he won't miss any spring football sessions.
Virginia Tech QB/TE Logan Thomas
Although he certainly won't be unseating Tyrod Taylor as the Hokies' starting quarterback, Thomas has enough versatility that Virginia Tech will find a way to get him on the field. Maybe he'll be playing quarterback for a few snaps. Maybe he'll line up at tight end. Maybe they'll find some other use for him. Thomas was a four-star prospect and the No. 71 overall prospect in the 2009 recruiting class, and his upside demands that he not spend the entire season on the sideline.
Wake Forest QB Brendan Cross
The last time Wake Forest took a chance on a redshirt freshman starting quarterback, Riley Skinner led the Demon Deacons to an ACC title. Now that Skinner has departed, Cross has emerged as a front-runner to replace the four-year starter. Cross, the son of former San Francisco 49ers center Randy Cross, is a former three-star recruit from Alpharetta (Ga.) Chattahoochee. He will be competing with sophomore Ted Stachitas for the starting job.
Pittsburgh WR Devin Street
The Panthers return Jonathan Baldwin, but they still need to improve their receiving depth. Besides Baldwin, no returning Pitt receiver caught more than 15 passes this past season. Street is a former two-star prospect from Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty.
Rutgers CB Logan Ryan
For the first time in four years, Rutgers won't have a McCourty at cornerback. The thought here is that Ryan will be a more-than-capable replacement. Ryan is a former four-star prospect from Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern.
USF DEs Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte
The Bulls look to reload without George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul at defensive end. The process might not take too long with Giddins and Forte in the mix. Giddins is the more highly touted of the two; he's a former four-star recruit from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood who was the No. 61 player in the Rivals100 in 2009. Forte was a three-star recruit out of St. Petersburg (Fla.) Boca Ciega.
West Virginia LB Branko Busick
The Mountaineers don't have many holes on defense. One exception is at middle linebacker, where senior Reed Williams started last year. Busick could compete for playing time. As the son of a WWF wrestler named "Big Bully Busick" and with a name like Branko, it's a good bet Busick -- a former three-star prospect from Steubenville (Ohio) High -- will be an aggressive player.
West Virginia OT Nick Kindler
Two-year starter Selvish Capers is WVU's only loss on the offensive line, and he could be replaced by Kindler. He's a former three-star recruit from Camp Hill (Pa.) Trinity.
Iowa OT Nolan MacMillan
With three openings on the offensive line, including both tackle spots, help is needed. Hawkeyes coaches are excited about MacMillan, a Toronto native who spent his senior season at The Hun School in Princeton, N.J. He was a three-star prospect.
Northwestern LB Damien Proby
Wildcats staffers have compared Proby (6 feet/240 pounds) to former Northwestern linebacking star Barry Gardner. Proby is a former three-star prospect from North Las Vegas Cheyenne who has gained 30 pounds since signing with the Wildcats.
Ohio State WR Chris Fields
The Buckeyes feel the speedy Fields -- a former four-star recruit from Painesville (Ohio) Harvey -- can be a difference-maker at receiver and in the return game.
Penn State WRs Shawney Kersey and Brandon Moseby-Felder
The Nittany Lions need help at receiver, so both these guys will be in the spotlight in spring drills. Kersey is a former three-star prospect from Woodbury (N.J.) High; Moseby-Felder, who was known as Brandon Felder when he signed, is a former three-star recruit from Oxon Hill (Md.) High.
Wisconsin DT Jordan Kohout
The Badgers have some big needs on the interior of their defensive line, and Kohout will get every opportunity to prove he can be the type of run-stuffer needed. He is a former four-star signee from Waupun (Wis.) High.
BIG 12
Iowa State DE Aaron Moore
The Cyclones have a starting spot open at end, and Moore should make a run at the job. Originally committed to Auburn as a center, he switched to Iowa State and then changed positions. Moore -- a former three-star recruit from Frisco (Texas) Centennial -- impressed so much in practice that he was named scout team defensive player of the year.
Oklahoma State WR Michael Harrison
The Cowboys need help at receiver, where only one player managed more than 20 catches last season. Harrison -- a former two-star prospect from Dallas Hillcrest -- performed so well in practice that Oklahoma State coaches planned to take off his redshirt. But he had a season-ending injury in practice before he could get into a game.
Texas G/C Mason Walters
Walters, a former five-star recruit from Wolfforth (Texas) Frenship, could step into the starting lineup at center or guard. He has all-conference potential if he can stay healthy.
Texas A&M TE Hutson Prioleau
Jamie McCoy's departure makes tight end a position of need. If not for an injury, Prioleau -- a former three-star player from Fort Worth All Saints Academy -- may have played last season. He's a talented receiver and has the size (6-4/253) to be an effective blocker, too.
Texas Tech DE Pearlie Graves
That Graves -- a former four-star recruit from Tulsa (Okla.) East Central -- didn't play in 2009 was something of a surprise. It's a good bet he'll move into the starting lineup to ease the loss of Brandon Sharpe, who posted 15 sacks last season.
East Carolina WRs Torrance Hunt, Mike Price and Reese Wiggins
A new staff coming in from Texas Tech means there will be a much stronger emphasis on the pass, and that means each member of this trio will have a chance to produce this fall. Hunt, who is 5-8, is a slot receiver candidate; he is a former two-star prospect from Durham (N.C.) Jordan. Price is a former two-star prospect from New Bern (N.C.) High, and Wilson is a former three-star prospect from Durham (N.C.) Southern Durham.
Rice K Chris Boswell
Owls K Clark Fangmeier was a senior, and it's expected that Boswell -- a former three-star prospect from Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge -- will assume the job. He was the No. 5 kicker in the 2009 recruiting class.
SMU S Jay Scott
Scott is a former three-star prospect from Houston Strake Jesuit. While he has the size (6-2/190) and athleticism of a free safety, the Mustangs have an opening at strong safety that Scott could fill. He was considered one of the crown jewels of SMU's '09 class, and he will get a chance to show off his skills this fall.
Southern Miss RB Kendrick Hardy
Southern Miss' top two tailbacks were seniors, meaning Hardy -- a former four-star prospect from Monticello (Miss.) Lawrence County -- has a chance to nail down the starting job. Hardy scored 46 touchdowns in his final two seasons in high school.
UCF QB Nico Flores
UCF is looking for a new starting quarterback, and Flores -- a former three-star prospect from North Miami Beach (Fla.) High -- will be in the thick of the battle in spring ball. Flores is an excellent athlete and spent some time as a wide receiver on UCF's scout team last season. He will be vying with true freshman Jeffrey Godfrey, who already has enrolled, and Stanford transfer L.D. Crow.
Ball State WR Otis Brown Jr.
Coaches are excited about Brown, the Cardinals' 2009 scout team player of the year who doubles as a threat in the return game. Brown is a former two-star prospect from Gainesville (Fla.) High.
Bowling Green QBs Kellen Pagel and Matt Schilz
With Tyler Sheehan gone, the Falcons need a quarterback. The top contenders look to be Schilz, a former three-star prospect from Pasadena (Calif.) Maranatha, and Pagel, a former two-star prospect from Strongsville (Ohio) High. He is the son of former NFL quarterback Mike Pagel.
Central Michigan CB Evan Ray
The Chippewas lost both starting cornerbacks, so there's plenty of opportunity for Ray to earn a job. Ray, who has good size (6-1/196), is a former two-star prospect from Detroit Finney.
Northern Illinois WR Anthony Johnson
The Huskies need to rev up their passing attack, and Johnson -- a former two-star prospect from San Antonio Warren -- could provide a big boost. He has good size (6-3/185) and is a 7-foot high jumper.
Western Michigan RBs Brian Fields and Antoin Scriven
With all-purpose threat Brandon West gone, the Broncos need some running backs to emerge. Fields, a former two-star signee from New Castle (Del.) William Penn, and Scriven, a former two-star prospect from Inverness (Fla.) Citrus County, will have a chance to make their marks during spring drills. Fields (5-9/190) is a darter, while Scriven (5-11/200) is more of a between-the-tackles runner.
BYU TE Richard Wilson
BYU loves utilizing the tight end in its passing attack. Dennis Pitta and Andrew George combined to catch 92 passes for 1,237 yards and 13 touchdowns this past season, but both were seniors. Wilson, a three-star prospect from Spanish Fork (Utah) High, was the No. 13 tight end in the 2009 recruiting class.
New Mexico C Dillon Farrell
Farrell -- a former two-star prospect from Baton Rouge (La.) Christian Life Academy -- enters spring practice as the most likely candidate to replace first-team All-MWC selection Erik Cook as the Lobos' starting center. The last redshirt freshman to emerge as a starting center at New Mexico was Ryan Cook, the older brother of Erik Cook. Ryan Cook went on to earn first-team All-MWC honors three times before the Minnesota Vikings selected him in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.
TCU DE Stansly Maponga
The Horned Frogs need someone to step in for Jerry Hughes, who won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. Nobody expects Maponga to replace Hughes' production, but he has a chance to fill Hughes' spot in the starting lineup. Maponga -- a former three-star prospect from Lewisville (Texas) Hebron -- is expected to compete with junior Braylon Broughton for the job.
Utah DT Latu Heimuli
Heimuli, a former Rivals250 selection, signed with Utah as the No. 22 defensive tackle prospect in the 2009 recruiting class. Heimuli, a four-star player from Salt Lake City Highland, likely would have earned plenty of playing time in 2009 if an early season injury hadn't caused him to be redshirted. Heimuli should emerge as a key contributor in Utah's front four this season.
Wyoming OLB Devyn Harris
Harris was expected to contribute on special teams and even earn some playing time at linebacker this past season, but a preseason knee injury led to him being redshirted. Harris' speed and athleticism should allow him to compete for a spot in the lineup as the Cowboys look to replace departed outside linebacker Weston Johnson. Harris is a former two-star prospect from Fountain (Colo.) Fountain-Fort Carson.
Arizona State TE Chris Coyle
Coyle -- a former three-star prospect from powerhouse Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian -- would've played this past season had he not been injured in fall camp. He has the ability and size to produce at a position that has been a problem area.
Stanford TE/DE Levine Toilolo
An ankle injury prevented Toilolo (6-6/268) from playing this past season. But when he was cleared to practice, he was a dominant force on the scout team and created major mismatches as a tight end. Coach Jim Harbaugh plans to experiment with two-way players, so Toilolo -- a former four-star prospect from La Mesa (Calif.) Helix -- also will see action at defensive end, which may be his best position.
UCLA DE Keenan Graham
The Bruins need to bolster their pass rush. A defensive end position is open, and Graham, who recorded 22 sacks in his final two years of high school, has a great chance to move into the starting lineup and make an impact. Graham is a former four-star prospect from Las Vegas Silverado.
Washington State RB Arthur Burns
Washington State needs a feature back. The leading veteran contender is James Montgomery, who is coming off surgery. The Cougars may look to Burns, a former three-star prospect from Corona (Calif.) Centennial who rushed for more than 1,800 yards as a high school senior.
Washington State G/C Sebastian Valenzuela
The Cougars need all the help they can get up front. Last season, Washington State ranked 118th in the nation in rushing offense and 119th in sacks allowed with 53. Valenzuela is a former three-star prospect from Burbank (Calif.) John Burroughs.
Alabama OT D.J. Fluker
Fluker, a former five-star prospect from Foley (Ala.) High, will have a chance to challenge for a spot in the 2010 starting lineup. Alabama is looking for a new right tackle to replace departing senior Drew Davis, so Fluker will be on the spot in spring drills.
Arkansas G Alvin Bailey
The coaching staff thinks Bailey -- a former three-star prospect from Broken Arrow (Okla.) High -- has the potential to be a star. Coaches almost decided to play him this past season, but each of the players on the two-deep stayed healthy.
Georgia QBs Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray
The starting quarterback job is vacant, and it's a good bet one of these guys wins the competition. Mettenberger, a former four-star prospect from Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County, is more of a pure passer. Murray, a former four-star player from Tampa (Fla.) Plant, is the more mobile of the two and ran a variation of the spread in high school.
Mississippi State WR Ricco Sanders
The Bulldogs need to upgrade their passing attack, and Sanders -- a former three-star prospect from Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes -- has a chance to play a big role this fall. Another redshirt freshman to watch for Mississippi State is QB Tyler Russell, a former four-star player from Meridian (Miss.) High.
Ole Miss CB Charles Sawyer
The Rebels are losing both starting corners, and Sawyer -- a former three-star prospect from Miami Coral Reef -- is expected to start in 2010 at one of those spots.
Arkansas State QB Phillip Butterfield
Butterfield, a three-star prospect from Hot Springs (Ark.) Lake Hamilton, was one of the headliners in the Red Wolves' 2009 class. He'll have a chance to compete with sophomore Ryan Aplin for Arkansas State's vacant quarterback job.
Florida Atlantic WR Jamal Davis
FAU needs to rebuild its receiving corps, and Davis is a guy who will get a chance to make an impact. He's a former two-star signee from Coral Springs (Fla.) Coral Springs Charter School with good size (6-3/190) and speed.
Louisiana-Monroe WR Brandon Williams
The Warhawks lose All-Sun Belt performer LaGregory Sapp, and Williams -- a former two-star prospect -- looks as if he will be the guy to step in to replace Sapp. Coincidentally, Sapp and Williams hail from the same high school, Monroe (La.) Ouachita Parish.
Middle Tennessee State LB Craig Allen
The Blue Raiders are looking for two new starters at linebacker, and Allen could fill one of the spots. He is a former two-star prospect from Villa Rica (Ga.) High who has good size (6-3/220) and off-the-charts athleticism for a linebacker.
Troy CB Sergio Perez
With just one returning starter, the Trojans are looking to rebuild their secondary. A cornerback spot is open, and Perez -- a former two-star prospect from Mayo (Fla.) Lafayette County -- could nail down the job with a strong spring. The Trojans received stellar cornerback play this past season from redshirt freshman Bryan Willis.
Fresno State LB Jeremiah Toma
How bad was Fresno State's defense? The Bulldogs don't lose a linebacker off the two-deep from the end of last season, but Toma -- a former two-star prospect from Sacramento (Calif.) Grant -- still could crack the rotation on the outside.
Hawaii LB George Daily-Lyles
The Warriors lose Blaze Soares and R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane, their top two tacklers and the only linebackers who started every game last season. At Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, Daily-Lyles -- a former two-star prospect -- was overlooked as he played on a defense that included two UCLA signees and a Nebraska signee.
Nevada OL Stephen Jeffers
Nevada is looking to replace two starting offensive linemen, and Jeffers -- a two-star tight end out of Sparks (Nev.) Bishop Manogue -- can play guard or tackle.
New Mexico State QB Tanner Rust
The Aggies' quarterback play was dismal this past season as Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls combined for six touchdowns and 17 interceptions. With Rust in the mix along with junior college quarterback Matt Christian, new coordinator Mike Dunbar will have a full-fledged quarterback competition on his hands. Rust was a three-star prospect out of Lakeside (Calif.) El Capitan.
Utah State WR Cameron Sanders
Utah State hopes to become the 2010 version of Idaho, reaching a bowl game for the first time since 1997. With QB Diondre Borel and RB Robert Turbin, the offense is becoming increasingly effective. Utah State could use a second receiver to team with Stanley Morrison. Sanders, a former two-star prospect from Oklahoma City Millwood, could be that guy.

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