2011 Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Team
USC WR Kyle Prater
USC WR Kyle Prater
Posted Aug 5, 2011

What redshirt freshmen appear to be ready to step up and become major factors? USC's offense is ready to explode, and receiver Kyle Prater should become a key factor. He's just one of several new stars about to blossom and become a new star. Check out the CFN 2011 Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Team.

Preview 2011

All-Redshirt Freshman Offense

By Richard Cirminiello

- Preview 2011 | 2011 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Defense 

- 2010 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team | 2009 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team 
- 2008 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team | 2007 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team

For hundreds of true freshmen from coast to coast, last season was likely the most frustrating of their athletic careers. Yeah, there was plenty of development and maturation taking place, both physically and intellectually, but there were no games to be played, no hitting on Saturdays and no game recaps containing their names. For a number of reasons, these idle warriors were redshirted in 2010, with the expectation that they'd return this year a little thicker, a little stronger and a lot better prepared to start paying dividends for all of those recruiting trips, phone calls and text messages during the courtship process.

Redshirt freshmen are college football enigmas. While hardly the same young men they were on Signing Day 18 months ago, have they truly blossomed enough to be every-down contributors this fall? As is often the case, it all depends on the athlete in question and the opportunities on the depth chart.


QB Phillip Sims, Alabama
At a minimum, Sims is going to relentlessly push sophomore A.J. McCarron, the initial favorite to succeed Greg McElroy. In fact, he's already done it. At best, he wins a high-profile job that'll be wide-open when fall camp begins. So confident is head coach Nick Saban in his underclassmen that he's yet to rule out a two-quarterback system for the upcoming season. While Sims has dual-threat potential, he prefers to remain in the pocket and unleash darts to one of his receivers. Poised beyond his limited time in Tuscaloosa, he has the physical and intangible traits to blossom into a franchise player under center.

RB Rod Smith, Ohio State
The Buckeyes prefer their backs to be big and physical. They're going to adore Smith once he gets his shot this fall. The 6-3, 220-pounder has been turning heads since the moment he appeared on the scout team a year ago. Despite his considerable size and power, he's got the quick feet and the soft hips needed to cut like a smaller runner. While Dan Herron serves his five-game suspension, Smith will get an earlier-than-expected audition. If the Indiana product is as good as the coaches have been raving, he'll still steal carries from Herron in the second half.

RB Lache Seastrunk, Oregon
Even though he's buried behind LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner on the depth chart, Seastrunk will entice the staff to get him touches. He's an intriguing weapon who'll need to be prepared for an expanded role once James is through as a Duck. The compact, exciting runner gets to second gear quickly, making defenders appear as if they're stuck in neutral. In an offense ideally suited for his skill set, he's capable of chalking up 500 yards and a half-dozen scores as a third option and focal point in the fourth quarter of routs.

WR Kyle Prater, USC
Prater was never completely healthy in 2010, making the redshirt year a sensible first step. The classic long Trojan wideout, he uses his 6-5, 210-pound frame to gallop past and elevate above opposing defensive backs. More than just a match up nightmare, the polished pass-catcher possesses terrific hands and body control. A potentially lethal complement to second-year teammate Robert Woods, Prater simply needs to start accumulating reps and remain off the trainer's table for an extended period of time.

WR Adrian Coxson, Maryland
After a brief stay in Gainesville, Coxson decided he wanted to play closer to home. Luckily for the Terps, the kid grew up in Baltimore. While no track athlete, he has the football speed to get separation, especially when being chased. The 6-1, 203-pounder is on an ideal campus to get early playing time, exiting the scout the team when Maryland is looking to replace last season's top two receivers. There's an opening in College Park for someone to become Freshman of the Year Danny O'Brien's go-to guy.

WR Trovon Reed, Auburn
Reed was actually on his way to becoming a part of the rotation when a knee injury resulted in a medical redshirt year. Healthy again, he's bucking to pick up where he left off in 2010 by earning a starting assignment. Set to become one of the more exciting weapons on the Plains, he'll explode into daylight with instant acceleration. The versatile playmaker will do more than just catch passes, running the ball on sweeps and taking direct snaps out of the wildcat formation.

TE Xavier Grimble, USC
If Grimble wasn't the nation's top tight end prospect of 2010, he certainly was near the head of the class. He's the total package at the position, combining the blocking skills of a tackle with the pass-catching ability to exploit defenses down the seam. The 6-5, 245-pound future star has taken his conditioning more seriously this season, preparing as if he plans to unseat veteran Rhett Ellison. Whether he takes over in 2011 or 2012, he has a high ceiling that's just waiting to be reached.

OL Malcolm Bunche, Miami
While Seantrel Henderson was the marquee lineman of the 2010 class, Bunche is on the verge of passing his more heralded teammate. Named the most improved offensive player of the spring, he left the 15-practice session as the starting left tackle. The 6-7, 320-pounder moves very well for his size, flashing the footwork and powerful hands to protect the quarterback's backside. His work ethic and physical bent make him a perfect candidate to flourish in an Al Golden system.

OL Chaz Green, Florida
Green gets his first chance to show why he was considered one of the country's most coveted blockers of 2010. An offensive tackle, with the balance and quickness of some defensive ends, he explodes off the ball. The Gators are hoping he can help bolster the depth on both sides of a unit that'll begin the season as one of the program's biggest question marks. Projected starter Matt Patchan has been injury-prone, so Green will need to prepare this summer as if he's going to be in the lineup.

OL Eric Mack, Auburn
Mack is a big part of the youth movement about to take place at Auburn … literally. The 6-3, 330-pound masher has used a terrific offseason to close in on a starting nod at guard. What jumps out about the second-year Tiger is how nimble he is for such a large player. He'll get out of his stance quickly, racing to the second level to bury a linebacker on running plays. If he evolves in August the way he did in April, he could become a front wall fixture before too long.

OL A.J. Cann, South Carolina
At the beginning of spring drills, Cann was on the second team at left guard. By the time it was over, he'd risen to the top of the depth chart. The improvement can be traced to improved offseason conditioning and a better feel for the offensive system. Plus, he did play in a couple of games last September before taking a medical redshirt in his debut. He blocks with a level of explosiveness and tenacity that have not been lost on the Gamecock coaching staff.

OL Jimmy Gjere, Minnesota
Gjere is one of the top young players inherited by first-year head coach Jerry Kill and his new staff. The in-state gem had a buffet of Big Ten programs to choose from before opting to continue his career close to home. A prototypical pass protector, with long arms and good feet, he's passed the early tests for winning the job at right tackle. He's a cornerstone player for Kill as the coach attempts to breathe some life back into the Gopher program.

Honorable Mention  

QB: Synjyn Days (Georgia Tech), Jesse Scroggins (USC), Connor Wood (Texas)

RB: Giovani Bernard (North Carolina), Deontae Cooper (Washington), Lamonte Edwards (Minnesota), Rickey Galvin (Washington State), Charles Perkins (Georgia Tech)

WR: Ross Apo (BYU), Kenny Bell (Nebraska), Christian Green (Florida State), Dyjuan Lewis (Cincinnati), Justin McCay (Oklahoma)

TE: Sean Fitzpatrick (North Carolina)

OL: Mickey Baucus (Arizona), Giovanni Di Poalo (USC), Miles Dieffenbach (Penn State), Quinterrius Eatmon (South Florida), Damien Robinson (Mississippi State), Laken Tomlinson (Duke), Harris Williams (Boston College)

- Preview 2011 | 2011 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Defense