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2006 Preseason Redshirt Freshman All-American
USC QB Mark Sanchez
Posted Aug 26, 2006

2006 CFN Redshirt Freshman All-America Team  

For the past year, they have watched and waited, listened and learned.  They’ve added muscle, committed the playbook to memory and practiced without fanfare on the scout team.  They are redshirt freshmen and their time to break free from a season’s worth of anonymity and down time has finally arrived.

No player in college football is more prone to a pronounced growth spurt than the second-year freshman.  Twelve months of getting acclimated to the speed of the college game and the complexities of college life has a way of morphing the wide-eyed prep star into the confident contributor.  This is especially true in the case of former blue-chip recruits, who are bursting at the seams with untapped potential, and are primed for a breakout debut.  For college fans, their countless hours invested into the recruiting wars are almost ready to pay dividends. 

This season’s Sidney Rice and Pat White have already shown glimpses of the future during spring practices.  They may be freshmen in terms of eligibility, but they’ve begun emulating upperclassmen on the depth chart.  Hasty and Hill.  Sanchez and Savoy.  Don’t worry if these names don’t sound too familiar in July.  They’ll be happy to refresh your memory again this fall.      


QB Mark Sanchez, USC – He may not start a game in 2006, but then again, Sanchez could also leapfrog John David Booty and blossom into one of the premier pro-style quarterbacks in the country.  He’s got that much ability and, hands down, is the most talented redshirt freshman at the position.  Sanchez, no longer facing sexual assault charges, showed off his strong arm when Booty injured his back in the spring, and looks every bit like a future Heisman-contending Trojan hurler.  The heir-apparent to Vince Young at Texas is likely to be Colt McCoy, a decent passer who’s drawing early parallels to Major Applewhite.  At Kansas, the Jayhawks are excited about Kerry Meier, a versatile and gritty competitor, who should wind up being the best quarterback Mark Mangino’s had in Lawrence.         

RB J.R. Hasty, Washington – If there’s a return to respectability for Washington in the next few years, it’s going to come on the backs of players like Hasty.  He’s buried on the post-spring depth chart right now, but is way too gifted to remain there on a team searching for an offensive boost.  The Huskies haven’t had a 1,000-yard back in nine years, and Hasty has that little giddyup that’s going to be real difficult to keep in the barn this fall. 

RB P.J. Hill, Wisconsin – Contrary to Washington, Wisconsin is hardly a stranger to 1,000-yard backs.  The next one?  It could be Hill, who began the spring No. 3 on the depth chart before playing his way into the pole position.  He’s a powerful, downhill runner in the Ron Dayne mold, but after getting dinged in each of the last two years, needs to show he can stay healthy for an entire season.  Ken Darby is the present at Alabama, but Roy Upchurch is most definitely the future.  He looked ready this spring, and could get 100 carries in an offense that’ll lean on the ground game while a new quarterback gets broken in. 

WR LaTerryal Savoy, Michigan – Savoy won’t be stomping into the starting lineup until at least 2007, but he’s made enough strides since the end of last year to vie for the No. 3 slot and earn a place in the rotation this fall.  Like a young Jason Avant, he’s big and physical and has sticky fingers, but doesn’t look like the type of receiver that can soften a secondary with his speed.   

WR Rodelin Anthony, UNLV – Anthony had ankle surgery in April, but is expected back before the start of summer drills.  He’s a hybrid in the receiver category, who’s slated to start at the Y spot for the Rebs this fall.  At 6-5 and 225 pounds, he looks an awful like a tight end, but possesses the athletic and pass-catching ability of a wideout.  In year two of the spread offense, and with better play under center expected, Anthony could emerge as a statistical giant.  Maryland’s Derrius Heyward-Bey lacks consistency right now, but has the speed and potential to keep coaches patient.  Pittsburgh needs a playmaker to replace Greg Lee, and don’t be surprised if either Oderick Turner or Cedric McGee fill the void.

TE Jermichael Finley, Texas – The ‘Horns have a budding superstar in Finley, a sleek, 6-5 tight end wrapped in a receiver’s body.  He displayed soft hands throughout spring and was a match up nightmare for defenders that could neither handle his size nor his speed.  Finley was almost headed to Arizona to play hoops for Lute Olson, a testament to his athletic ability.  South Carolina’s Jared Cook took advantage of incumbent Andy Boyd’s absence, nabbing the starting job for now.  He’s still transitioning from wide receiver and needs to add some bulk, but he’ll victimize the seam of the secondary that gives Sidney Rice too much attention.    

OL Aleksey Lanis, UCLA – Lanis arrived in Westwood as a can’t-miss prospect, and has been true to his billing so far.  He is a massive 6-5 and 335-pound lineman with the potential to be an immediate force along the Bruin line.  Heading into the summer, Lanis will be the front-runner to man the wide tackle position for the UCLA offense.       

OL Ciron Black, LSU – Considering the depth of the talent pool in Baton Rouge, it says something when a freshman can crack the two-deep.  When that freshman is in line to start at a position as crucial as left tackle, you’ve got a prodigy.  The Tiger offensive line is in a state of flux, and the 6-4, 320-pound Black will be asked to protect JaMarcus Russell’s blindside in his rookie season.    

OL Rafael Eubanks, Iowa – Few schools develop offensive linemen better than Iowa, which has a potential four-year starter at center in Eubanks.  He was sporadic in his maiden spring with the Hawkeyes and the depth chart has been written in pencil, but Eubanks flashed enough quickness at the pivot to exit spring with a small cushion over sophomore Rob Bruggerman. 

OL Derek Meyer, Kansas State – New head coach Ron Prince knows offensive linemen, and he singled out Meyer throughout the ‘Cats’ spring session.  Kansas State has treated its post-spring depth chart like a covert op, but you don’t need a formal two-deep to know that Meyer is squarely in the hunt to fill the gaping vacancy at left tackle.

OL Michael Shumard, Texas A&M – Shumard was a gem of a recruit for the Aggies two years ago, and he’s already pushing for significant playing time at one of the guard spots.  He’s big and nimble, and has proven to be a very quick learn.  Regardless of whether or not he starts this fall, Shumard represents the future of the O-line in College Station.  Kenny Alfred is going toe-to-toe with upperclassmen in Washington State’s search for a starting center.  New starting center Eddie Adamski is the kind of undersized and overly athletic lineman that coaches crave at Northern Illinois.  Kevin Bemoll is a major talent, who could be the answer at tackle, Cal’s most obvious Achilles’ heel.  Charles Brown looks like USC’s edition of Erik Winston, the former Miami tight end that became a force at tackle.  Brown is still a little light, but the coaches are in awe of his athleticism.


DL Willie Young, NC State – He’s not the next Mario Williams, but Willie Young looks like he’ll be fine just being Willie Young.  With the daunting task of following in the footsteps of the NFL’s top draft choice, he capped a strong spring with three sacks in the Red-White game, giving him five over the last two years.  At 6-5, 230 pounds with a great burst off the edge, Young is actually more Manny Lawson these days than Mario Williams.  

DL Kendrick Stewart, Florida State – Stewart is the next in a long line of premier tackles that’ll be stuffing the run for the ‘Noles.  He’s not very big at 6-1 and 270 pounds, however, he’s extremely strong and uncommonly quick and agile for an interior lineman.  Stewart is expected to start, and at worst, will play a prominent role in the D-line rotation.

DL DeMarcus Granger, Oklahoma – It’s a matter of when, not if, Granger becomes one of the Big 12’s most dominant defensive tackles.  He arrived in Norman with enormous expectations and did not disappoint in first set of 15 spring workouts.  Granger is a 6-3, 300-pound bull-rusher, who’s good now, but is only going to get better with live action.  

DL Vince Oghobaase, Duke – Oghobaase was set to start as a true freshman in 2005, but had his season curtailed by a knee injury.  He’s healthy again, and ready to back up his status as one of the most celebrated football recruits to ever sign with Duke.  At 6-6 and 325 pounds, size alone separates him from any tackle to wear a Blue Devil uniform.  Jan Jorgensen has already spent time on a Mormon Mission and a fall with the University of Kentucky, so he’s physically and mentally ready to contribute to a rebuilt BYU line.  One-half of Georgia’s defensive line should be set for the next four years with stud tackle Kade Weston and end Roderick Battle, both of whom will get lots of reps this fall.

LB Rico McCoy, Tennessee – Although he spent most of last fall recovering from foot surgery, Tennessee coaches haven’t stopped clamoring about McCoy’s ability and instincts.  He enjoyed a breakout spring, consistently making big plays and delivering big sticks.  With all of last year’s starting linebackers out of eligibility, McCoy has a great chance to make a huge splash in 2006.

LB Tray Blackmon, Auburn – Blackmon was arrested last month for underage drinking, an off-field mistake Tiger fans hope is his last.  He’s undersized, but compensates with lightning lateral quickness and ferocious hits.  Blackmon resumes his battle next month with Merrill Johnson for the right to be named starting weakside linebacker on opening day.

LB Brandon Duncan, Kansas – The departures of Nick Reid, Kevin Kane and Banks Floodman makes linebacker a major need area for the Jayhawks.  Enter Duncan, one of the highest-rated linebackers to sign with Kansas in a long time.  He’s a terrific all-around athlete, who’s risen up to the second team and will be difficult to keep off the field once the season begins.  Texas’ Roddrick Muckelroy is raw and needs time to develop, but has the tools to be special.  Brent Davis is the projected starter on the weakside for South Carolina.

DB Willie Glasper, Jr., Oregon – Glasper’s emergence this spring could not have been timelier for a program desperate for live bodies at corner.  He dedicated himself to the weight room in the off-season and grew markedly in April en route to locking down a starting job.  Glasper is certain to take a few lumps in the Pac-10, but will lay the foundation for a real promising future in Eugene. 

DB Darrell Stuckey, Kansas – There’s a youth movement going on in Lawrence, and Stuckey is one of the defenders leading the charge.  He played his way into the starting lineup at free safety this spring, displaying above average cover skills and a knack for crowding the line and supporting in run defense.  He’ll be a fixture for the Jayhawks for the next four seasons. 

DB Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma – Clayton is still learning at strong safety, and probably won’t top the depth chart in September, but Sooner coaches can’t stop raving about his linebacker size, physical play and penchant for packing a wallop from the secondary.  Right now, his biggest weakness is experience, which will be remedied once the 2006 season kicks off. 

DB Andre Sexton, Oklahoma State – Sexton has wasted no time establishing a foothold in the Cowboy secondary, locking down the starting free safety job for this fall.  He breaks well on the ball and is very sharp between the ear holes, indications he can someday develop into the quarterback of the OSU defensive backfield.  Vanderbilt coaches love the presence and maturity of Ryan Hamilton, and have entrusted him with the free safety spot.  Dorian Munroe had a nice spring for Florida, and has positioned himself to contend for playing time behind Kyle Jackson.  Anderson Russell was not particularly heralded when he signed with Ohio State, but he flies around the field with reckless abandon and was one last spring’s most pleasant surprises.