From Scout Team To Stardom?
USC QB Mitch Mustain
USC QB Mitch Mustain
Posted Feb 19, 2008

They led the way on the scout teams in 2007, and now they'll get their chance to shine in 2008. Which top practice players, like former Arkansas QB Mitch Mustain at USC, are ready to make an impact and be some of college football's new stars?

From Scout Team To Stardom

What 2007 scout teamers are ready to star in 2008?

By Richard Cirminiello 

Their statistics were non-existent.  Their importance was underrated.  Their futures?  Pretty bright, if last fall’s practice sessions are any indication of success down the road. 

While scout team players are confined to the sidelines for home games, and don’t make road trips, they perform a valuable function on campuses across the country, mimicking the upcoming opponent.  No, they don’t make any headlines for good impersonations, but they do make plenty of impressions on coaches that’ll inevitably be looking to fill openings in a two-deep the following season. 

Scout teams are generally comprised of redshirting freshmen, transfers sitting out a season, and walk-ons hoping to someday earn a scholarship.  The best of these entry-level upstarts are honored as the Offensive or Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year at annual post-season banquets.  The best of that collection of 200 or so award-winners are being cited here as rising stars that are ready to use that anonymous scout team experience as a launching pad to much greater exposure in 2008.                

25. CB Courtney Viney, UCLA – Undersized at just 5-8 and 155 pounds, Viney has the quickness and instincts for the position that’ll earn him playing time in 2008, especially with Trey Brown and Rodney Van out of eligibility.  A feisty player with great feet, he has lockdown potential provided he doesn’t get caught too often on an island with physically imposing receivers.       

24. DE Julian Miller, West Virginia – Johnny Dingle’s early departure to the NFL creates some room on the depth chart for young players like Miller, a rangy pass rusher with a great burst off the edge.  He stood out throughout practices last fall, now needing to add a little more bulk and improve at disengaging from blockers.

23. DE Myles Caragein, Pittsburgh – Caragein was born to play for Pitt, the type of blue-collar lineman that really gets Dave Wannstedt thinking nostalgic.  An intense competitor and former wrestling champ in Pennsylvania, he’s got a non-stop motor and the size and power to move inside if asked.  Caragein is an old-school Panther with the personality and work-ethic to be a big hit in the Steel City.  

22. WR Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin – After two uneventful seasons in Madison, it’s time for Kendricks to turn his massive physical gifts into on-field production.  One of the biggest, fastest, and most athletic of the Badger receivers, he’s built in the same mold as Travis Beckum, Wisconsin’s tight end that moves with the grace of a super-sized wide receiver.

21. S Sam Proctor, Oklahoma – Although he’s still adapting to playing on defense, Proctor has the size-speed combination to force his way on to the field as early as next fall.  A former star quarterback in high school, he stood out in practice last season as a 6-0, 210-pound playmaker, a poor man’s Jeremy Maclin of Missouri.    

20. LB Aaron Gresham, Florida State – Tough, smart, and instinctive, Gresham is the quintessential middle linebacker, a leader in the huddle and on the sidelines.  While not exactly off-the-charts athletically, he’s the type of defender that knows how to get from Point A to Point B in a hurry.  Think former South Florida LB Ben Moffitt.

19. RB Bradley Stephens, Texas A&M – With Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson returning this season, there won’t be many carries for Stephens, but that shouldn’t stop the Aggies from getting the freshman’s feet wet in 2008.  More Goodson than Lane, he’s bright, unassuming, and extremely difficult to corral in space.  With four years of eligibility left, the Aggies are set at the position for the foreseeable future. 

18. LB Terrance Pritchett, Oregon – An outstanding all-around prospect at outside linebacker, Pritchett plays with emotion, keen instincts, and terrific sideline-to-sideline speed.  He added weight to a frame that can handle it, making enough impressions on the scout team last year to contend for a spot on the two-deep this spring.

17. LB
Ian Thomas
, Illinois – Thomas represents yet another example of how Ron Zook and Mike Locksley have raised the talent level in Champaign by casting a net that reaches well beyond the Midwest.  While not that big, he plays fast and with a mean streak, raising the possibility that he and Martez Wilson could give the Illini one of the most athletic pairs of outside linebackers in the Big Ten for the next few seasons.

16. DE Conrad Obi, Colorado – Dan Hawkins went across the country last year to bring this Georgia commit back to Boulder, hoping he’ll provide some answers for the Buffs’ sagging pass rush.  At 6-3 and 250 pounds, Obi is built like an outside linebacker with a sudden burst off the snap and great speed around the tackle.

15. TE Nate Chandler, UCLA – Have the Bruins unearthed a reincarnation of Marcedes Lewis? Maybe.  Long and lean with soft hands, Chandler redshirted in 2007 to prepare for an increased role in 2008.  UCLA has struggled to get much production from the tight end position the last two years, but he’s the type of receiver that’s capable of changing that trend.

14. QB Curtis Pulley, Kentucky – After playing sparingly in 2005 and 2006, Pulley redshirted last season, mimicking the opponent’s best player, such as Louisville QB Brian Brohm and Arkansas RB Darren McFadden.  A terrific all-around athlete at 6-4 and 205 pounds, someone might be aping him next fall if he can win the job to replace Andre Woodson and become a more consistent pocket passer. 

13. OT Sam DeMartinis, Cal – One of the nation’s most recruited tackles in 2007, DeMartinis will begin his climb up the Bear depth chart this spring.  Technically sound and well above average as a pass protector, he has an incredible upside in Berkeley, especially as he adds more muscle to a 6-6 frame that can comfortably handle the extra weight. 

12. LB Oliver Aaron, Arizona State – Although not heavily recruited, Aaron emerged last fall as one of the most intriguing of the Sun Devil rookies.  An exceptional all-around athlete at 6-2 and 210 pounds, he’s big enough to play weakside linebacker and plenty quick to handle pass coverage as a safety.  Although slotted to be part of a deep corps of linebackers, it’ll be tempting to move him to strong safety as Josh Barrett’s replacement.  

11. QB
Jason Forcier
, Stanford – Last spring, Forcier traded playing quarterback at Michigan to playing for  a former Michigan quarterback, Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh.  One of the top-rated hurlers of 2005, he can make all the throws, but is also very dangerous outside the pocket, an element that could separate him from incumbent Tavita Pritchard when the two duke it out this spring.

10. WR Taiwan Easterling, Florida State – A gifted athlete that was drafted by the Florida Marlins and can play both offense and defense, Easterling was a revelation on the scout team last season.  At 5-11 and 190 pounds, he looked comfortable catching passes in practices, but could also shift to cornerback if a need develops. 

9. WR Brandon Clear, Clemson – Clear is the next in a growing line of tall, physical receivers Clemson that can get behind opposing secondaries for long gainers.  Better known for his role in Two-A-Days, an MTV reality series, the 6-4, 205-pounder has the straight-line speed and vertical leap to wreak havoc as an alternative to Aaron Kelly.

8. WR Michael Calvin, Cal – There’s an APB out for quality pass catchers around Strawberry Canyon, great news for young and restless players, such as Calvin.  A 6-3 flyer with 4.5 speed, he really turned heads on the scout team, preparing to fill the void left by the departures of DeSean Jackson, Lavelle Hawkins, and Robert Jordan.

7. DT Matt Masifilo, Stanford – After watching Masifilo in practice for a few months last fall, Cardinal coaches are eager to get its prize recruit of 2007 on the field.  An intense competitor that fielded offers from more than half of the Pac-10 members, Masifilo is a 6-3, 270-pound interior lineman with the quickness to get penetration and make plays for minus yards. 

6. RB Shariff Harris, Pittsburgh – Obviously, LeSean McCoy is the franchise in Pittsburgh for the next few years, but it never hurts to have a complementary change-of-pace in the backfield.  Harris flashes the potential to be that type of a back for the Panthers, a powerful, north-south runner that could have contributed last season if he was needed.

5. DT Christian Tupou, USC – While Tupou doesn’t have otherworldly measurables for an interior lineman, he proved in practice that he’ll play with a surly attitude and a no-quit motor.  He gets off the ball in a snap and is very strong at the point of attack, qualities that’ll help him push fro playing time on a line that loses tackle Sedrick Ellis to graduation. 

4. LB D.J. Holt, Cal – It’s only a matter of time before Holt is a very important part of the Bear defense.  A stacked deck at the position means he might have to wait until 2009 to start, but he has the athletic ability and pass rushing instincts to be a factor on the second unit and special teams this year.  A defensive end in high school, he’s only going to get better after learning the nuances of playing middle linebacker.  

3. DE Adewale Ojomo, Miami – Ojomo was mentored by Calais Campbell last year.  Next year, he might be succeeding him.  Ojomo used his first year with the Hurricanes to get bigger, stronger, and better acquainted with the system and new challenges.  A playmaker with outstanding closing speed, he’s begun to fill out a slight frame, step one to getting on the field in 2008. 

2. QB Robert Marve, Miami – It’s about time that Quarterback U. develops a passer worthy of that moniker.  Marve is hoping to be that guy.  He has good arm strength and can make all the throws, mixing in the ability to scramble out of the pocket and make plays with his feet.  Almost fully recovered from last July’s serious car accident, Marve’s the heavy favorite to win the starting job since Kyle Wright has graduated and Kirby Freeman transferred to Baylor. 

1. QB Mitch Mustain, USC – The last time Mustain had a national spotlight, he was going through a messy divorce with Arkansas, a program he led to eight wins as a true freshman in 2006.  That brief bout with anonymity is about to change.  After excelling on the Trojan service team last season, he’s about to embark on a can’t-miss battle with Mark Sanchez to determine John David Booty’s successor behind center.