Spring Preview 2009
The 20 Big Questions ...
spring ball underway, here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the
3. Good players who are about to go nuclear.
These are the players who you
know about, they might have earned all-conference status, but now
they’re about to become the biggest players of 2009. These are college
football’s new superstars.
Dezmon Briscoe & Kerry Meier, WR
Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Dez Bryant, Juaquin
Iglesias … it was certainly easy to get lost in the Big 12 wide receiver
shuffle last season. But KU’s Kerry Meier tied Crabtree in receptions
with 97 grabs for 1,045 yards and eight touchdowns, and Briscoe was
third in the conference in touchdown catches with 15, to go along with
92 grabs for 1,407 yards. The two Jayhawk targets should be in for big
years once again with veteran Todd Reesing under center again. It’s
possible the twosome could combine for 200 catches.
John Clay, RB Wisconsin
The Badgers always crank out backs that rank among
the nation’s best, and Clay could be the best the program has had since
Ron Dayne. A star recruit a few years ago, Clay should blow up now that
P.J. Hill moved on to the next level. He has the size and 6-2 and 230
pounds, and while he might not have Michael Bennett wheels, he
was a star high
school sprinter who ran in the 4x100 state finals two years in a row.
The 884 yards and nine touchdowns of last year might have just scratched
the surface on what should be a huge career.
Dexter Davis, DE Arizona State
Davis hasn’t made too much of a splash on a national
scale, but that’s not his fault. The Pac 10’s leading returning pass
rusher has 27.5 career sacks and 113 tackles over the last three
seasons, and now he should be in for his biggest season yet. At 6-2 and
252 pounds, he’s not just a beefed up linebacker playing on the end.
With tremendous pop off the line and closing ability, he could be the
next Terrell Suggs. Watch for him to be on the short list for all the
major awards for defensive linemen.
Colin Kaepernick, QB Nevada
While he might not be the next Vince Young,
Kaepernick certainly plays a lot like the former Texas superstar. The
Nevada junior ran for 1,130 yards and 17 touchdowns last season,
averaging 7.02 yards per carry, and he also finished 31st in
the nation in passing throwing for 2,849 yards with 22 touchdowns and
seven interceptions. While he might be running a bit less with Luke
Lippincott getting a sixth year of eligibility to go along with Vai Taua
in the Wolf Pack backfield, he’ll still be among the nation’s best
all-around playmakers. He’ll get a national stage early on in the opener
against Notre Dame.
Case Keenum, QB Houston
Bradford threw for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns in 14 games on his way
to the Heisman. Keenum threw for 5,020 yards and 44 scores while
finishing second in the nation in passing behind Graham Harrell. Keenum
also ran for 221 yards and seven touchdowns, but he’ll make his money at
the next level winging it around. While he only threw for 252 yards in
the Armed Forces Bowl win over Air Force, he threw for 360 yards or more
in the other 12 games of last year and went over 400 yards five times
including the final three games of the season. Get ready to watch up in
September shootouts against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
Sergio Kindle, DE/LB Texas
While he only made 45 tackles last
season, Kindle was on the short list for all the All-America teams as a
linebacker. Late in the year when superstar pass rusher Brian Orakpo
went down, Kindle took over on the end and finished with 12.5 tackles
for loss and ten sacks. Orakpo made 11.5 sacks. Now, Kindle is expected
to spend most of his time as a pure pass rushing end where he should
blow up and get the press Orakpo received last year. He could move back
to linebacker from time to time, but for the most part he’ll be a terror
into the backfield and could become one of the nation’s sack leaders.
Kendall Hunter, RB Oklahoma State
Cal’s Jahvid Best is
the nation’s leading returning rusher, Ball State’s MiQuale Lewis is
second, and Hunter is third. Lewis will have a hard time repeating last
year’s success with so many big losses on the Cardinal offense,
including four starters off the line, and Best will have to show he can
stay healthy for a full season. Hunter ran for 1,555 yards and 16
touchdowns last season coming off a 696-yard, four touchdown freshman
campaign. OSU has all the key parts back on offense, including most of
the starters on the line, meaning Hunter should get past the 1,500-yard
mark again and be in the hunt for the Doak Walker Award from the start.
Charles Scott, RB LSU
Scott ran for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns last
season, tying Knowshon Moreno for the most touchdowns by anyone in the
SEC, but he hasn’t received much in the way of national attention. Part
of the problem was LSU’s struggles compared to the national title season
of 2007, and part of the issue was the lack of production late in the
year rushing for 10 yards against Ole Miss and 28 against Arkansas, both
losses, before scoring three times in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over
Georgia Tech. He might have been held to 35 yards against Florida, but
he ran for 92 yards and two scores against Alabama and 144 yards and two
scores against Georgia. With a strong offensive line returning and what
should be an improved passing game, Scott should be in the hunt for 20+
touchdowns and well over 1,200 rushing yards.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB Missouri
The Tiger defense might have tanked last season, but
Weatherspoon did what he could to carry the front seven by leading the
Big 12 in tackles. He finished fifth in the nation with 155 stops, while
his solo stops alone would’ve made him 38th in the
conference. Not just a run stopper, he picked off three passes, taking
two for touchdowns, and he led the team with 18.5 tackles for loss and
tied for second in sacks with five. With Mizzou rebuilding on both sides
of the ball, he’ll be the team’s signature star and in the hunt for the
Butkus Award all year long.