Preview 2009 ... Top 200
101 to 120
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |
Here are the 200 best players going into the 2009
season. This has nothing to do with pro potential
and these aren't the 200 best pro prospects (that's
a completely different list). These are the stars
for this year and they should be the difference
makers who'll define the season.
101. RB Ryan Mathews, Jr., Fresno State
As long as he can stay healthy, Mathews will be one the nation's elite backs. Never right last year thanks to a knee injury, the 5-11, 210-pounder ran for 606 yards and six touchdowns, and caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores, before being all but out over the last six games. He started off last year with a bang, rushing for 163 yards and three scores in the win over Rutgers, and he tore off 166 yards and a touchdown against UCLA. Now the former high school quarterback, who ran for 3,396 yards and 44 touchdowns as a senior ,has to prove he can handle the workload, after getting knocked out for the year in 2007 with an ankle problem before dealing with all of last year's injury issues.
102. DT Vince Oghobaase, Sr., Duke
decided to return for his senior
year, it ensured that the Blue Devils would have an anchor up front and
a solid overall defensive line. A likely high draft choice next April,
he attracts all kinds of attention from opposing linemen, freeing up his
teammates to make plays. He blends power and quickness into a 6-6,
300-pound frame, fighting through double teams to make stops for
negative yards. As a junior, he had 51 tackles, nine tackles for loss,
and six sacks, all-star numbers for an interior lineman.
103. RB Victor Anderson, Soph., Louisville
In Anderson, Louisville has found its running back for the future. In his first year, he exploded for more than 1,000 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns, en route to being named the Big East Rookie of the Year. Despite getting the all-purpose label and being just 5-9 and 185 pounds, he’s much stronger than he looks and will carry tacklers for more yards. He’s a game-breaker and the focal point of the offense for the foreseeable future.
104. LB Stevenson Sylvester, Sr., Utah
Sylvester had a nice season, finishing second on the team with 73 tackles and with half a sack in the regular season. And then came the Sugar Bowl where he destroyed Alabama with three sacks and seven stops in the dominant performance. The 6-2, 224-pound Rover/weakside linebacker is extremely fast and could be used as a safety if needed. He’s a strong tackler and isn’t afraid to mix it up against the big boys. As the Tide found out, he can be used as a pass rusher, too. If he stays healthy, something he wasn’t able to do early on in his career after suffering an ankle injury, he should be a first-team All-Mountain West performer.
105. QB Kellen Moore, Soph., Boise State
There was a battle for the starting job throughout last offseason with Moore, a left-handed sophomore, barely coming up with the starting nod. It turned out to be the right move as Moore completed 69% of his passes with 25 touchdowns and ten interceptions, while rushing for a score. At 6-0 and 184 pounds he's not big and he doesn't have a rifle arm, but he's deadly accurate fitting the Bronco mold. He set the Washington state high school record for touchdown passes with 173. Ultra-efficient and generally mistake-free, outside of a three-pick day in the win over Nevada, he's great at getting the ball to his receivers on the move and he's a great decision maker for his age.
106. WR Naaman Roosevelt, Sr. Buffalo
Roosevelt was able to finally focus on being just a receiver, after working as a backup quarterback as well as a receiver (after originally being recruited as a quarterback), he had a nice 2007 and then blew up last year with a school-record 104 catches for 1,402 yards and 13 touchdowns. Unstoppable over the second half of last year, he went for 100 yards or more in five straight games highlighted by a ten-grab, 116-yard, three touchdown day against Ball State for the MAC title. He was also on the receiving end of the Hail Mary to beat Temple. Just a receiver again, the 6-0, 187-pounder won't better his numbers without Drew Willy throwing the ball, but he should still be every bit as dangerous.
107. LB Reggie Carter, Sr., UCLA
For a second straight year, the leader of the Bruin linebackers will be the 6-1, 240-pound Carter, the team’s man in the middle. A natural on the inside after pitching in at outside linebacker, he had a Bruin-best 83 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles to earn All-Pac-10 second team honors. While not the fastest member of the group, he has great functional strength and physicality, sifting through the trash and imploding on impact. He will punish the opposition, setting the tone for the rest of the defense.
108. WR Dexter McCluster, Sr., Ole Miss
He might only be 5-8 and 165 pounds, but McCluster is strong enough to carry the offense for
stretches. Not only did he tie for the team-lead in receptions,
catching 44 passes for 625 yards and a touchdown, but he was the
leading rusher working out of the Wild Rebel formation, netting
655 yards and six scores. Extremely quick and hard to find
because of his size, he's great at darting in and out of
blockers and making big things happen. Texas Tech is still
looking for him, after he ran for 97 yards and a score and
caught six passes for 83 yards, but he didn't have a monster,
signature game. Very steady and very consistent, he needs to
stay healthy, considering he had problems with a shoulder injury
early in his career. As long as he's on the field, he'll be a
big-time weapon who'll get the attention of every defense.
109. QB Jake Locker, Jr., Washington
Locker is back in action after missing the final three-quarters of 2008 with a thumb injury. The forecasted breakthrough season never materialized, as the franchise quarterback was limited to less than four games and 93 passing attempts. With Steve Sarkisian and assistant Doug Nussmeier monitoring his every move, he could be ready to turn the corner and become a more complete player. In his first spring with the new staff, he was sharp with his throws, making better decisions and completing more than 60% of his passes, a Sarkisian mandate. At 6-3 and 222 pounds, he remains a load to bring down outside the pocket and one of the team’s best all-around athletes. Remember, back in 2007, he rumbled for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns, en route to being named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
110. WR Brandon LaFell, Sr., LSU
LaFell put off NFL multi-millions for a year to be one of the nation's best receivers. He led the team with 63 catches for 929 yards and eight touchdowns, earning first-team All-SEC honors, highlighted by a 12-catch, 126-yard, one score day against Troy and was consistent throughout the season. At 6-3 and 194 pounds he has tremendous deep speed, averaging 14.7 yards per catch, and will make the tough catch. The outside playmaker will be a certain first rounder next year and has a shot at being the top receiver taken.
111. DE Jan Jorgensen, Sr. BYU
If it weren't for Jerry Hughes at TCU, Jorgensen would be getting all the attention as the Mountain West's premiere end. The 6-3, 259-pound senior will be starting for the fourth straight season after making 54 tackles with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. While he was good, he wasn't the dominant pass rusher he was in previous years making 14 sacks in 2007. He trimmed down a little bit in an attempt to get quicker, and with his quickness, motor, and experience, he'll be the leader of the line and a sure-thing all-star who'll demand double-teaming on every play.
112. QB Tim Hiller, Sr., Western Michigan
The time is now for the senior to take the offense to another level. He came up with a terrific 3,725-yard, 36-touchdown season (along with ten interceptions), but the offense sputtered in the final two games of the season against Ball State and Rice, both losses, and while he threw for 471 yards against Central Michigan, the team lost. He was playing through a balky knee that required ACL surgery this off-season, and while it was as big a deal as the total reconstruction that cost him all of 2006, he’ll still need time to recover. At 6-5 ad 228 pounds, he has the size and he has the arm, and after being around since 2005, he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a statue, but he won’t run for many yards. When all is said and done, he’ll obliterate the WMU record books, but only if his left knee holds up.
113. DE Brandon Lang, Sr. Troy
While the loss of Kenny Mainor early last year to a knee injury was hardly a positive, it allowed Lang to step in and take over in a full-time role. The 6-4, 249-pounder finished with 69 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 28 quarterback hurries as he came back from a knee injury of his own to be a first-team Sun Belt all-star. Originally a Georgia Bulldog, he ended up going the prep school route before joining Troy, and now he’s one of the nation’s best pass rushers.
114. WR Damian Williams, Jr., USC
With nine of last year’s top 10 pass-catchers back, USC is loaded at wide receiver and tight end. The best of the USC receiving corps is the 6-1, 195-pound junior flanker who erupted for 58 catches for 869 yards and nine touchdowns in his first year since transferring from Arkansas. A complete and competitive receiver, he has it all, from sub-4.5 speed and great hands to crisp routes and underrated downfield blocking. He’s the type of receiver, who’ll help make the young quarterbacks better.
115. RB Charles Scott, Sr., LSU
Scott broke free from the running-back-by-committee backfield to rush for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The 5-11, 233-pound senior is extremely quick with a great burst and excellent power. He ran for 95 yards or more in eight of the first ten games, and then everyone loaded up on him and the production tailed off. Even so, he's plugger who's always falling forward and is unstoppable around the goal line. He can also catch a bit with eight grabs for 67 yards, and he's not a bad blocker.
116. RB Darrell Scott, Soph. Colorado
The hype for Scott off the charts. Considered by many to be the nation's top running back recruit last year, he came in and was expected to carry the offense from day one. He was fine, rushing for 343 yards and a touchdown as the team's second leading rusher, but he was hardly special after suffering a slew of minor injures. Last year he wasn't in fighting shape; now he looks the part. A bit tentative at times while rarely showing off the explosiveness of his 4.3 speed last season, this offseason he appears ready to blossom into superstardom. The 6-1, 200-pound sophomore ran for 3,194 yards and 45 touchdowns in his final year in high school and was almost going to go to Texas, but Colorado was able to pry him away and now he should be the focal point of the attack for the next three years.
117. DE Derrick Morgan, Jr., Georgia Tech
Tech will be looking to replace three
linemen, all of whom were either first or second
team All-ACC. Fortunately, the lone returning
starter, the 6-4, 270-pound junior is a good one at defensive end. After
just one year as a starter, he’s already one of the
league’s top rushers, while possessing the size need
to provide support on running downs. In 2008, he had
51 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and
four fumble recoveries. Now, he needs to prove he
can without being surrounded by stars and be the
118. RB Derrick Washington, Jr., Missouri
Washington had a good spring last year and then carried it over to the fall as he took the starting job by the horns and came up with an All-Big 12 season rushing for 1,036 yards and 17 touchdowns averaging 5.9 yards per try. With great hands, he almost never fumbles and was able to come up with 29 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns. At 5-11 and 225 pounds, he's got enough size to power the ball when needed, and he has just enough speed to tear off yards in chunks. He's not a blazer, but he has effective wheels for the offense. The only question mark is whether or not he can be any type of a workhorse. He only ran the ball 177 times and never carried it more than 18 times in a game. Even so, he had a few problems with his knee requiring minor offseason surgery. With the new quarterback under center, the offense will rely on him even more.
119. DE Tyson Alualu, Sr., California
Alualu is coming off a breakthrough, All-Pac-10 season, his second as a regular. At 6-3 and 295 pounds, he’s an end in a tackle’s body, he’s strong up top, uses his hands very well, and will not be out worked. An outstanding run defender, he stepped it up as a pass rusher in 2008, collecting 62 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and six sacks.
120. DT Malcolm Sheppard, Sr., Arkansas
The star of the Hog defensive front is Sheppard, a 6-2, 280-pound senior who's good enough to play either tackle spot, even though he's better when he's not on the nose. The All-SEC performer was second on the team with 68 tackles and led the way with 6.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hurries. Extremely quick for his size, he's a blur into the backfield against most interior offensive linemen, and while he doesn't always close and come up with the sack. he's always providing pressure and collapsing the pocket.
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |