Preview 2009 ... Top 200
141 to 160
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.
141. CB Dominique Franks, Jr. Oklahoma
Franks had a good season earning first-team All-Big 12 honors after making 43 tackles with four interceptions and ten broken up passes. The team's top shut-down corner, he appears ready to take his game to a whole other level after a tremendous offseason where he became more of a leader and even more of a playmaker. He as good size at 6-0 and 192 pounds and has the speed and quickness expected out of the OU's best pass defender. He was supposed to be the next great Sooner corner when he arrived, and he's about to become it.
141. SS Darrell Stuckey, Sr. Kansas
With all the shuffling in the secondary last year, there was one constant. Stuckey started every game at strong safety and finished second on the team with 98 tackles with five interceptions, seven broken up passes, and 4.5 tackles for loss. The First Team All-Big 12 performer is a 6-1, 205-pound big hitter who started to do more against the pass last year to go along with his ability to stuff everything in run support. With the speed to play free safety if needed, to go along with his hitting ability, he’s one of the team’s most valuable players. The defense needs his leadership and his production.
142. LB Travis Lewis, Soph. Oklahoma
Lewis came up with a huge first season with a team-leading 144 tackles with 3.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and four interceptions on the weakside. Now the 6-2, 232-pound sophomore is expected to do even more after earning first-team All-Big 12 honors with the experience to go along with his tremendous quickness and smarts. A tremendous high school running back, he has been timed at 4.34 in the 40 and has phenomenal weight room strength. Able to play any position in the linebacking corps, he'll produce no matter where he lines up.
143. RB Anthony Dixon, Sr., Miss State
Until the passing game comes around, if it comes around, the offense will be all about Dixon ... at least it will after he gets out of the doghouse after getting arrested this summer. The senior got way too heavy, tipping in at around 255 pounds, but he got in better shape and appears ready to be a special back as the focal point of the attack. He's not a trim, for him, 6-1 and 235 pounds with 4.5 speed and the flash to take off on big runs and be used as a receiver. He ran for 1,066 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2007 but was held in check last year rushing for 869 yards and seven scores with three 100-yard games. However he was stuffed by the better defenses, rushing for just 26 yards against Alabama and five yards by Auburn. Already the school's all-time leading rusher, with 2,788 yards and 30 scores, he'll be a lock for 1,000 yards if he can stay healthy.
144. DT Lawrence Guy, Soph., Arizona State
Guy was supposed to be good when he was plucked out of Las Vegas, but not this good, this fast. While certainly built like a tackle at 6-5 and 293 pounds, he moves with the quickness and agility of an end, providing constant penetration from the inside. In a stellar Freshman All-America debut, he had 44 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and two sacks, already looking as if he’ll play on Sundays in a few years.
145. WR/KR Antonio Brown, Jr., Central Michigan
Bryan Anderson might be considered the go-to target because of his seniority, but Brown has been the better receiver over the last two years. After catching 102 passes for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns, while setting the D-I record for all-purpose yards as a freshman with 2,267, he was even better as a sophomore catching 93 balls for 998 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 116 yards and finishing with 2,315 total yards. The 5-10, 180 pounder is extremely quick and an elite kick and punt returner, and he can strike from anywhere on the field evidenced by a 93-yard touchdown play against Eastern Michigan. Insanely fast, he was an all-state Florida high school sprinter, he's more than just a deep threat; he can make grabs anywhere.
He's also one of the nation's elite return men
averaging 20.5 yards per punt return.
146. DE Albert McClellan, Sr., Marshall
The Herd loses just one letterman from a line that could set the tone for the rest of the defense in 2009. All eyes will be on McClellan, the former Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, who sat out 2007 with an ACL tear and played to mixed reviews in 2008. A 6-2, 252-pound beast coming off the edge, he earned a spot on the all-league first team, but only had 58 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks, modest numbers by his standards. The hope around Huntington is that he can approach the form that resulted in 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2006.
147. CB Stephan Virgil, Sr., Virginia Tech
The 5-11, 189-pound senior is slated to take over
for Macho Harris at boundary corner. He sparkled in his debut,
starting all 14 games and making 43 stops and tying
Harris with a team-high six interceptions. A
physical defender, with long arms, he’ll make his
man earn every reception.
148. RB DeMarco Murray, Jr. Oklahoma
If Murray was 100% healthy throughout his career, he'd be considered a lock for All-America honors and would be in the Heisman hunt. Instead, the 6-1, 214-pound junior is trying to get over a hamstring injury suffered on the opening kickoff in the Big 12 Championship game. He was able to overcome a dislocated kneecap suffered on an onside kick in the 2007 loss to Texas Tech, and now he appears to be 100% again after his latest problem. A phenomenal athlete with 4.43 speed and a 41-inch vertical, he has all the skills to be a next-level back. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry with 1,002 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and was a tremendous receiver with 31 catches for 395 yards and four scores. While he was also an elite kickoff returner, averaging 27.6 yards per try, his injury issues might keep him out of the role.
149. DE Kevin Basped, Jr., Nevada
The star up front for the Wolf Pack is Basped, a 6-6, 240-pound pass rushing terror. The All-WAC senior took over the job two years ago, and now he’s stronger and expected to blow up into a national star. Along with a solid 50 tackles, he came up with 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss showing a blast off the ball and great closing quickness when he got a bead in the backfield. He’s a hard worker who’ll only get better.
150. WR Mike Williams, Jr., Syracuse
While the Orange has had plenty of offseason defections, there was one noteworthy return that’ll have a huge impact on the offense. Williams is back in Upstate New York after spending last season taking classes at Springfield (Mass.) Technical Community College. One of the Big East’s premier receivers, he carries into the season a nine-game streak with a touchdown catch, longest among active players. When last seen, he was making 60 grabs for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns, using his 6-2, 204-pound frame and good hops to get position on defenders.
151. LB Alex Wujciak, Jr., Maryland
The career of the 6-3, 255-pound Wujciak was shot out of a cannon in
2008. A year after missing the entire season to a
knee injury, he had a team-high 133 tackles and 8.5
tackles for loss, en route to the All-ACC second
team. A high-motor, high-intensity performer, he has
the size, range, and instincts to be one of the
nation’s premier inside linebackers.
152. DT Lamarr Houston, Sr. Texas
The 6-2, 290-pound senior will move over to nose tackle to replace Roy Miller after making 20 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. Even though he’s very quick and very tough, his production dipped after making a permanent move to the inside after playing on the end. Part of the problem was that he was figuring out the position, and part of the problem was a foot injury that kept him at less than 100%.
153. OG Jeff Byers, Sr., USC
Next to O’Dowd at left guard will be the cagey, 6-3, 290-pound Byers, a sixth-year senior enjoying a rebirth at the tail end of his career. After missing the 2005 and 2006 seasons to injuries, he’s regrouped nicely to earn all-conference honors the last two seasons. A tireless technician and the most cerebral member of the line, he’s an inspiration and a role model, especially for the younger Trojans.
154. QB Andy Schmitt, Sr., Eastern Michigan
Schmitt had shown sparks throughout his career of potentially being a special player, with some great running games and a few hot stretches as a passer, but he never put it all together like he did over the final five games of last year. Against Temple, he threw 76 times for 484 yards and three touchdowns in the 55-52 loss, and he followed it up with a 80-attempt, 516-yard, five touchdown game in the win over Central Michigan to close the year out. He has 6-4, 238-pound size, the running ability to gain 171 yards and five touchdowns, even though he could be used more as a runner, and he completed 63% of his passes for 2,644 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The big key will be staying healthy. He was dinged up at times last year and he struggled through 2007 with a shoulder injury.
155. RB Bryce Beall, Soph., Houston
In one of last year’s really big upsets, the pass-first Cougars had a 1,000-yard rusher. Even more surprising was that it was Beall, as a true freshman, the first rookie in school history to eclipse that mark. A revelation by every possible measure, he rushed 198 times for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns, adding 34 catches for 496 yards and four touchdowns. A 5-11, 205-pounder, he’s got outstanding vision through the hole and enough explosiveness to get into the secondary in a hurry. His soft hands mean he has value to the offense on every down.
156. SS Kyle McCarthy, Sr., Notre Dame
McCarthy stepped in for Tom Zbikowski at strong safety and turned into a whale of a defender. The 6-1, 203-pounder led the team with 110 tackles, a team-record for defensive backs, with two interceptions and 3.5 tackles for loss, and while he didn't do enough to come up with big plays when the ball was in the air, he didn't miss any stops against the run and he was all over the field. While he's not the tone-setting hitter that Zbikowski was, he's a steadier player.
157. LB Bear Woods, Sr. Troy
Working again on the weakside is Woods, a 6-0, 228-pound guided missile who was second on the team with 108 tackles with two sacks and seven tackles for loss. While he didn’t do enough against the pass, he more than made up for it by holding up against the run, the big question mark for him coming into last season. Boris Lee got all the attention, but Woods still earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors. He could be a first-teamer this season.
158. FS Antonio Baker, Sr., Louisiana Tech
Baker's a tackling machine who led the team two years ago with 118 stops and last year with 115 tackles, to go along with three interceptions, three forced fumbles, and 4.5 tackles for loss from his free safety position. A consistent tackler who doesn’t miss a stop, the 5-11, 208-pound two-time first-team All-WAC selection gets all over the field like a fourth linebacker against the run. However, he has to do more when the ball is in the air. While he can’t do it all alone, he has to make even more big plays and has to provide more help to the new corners.
159. LB Cardia Jackson, Sr., ULM
Jackson was a top playmaker from day one with 264 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his three seasons. He has become more of a pass rusher with four of his sacks coming last year, along with a team-leading 127 tackles, and now he’ll have even more to do as the main man on the inside in the new alignment. At 6-2 and 240 pound he has good size, after bulking up in the last year, and he’s a guided missile when he gets on the move. The senior doesn’t miss a tackle and has gotten better in pass coverage.
160. QB Jimmy Clausen, Jr., Notre Dame
Clausen came in as an over-hyped, coming-out-of-a-limo recruit who was going to put Notre Dame over the top finally might do it if he can be more consistent. 42-0 as a high school starter, he was considered by many to be the nation's top recruit with the size, athleticism, and arm to have gone anywhere, but he struggled early on. Killed behind a miserable offensive line and with no receivers to throw to as a true freshman, and trying to get over arm surgery, he threw for just 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns with six interceptions. The 6-3, 217-pounder bulked up, has a stronger arm with more zip on his throws, and he showed an inkling of what he can do when everything is clicking with a 22-of-26, 401-yard, five touchdown day against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl after coming off a disastrous 11-of-22, 41-yard, two touchdown performance against USC. On the year he completed 61% of his throws for 3,172 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he threw 17 interceptions with two or more in eight games. He had a terrific spring overall and appears to have a far better command of the attack. With NFL skills and two years of experience, now is the time to live up to the potential. His brothers Rick and Casey were starters at Tennessee.
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |