Preview 2009 ... Top 200
161 to 180
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.
161. DT John Fletcher, Sr. Wyoming
The line found its star two years ago with the emergence of Fletcher, and he came up with another strong year making 54 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss earning second-team All-Mountain West honors. He wasn’t the pass rusher he was two years ago, but the tweener in the 3-4 should be a terror once again with 6-6, 272-pound size to stuff the run and the quickness and non-stop motor to get into the backfield on a more regular basis once he’s 100% healthy again. He got banged up this offseason but will be fine to start the year.
162. NG Nate Frazier, Sr. Navy
Frazier is back on the Navy nose. At 6-3 and 287 pounds, he's the team's biggest D lineman and he might be the most indispensible player because of his bulk. The rare Navy lineman who could start at several other places, he has gotten stronger, more consistent, and better making 44 tackles with a sack and nine tackles for loss. He's not just a brick wall in the middle; he can move and will chase down plays.
163. QB Trevor Vittatoe, Jr., UTEP
Some pretty good quarterbacks have passed through El Paso over the years. Vittatoe is well on his way to becoming the best to ever wear the blue and orange. In two seasons, he’s been a model of poise and precision, throwing nearly four times as many touchdowns as interceptions and performing in the clutch. As a sophomore, he was a crisp 246-of-418 for 3,274 yards, a school-record 33 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. While the 6-2, 220-pounder doesn’t own a howitzer, he has nice touch on his passes and is off-the-charts in terms of intangibles.
164. LB Caleb Bostic, Sr., Miami Univ.
The 6-3, 232-pound Bostic missed three games last season and had an underwhelming 40 tackles with 1.5 sacks. More like a weakside linebacker playing on the strong side, he's great at stuffing the run and is strong enough to handle any blocking tight end. He should break out and have a big final year, or at least be back to his 103-tackle sophomore form, after having problems with a foot injury last year. When he's right, he's all over the field making plays and he's a great threat in the backfield.
165. WR/KR T.Y. Hilton, Soph. FIU
The FIU passing game needed a new playmaker to emerge, and one did … and right away. Hilton was a good recruit for the program who turned into the Sun Belt’s breakout playmaker with a team-leading 41-catch, 1,013-yard, seven touchdown true freshman season. Overlooked mainly because he’s only 5-9 and 168 pounds, Hilton overcame his size by showing off blinding speed every time he touched the ball averaging 24.7 yards per catch while averaging 23.4 yards per kickoff return and 14.8 yards per punt return. He also ran for two scores. The offense will use him in a variety of ways again and he should be in the hunt for Sun Belt Player of the Year honors.
166. FS Van Eskridge, Sr., East Carolina
The headliner of the good ECU pass defense will once again be the 6-0, 200-pound senior, last year’s defensive MVP and All-Conference USA first teamer. A complete player at the position, he’ll deliver the payload like a linebacker and cover receivers with the deft of a corner. A genuine playmaker, with a penchant for quickly diagnosing plays, he’s started the last three seasons, making 97 tackles and picking off four passes last fall.
167. DE Dontay Moch, Jr., Nevada
The 6-1, 245-pound junior earned all-star recognition after making 50 tackles with a team-leading 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss. While he’s not just a backfield terror, he needs to get better against the run. He’s a willing tackler, and now he has to be more consistent. The key to his game is speed. He was able to beef up last year without losing a step.
168. QB Joseph Webb, Sr., UAB
The Blazers had to be kicking themselves that they didn’t hand the ball to the 6-4, 220-pound Webb sooner after he emerged as the program’s best offensive weapon. A jack-of-all-trades in his first two seasons, he became a full-time quarterback last fall, flashing exciting dual-threat ability at the position. Without Sam Hunt looking over his shoulder, he took almost every snap, going 208-of-353 for 2,367 yards, 10 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, adding 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Not your typical scrambling quarterback, he’ll lower his shoulder and bury defenders who don’t get their feet planted. As a passer, he needs to develop more touch and stop bird-dogging so many passes.
169. RB Toby Gerhart, Sr., Stanford
When Gerhart rumbled for 140 yards on just 12 carries in his lone appearance of 2007, who knew it was a precursor of things to come? The 6-1, 237-pound wrecking ball returned with a vengeance from season-ending knee surgery, finishing third in the Pac-10 with 1,136 yards and 15 touchdowns on 210 carries. A physical, north-south runner in the John Riggins mold, he has good balance and does an outstanding job of picking up yards after contact. When the Cardinal needs a first down or a touchdown, he’s a load to bring to the ground.
170. DE Pierre Allen, Jr. Nebraska
He held the spot at the Open End in place of Turner after the second game of the year and finished third on the team with 52 tackles with five sacks and ten tackles for loss. A phenomenal athlete, he beefed up to get to 6-5 and 265 pounds and proved he could be more of a factor against the run and not just a pass rushing specialist.
171. DE Greg Middleton, Sr., Indiana
Middleton led the nation in sacks in 2007 with 16 to go along with 17 tackles for loss and 50 stops. With his pass rushing ability and his 6-3, 285-pound size he was one of the hottest players coming into the 2008 season, but he struggled as a marked man and wasn’t able to generate the same production making just four sacks and 18 stops. He’ll move around a little bit and will see some time at tackle, but it’s salary drive time. An ideal 3-4 end at the next level, he needs a 2007-like season to boost his stock back up. Now that he has pushed harder this offseason to become a star again, he should be back to form.
172. LB Dekoda Watson, Sr., Florida State
The FSU linebacking corps hinges on the
health of the 6-2, 226-pound senior,
who sat out spring to recover from elbow surgery. Arguably
the best all-around athlete on defense, he has the potential
to wreak havoc from strongside, using his blazing speed and
nasty streak to harass quarterbacks and hunt down backs.
Health issues aside, he’s the type of playmaker, who can
blow past last year’s 46 tackles and eight tackles for loss.
173. RB Graig Cooper, Jr., Miami
Cooper is a bona fide gamebreaker, who can go the distance with a little help from his blockers. He accelerates through the hole quickly and has the cutback ability to make defenders whiff in the open field. When an opening presented itself in 2008, he capitalized with a team-best 841 yards and four scores on 171 carries. Named the team’s most versatile player, he’s also a talented pass-catcher, which Mark Whipple covets in his offense.
174. LB Martez Wilson, Jr., Illinois
J Leman made 351 career tackles as a star in the middle. Brit Miller stepped in and had an All-Big Ten season making 132 stops. Middle linebacker is the superstar position in the Illinois defense, but Leman and Miller were good players who didn't have big-time talent. Wilson is a next-level talent who hasn't been able to put it all together yet. Considered every bit the top recruit that Arrelious Benn was in 2006, Wilson has been fine, but nothing special making 29 tackles two years ago before a 73-tackle sophomore season that wasn't as good as the stats would indicate. A good pass rusher, he made three sacks with 5.5 tackles for loss, and now his numbers could go through the roof moving from the weakside to the middle. At 6-4 and 240 pounds he has prototype NFL 3-4 linebacker size and speed, and now he might get the stats and recognition to earn all-star status.
175. TE D.J. Williams, Jr., Arkansas
While the Hog receiving corps should be better in the second year under head coach Bobby Petrino, the team's best receiver is Williams, a future NFL starter. A big-time talent with all the skills, the junior is a Mackey Award semifinalist who led the Hogs with 61 catches for 723 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-2 and 251 pounds, it would be nice if he was a bit taller and wasn't built like a fullback, but he's a fantastic route runner with deep speed and consistent hands. He'll be more than just a safety valve; he'll be a go-to target.
176. OT Anthony Davis, Jr., Rutgers
Those Rutgers fans looking for a reason to get excited can feast their eyes on this offensive line, which returns all five starters and might be the Big East’s best unit. The front man will be the 6-6, 325-pound Davis, a next-level blocker, coming off an all-star season. After playing right guard as a rookie, he made a seamless transition to left tackle, flashing the power and agility of a budding star. With continued development, he’ll be in a position to seriously consider leaving early for the NFL at the end of the season.
177. LB Pat Angerer, Sr., Iowa
From out of nowhere, the 6-1, 235-pound senior went to a benchwarmer to an All-Big Ten caliber playmaker. After making six tackles in his first two years, he hit everything that moved, and plenty of things that didn't, with a team-leading 107 stops with 6.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions. Extremely quick and very tough against the run, he doesn't get dragged to get a runner down and he doesn't make too many plays down the field. He's a point-of-attack defender who showed stunning instincts against the pass.
178. DE Will Tukuafu, Sr., Oregon
Much like the offensive line, the Duck defensive line has endured some major hits as well. Gone are three starters, including perennial All-Pac-10 end Nick Reed. The new headliner up front for the Ducks will be the 6-4, 272-pound Tukuafu, who's is all set to step outside of Reed’s shadow. He broke through in a big way as a junior, making 59 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. At his size, he has the strength and heavy hands to stop the run like a tackle, yet is obviously quick enough to get penetration and makes stops for minus yards.
179. WR Demaryius Thomas, Jr., Georgia Tech
Despite popular opinion, Georgia Tech will still
throw the ball on occasion. And when it does, the 6-3,
229-pound junior is likely to be the target. Considering
the system he’s in, he did a magnificent job of
catching 39 balls for 627 yards and three
touchdowns, or five times as many catches as the
next closest receiver. A physical receiver, who can
get behind the secondary, he has also become an
asset as a downfield blocker.
180. C Stefen Wisniewski, Jr., Penn State
The Penn State line was amazing last year, but now it has to undergo some major changes with some key new starters needing to replace the departed all-stars. With A.Q. Shipley gone at center, Wisniewski will move over from right guard, where he started for most of last year when he wasn't working on the left side. The nephew of former Penn State and NFL star, Steve, beefed up this offseason to get up to 302 pounds on a 6-3 frame, and now he should be even more physical and stronger for the running game. While he should be a star at center, he'll make his money at the next level at guard.
The Top 200 Players