2010 Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Defense
USC DB Torin Harris
USC DB Torin Harris
Posted Aug 2, 2010

Preview 2010 - The Preseason All-Redshirt Freshman Defense

Preview 2010

All-Redshirt Freshman Defense

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2010 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Offense | 2009 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team 
- 2008 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team | 2007 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Team

For literally hundreds of true freshmen across the country, last season was likely the most frustrating of their athletic careers. Sure, there was plenty of development and maturation taking place, both physically and intellectually, but there were no games to be played, no competition on Saturdays, and no box scores housing their names. For a variety of reasons, these idle warriors were redshirted in 2009, with the notion that they'd return this year a little bigger, a little stronger, and much better prepared to start paying dividends for all of those recruiting trips, phone calls and text messages during the courtship process.

Redshirt freshmen are somewhat of a mystery in college football. While hardly the same young men they were on Signing Day 18 months ago, have they blossomed enough to be every-down contributors this fall? As is often the case, it all depends on the athlete in question and the opportunities on the depth chart.

DL Sam Montgomery, LSU
One of the Tigers' breakout stars of the offseason, Montgomery has played his way into a starting role at defensive end. Virtually unblockable in the spring game, he picked up a couple of sacks and was constantly making his way into the backfield. A little unrefined coming out of high school, he used his first season wisely, adding good weight and fine-tuning his pass rushing skills. Now 6-4 and 240 pounds, he hasn't lost the quick first step or closing speed that's going to make him a factor on a defense looking for more pressure in 2010.

DL Jordan Kohout, Wisconsin
Since arriving as a local, can't-miss prospect, Kohout has gone about the business of reshaping his body, adding 30 pounds and getting significantly stronger at the point of attack. It's paid off. He's already being pegged as a starting defensive tackle on a Badger team that has its sights set on a Big Ten championship. Now adequately sized at 6-3 and 290 pounds, he's poised to turn his tenacity and quickness into results for the Wisconsin run defense.

DL Calvin Howell, Texas
With as much talent as they attract to Austin, you don't crack the starting lineup this soon without being a very special talent. While he lacked consistency at times in the spring, he's basically locked up the tackle job next to all-star contender Kheeston Randall. He actually played in three games as a rookie before going down with an injury and preserving the season of eligibility. At 6-4 and 290 pounds, he's a rugged run defender, with the attitude and upper body strength to create traffic jams in the middle of the line.

DL Dillon Quinn, Boston College
Eagle coaches can't wait to take the seal off Quinn, the cover boy of the program's 2009 class. He has four-year starter written all over him, quickly rising up the depth chart in the spring and taking the lead at the tackle spot next to Damik Scafe. He moves a lot faster and lighter than your average 6-6, 279-pounder, while playing with the get-off of much smaller linemen. A good fit for a program that covets toughness and intelligence, it won't be long before he's building a following on the Heights.

LB Tom Wort, Oklahoma

The ultimate late-bloomer, Wort spent most of his youth in England and didn't start playing football until junior high. He was an obvious natural at the sport, however, quickly becoming one of the nation's top recruits at linebacker. Now, just a year after arriving on campus, he's set to be the Sooners' starter in the middle. Fully recovered from last year's season-ending ACL tear, he's again playing with all of the speed of a heat-sinking missile and the physicality of a future all-star in the Big 12.

LB Jelani Jenkins, Florida
When you're as athletic as Jenkins is, less than prototypical size becomes an afterthought. While listed at a mere 6-1, 200 pounds, he flies all over the field, hitting anything that gets in his path. One of the nation's most heralded recruits of 2009, he plays with tremendous range, prompting the staff to use him liberally on blitzes and in pass coverage. Coming out of spring, he'd outplayed sophomore Jon Bostic in the closely-watched battle to replace Brandon Spikes in the middle of the second line of defense.

LB Quandon Christian, Clemson

Christian made the most of his first spring in Death Valley, rising from third string when the session began to the top of the depth chart at strongside heading into summer. Although he needs to add weight, he has the frame to support it and more than enough time to dedicate himself in the weight room. He's going to make some mistakes in the early going, but has the sideline-to-sideline speed to make an instant impact on defense and special teams.

DB Tavon Bolden, Missouri
At 6-2 and 210 pounds, Bolden looks like a linebacker, yet has the fluid athleticism and ball skills of a cornerback. The result? A strong safety with a very bright future in Columbia. He played well enough in the offseason to be in the hunt for a starting job, showing good pop and instincts in the secondary. Once he gets a better grasp on the defense and irons out some of the wrinkles in pass coverage, he's the type of versatile defender Mizzou coaches will employ in different packages and in different spots on the field.

DB Torin Harris, USC
In the completely rebuilt Trojan secondary, young defensive backs, such as Harris, will have no choice but to contribute very early in their careers. If the past few months are any indication, he looks ready to meet the challenge. He's positioned himself to win the starting cornerback job opposite Shareece Wright, even outplaying much older teammates, like junior T.J. Bryant. He's shown a knack for making plays and getting good a break on the ball, important characteristics as he prepares to get picked on plenty in his debut season.

DB Eric Gordon, Tennessee
Volunteer fans are cautiously optimistic that the program can replace one outstanding Eric—Berry—in the secondary with another. Although Gordon plays cornerback, a different position than the former Tennessee All-American, he has a high ceiling that the staff feels he'll begin approaching this fall. A top recruit from Lane Kiffin's cup of coffee in Knoxville, he plays defense with the mindset of an offensive playmaker, looking to make things happen when he gets his hands on the ball.

DB Cameron Gordon, Michigan
Gordon is one of the young Wolverines being counted on to bolster more than just the secondary in 2010. A wide receiver when he arrived from Inskter (Mich.) High School, he's in the process of making the transition to safety. Given time and reps, he has the blend of athleticism and toughness in a 6-3, 208-pound that'll make him a viable option at a number of different spots on the field. All he needs now is some snaps and a short memory because the occasional blown coverages will be difficult to avoid at this stage of his career.

Honorable Mention – Defense

DL: Nosa Eguae (Auburn), Sione Tuihalamaka (Arizona), Ryne Giddins (South Florida), James Gayle (Virginia Tech), Will Clarke (West Virginia), Jared McAdoo (North Carolina), Shahid Paulhill (Temple), Melvin Fellows (Ohio State), Pearlie Graves (Texas Tech), Kevin Pamphile (Purdue), Justin Chaisson (Oklahoma), Jason Ankrah (Nebraska), Kerry Hyder (Texas Tech)

LB: Kevin Rojas (Duke), Trevor Erno (Arizona), Patrick Larimore (UCLA), Dorian Bell (Ohio State), Tana Patrick (Alabama)

DB: Antone Exum (Virginia Tech), Ross Cockrell (Duke), Logan Ryan (Rutgers), Dexter McDougle (Maryland), Chris Washington (Utah), Osahon Irabor (Arizona State), Deron Wilson (Southern Miss), Gabe Lynn (Oklahoma), Jarvis Phillips (Texas Tech)

- 2010 CFN All-Redshirt Freshman Offense