Who's Hot & Not ... Aug. 28
Who's Hot ... From the Bowl Season
Who's Not ... The Preseason
Follow me on Twitter @RichCirminiello
12. East Carolina WR Dwayne Harris
Even before the Pirates replaced Skip Holtz with Ruffin McNeill, Harris was beginning to attract a lot of interest from NFL scouts. Now that the school is making the switch to a Texas Tech-style passing game, the senior is poised to rewrite the ECU history books for a receiver and further improve his draft grade. Like last year, he’ll be used in a variety of different formations, including behind center in the team’s “Wildcat” package.
11. USC LB Devon Kennard
In the offseason, Trojan Chris Galippo was considered a Pac-10 all-star candidate and one of the program’s best defenders. What does it say about Kennard that he’s poised to bump him to the second team and capture the middle the linebacker job? Only in his second year on campus, he’s an immense talent, with an ideal blend of size, quickness, and tenacity to make this promotion stick.
10. Mississippi State RB LaDarius Perkins
Perkins is not Percy Harvin. He’s just going to be utilized a lot like Harvin was when Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen was in Gainesville. While only a redshirt freshman, he possesses the track speed of a homerun hitter and the modest stature to hide behind blockers before exploding into daylight. Although not an every-down back, the Mississippi State staff is determined to find ways to get him in space so he can create mismatches.
9. South Carolina rookie RB Marcus Lattimore
It has not taken Lattimore long to validate the stacks of scholarship offers he received over the past year or so. One of the nation’s most coveted high school running backs, he’s going to make it difficult for the coaches not to make him the feature, especially out of the I-formation. The hope in Columbia is that he’ll be the answer to the Gamecocks’ long-standing malaise in the running game.
Not only does Steve Sarkisian have the Huskies installed as the trendy choice to rise up in the Pac-10, but he continues to hit the recruiting trail with a vengeance. Washington is doing a solid job of improving the overall talent level in Seattle, which will go into hyperdrive if Jake Locker can guide the program back to the postseason for the first time in almost a decade.
7. Texas QB Garrett Gilbert
Of the handful of concerns the ‘Horns have entering the season, Gilbert is no longer considered a pressing one. Just ask his coaches. He’s come along very nicely since the graduation of Colt McCoy, flashing all of the markers of a future star. Don’t be at all surprised if he winds up being the Big 12’s most complete hurler by the second half of this year. He’s going to be that good.
6. Florida State QB Christian Ponder
Ever since recovering from last season’s injury to his throwing shoulder, Ponder has been chugging like a freight train toward a breakout senior year. He’s in fantastic shape and is constantly evolving with his instincts for the position. Even the dismissal of one of his preferred receivers, Jarmon Fortson, can’t squelch the growing excitement for his final year in Tallahassee.
5. Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower
As long as Nick Saban remains in Tuscaloosa, ‘Bama will never have a shortage of defensive playmakers. Hightower is next up. Fully recovered from last fall’s season-ending ACL tear, he’s playing fast again and using all of his 250-plus pounds to easily disengage from blockers. Beyond the obvious physical tools, he’s really taken to the “Mike” position, directing traffic and calling signals like an old pro.
After winning a dozen games and playing in the Fiesta Bowl, the Horned Frogs might feel somewhat content, right? Uh-uh. They’re actually eyeing a repeat and, if a soft schedule doesn’t get in the way, a possible run at the national championship game. With a bunch of starters back, the staff intact, and its highest preseason ranking ever, TCU may be just getting started.
3. Two-sport athletes
It’s been a memorable offseason for dual-sport athletes, especially those wearing stirrups. Clemson QB Kyle Parker was chosen in the first round by the Colorado Rockies. NC State QB Russell Wilson was drafted in the fourth round by the Rockies. Villanova WR Matt Szczur tore through the Chicago Cubs farm system in the summer. And former New York Yankee minor leaguer Brandon Weeden is set to become Oklahoma State’s new starting quarterback. Parker, Wilson, and Szczur have all decided to continue their football careers for at least one more fall.
Okay, so it hasn’t approached the level of Texas or Notre Dame, but BYU has proven to be an unexpectedly powerful player in realignment discussions. When the Cougars sneezed earlier in the month, every other non-AQ conference caught a cold. As it weighs independence versus a return to the Mountain West, the program might be on the verge of becoming a poor-man’s, western version of the Irish
(although it's leaning towards sticking around in
the stronger version of the league).
1. Boise State
Depending on what happens in the opener with Virginia Tech, the Broncos are on the verge of becoming one of e primary stories of 2010. Ranked in the top five of the opening AP and Coaches polls, they’re going to be in legitimate range of Glendale with another perfect regular season and a break or two along the way. Plus, Boise seems to be handling the glare of the spotlight well, which will become blinding if it escapes September unscathed.
Who's Not ... The Preseason