Slipping Through the Cracks: College Football Sleeper Recruits of 2009

Mitch Wilson@sportschatplaceSenior Writer IJanuary 27, 2009

While the final gun has sounded for this year's college football season, the game never takes a rest for me. While my site, The College Football Place, has been overrun by college hoops articles as I prepare to launch my college basketball site, The College Basketball Place, I still can't keep my eye off of the game that's always No. 1 to me, college football.

Of course, all of the attention is focused on next week's National Signing Day. Most of the talk is of the top-level recruits, the guys who seemingly can't miss and who the recruiting gurus drool over as if they are the second coming of Herschel Walker.

While some of the top-tier rated players may go on to become this year's freshman impact players, like Julio Jones and Sean Spence were in 2008, most will go on to become team players who have a nice college career and get a good education in the process.

Along with those multi-star recruits who have been playing in all-star games and sorting through the seemingly hundreds of offers are players who have just a few choices and who have flown under the radar.

These are the players we call the sleepers, those who may not be on the front page of the recruiting guide but certainly have all of the tools to end up not only on the radar, but as key players on our favorite teams. Here are 10 that I feel fit this mold, and I wouldn't be too surprised to be hearing from them over the next few years:

1) Taylor Hughes, QB, Orange Coast College, 6'3" 215 (Uncommitted)

It always amazes me when I see a kid with this kind of talent not getting much interest. As I watch college football every Saturday, I never see teams that have too many QBs with game experience, a rocket arm, and run in the 4.4 40 range. While he may not have been on everyone's radar screen throughout this year's recruiting process, this won't be the last we hear of Hughes, as his future is undoubtedly as bright as whomever is lucky enough to land his services.

2) Brandon Mitchell, Ath, Amite (LA) Amite, 6'4" 220 (Arkansas)

Brandon Mitchell is a basketball player turned football player, a seemingly magical combination in recent years. Mitchell had committed to play hoops at LSU but came to the realization that his future is in football, so he de-comitted. As a QB in high school last year, Mitchell threw for 1,888 yards, going 101-for-150 with 25 TDs and five INT's.

He also ran for 789 and 14 TDs on 98 carries. The talent pool is deep in the state of Louisiana this year, and Mitchell is one of many who should make their mark across the country.

3) Johnny Forzani, WR, West Hills JUCO (Calgary), 6'1" 205 (Washington State)

I'm not sure there can be more of a sleeper than Johnny Forzani, who never played a down of high school football. Son of Canadian football Hall of Famer Tom Forzani, Johnny tried out for the Calgary Stampeders (CFL) at open tryouts and made their junior team.

He caught 37 balls for 702 yards and nine TDs while averaging a league-high 20.6 yards per catch. Forzani wasn't ranked through much of the recruiting process but caught the eye of many running a 4.37 40. He has three years of eligibility.

4) Thomas Gordon, FS, Detroit (MI) Cass Tech, 5'11" 200 (Michigan)

Gordon is diverse enough to play several positions and is one of those players who just seems to be a natural leader. Aside from excelling on the field, Gordon brings with him a 3.1 GPA in the classroom. Sometimes players just seem like a perfect fit for a program, and Michigan and Gordon just look like a perfect match.

5) Kellen Williams, Guard, Snellville (GA) Brookwood, 6'3" 295 (Alabama)

While Kellen Williams isn't on any of the All-American teams, he's the highest rated player on my list of sleepers. He also had the most offers of any of the players on our list, including looks from such big-time programs as Florida State and Boston College. Some project Williams as a tackle over the long run, and he should excel under coach Nick Saban, who knows a few things about big offensive linemen.

6) Bennie Fowler, WR, Detroit (MI) Country Day, 6'2" 185 (Michigan State)

Bennie Fowler has a world of potential and his stock has risen late in the recruiting process. He wasn't as highly ranked coming into the season, as he was injured most of his junior year, but he's a sprinter who runs a 4.4 40, has a tremendous upside, and could be end up being a major contributor. He is still considered somewhat of a raw talent, but with some solid coaching, he can be a home run threat on every play.

7) Darwin Rogers, QB, Leo (Chicago, IL),6'3" 219 ( Uncommitted)

While many programs are interested in Darwin Rogers, most are interested in converting him to another position. Rogers prefers to play QB and he has proven himself to be an accurate pocket passer. It's probably this indecision regarding exactly where he'll play on the field that has affected his ranking and schools' interest in him, but he certainly has the talent and ability to play somewhere at the next level.

8) Curtis Porter, DT, Charlotte (NC) Victory Christian, 6'2" 330 (Miami)

Over the years, Miami has built some of the best defenses of all time based on finding a diamond in the rough in the form of a large, not so highly ranked, defensive tackle who occupies a lot of space and gets a big surge up the middle. And there is no reason to believe that Curtis Porter doesn't fit that bill. It's tough to argue Miami's success at evaluating talent at DT, and based on that alone, I like Porter's chances of succeeding.

9) Zaccheus Mason, TE, Nashville (TN) Christ Presbyterian Academy, 6'5" 250 (Uncommitted)

Zaccheus Mason is another converted basketball player who seems to be a natural fit at tight end. Mason fits the mold of the big guy who can run the field and is sporting offers from big SEC schools, in Tennessee and Ole Miss. He'll make some QB very happy in the not so distant future.

10) Tim Tucker, LB, Harbor City (CA) Narbonne, 6'2" 240 (Washington)

Tim Tucker played some defensive end in high school, but he projects as a middle linebacker at the next level. He led his high school team in sacks, but he should provide decent range from sideline to sideline, something the Huskies have been missing. He turned down an offer from Arizona Sate to join Washington, a place he will probably have an opportunity to contribute early.

Because recruiting coverage has become so in-depth in recent years, it's hard for any player to truly fly under the radar. While none of these players are on the top of any rankings list today, I think they have a pretty good chance of becoming stars of tomorrow.


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