Recruiting Rewind: Looking Back on the Week 1 Heisman Favorites as Recruits
Today, and all throughout this weekend, many people will be enjoying themselves like it is a holiday because our beloved college football is back. Many story lines and intrigue surround this season, and it is sure to be an exciting one.
One of the big story lines every year is who is going to win the Heisman Trophy. Robert Griffin III of Baylor took home the honor last year, and USC QB Matt Barkley is the preseason favorite. However, there is a great amount of other talented players that will contend for the award this year, and this read will give the race an interesting twist.
Let's look back at the week one Heisman favorites to when they were high school prospects and recruits coming in as freshmen.
6. Landry Jones, QB (Oklahoma)
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He was a bit chubby in high school and wasn't highly touted until he went to the Elite 11 camp and lit up, showcasing a strong arm and great accuracy.
Today, Jones is viewed as a potential first-round NFL draft pick and is the starting QB for an Oklahoma team with national championship aspirations.
5. Marcus Lattimore, RB (South Carolina)
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Lattimore was the best RB in the country in 2010 recruiting, where Rivals ranked him at No. 10 overall that cycle. He won Mr. Football for South Carolina and was viewed as a legend around the Palmetto State.
His combination of size and speed, along with instincts, vision, lateral quickness, elusiveness, power, patience and production made him an excellent prospect.
Lattimore has not disappointed at all for the Gamecocks, and despite missing most of last season with a knee injury, he's expected to be his old self in 2012.
4. Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
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In 2009, Eugene Smith was ranked the No. 146th best player in the nation by Rivals.com. He was a tall and lanky QB from Florida who stood 6'3" and weighed just over 180 pounds.
Yet, this kid could whip the football as well as any passer in the country. His arm strength and potential were big time, and West Virginia knew it was getting a gem.
He's known as "Geno" now and is one of the best players in the country. Smith has been very productive in Morgantown and has increased his field vision, accuracy and touch. Look for him to put up monster numbers this year and be a factor to get to New York.
3. Denard Robinson, QB (Michigan)
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While Smith was ranked at just No. 146, Robinson was even lower at No. 188 in the Rivals 250 for 2009. A 6'0", 179-pounder, evaluators could not figure out what Robinson would be in college.
He was so athletic that a move to WR, RB or DB was more expected than for him to be left at QB. But Rich Rodriguez saw Robinson as a perfect fit for his spread option scheme as a QB for Michigan, which is the position Robinson wanted to play.
Today, he's one of the most exciting players in the country bar none. Robinson has put the Wolverines on his back at times and won games with his playmaking, speed and arm. It's going to be interesting to see how Alabama defends him Saturday night.
2. Montee Ball, RB (Wisconsin)
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Ball, out of Missouri as a 2009 prep RB prospect, was ranked just the No. 33 RB prospect in the country by Rivals.com. He was a 5'11", 205-pounder with excellent production as a junior after running for over 3,000 yards and 32 TDs.
He was tough, showed great quickness, ran hard with solid strength and had good speed to reel off long runs. That basically sounds like the gist of Ball's game today as he's one of the best RBs in America.
1. Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
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I remember seeing Barkley start for Mater Dei High School as a freshman and came away impressed. He got better year after year and was seen as something of a phenom around SoCal and the country.
It was almost a forgone conclusion that he was going to USC, and even after Jimmy Clausen chose Notre Dame over the Trojans, there wasn't much panic because Barkley was coming on strong.
A 6'2", 220-pounder as a senior and Rivals' No. 1 QB in 2009, Barkley was advanced in his understanding of coverages, pre- and post-snap reads, anticipation to throw to open targets and knowledge of protections, while also having great arm strength and accuracy.
Barkley, the first true freshman QB to start in week one in USC history, could have been a first round pick last year, but passed up the chance to come back to USC to win a national title and the Heisman.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects & writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.