10 Recruits That Will Benefit Most from Spring Practice

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IFebruary 4, 2013

10 Recruits That Will Benefit Most from Spring Practice

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    While Wednesday is the celebrated day when recruits sign their national letters of intent, some recruits have already signed with their colleges. Those recruits have been allowed to sign because they qualify academically to enroll early and begin working with the team for spring practice.

    Spring practice, or "spring ball" as some call it, is crucial for all programs. It gives the coaches a chance have about two weeks' worth of solid practice time with the team to prepare for fall camp. Most of the recruits who sign with schools on Wednesday won't be on their respective college campuses until the early summer.

    Those who have already signed and enrolled early will be able to start working out now and practice with their college teams in the spring. For this slideshow, we're here to look at the 10 recruits who are early enrollees and who will benefit the most from spring practice.

10. Danny Etling, QB

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    Enrolled at: Purdue

    Purdue is a program that is going through a transition right now, as they have a new coach in Darrell Hazell. I'm, also a big believer in quarterback recruits enrolling early and getting started in college as soon as possible.

    Etling will do that for the Boilermakers, as the 6'3", 210-pounder is certainly the quarterback of the future. He'll benefit greatly from getting some reps in the spring and getting acclimated to the offense.

9. Jake Butt, TE

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    Enrolled at: Michigan

    Michigan has young up-and-comer Devin Funchess at the tight end position, but not much depth after that. Butt has already gotten to Ann Arbor and should be ready to go for spring ball.

    The 6'6", 231-pounder has good length, solid release quickness and soft hands. He shows the toughness to hold up as a blocker and should use the spring to position himself to gain extensive snaps in the fall.

8. Chris Hawkins, CB

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    Enrolled at: USC

    Nickell Robey has gone to the NFL and the No. 2 cornerback position was a swinging door last year at USC. Factor that in with a new defensive scheme being implemented and Hawkins enrolling early becomes that much more important.

    At nearly 6'0" tall but only about 165 pounds, Hawkins needs use the spring to not only learn the defense but to also add bulk and strength. He has great potential, athleticism and length to be a top-flight Pac-12 cover man, but he'll benefit a ton by getting a head start in USC's strength program.

7. Daniel McMillan, LB

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    Enrolled at: Florida

    The Gators are looking for some 'backers and already have McMillan, Matt Rolin and Alex Anzalone coming to Gainesville early. McMillan figures to benefit the most from spring ball because his versatility will help get him on the field in the fall.

    McMillan will display that in the spring, as he can play several linebacker positions, blitzes well and can cover running backs and tight ends.

6. Jake Raulerson, OL

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    Enrolled at: Texas

    Raulerson is a tough 6'5", O-line prospect who has the ceiling to be able to play all five positions across the offensive front. The only thing is, he is barely 270 pounds right now.

    Getting him to Austin now gives Mack Brown and his staff the chance to start bulking Raulerson up. He will be a starter soon enough, but using this spring to gauge his strength and adding bulk will serve as a great benefit to him.

5. Tray Matthews, QB

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    Enrolled at: Georgia

    Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo have both gone off to get drafted, and UGA is in search for two new safeties. The 6'0", 194-pound Matthews has good size, athleticism and other skills that should bode well for a good career in Athens.

    Matthews will benefit from practicing this spring because he can come in, start learning Todd Grantham's defense and then roll into fall camp with the comfort level of a redshirt freshman, rather than a true freshman. 

    Matthews could challenge for playing time in 2013, thanks to enrolling early and practicing in the spring.

4. Taco Charlton, DE

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    Enrolled at: Michigan

    Charlton has outstanding size at 6'6" and 250 pounds, good length, strength and quickness. He needs seasoning and should benefit from practicing at Michigan in the spring because the coaches can start refining his technique.

    Charlton has to start using his hands better, and with Brady Hoke being a defensive line coach at heart, look for the top Wolverine to be hands-on at times with Charlton.

3. Brice Ramsey, QB

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    Enrolled at: Georgia

    As I stated earlier, I'm a firm believer in quarterback recruits enrolling early. It gives them a jump start on the play book and getting adjusted to college life, which is more important for quarterbacks.

    Ramsey also needs as many reps as he can get. His high school offense wasn't always quarterback-friendly and he needs more reps at reading coverages, making checks and distributing the football downfield.

    Enrolling in Athens early gives him even more time to learn from Aaron Murray while getting a head start on his development.

2. Max Browne, QB

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    Enrolled at: USC

    After watching the Sun Bowl, Max Wittek opening the spring as the favorite to replace Matt Barkley is not so much a sure thing now. Cody Kessler will certainly contend for the starting job too.

    Browne doesn't want to be Matt Cassel at USC, so he needs to put himself in the best position to win the starting job as soon as possible. Enrolling early will help, along with his noted work ethic, alertness and play smarts at the quarterback position.

    Matt Barkley enrolled early as a freshman at USC, looked good in the spring and came to fall camp with a lot of confidence. Could history repeat itself with Browne?

1. Su'a Cravens, S

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    Enrolled at: USC

    Cravens is a sheer stud, and the safety position is open at USC. The Trojans also have a new defensive chief in Clancy Pendergast, who will also coach the defensive backs, so he will be hands-on with Cravens.

    With his instincts, athleticism, ball skills and speed, look for Cravens to benefit from the reps he will get this spring. If things shake out right for him, he could find himself starting as a true freshman.

    The quest for achievement of that goal for Cravens begins this spring.

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He 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 and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly 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.