College Football's Impact Freshmen, Part II: Defense
This is a continuation of the Impact Freshman piece posted a few weeks ago. This article will take a look at defensive players who have a chance to contribute right away in 2009.
(Players are listed in alphabetical order and all rankings are taken from Rivals.com.)
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
One viewing of his Rivals highlight tape is all you need. Burfict, who was originally committed to Southern Cal, may already be the hardest hitter on the ASU team.
The Sun Devils return two starting LBs from last year, but Burfict, and his Terry Tate-esque hits, will find a way on the field.
William Campbell, DT, Michigan
Typically defensive and offensive lineman are not able to make an impact as freshmen because of a lack of strength. Campbell, however, arrived in Ann Arbor as an early enrollee and used the time to get bigger and stronger.
He may not start, but look for him to get in the D-line rotation and help Michigan gain some respectability back.
Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi St.
Cox lands on this list simply because of his freakish physical gifts. His body is college-ready at 6’4” and 240 lbs., but he runs a 4.4 40 yard dash and ran track in high school.
He has one of the quickest first steps of any DE in this class and he should be able to get on the field even quicker as the new regime at Miss. St. builds their program.
Storm Klein, LB, Ohio St.
Klein was not the most highly recruited guy the Buckeyes landed in 2009, but he certainly made the biggest impression this spring. Bringing a gritty attitude, Storm plays like his moniker, swallowing any ball carier that may cross his path.
Look for Klein to get in the rotation and give sturdy minutes as a freshman.
Craig Loston, S, Louisiana St.
Following in the footsteps of LaRon Landry and current stud Chad Jones, Loston looks to be the next great safety at LSU. Rated as the No. 1 safety in the class of 2009, he may have an opportunity to play soon after enrolling in the fall.
The Tigers have slipped a bit since winning the championship in 2007, going 8-5 last year. Loston could provide a spark for a defense that has lost a number of great players to the NFL in recent years.
Larvez Mars, LB, Florida International
FIU is a very odd place for a 4-star prospect to end up, which is why he makes this list. Although undersized, the 5'11" Marz is probably already the most athletically gifted player in FIU history.
The new Golden Panther should crack the starting lineup early and then crack helmets often.
Bradley McDougald, S, Kansas
The Kansas system is one reason McDougald makes this list. Although he was recruited as a safety, his experience at WR leads to whispers of him being a two-way player.
Kansas throws the ball plenty and with the constant rotation of WRs. McDougald has a chance to play while he learns the details of the safety position in the mean time.
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
Another early enrollee on the D-line. Okafor raised some eyebrows in the spring, showing quickness off the edge.
If he can continue to perfect his pass rushing technique this summer, Okafor may be able to ease the loss of first-round pick Brain Orapko.
Greg Reid, CB, Florida St.
After earning the MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game, Reid shot up everyone's recruiting boards. He then took a page from Benedict Arnold and decommitted from UF only to sign with FSU.
Reid brings elite quickness and cover skills to the Gators’ archrivals and he will likely shut down opposing WRs while spotlighting as a return man for the Seminoles.
Josh Robinson, S, Central Florida
After losing all four starters in the secondary, UCF needs a spark in the defensive backfield.
Enter Josh Robinson, one of the more highly touted recruits to ever sign with the Knights. Whether it be on defense or making a splash on special teams, look for Robinson to contribute.
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Skov went undetected on many recruiting radars after a injury-plagued senior season. He returned to action in the postseason and had a stellar Army All-American game.
He will show up on the Stanford campus and immediately compete for playing time for the Cardinal.
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