by Sean Dujay, CollegeFootballGeek.com contributing writer
CFG’s recruiting guru, Sean Dujay, takes a close look at the latest batch of incoming freshman running backs and outlines who has the best chance to make an early fantasy impact.
Kyle Prater/Robert Woods/Markeith Ambles (USC)
All of these guys are great talents that will compete for a starting gig right away, but only one is already enrolled and building a rapport with Matt Barkley—Kyle Prater.
Prater is a big target (6’5”, 200 pounds) with a frame that will fill out well, a huge wing span, good hands, fluid route running ability, and deceptive speed (long strider). He was another man amongst boys in HS and will get popped at the college level if he continues to consistently leave his feet to make catches, but his talent is undeniable and he’s one of those guys that you have much better than 50/50 odds to come down with the rock when QBs just throw it up there for him (red zone fades alert).
Robert Woods is a speed guy that will stretch the defense and has the ability to turn a short gainer into six points. He also played safety in HS, but most think he will be a receiver at the next level because it’s generally an easier transition. Some people seem to think he is a great safety and can hit, but I beg to differ!
Ambles followed Kiffin from UT to USC and is a VHT with great ball skills, but I already have warning flags going off in my head based on reports about his attitude and the possibility that he will get into suspension trouble at some point in his career (often times it’s earlier than later based on the maturity levels of these young men and the drastic change involved with going from being the man in HS to being one of many great talents that isn’t given as much special treatment in certain matters).
The bottom line is that Prater is the safest bet to play and produce in 2010.
Da’Rick Rogers/Justin Hunter/Matt Milton/Ted Miline (Tennessee)
Da’Rick Rogers is a stud, plain and simple! He’s probably the best WR in this class, but there are too many unanswered questions at Tennessee (primarily at QB) and, again, the SEC is the cream of the crop so there won’t be many easy games for this young man.
Some people have Hunter rated higher than Rogers, but I don’t think he’s ready to play full time yet. He’s been compared to AJ Green and Dwayne Jarrett and supposedly runs a 4.4, but I don’t see it yet. He looks slow on tape and it takes him a while to reach top speed. Eventually, he may be a good to great player; however, 172 pounds on a 6’4” frame with great leaping ability equals hospitalization versus a big safety playing your head instead of the ball.
Matt Milton, on the other hand, is a little more filled out and could parlay his raw athletic talent into some big plays earlier in his career, but I wouldn’t hold my breath or waste a fantasy pick on him.
Don’t know much about Miline and won’t pretend to, but, again, I would keep him on my radar and monitor his development for future drafts rather than expect anything out of him this year.
Da’Rick Rogers is the definite play here and even he won’t put up consistent numbers week in week out to win your fantasy league.
James Green (Toledo)
Sick talent plus the MAC equals fantasy dream scenario.
Originally a Tennessee commit in ‘08, then enrolled at Minnesota, but academic issues landed this top flight talent in arguably the best college fantasy football conference.
The real question is whether or not there are enough balls to go around for him and last year’s come-out-of-nowhere fantasy sensation Eric Page (a HS QB) or whether Green is this year’s version of Stephen Williams who was inconsistent, but had some huge weeks.
Either way, he’s worth a mid- to late-round gamble (depending upon your league format and whether he lasts that long). So what if he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, the kid can “run like a gazelle” and he’s in the MAC (if I haven’t already mentioned that fact).
He could have the best fantasy numbers of any WR by year’s end, which is good news considering that he might be on academic probation come bowl season.
Tai-lor Jones (Notre Dame)
If you haven’t heard, Brian Kelly is in South Bend and fantasy production is bound to follow.
Michael Floyd is the unquestioned No. 1 (assuming that he stays out of trouble and is injury free) and Shaquelle Evans may take Tate’s spot, but I don’t have much faith in Duval Kamara; although, if anyone can unlock his potential it might be Kelly.
Jones could slide right into that No. 3 receiver spot immediately. I like this kid a lot. He’s smart, understands the game, runs great routes, has great hands, and, on top of that, he has the physical tools. He’s more quick than fast, but still runs a 4.4 to 4.5 which isn’t slow and, incidentally, he can throw a pretty good ball (lefty).
He’s enrolled early so I really like his chances to put up some decent numbers in 2010.
Dayne Crist is the key to everything offensively for ND and could be this year’s fantasy breakout performer. If he really likes Jones or Floyd misses any significant time, then Jones' numbers could be worthy of a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy receiver.
Ross Apo (BYU)
This guy has impressive raw talent and athleticism. He definitely stands out on film!
With both Harvey Unga and McKay Jacobsen returning, that could give Apo one-on-one mismatches either from the slot or outside if he cracks the lineup. I could see BYU using him in a number of different ways. His size, hands, leaping ability, and great game speed present challenges for a defense no matter where he lines up.
Yes, there are question marks at QB, however, I fully expect Jake Heaps to make a fairly seamless transition due to the great faith I have in Bronco Mendenhall and his system. Will Heaps be Max Hall right out of the gates? Probably not. However, 20 to 25 TDs certainly isn’t out of the question and Jacobson can’t haul them all in.
Pitta is gone, which brings up an interesting point, because Apo could eventually be moved to TE where he might have future All-Pro potential, although that’s a long way off.
He needs to put on some serious weight and it depends on how good his blocking skills are, but this kid has huge upside.
Darius White/Mike Davis/Chris Jones (Texas)
I like Darius White and even Chris Jones to make earlier impacts than Mike Davis at this point, but Mack Brown hasn’t really played his true freshman receivers since 2000 with the formerly great Roy Williams and company.
They have a shot because of the heavy losses at this position over the last few years, but the Horns still return a decent crop of top flight talent at the WR position so it’s a long shot for 2010.
Again, WRs in Brown’s system usually take time to mature. However, I would bet on White then Jones before Davis for 2010. They all have bright futures with Garrett Gilbert at the helm, just not necessarily in 2010.
Kenny Stills (Oklahoma)
This guy has a country western singer-sounding name and I’m not really sure why my gut is telling me to take a shot on him, other than the fact that Oklahoma has a traditional fantasy friendly offense with an unexpectedly experienced VHT QB in Landry Jones returning along with DeMarco Murray and what I hope is a vastly improved OL.
Ryan Broyles is awesome and Cameron Kenney cracked the lineup, but wasn’t overly impressive. Aside from that, Tennell moves on, Jameel Owens transferred to Tulsa (look out if he’s eligible immediately!), and we all know what happened to Gresham.
Mossis Madu could definitely see some time at receiver, but I like the rookies shot this year in Norman.
Some predict that Sheldon McClain will be that guy, but Stills is already on campus, so I give him the early edge. His film won’t blow you away, but he had offers from Florida, Michigan, Cal, and UCLA. He’s more of a possession type receiver that moves the sticks and could complement Broyles nicely (not to mention find himself wide open a lot because of the attention being paid to Broyles).
Willis Wright (FIU), DeAndre Perry/Jordan Jolly/Terrance Broadway (Houston), Josh Bellamy/Michaelee Harris (Louisville), Marcus Lucas (Missouri), Dyjuan Lewis (Cincy), Chris Dinkins (Oklahoma St.), Travis Reynols (Utah St.), O.J. Ross (Purdue), Kadron Boone (LSU), Darius Millines (Illinois), Fred Pickett (Marshall), Eddie Johnson (Baylor), Jamaal Kearse (Washington)
CFG’s recruiting guru, Sean Dujay, takes a close look at the latest batch of incoming freshman wide receivers and outlines who has the best chance to make an early fantasy impact.
Sean Dujay is a contributing writer for CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.