The Top 50 Recruits of 2010: Who Will Start As True Freshmen?
Spring football is over. We don't know everything about college football's great (and not-so-great) teams, but we know whether they could use some serious help.
Thankfully, fall camps start up again at the end of July or beginning of August. That's when, the recruits signed back in February arrive on campus (if they haven't already).
If they aren't too fat, too slow, or too terrified, the good ones have a great chance of cracking the two-deep.
So which of the top 50 recruits of 2010 will see time as true freshmen? Which are either too good to redshirt, or too essential to avert disaster?
Click through and find out.
No. 50: Storm Johnson, RB - Miami
After setting the single-season rushing record at high school, Storm Johnson arrived on Miami's campus at the right time.
Javarris James graduated and presumed starter Graig Cooper got knocked out of the Champs Sports Bowl with a nasty ACL injury.
That meant Johnson, an early enrollee, was able to flash his speed and hard running all spring, and get in the mix for carries this fall.
For an offense that likes to pound the football and set up the play-action pass, durability is a major plus. If Cooper struggles to return, Johnson and Berry could split things 50/50.
Nos. 48 & 49: Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, OL - Texas A & M
Texas A&M lineman Luke Joeckel didn't generate the same recruiting hype as his future teammate, Jake Matthews. Joeckel was Scout's 15th-best tackle overall, while Matthews was Scout's best guard.
But when Joeckel all but locked down Texas A&M's starting left tackle spot in spring ball—and earned the respect of Von Miller, the Big 12's leader in sacks in 2009—his stock skyrocketed in my eyes.
If Sherman is willing to throw a true freshman out there as starting left tackle, I see no reason why Matthews doesn't have as good a chance at cracking the two-deep if he's as good as advertised.
If the Aggies have the rebound some are expecting, Joeckel and/or Matthews could get the nods as freshmen All-Americans for their role in the effort.
No. 47: Demarco Cobbs, S - Texas
Texas's backups in the secondary gave up three touchdowns to Garrett Gilbert in the spring game, so there's a need for depth behind starters Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown and Aaron Williams.
Enter Demarco Cobbs, Scout's third-best safety, who originally committed to Tennessee before verballing to Texas over offers from the other top programs in the Big 12 as well as the SEC.
He's no Earl Thomas—according to Mack Brown, the Longhorns don't need that. But I could see Texas's coaches disregarding his redshirt for use on nickel downs, during garbage time, or, if things get interesting, at wide receiver.
No. 46: J.R. "Ego" Ferguson, DE - LSU
LSU dipped into the talent pool at Hargrave Military Academy to pluck out J.R. "Ego" Ferguson, Rivals' No. 6 strongside end, whose humility and shyness on the football field will surely result in a redshirt.
I jest. Ferguson should crack the two-deep and get into the rotation, especially with two untested redshirt freshmen—Chancey Aghayere and Lavar Edwards—as his main competition.
His size and speed will necessitate double teams and max protection all year. For an LSU defense finding its footing, that's great to hear.
No. 45: Trovon Reed, ATH - Auburn
Forget quarterback: a speedy slotmaster like Trovon Reed was what was really missing from Auburn's offense last year.
Yes, it never hurts to be mobile in Gus Malzahn's offense, as Cameron Newton will be the first and best to show.
But a lightning bolt like Reed will stretch the field in every direction, sideline-to-sideline and endzone-to-endzone. That's still the best way to get players out of the box, where Newton, if he takes off, can do the most damage.
No. 44: George Uko, DT - USC
Uko is the tip of the Ed Orgeron defensive line recruiting iceberg, a Chino, California blue-chip who showed great flashes as a recruit but was known to take plays off.
That to me would indicate redshirt, particularly since USC's
reloading rebuilding defense is strongest and deepest along the defensive line.
But the Trojans also lost some depth when DT Christian Tupou went down with a knee injury that will cost him next season.
Though not a true nose tackle, Uko could see time in the D-line rotation as the Trojans try to stay fresh and help out an iffy linebacking corps.
No. 43: Silas Redd, RB/APB - Penn State
Silas Redd was hailed as Rivals' top all-purpose back in Penn State's outstanding 2010 class. He enrolled early to get a head start on alleviating the Nittany Lions' woes on offense.
That alleviation didn't happen, but it wasn't Redd's fault: he impressed in his brief appearance against the first- and second-team defense.
The conservative Lions might balk at giving a redshirt freshman solid playing time, especially with Evan Royster and Stephfon Green ahead of him on the depth chart.
But with his speed and versatility, he's an injury away from being a solid back-up. On a team that will probably be grinding out close wins, that's not a bad thing.
No. 42: Dillon Baxter, RB - USC
He was the star of the Trojans' spring game according to Lane Kiffin.
Baxter can and will get plenty of touches for USC's rebuilding backfield, which lost both Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson to early NFL Draft entry. It's all a prelude to a Heisman run from here.
No. 41: Taylor Bible, DT - Texas
DT Taylor Bible enrolls at Austin at a comfortable 6'3", 280 pounds, the ideal height and weight for a true one-tech tackle.
ESPN's 14th-best player and second best DT, Taylor Bible was an early commit to Texas. Mack Brown is the kind of guy that likes to reward that surety in a person.
With LaMarr Houston gone to the NFL and Sam Acho playing somewhat out of position on the inside, I like Bible to see time, however minimal, as a true freshman on Texas' D-line.
If Oklahoma can do it with Jamarkus McFarland, the Longhorns can darn well do it, too.
No. 40: Demar Dorsey, S/CB - Michigan
Defensive back Demar Dorsey was Michigan's top recruit, ESPN's 13th-best player and a miracle grab for a coaching staff known for last second switcheroos.
After decommitting from Florida, Dorsey chose Michigan over Florida State in a nailbiter of an announcement ceremony.
Yet there's now questions over whether Dorysey will academically qualify, which must be hard news for RichRod and company to take.
For a secondary that allowed 221 passing yards per game and gave up its best player in CB Donovan Warren to the draft, early playmakers like Dorsey are crucial for Rodriguez and the Michigan defense to survive.
Michigan fans will be watching the Clearinghouse's ruling on Dorsey closely as fall camp approaches. If he makes it in, he is, as ESPN put it, "the definition of upside."
Nos. 38 & 39: Mike Davis and Darius White, WRs - Texas
It's spring, and as usual, the Longhorns are in full-on we're-gonna-run-the-football-more mode.
That means by week two they'll realize that their better talent sits at wideout.
Mike Davis and Darius White were both five-star hauls at wideout, and Davis is in the mix for playing time.
White (pictured) reminded me of a young Roy Williams, while Davis was an absolute burner who should have not trouble getting separation.
Between the so-so play of Malcolm Williams and the general freshness and newness of the Texas offense, I'm optimistic both could make a splash if Greg Jones and Mack Brown get venturesome.
No. 37: Latwan Anderson, S - Miami
Latwan Anderson wore many hats when he played at Glenville HS in Ohio, and I mean that both in the Benjamin Franklin and Lebron James sense of the saying.
Anderson, who played safety and running back for Glenville, bounced between Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and North Carolina before committing to West Virginia, then signing for Miami on a track scholarship a week after National Signing Day.
With Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque returning, I'm not sure Miami needs the help at the safety position. But it would be foolish to keep Latwan's speed off the field. Unless Shannon plays ultra-conservative, Anderson could be thrown into the cornerback mix or, if the Canes get crazy, take some reps at wide receiver.
Nos. 35 & 36: Mike Hull and Khairi Fortt, LBs - Penn State
Stamford, CT linebacker Khairi Fortt and Canonsburg, PA linebacker Mike Hull chose Penn State because they're linebackers within 200 miles of Penn State's campus, and that's the right thing to do.
Fortt enrolled early (against the whims of Joe Paterno, who wishes the children would stay young forever) and could play either outside or inside linebacker.
Hull was Scout's No. 1 prospect at middle linebacker.
Fortt's spring practice debut didn't produce the fireworks some were expecting, but with injuries or sub-par play, I think he'll be ready to step in.
Hull has made it no secret he's been preparing for this opportunity for some time. The recruitniks don't like his so-so size, but he's excellent in coverage.
They're not the only linebackers with questionable experience on the roster. Penn State's linebacking corps is very green. If one or both haven't cracked the lineup by the end of the year, I'll eat Joe Paterno's hat.
No. 34: Devin Gardner, QB - Michigan
Devin Gardner's first snap in the Big House was a fumble out of bounds in the Wolverines' spring game. Two plays later, he looped a beautiful pass to tight end Brandon Moore to convert on a third and long.
Such is the nature of being raw, as a passer, a physical specimen and an all-around player. Suffice to say, Rivals' top dual-threat QB could benefit immensely from a redshirt year.
With the stepped-up play of QB Denard Robinson and the known quantity of moxie that is Tate Forcier (who, despite his struggles, was playing against Michigan's first team defense, and is still getting his shoulder back to 100 %), a redshirt year for Gardner is a luxury Michigan finally might be able to afford.
If I don't see Gardner until 2012, I wouldn't complain.
No. 33: William Gholston, DE/OLB - Michigan State
William Gholston chose Michigan State over offers from Michigan, Alabama and everyone else who loves a dominating defensive end/outside linebacker.
Coach Mark Dantonio has already said the true freshman will factor into the Spartans' new 3-4 look, which should help mitigate Gholston's limitations in size.
The Detroit prospect was Rivals' third-best defensive end.
No. 32: Gerald Christian, TE - Florida
There's a good chance TE Gerald Christian will see snaps at tight end, but I'm not sure it will be in the capacity some Florida fans are used to.
He's no Aaron Hernandez, and seems a better fit creating mismatches in the passing game than on the triple option.
That might be what Urban Meyer envisioned—and promised—when he signed Christian. While the Florida offense won't totally abandon their unique running game, they'll definitely be looking to go more vertical with John Brantley at the helm.
With his size and above-average speed, Christian could be on the other end of a lot of seam route throws against tight coverage.
No. 31: Alec Ogletree, S - Georgia
Georgia safety Makiri Pugh transferred a short while ago, but his departure didn't lead to a catastrophic decline in depth along the lines of the Bulldogs' recent drama at quarterback.
On the contrary, Pugh was transferring because there was too much depth at safety.
Will Ogletree face similar difficulties? Scout's third-best safety enters Athens with as much or more recruiting hype than many of the other players ahead of him, and his speed, size and hard-hitting are already SEC caliber.
Many UGa fans have floated the idea that Ogletree could roll down to linebacker, filling in for Rennie Curran, who bolted early for the NFL.
At 5'10.5" and 235 lbs, Curran was undersized, but still led the team in tackles by a wide margin.
I don't think Georgia's coaches will overthink this one. He's got All-SEC Freshman written all over him
No. 30: James Hurst, OT - North Carolina
The good news is, the Tar Heels return every starter on their offensive line, and both tackles are upperclassmen.
The bad news was, this line got blamed for a lot of T.J. Yates' struggles throughout the year. Injuries have followed them through spring practice as well.
The good news (again) is, James Hurst, Rivals' fourth-best tackle, enrolled early and amazed UNC's players with his grasp of the tackle position.
With Carl Gaskins out with a knee injury, Hurst could be the starter at left tackle in September.
Rivals' comparison to Jake Long is apt. Though Long started as a redshirt freshman for Michigan, he had the aptitude and the technique to match his physical superiority from day one.
No. 29: Tony Jefferson, OLB/ATH - Oklahoma
Tony Jefferson, a five-star athlete to ESPN, chose Oklahoma over UCLA, Michigan, Florida and USC (woo first recruiting article ever!).
Jefferson was a do-everything player for his high school. He was an 1100-yard, 20-touchdown running back, and also played outside linebacker.
He enrolled early at Oklahoma and impressed with his speed, lateral quickness and hard-hitting, the same things Scout praised him for in their evaluation.
I'm not certain Oklahoma is in dire need of outside linebackers, but as far as if he sees the field, the question isn't if, but where. That's a toss-up we'll leave to camp battles to decide.
No. 28: Spencer Ware, ATH - LSU
Spencer Ware is the rare LSU commit not from Louisiana. He was a Cincinnati native who chose the Tigers over Ohio State, UNC and West Virginia, among others.
Ware has the speed and durability to be LSU's next power-runner in the mold of a Charles Scott or Jacob Hester.
He was the workhorse of the Army All-American bowl, an every-down back with enough versatility to deliver the knockout blow to a defense he's already pounded into submission.
A perfect fit for LSU's offense if they start looking like their old selves again.
No. 27: Phillip Sims, QB - Alabama
With Greg McElroy still fielding a pulse and AJ McCarron locking down the backup role this spring, I have every reason to believe Scout's No. 2 QB, Phillip Sims, will enjoy the luxury of a redshirt year.
It looks like he'll need it. Sims enrolled early and practiced throughout the spring, his work culminating in a handoff-heavy, 1 of 7 for 12 yard performance in the A-Day spring game.
Hey, that's why redshirts were invented, kiddo.
No. 26: DeMarcus Milliner, DB - Alabama
DeMarcus Milliner was Rivals' second-best cornerback of the 2010 class, and an Alabama native to boot, so it was without any surprise whatsoever that he chose the Crimson Tide.
Milliner will add depth and speed to a secondary that needs warm bodies. Defensive back was an area of concern early in practice, but the Tide got the most out its defense—namely, CB Dre Kirkpatrick—as spring wore on.
I think Milliner might have grown too big for cornerback anyway. If he does move to safety, that's a guaranteed redshirt in pursuit of more size. As usual, special teams are always a possibility.
No. 25: Lache Seastrunk, RB - Oregon
Oregon RB Lamichael James will be facing a one-game suspension.
But even with that, the buzz this spring is that Oregon's running back stable is the deepest it's ever been, and that could minimize playing time for Rivals' no. 2 running back for 2010.
I'm guessing most of these reports are short-sighted spring fluff, and Seastrunk will see time regardless. Honestly, it would be insanity worthy of Dan Hawkins to keep this kid off the field.
Seastrunk will battle James, Kenjon Barner and Remene Alston for carries.
Nos. 23 & 24: Christian Jones and Jeff Luc, LBs - Florida State
Christian Jones chose the Seminoles over Florida, Alabama, Michigan and a host of others. Jeff Luc was also recruited heavily by Florida.
Luc had a tremendous spring as an early enrollee, playing in front of 55,000+ at the Seminoles' spring game, where he started with the second team.
ESPN gushed over Jones as the most impressive-looking outside linebacker in the class, and he was Rivals' second-best overall. Unless he's only been working his glamour muscles, that's praise you can believe in.
If neither see time in Florida State's linebacking corps, it won't be for lack of talent. It will be because Mark Stoops finally got FSU's linebackers to learn how to tackle.
No. 22: Ivan McCartney, WR - West Virginia
Ivan McCartney chose to bring the swagger to West Virginia rather than lean on the extensive swagger infrastructure already laid down at Miami.
Wide receiver wasn't the most glaring need for West Virginia, but the lack of depth definitely contributed to a one-sided spring game.
That, coupled with the transfers of Lohan Heastie and Deon Long, should open the door for McCartney to show us what he's made of as a true freshman.
In a conference light on all-star newcomers, he could contend for conference freshman of the year if he plays his cards right.
No. 21: Jake Heaps, QB - BYU
Scout's No. 1 overall quarterback will either suit up as the starter on day one or sit one injury away.
And if the Cougars struggle to maintain the lofty achievements of the past few years, don't be shocked when he gets the nod. He's all upside.
No. 20: LaMarcus Joyner, DB - Florida State
LaMarcus Joyner was Rivals' best cornerback overall, with blue-chip size and speed.
He's the Seminoles' second-consecutive blue-chip recruit at the cornerback position after Greg Reid, Rivals' No. 4 corner in the 2009 class.
Joyner will be battling Xavier Rhodes, a converted receiver and a redshirt freshman, so it's not naive to think he'll be starting by midseason and be in the rotation for nickel time from day one.
No. 19: Robert Crisp, OT - NC State
NC State QB Russell Wilson spent most of 2009 either throwing long gainers to Owen Spencer or getting rattled by the pass rush. Proverbial headless chicken comparisons apply.
Robert Crisp, a monster offensive tackle out of Raleigh, will try to bring order to the universe and stabilize the Wolf Pack line. No reason to believe he won't be thrown into the starting tackle mix, especially with Sam Jones, another freshman, as his main competition for playing time.
No. 18: Jawuan James, OT - Tennessee
Tennessee's offensive line was green before All-SEC freshman tackle Aaron Douglas chose to transfer from the program. Now, the Vols have exactly zero returning starters on the line.
True freshman and early enrollee Jawuan James is destined to do what Douglas did for Tennessee last year—step in and hold the line for the reeling Volunteers.
James, ESPN's second-best tackle overall, is projected by some to lock down the right tackle spot this fall.
It'll be a rough year, but getting thrown into the mix as a true freshman has its upside. Mostly, that it should only get easier from there.
No. 17: Chris Martin, DE - Cal
Defensive end Chris Martin switched to Cal a few days after Charlie Weis was fired from Notre Dame.
The general rule with beastly strongside defensive ends like Martin is to believe that they'll be chasing down quarterbacks as true freshman unless there's some strong reason that they should redshirt.
No such reasons exist for Martin, or for Cal. The Bears' pass-rush needs all the help it can get. A future Julius Peppers like Martin will be happy to oblige.
No. 16: Jordan Hicks, LB - Texas
Most Texas writers have consented that between size issues and a lack of need, linebacker Jordan Hicks—who chose the Longhorns over Ohio State and Florida—will be redshirting this year.
Special teams remain a possibility, but in my mind, it would be a massive waste of a redshirt to send Hicks out there just to track down some returners, no matter how bad the kickoff team is.
No. 15: Michael Dyer, RB - Auburn
When asked if Michael Dyer would get carries this fall, Auburn RB coach Curtis Luper replied, "That's the plan."
Regardless of how well Mario Fannin performs—and he should do well, if he can avoid injury—Gus Malzahn's offense moves quickly enough that keeping fresh legs is a top priority.
I think Dyer will be a candidate for SEC rookie of the year. He chose Auburn over offers from Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and Notre Dame, among others.
No. 14: Joshua Shaw, CB - Florida
Rivals' No. 3 cornerback, Joshua Shaw committed to Florida and enrolled early.
He closed the spring by gaining accolades as the SEC's top freshman performer, all but locking down the starting cornerback spot across from Janoris Jenkins.
Yes, you will see him this fall...and why not put him at the top of the 2013 mock draft board while you're at it?
No. 13: Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA
A unit replacing Pac-10 defender of the year, Brian Price will need impact, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa could crack the rotation.
At 6'3", 235-lbs, Owamagbe Odighizuwa needs to get bigger to see consistent time on UCLA's line, particularly since Price was a tackle.
But Odighizuwa did give some recruitniks the idea that he could play weakside end, a position more suited to defending against the run.
I don't think the UCLA defense can afford to keep a redshirt on him. If he's as good as advertised, he'll play.
No. 12: Da'Rick Rogers, WR - Tennessee
Da'Rick Rogers switched to Tennessee over the Georgia Bulldogs right before signing day.
The receivers were one of the few bright spots on UT's struggling offense in the spring game.
All the same, Rogers should play right away. The 6'4", 200-lb receiver broke Georgia's state record for receiving yards as a senior, and has drawn many comparisons to Georgia's AJ Green.
Tennessee's young quarterbacks will need a safety valve like him when the offensive line starts to show its greenness. I'm betting it's Rogers, Lattimore and Dyer in a race for SEC rookie of the year.
No. 11: Marcus Lattimore, RB - South Carolina
With all the browbeating Steve Spurrier has been doing to QB Stephen Garcia this spirng, I forgot that the Gamecocks are bringing in the top running back in the 2010 class.
Five-star RB Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes, South Carolina chose the Gamecocks over Auburn, Oregon, Penn State and many others.
He enters a tripartite depth chart featuring Jarvis Giles, Brian Maddox and Kenny Miles, none of whom established themselves the full time starter last year.
Lattimore is the kind of back that makes bad offensive lines look better. Based on the Gamecocks OL depth issues, that may be necessary.
Spurrier, for his part, thinks Lattimore and Kenny Miles will be getting the majority of the carries this season.
No. 10: Matt Elam, S - Florida
After a back-and-forth recruitment that briefly saw him donning the colors of Florida's hated rivals, Matt Elam chose the Gators as the destination for his early enrollment.
These days, he couldn't be happier, with a solid spring under his belt that showcased his speed and playmaking ability at the safety position.
ESPN's former No. 1 athlete and No. 9 player overall, Elam should see time in Florida's rebuilding secondary if Ahmad Black struggles filling in for Major Wright. Elam might also get time on Florida's notoriously dangerous special teams unit.
Nos. 7, 8 & 9: Markeith Ambles, Ronald Woods and Kyle Prater, WRs - USC
Three of 2010's most talented wide receivers pledged to USC in Lane Kiffin's first class. Robert Woods is the speed, Ambles the versatility, and Prater the "it" player.
Prater enrolled early and made his mark on USC spring football, catching a touchdown pass from Matt Barkley in USC's first spring scrimmage.
Ambles and Woods should challenge for playing time on a shallow depth chart that saw the departure of USC's top receiver, Damian Williams, a year early.
Ronald Johnson is a good number one option, but he's suffered injuries for most of his career.
I see Prater making an indelible impact on the Trojans' 2010 season. There's really nothing holding him back. Either Ambles or Woods could end 2010 having locked down the Y or Z receiver spot.
No. 6: Keenan Allen, S/WR, Cal
Keenan Allen was Rivals' best defensive back and it's No. 5 player overall.
A late switch to Cal from Alabama was precipitated by some nice recruiting work by the Golden Bears recruiting staff—offering cousins of recruits is a smooth move, when you can afford to.
I've heard rumors that Allen would prefer to play receiver over defensive back for the Golden Bears. Though Cal's defense could use the help, I'm not sure Jeff Tedford will mind.
In whatever capacity he wants to play, we'll see him. Cal has plenty to replace on both sides of the ball.
No. 5: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE - Texas
Pass-rushing defensive ends are usually a good bet to make an impact as freshmen, and Jeffcoat is no exception.
ESPN's top talent overall joins a Texas squad looking to reload on defense.
I've read Sam Acho will be sliding inside to fill in for Lamarr Houston, so there will be room on the ends when Alex Okafor and Eddie Jones need subs.
Much like the Federal Reserve or the California DMV, the Texas defense is a deep, nebulous thing, run by a ruthless mastermind who is foolish to oppose or even try to understand. Irrespective of that knowledge, I'll bet you a Susan B. Anthony that Jeffcoat backs up Okafor and Jones.
No. 4: Seantrel Henderson, OT - USC
It's a darn good thing USC got Seantrel Henderson to commit.
According to spring buzz, he's a presumptive candidate for USC's starting left tackle spot as a true freshman, on a line that only goes eight deep.
Kiffin discussed the possibility of Henderson playing either tackle or guard—wherever he's needed.
Even without injuries, expect to see, and hear about, Seantrel Henderson this fall.
Nos. 1, 2, 3: Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd & Dominique Easley - Florida
Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley proved that good recruiting begets good recruiting when they all signed on to one of the greatest defensive recruiting classes of all time.
Powell was Rivals' best defensive end, while Floyd and Easley were the no. 1 and no. 2 defensive tackles overall.
Florida followers have pointed out that defensive line coach Dan McCarney likes to keep his line fresh, so expect to see Easley, Floyd and Powell terrorizing offensive lines all year.
Powell might also try his hand at linebacker or tight end. He caught a touchdown in the US Army All-American bowl.