Tennessee Football: Top 5 Impact Freshmen for 2011
Much like last season, the Vols are facing another grueling stretch of competition with young players. And once again, Coach Derek Dooley will be putting an SEC burden on the shoulders of true freshmen.
The outcome could have been much worse last season, but with some creative coaching and extraordinary play, the Vols were able to save face.
Fortunately for Dooley, he recruited well in the offseason, but there are still doubts as to the fate of this years outcome.
These five recruits may help erase those doubts.
1. DeAnthony Arnett, WR
Regarded by many scouting agencies as the best signing in Dooley's 2011 recruiting class is 6'0", 175-pound DeAnthony Arnett.
With so many offensive variables unanswered, the 4-star Arnett could easily make an immediate impact lined up in the spread. His speed is adequate with a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, but what makes him the easy start is his maneuverability and hand skills.
Those wild passes that always seem uncatchable are just the opposite for him. He can jump high to make the reception and still keep his feet under him and ready to run. That will be a great asset in the red zone.
2. Marlin Lane, RB
If you could compare a RB to the Energizer Bunny, it would be 6'0", 205-pound Marlin Lane.
Lane has been questioned a bit about the health of his knee, but he keeps shutting up his critics. As of now, he claims to be back to his pre-injury speed (4.35 second 40-yard dash), and if that holds true, he could be competing for a starting spot.
The best thing for the Vols is to have him compete for the job and prove his knee is healthy. However, he has tested himself sufficiently and stunned everyone when he outshined the competition at Top Gun.
Vols would love to see Poole have a great year, but with Toney Williams wanting touches and Lane showing up for reps, it could be an all-out war on the practice field.
Aint it great?
3. Curt Maggit, LB/DE
If there was ever a kid destined for greatness, it's 6'4", 210-pound Curt Maggit.
Most likely, Wilcox will want him at LB because of his speed and agility, and also because Wilcox has been foaming at the mouth for a LB with size and quick feet. The deception here is that because of his weight, he is weaker than his counterparts; nothing could be further from the truth.
He is a lean, powerful player that still managed to net 65 solo tackles and 18 sacks in his senior year despite being double and triple-teamed for most of the season.
With Herman Lathers out indefinitely, his chances of starting are somewhere around 100 percent.
4. Pat Martin, SS
They can't all be like Eric Berry, but Pat Martin has as good a chance as any.
The 6'0", 200-pound S.Carolina native is one of the best hitting safeties I've seen in a long time; not to mention he is quite literally everywhere on the field.
He has great tools in identifying offensive schemes, and he is strong enough to irritate outside linebackers that try to push him out of the way. The best thing about Martin is his eyes; QB's should definitely take notes now.
If Janzen Jackson doesn't make it back, Pat Martin will be filling someone's shoes on the depth roster. Expect his biggest impact to come as a roaming spy.
5. Matt Darr, P/LB
Surprised that I picked a freshman punter? Don't be.
Darr is one of those players you recruit to fill the punting role, but then feel guilty about it because he can be utilized in so many different ways.
The 6'2", 220-pound booter also clocks in with a 4.6-second 40-yard dash. Did I mention he was a LB and a state record holder in shot put? I know; who cares about shotput?
But what about 97 solo tackles? He also threw for 217 career yards as a punter. His ability to keep the ball in the air for five-plus seconds worth of hang time and make the tackle on the return will undoubtedly secure his future in football for a long time.
Darr will win games just because he punts long, hard and accurate. Check his stats for yourself.
Like or don't like what you read? Let me know.