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Top 16 Impact Freshman for 2004


The Man In The Box
'14 Bowl Upsets Champ
Top 16 Impact Freshman

<TABLE style="BORDER-TOP-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-LEFT-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-BOTTOM-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-RIGHT-WIDTH: 0px" width="98%" border=1><TBODY><TR><TD style="BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none" vAlign=top> Freshman. The great unknown of college football. Even the most devout of fans could be stunned by the sudden emergence of a guy only 4 months removed from Senior Prom; and that’s what makes them so intriguing. Of course, the majority of Freshman won’t be in that category, it takes a special player in a special situation. That leads up quite nicely to what follows this intro, a list of the Top 16 Freshman, that is the players that you’re going to see have the biggest impact on their teams, and possibly also the National Scene.

16. Chris Patterson, LB Oklahoma

This past season, Oklahoma took a pretty big hit with the graduations of Ted Lehman and Pasha Jackson, putting a huge question mark squarely on the Oklahoma Linebacking corps. The Middle is solid with Lance Mitchell returning from injury, but outside is Gayron Allen, who did play very well last year, but that was Inside as Mitchell’s replacement, and a completely untested Clint Ingram. This is where Patterson steps in. He’s a gifted athlete, capable of being that all over the field, play-making OLB that Ted Lehman was, and he’ll probably be given every opportunity to become that early in his OU career. Also, he was dominant in the practices for the Army AA game, so if he can repeat that performance during this last month of practices and early in the year, Coach Stoops might have no choice but to play him.

15. Zach Miller, TE Arizona St.

The one thing that a QB struggling to breakout needs is playmakers, and that’s what Zach Miller gives Andrew Walter. Similar to Greg Olsen the year before, he was dominant on offense and defense in High School, but chose Tight End; where he’s already one of the most gifted players at the position in the Pac Ten. Their returning starter, Lee Burghgraef, doesn’t provide near the receiving threat of Miller (only 6 catches for 62 yards last season), but does excel on run blocking, so he could get the call on the majority of the running plays early in the year until Miller gets acclimated to the College game. And as long as people don’t get too carried away with the Todd Heap comparisons, he should have a pretty nice year.

14. William Morrisey, DT Texas A&M

This might be the most arguable pick for the list, especially with the Aggies returning two starters at DT, including the highly regarded Marcus Jasmin, however it probably makes the most sense. Jasmin really disappointed last year, and despite his huge potential, he’s not the force that he should be. Next to him John Jolly had a very good year, including a ridiculous 94 tackles from the tackle position. Despite the credentials of these two players, they were killed by the run this past season, and the loss of two starting LBs isn’t going to help that any. Morrisey, even though he’s only 285, was brought in to be that Runn Stuffer, at which he is phenomenal. Even if he isn’t chosen as the starter, look for him to see significant playing time, especially if the D starts out this season as bad as they played last year.

13. Calvin Johnson, WR Georgia Tech

It might not be the same type of publicity as if he had attended in state rival Georgia, but Calvin has an incredible opportunity with the Yellow Jackets. They’re top two returning WRs had less than 600 yards combine last year, as starters. That’s going to have to change if they want Reggie Ball to develop correctly. In steps Johnson, an imposing 6-4, 210 with great speed, ready to make an impact. Once he develops the chemistry with Ball, he will explode, and that could very well be this year depending on how much Ball has progressed since last season ended. Plus, they’ll only be aided by the presence of a top shelf RB like P.J. Daniels who make D’s think twice about dropping that many back in coverage.

12. Marshawn Lynch, RB Cal

The California offense is tailor made to build instant stars, and with the loss of Adimchinobe Echemandu they need for that to happen at the Running Back position. J.J. Arrington played really well when Echemandu was out last year, but there are still questions about him over the long haul. And with Defenses so focused on having to stop possibly the best QB-WR duo in the nation, Rodgers to McArthur, there’s an opening available for a game-breaking, future star RB like Lynch.

11. DeMario Pressley, DT NC State

The top ranked DT in last year’s class steps into a defense with a lot of potential, but not quite the impact they should be making. Even with a soon-to-be star like Mario Williams at DE taking all the attention, the team’s DT’s played well last year, and they return two players that played significantly there. Still, none possess the type of game-changing ability of DeMario Pressley, and with a size-athletic ability combination like he has, it will be near impossible to keep him off the field. He’s part two of the DL Youth Movement, after Mario started as a Freshman last year.

10. Myron Hardy, WR Texas

Rarely does a team lose three WRs of such talent as Texas did, and even rarer are they able to replace them immediately with quality. That, however, seems to be the situation in Texas right now. There is some talent existing in the WR corps now, including Tony Jeffrey who has some experience, but the best players are those coming in this year, a big part of which is Myron Hardy. Not the most touted WR in the nation, but its hard to ignore his 6-3 size and 4.4 speed. Also, with the likelihood of Vince Young and Cedric Benson drawing in defenses with their running ability, Hardy will have many chances to stand out.

9. Brian Toal, LB BC

If playing immediately wasn’t Brian Toal’s major interest, he’d have never chosen Boston College over Miami, and now he’ll have every opportunity to become one of the Eagle defenses best players very soon. Even though the defense has some talented players at LB, including a returning MLB, none possess the gifts that Toal does, and it will be tough to justify keeping him off the field. Putting his skills into a unit with serious playmakers on the line (Mathias Kiwanuka) and Secondary (Will Blackmon) will help take the BC Defense to the next level.

8. Cameron Colvin, WR Oregon

The decision for this California Prep Star to bail on his in state powers and go to Oregon will really benefit both him and the Ducks. There is a huge hole in the receiving corps after the loss of Sammie Parker, and there isn’t really another returning player ready to step up and earn the starting spot across from the very talented Demetrius Williams. Colvin has the physical tools to step right in as the #2, and work with one of the most underrated QBs in the nation in Kellen Clemens. If Williams and Colvin click at WR, then the Oregon offense could power them to being a far better team than many expect, and without a game against USC scheduled, they can do serious damage in the Pac Ten.

7. Dwayne Jarrett, WR USC

I know what some of you are saying, why Jarrett over Fred Davis, who many consider a top 3 WR in last year’s class, and the answer is simple, Jarrett is playing better. Dwayne’s been on a tear since the Army All American game, tearing up USC Spring and Summer practices like another 6-5 WR did two years ago. No one can ignore his talent any more, and with the coaches raving about him so far, he’s set to make a big name for himself This Year on the field. The loss of Whitney Lewis to academics only further adds to the opportunity, and with the possibility that Williams could miss time, for obvious reasons, he could be starting Week One catching passes from a Heisman front-runner. That’s a pretty nice way to start off a college career.

6. Early Doucet, WR LSU

Stepping onto the field of the returning National Champions is pressure enough, but imagine if that team lost its two best players at the position. That’s where Early Doucet stands now, after LSU lost Mike Clayton and Deverey Henderson this past year to the NFL. He’ll have the benefit of having a very talented WR as the main target of the passing game in Skyler Green, and very little experience elsewhere. Early’s speed, athletic ability, and intelligence could earn him the nod as the compliment to Green, and potentially much more. There was a reason that he was widely chosen as the top WR in the past recruiting class, and everyone’s going to see that soon.

5. Erik Ainge / Brent Schaeffer, QB Tennessee

Not even on the list as of a short while ago, the sudden announcement from Coach Fulmer has put the pair of Freshman QBs all the way up at #5. Ainge, a tall kid with a guge arm, and Shaeffer, mobile guy, that can hurt you with his arm too, had been named co-#1 Quarterbacks, over vets like C.J. Leak and Rick Clausen. While it is shocking to many, its not that illogical considering neither Leak nor Clausen has had much experience as the starter for the Vols, and if the two kids are playing better then one of them should start. Which guy gets the job? I figure Ainge because his arm should really impress the coaches.

4. Jeff Byers, C USC

An inexperienced Offensive Line gives the National Player of the Year a shot at dominating very early in his career. The only reason Ryan Kalil is starting right now is that there is a one year experience advantage, but in terms of skill there’s no way that Kalil can compete, seeing as how, quoting one USC football expert “Byers may be USC’s best lineman right now.” Luckily for Jeff, the Trojans have never held back using their young players when they’re needed, so expect to see Byers as the one that snaps the ball to Matt Leinart every play.

3. Willie Williams, LB Miami

Even though he’s player that everyone loves to hate, he’s still one of the most naturally talented players not only in his Freshman class, but in the nation. The loss of D.J. Williams may prove to be the biggest of any this past offseason, seeing as how it’s one of the few at which the backup did not receive significant playing time in their career. Tavarous Gooden is a quality player, but his lack of experience really just puts him in the same boat as Willie in that regard, and there’s no one that will give Gooden the edge based on pure talent. It would be asking too much to say that he’ll be making an impact week one vs FSU, but he could be THE playmaker on the D by midseason.

2. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma

The #1 player in last year’s class (thanks to 2,960 rushing yards his Senior year) according to many takes the #2 spot. After showing what immense talent he had at the AA game, everyone’s looking forward to him playing some games that matter, including the Oklahoma coaching staff. There is a good back ahead of him in Kejuan Jones, but he doesn’t have near the talent that AP does; and will only be able to hold him off for so long. Plus, it would be best to assimilate him into the offense this year, because they’ll be losing the core of their offense next offseason (Jason White, Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones, etc.). Best guess, Adrian’s #1 by the Red River Shootout on October 9<SUP>th</SUP>.

1. Ted Ginn, CB Ohio St.

The top impact Freshman is none other than the great Theodore Ginn, Jr. He steps into a secondary in need of a playmaker after the loss of Chris Gamble, not to mention the return game that Gamble dominated. Dustin Fox is a very good Corner, but isn’t the big play, lock down corner Gamble was, and E.J. Underwood has potential, but is still very unproven. Ginn should be able to take advantage of this situation, first by being a deadly kick/punt returner; then through his clear playmaking skills at Corner. Buckeye fans should be especially glad that they play Michigan the last week of the season, because by then Ginn will have already established himself, and he might be the best obstacle between Braylon Edwards and a dominating game.


not to mention the return game that Gamble dominated

I don't remember that at all. I remember Gamble not calling a fair catch plenty of time when I thought he should, but don't remember him ever dominating. No knock against the kid... he was a very good corner. I just think TG2 can really give us a needed spark in this aspect of the game.
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Gamble did "dominate" PR at tOSU. Trouble was, the returning game was pathetic. He rarely returned kick-offs, but he couldn't really have done any worse than Mo Hall and Smith. I believe that Ginn will positively impact our returning game, but I really don't see him getting a lot of time on D.
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"Ginn should be able to take advantage of this situation, first by being a deadly kick/punt returner; then through his clear playmaking skills at Corner."

I think its a little too early to say that Ginn will play corner. True Freshmen rarely step right into that spot at a school like Ohio State. They usually start at Nickel Back/Safety/Dime Defense and then get moved.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one true frosh that started the season as the Starting CB: E.J. Underwood in '02.

I expect Whitner to get moved there eventually, & I expect Underwood to have a big year this year. I don't see Ginn logging major PT there this season.
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Sloopy45 said:
I expect Whitner to get moved there eventually, & I expect Underwood to have a big year this year. I don't see Ginn logging major PT there this season.

What makes you think Whitner will be moved?

I agree Ginn probably won't play a lot at corner this year but not because he's not capable. We just have too much talent there (Underwood, Fox and Youboty) and throwing him into the fire isn't necessary.
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Hey- If the last 2 years has taught us anything... it how important Special Teams are. If TG2 can establish himself as the type of kick returner that can take it to the house anytime... that will be huge for tOSU. It would play big into the 'hidden yards" game Tressel likes to play... Not only from a return yards standpoint, but also from the other team kicking out of bounds, or punts through the endzone to keep him from touching it....

On a side note: Mabe stripes or USCemper can update this some... but I know Jeff Byers is a freak and all but... I'd be nervous if I were starting a Center as a true freshman in USC's offense... I seem to remember a blurb that he and Leinert might be having 'exchange problems' but I guess that would mean that you'd be using a more experienced, bu less tlented line at Center... so I guess if you guys are around and can give us a quick USC OL update... that would interest at least me.
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Nutty: "What makes you think Whitner will be moved?"

I just think CB is more of a natural position for Whitner. He got burned a couple times last year because playing the middle of the field (a la MLB, SS, Nickel, or FS) is more an instinctive & reactive position than a pure athletic position than CB.

I saw him as a Corner in the making all along. Where he played last year doesn't determine (in my eyes) where he ends up.

coxew: "I believe our starting corners were Fox and McNutt and the only game I recall EJ starting was Wisconsin."

I thought McNutt's season ended either in or before the Cincy game. I remember E.J. starting every game between Cincy and Whisky, and splitting major PT with McNutt before that. I could be wrong, but that's what I remember.
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I love how Teddy's been real quiet through camp. No big plays to speak of in any of the scrimmages. He just seems to be one of those players who can lull you to sleep and than wham, he hurts you. I certainly think he'll be in Tressel's plans this year. Though the impact may not be evident at first, he will soon enough make his mark and start hurting teams. Can't wait.
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Sloopy45 said:
I thought McNutt's season ended either in or before the Cincy game. I remember E.J. starting every game between Cincy and Whisky, and splitting major PT with McNutt before that. I could be wrong, but that's what I remember.
I just checked the official site and the only game they show EJ starting was San Jose State. I thought it was Wisconsin but they're showing McNutt starting that game. The way I recall it is that McNutt saw his last action against NW, in front of his home town crowd but the Wisconsin game was two weeks after Northwestern.
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Don't think Ginn should be #1 if the title is IMPACT freshman. Not because he doesn't have the skills, but I dont' see any opportunity other than special teams - and I don't think that is a given yet, though if he has been named as starter on returns, I stand corrected.

You probably could make a case for some of those wr's, just for the fact they will have an opportunity he doesn't have.
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