Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Which true freshmen are ready to play?
By ESPN.com staff
The ink dries on the national letters of intent and the recruiting class rankings are handed out, then the real business begins: Which true freshmen are ready to play right now?
Here's an early list for every Pac-10 team.
A caveat: This is hardly a scientific survey, evaluations are still in their early stages and I've only personally seen a handful of these guys play. These names are here because of news reports and comments from coaches and other observers (sports information directors also chipped in).
Further, some schools will start or play a lot of freshmen -- USC and UCLA for example -- while that doesn't appear likely for other schools (Oregon State may only use freshmen on special teams).
So here we go.
CB Shaquille Richardson, S Marquis Flowers
Note: Frosh will bolster the Wildcats secondary. Richardson was kicked off UCLA's team for being one of three freshmen who allegedly tried to steal a purse. Coach Mike Stoops told the Arizona Daily Star that Richardson is "as good a corner as I've coached at this young stage."
RB Deantre Lewis, WR Kyle Middlebrooks
Note: Lewis turned in a good scrimmage over the weekend for an offense that needs playmakers. Middlebrooks should at least get into the rotation and may return punts.
WR Keenan Allen, WR Kaelin Clay, WR Tevin Carter, LB David Wilkerson
Note: Receiver is a need position for the Bears -- not all of the passing game struggles can be hung on QB Kevin Riley. All three likely will be in the rotation, with Allen a candidate to start. Wilkerson is pushing for time at OLB.
DT Ricky Heimuli, K Alejandro Maldonado
Note: The 320-pound Heimuli offers a big body in the middle of the D-line. Maldonado is in the thick of the race to start at kicker. (The two touted frosh RBs could get into the mix, but No. 3 is deeper than we want to go).
WR Kevin Cummings, LB Michael Doctor
Notes: No true freshman has cracked the Beavers two-deep and both of these guys are grayshirts. Cummings could get into the rotation at flanker behind James Rodgers. Both are expected to play special teams.
CB Barry Browning, S Devon Carrington
Note: Browning is the highest true freshman on the depth chart at present, though he's not with the first-team, according to Jim Harbaugh. He and Carrington could provide help in a questionable secondary.
SS Dietrich Riley, F Anthony Barr, OG Chris Ward, DT Cassius Marsh, DE Owa Odighizuwa
Notes: This list, by the way, could have been much longer. The Bruins signed a strong recruiting class last February and a lot of those guys will play this fall. Riley, Barr and Ward are in the mix to start.
WR Robert Woods, RB Dillon Baxter, WR Markeith Ambles, CB Nickell Robey
Notes: Woods may end up starting, and Baxter has been a spectacular playmaker since he showed up during spring drills, though he's suspended for the opener. Robey is the leading candidate to be the nickelback.
RB Jesse Callier, S Sean Parker, DE Hau'oli Jamora, TE Michael Hartvigson
Note: It doesn't appear at this point that any of these four will start, but they each are expected to play. Callier steps to the fore with Deontae Cooper out with a knee injury. Jamora and Hartvigson provide depth at need positions.
WR Marquiss Wilson, WR Kristoff Williams, OT John Fullington, LB C.J. Mizell, DT Kalafitoni Pole
Notes: All five of these guys will play. Fullington has seen some action with the first-team. Mizell might be the Cougars fastest LB.