None of these players have made an impact to this point at the college level. In fact, they haven't even played a snap. Yet this year these freshmen will become college stars as they make an instant impact.
Top Incoming Freshmen
This year's best incoming freshmen is Ohio State Buckeye cornerback and return man Teddy Ginn. Ginn (6'1, 185 lbs, 4.3) will be on the field for the Buckeyes from day one, if not starting at corner, then he will definitely be one of the nation's elite return men. Ginn showed his talent as a return man in the East-West Shrine All Star Game against the top high school players in the country. His first return in the game went for 70 yards before he fumbled in the open field. The second time he touched the ball, the West wasn't so lucky as Ginn showed his sprinters speed going 98 yards in a beautiful return where Ginn split the seam and went untouched for a touchdown. That along with his stellar play at corner and some time spent at wide receiver was enough to wrap up MVP honors for the game.
As a track athlete, Ginn is compared to Cleveland, OH native Jesse Owens and expects to make a name for himself in the Olympics in the future.
As a football player, Ginn is as good a cornerback as I've seen on film. I fully expect his name to be mentioned in the same breath as greats Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey and yes, even Deion Sanders.
A Championship Impact
In recent years we have seen freshmen that have stepped on the college scene and make such an impact that their efforts helped their teams to a national championship. Last year it was LSU running back Justin Vincent and USC running back Reggie Bush who pushed their teams to the national title. The year before we saw freshmen All-American Maurice Clarrett take the center stage in his team's fight for the championship.
This year if you want to see a freshman that could win a national title then tune in to see Oklahoma's RB Adrian Peterson.
Peterson has a few things that could help him be this year's national championship team's freshmen of the year. First of all he is considered by many to be the top high school player in 2003, a claim he backed up in the East-West Shrine bowl by blowing through the West defense for two impressive touchdown runs. He has great speed and great leg drive that allows him to elude and plow through defenders. Second he should step right into playing time in the Sooners backfield and third, the Sooners have a team that will be right in the thick of the national championship hunt in 2004.
Other Championship Contenders
The LSU Tigers will need someone to step up at wide receiver and they have a couple of young guns that couple step onto the scene in a big way 1) Xavier Carter: Known as the fastest prep star ever to come out of Florida. Carter will be able to contribute right away with the losses the Tigers suffered at wide receiver. He is not only a speedster, but he has the size (6'3, 190 lbs) to step into a major role right away. Xavier Carter will one day use his speed representing the USA in the Olympics, but for now Coach Saban will not be shy in turning that speed loose in opposing defensive secondaries.
2) If not Carter, then look for an early contribution from Early Doucet. Considered by many the #1 wide receiver in the nation, Doucet was a offensive machine in high school as he threw for 7 touchdowns, ran for 16 and caught 3 more all in his senior season
Either Carter, Doucey or both will contribute in a big way for the Tigers in 2004.
ACC Newcomers of the Year
Offense: This one is too easy. Georgia Tech had to have help at wide receiver. They got it when 6'4, 215 lb Calvin Johnson stunned the recruiting world by shunning offers from powers Georgia, Miami, and others to pick the Jackets. He will be thrown into the fire early, but Johnson's skills are legit and he will be ready. He will have plenty of opportunities to show why he was considered to be one of the top 10 wide receivers in the nation.
Note: Although Johnson will be the #1 freshman on offense this fall, it is future Seminole quarterback Xavier Lee that will have ACC fans talking for years to come. Lee is the best quarterback in Tallahassee since Charlie Ward, but unless Bobby Bowden uses his athletic ability at wide receiver, where he would be a star I might add, Lee will most likely red-shirt and take over the reigns after the graduation of Chris Rix.
Defense: It's hard not to pick all everything linebacker Willie Williams as the impact freshman of the year in the ACC. As much as you'll love to hate him, Williams' talents are not to be overlooked. He will provide immediate depth at linebacker for the Canes and could be starting by year's end.
Another candidate would be Maryland's freshmen safety and #1 recruit Kent Hicks. The opportunity is there for Hicks to step right into the starting lineup with the losses of both safeties from 2003's defensive unit. Hicks (6'3, 205 lbs) is a tackling machine, registering 109 tackles his senior season. His hard-nosed play will fit right into Friedgen's no non-sense scheme.
In the end though it was Demario Pressley who I picked to make immediate impact in the ACC this year. Presley is not only physically ready at 6'4, 290 lbs, but he is also the most athletic defensive tackle I saw from this year's class and should get an immediate opportunity on the Pack's interior defensive line.
Clemson's Immediate Stars
Stayed tuned in the coming weeks to hear of the progress and early news from Tiger freshmen newcomers. We will break down the strengths and weaknesses of each signee and give you reports on who will most likely avoid a red shirt in 2004.
Because of need at the rover, corner, offensive and defensive line positions you can expect to keep an eye on corner Brandon Croley, safety Adrian Kindred and tackle Akeem Robinson who have impressed in both early workouts and with their physical development.
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