Rosters are in place for the Garnett vs. the Gold this Saturday in the Spring Game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Here are five players we will have a high interest in seeing perform.
As an elite program, it is expected to have a difference maker on the outside at WR. Ponder can make all the throws which should make this job even easier for the WRs. The problem has been that no one has stepped up and just taken the job. The player with all the tools is Jarmon Fortson, consistency is what is holding him back, in terms of ability he is as good as they come. The good news is that Fortson has some experience and the transition from 'underclassman' to 'upperclassman' is often the biggest one during a college career. Should he take the next step, it upgrades the entire WR group considerably. Fortson should feel some heat from Rodney Smith and Willie Haulstead, but perhaps the arrival of Christian Green will be the final kick in the proverbial rear end to get him going. With that youth behind him, his time is right now, we would like to see some signs on Saturday that he is up to the challenge. He will be playing with Ponder on the Gold squad.
The defensive line was not a source of strength in 2009, obviously that needs to change. We feel good about Jacobbi McDaniel, Markus White, and Everett Dawkins. Toshmon Stevens should emerge into a quality player next year. Two players, however, are going to be counted on to try and take this unit to the next level. Demonte McAllister and Brandon Jenkins are still in their freshmen years(McAllister got a redshirt), but they are going to be asked to play like veterans. Both have immense talent, but physically have a ways to go to reach their ceilings. They will need to learn on the job and fight to get it done on the field. The good news here is that just a year from today, all but White will return making this a short term problem, but potentially a long term strength. Getting 15-20 good snaps a game out each would be a nice addition. We loved McAllister two years ago at the UnderArmour game, we felt he was one of(if not the) top DL at the game. His ability to play inside or out(in that case outside at DE) is unique and is a testament to his vast potential. Jenkins contributed 12 tackles as a true frosh, it is simply a matter of how quickly he can develop his pass rushing skills. Both players will be playing for the Gold squad on Saturday.
The secondary has to be much better. While the Safety situation is still unsettled, there are bodies there and more on the way. A pair of terrific, young CBs would be huge right about now, it is not easy to replace a talent like Patrick Robinson. Most EXPECT Greg Reid to be one of those guys. Four interceptions in the previous scrimmage bodes well going forward. Reid's continued development is as important as anything this Spring. "Guys who have a knack for making plays" on the defensive side of the ball are in short supply. He is not the biggest guy out there, it would be great to be able to protect him a little. One way to do that is to have a big CB on the other side and Xavier Rhodes could be that guy. At over 6'0 and 200 pounds, he is not at such a disadvantage against a Leonard Hankerson or Carl Moore. Rhodes will play with the Garnett squad which will give him an opportunity to lock horns against Fortson and Smith.