UT signee among top frosh

If you're a University of Tennessee football fan, you already know the Vols are unsettled in the secondary. You also know the Vols have America's most heralded defensive back signee eager to join the mix in August.

What you probably don't know is that Mark Schlabach of espn.com ranks that heralded DB No. 2 among his top 10 "Freshmen to Watch in 2007."

Schlabach lists just one incoming freshman – Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn – ahead of Eric Berry, son of former Vol running back James Berry. Checking in at No. 3 on the list is Jimmy Clausen, younger brother of former Vol quarterbacks Casey and Rick Clausen.

Here's what Schlabach has to say about his top three:

1. Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois

Benn, who enrolled at Illinois in January, should have a tremendous impact this fall because, frankly, he's better than the rest of the Illini's returning skill players. He was a major recruiting coup for Coach Ron Zook, after choosing Illinois over Florida State, Maryland, Miami and Notre Dame. Look for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Washington, D.C., to become quarterback Juice Williams' favorite target.

2. Eric Berry, CB, Tennessee

Berry, one of the country's most highly regarded defensive back prospects, will have an opportunity to start in the Volunteers' revamped secondary. Free safety Jonathan Hefney is the only returning starter. If Berry can hold off a pair of junior-college transfers, he might be starting at cornerback by the Sept. 1 opener at California.

3.Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

The California high school legend is in a three-man battle to replace departed Fighting Irish starter Brady Quinn. Clausen had surgery recently to repair damage in the elbow of his right (throwing) arm, which might prevent him from beating out Evan Sharpley or Demetrius Jones for the starting job before the Sept. 1 opener against Georgia Tech. Barring complications with the elbow, expect Clausen to be starting by midseason, though.

The rest of Schlabach's top 10 consists of running back Graig Cooper (Miami) at No. 4, defensive tackle Torrey Davis (Florida) at No. 5, West Virginia running back Noel Devine at No. 6, Southern Cal receiver Ronald Johnson at No. 7, Clemson quarterback Willy Korn at No. 8, Southern Cal tailback Joe McKnight at No. 9 and Oklahoma quarterback Keith Nichol at No. 10.

To check out Schlabach's ratings, go to espn.com, scroll down to the college football link, then click on the item labeled "Schlabach: Freshmen to watch in 2007."


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