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College Football Preview 2008College Football Free Pick'Em Contest 2008
SCS.COM COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2008: IMPACT NEWCOMERS
July 23, 2008

SCS.comHeading into the 2008 season, a plethora of new faces are expected to make their presence felt by filling a critical need in their teamís line-up. These players arrive at the right time and in the right system to earn significant playing time and become a key part of their teamís game plan early in the season. Time to take an in-depth look at the high potential playmakers who should quickly become household names during the season.

The nationís top recruit, Terrelle Pryor, heads to Ohio State in the fall and will be looking to immediately earn playing time behind last yearís starting quarterback, Todd Boeckman. Pryor arrives with a sterling resume, highlighted by his being named the 2007 USA Today player of the year after a season in which he rushed for 1,899 yards, passed for 1,889 yards, and accounted for 58 touchdowns. Terrelle is also the first player in Pennsylvania prep history to rush and pass for more than 4,000 yards each during his career. The combination of greater than 8,000 yards of total offense defines his superior all-around skills at the quarterback position. Expect the Buckeyes to use Pryor and his athletic ability as a change of pace behind center for 10 to 15 plays a game and to give opposing defensive coordinators another weapon that needs to be accounted for in their game plan.

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Arriving in Boulder, Colorado and immediately becoming a huge factor in the Buffaloes offensive scheme is freshman running back Darrell Scott. Rated as one of the top high school backs in the nation, the Buffaloes scored a huge recruiting win over Texas in landing the California prep star. Scott scored 87 touchdowns and rushed for almost 7,000 yards in his final three seasons of high school, while finishing his career as Californiaís fourth all-time leading rusher. The Buffalo rushing offense was average last year while ranking 68th in the nation and they lost their leading rusher to graduation in Hugh Charles. Scott was brought in to ignite the offense and expect him to secure the starting role and earn the majority of the carries in his rookie season.

The Crimson Tide are looking for a spark to ignite their passing game and they may have found their answer in wide receiver, Julio Jones. Jones reeled in 194 receptions, scored 42 touchdowns during his stellar prep career, and was ranked as the nationís top high school player by Sports Illustrated and number two overall by ESPN. Alabama lost their top three receivers from last season making Julio a critical signing and the expectation is that he earns a starting assignment as soon as he steps onto the Tuscaloosa campus. Jones is physically prepared for college and he has the required size and speed to be an immediate difference maker in the Bama offense.

Clemson welcomed star recruit DaíQuan Bowers in the spring and he has already been practicing with the team, receiving rave reviews in the early going. As a senior in Bamberg, South Carolina, Bowers registered 97 tackles and 14 sacks while also rushing for over 1,200 yards, demonstrating his pure athletic ability. Rated as the top overall recruit in the nation by ESPN, Bowers will quickly make a name for himself at the defensive end position. The 6-5, 265 pound athlete is fast and can overpower blockers so look for him to be a pass rushing terror for the Tigers in 2008.

Notre Dame struggled mightily on the offensive side of the football last season, ranking 110th in the nation in passing offense. In the fall, the Irish welcome wide receiver Michael Floyd out of Saint Paul, Minnesota, a two-time state player of the year who recorded 59 receptions for 1,247 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior season. Expect Floyd to see plenty of time as the Irish need a receiver to step in and provide a much-needed deep threat. Although he is not likely to start immediately, he is talented enough to earn a great deal of playing time and to be a key contributor on what looks to be a much-improved Irish offensive unit. Floyd could also take over as the punt returner as he handled those duties in high school.

The Washington Huskies need playmakers and they may have found their answer in running back/wide receiver Chris Polk. As a senior in California, Polk rushed for 2,561 yards and 29 touchdowns, while also adding another five touchdown receptions. Polk enrolled early at UW and practiced in spring football, so he is ready to assume a key role in the Husky offense. The Washington staff is already designing plays specifically for Polk and the goal is to use him in a variety of formations, lining up both at running back and wide receiver. The Huskies lost all of their top receivers from last season, so Polk will see plenty of the ball this season and should give star quarterback Jake Locker a versatile weapon.

The Florida Gators struggled last season on the defensive side of the football and Coach Urban Meyer is looking for young talent to step in and play immediately. He may have found an answer at defensive tackle in Omar Hunter, a huge recruit out of Buford, Georgia. Hunter was dominant as a senior, registering 93 tackles and seven sacks, earning the number two overall rating at defensive tackle by ESPN.com. Hunter has the size, speed, and technique to find his way into the oppositionís backfield on a regular basis, a critical need for the Gatorís success. Hunter may not be starting in the opener but it will not take too long for him to take over as one of the leaders of the Gator defense.

The Eagles of Boston College are looking to find a spark to ignite their running game, a group that ranked 106th in the nation last season. Enter Maryland prep star Josh Haden, who heads to Chestnut Hill as the third rated all-purpose back in the nation. Haden enrolled early and has already earned the starting nod at tailback, a position that was gutted due to graduation. Expect to see Haden utilized in a slash type of role with the goal being to get him the ball in space where he can display his excellent open-field moves. Josh is only about 190 pounds, so he is not projected to be a workhorse, but he should see at least 15 carries per game plus get numerous receptions out of the backfield.

Pittsburgh struggled all of last season to develop a consistent passing game as the Panthers ended the season ranked 104th in the nation in passing offense. Enter Jonathan Baldwin, a 6-6, 225-pound wide receiver out of Aliquippa, one of the nations most highly regarded prospects on the outside. Baldwin recorded 41 catches as a senior, including nine which ended as touchdown receptions. The Pittsburgh receiving rotation is deep, but Baldwin could simply be too talented to keep off the field as a freshman as he is the biggest target in the group and is already a skilled and polished pass catcher.

The Hurricanes of Miami brought in talent across the board, but no player may make as significant an impact as defensive tackle, Marcus Forston. The Northwestern High School product out of Miami is an early enrollee and already has made a name for himself after displaying his skills in spring ball. Forston is drawing comparisons to his idol, Warren Sapp, as he has a great combination of speed and size to control the middle of the line. As a senior, Marcus made 92 tackles and recorded 20 sacks, as he was dominant while playing at a high level of prep competition. Expect the Miami line to be much improved, with Forston playing a key role in leading a young group that is loaded with talent.

One of the surprises of the football signing period was wide receiver DeAndre Brown turning down scholarship offers from Florida and LSU to sign on at Southern Mississippi. The Ocean Springs, Mississippi product made 31 receptions as a senior and accounted for over 1,800 total yards of offense, earning him the honor as the top prospect in the state. The Golden Eagles struggled all of last season to find a game breaking talent in their passing offense and expect the 6-6, 225-pound Brown to be a difference maker in taking the offense to the next level. One note on Brown is that there remain academic hurdles that need to be cleared for him to be available at the start of the season but if he is eligible and ready to play, expect to hear his name called a great deal as part of the Southern Miss offense.

Heading to the Sun Belt Conference, North Texas could have the biggest impact newcomer with quarterback Riley Dodge joining his father and head coach in Denton. Riley had major offers, including one from Texas, but chose to join his father in the hopes of turning around the fortunes of the Mean Green program. Named the 5A Texas Offensive Player of the Year as both a junior and senior, Dodge passed for 3,445 yards and 39 touchdowns during his senior season. North Texas does welcome back last seasonís starter in sophomore Giovanni Vizza, who posted strong numbers in his initial season behind center and will not yield his starting assignment without a fight. Keep an eye on this battle in the fall, but with Dodgeís pedigree and familiarity with the system, he could quickly assume the starting role and never look back.

The most significant impact transfer looks to be quarterback Jevan Snead, who began his career at Texas but after losing the competition with Colt McCoy has since transferred to Mississippi. Snead is a mobile quarterback with great size and after receiving rave reviews following spring ball he appears ready to lead this Rebel offense. The Ole Miss passing game struggled all of last year, but with Snead now in command and with five top receivers returning, the potential is there for a huge turnaround this season. This is the most talented Mississippi team in years and the addition of Snead have the Rebel faithful thinking bowl game after a five year absence.

Florida State needed immediate help on the defensive front and they found what they are looking for in junior college transfer Markus White. Markus was a pass rushing terror last season at Butler Community College, recording 24.5 sacks and setting the school record while earning National Junior College player of the year honors. He immediately steps into one of the defensive end slots, a position that the Seminole staff is looking for significant improvement from in generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Another junior college transfer who is likely to play a significant role this season is Oregon running back, LaGarrette Blount. In the battle to replace Jonathan Stewart, Blount made a huge impact in the spring with his combination of size and power and he appears to be the perfect complement to Jeremiah Johnson in the Duck rushing attack. Oregon loves to run the ball evidenced by their 6th ranked rushing offense from last season, so expect Blount to get plenty of carries, especially as the game wears on and he pounds straight ahead at tiring defenses.

There is a glance at 15 players who are projected to step up and play critical roles immediately this season. Watch how these individuals progress during the season and how they develop to become integral parts of their teamís success.

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