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August 3, 2007

SCS.comCollege football is all about new beginnings. Out with the old and in with new(comers). Florida, last year’s national champion, had a 2nd year coach in Urban Meyer, and talented freshmen such as Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, who were recruited by the 2nd year coach in his first year. Stud receiver Andre Caldwell returned for a successful senior season after being hurt all of 2006. Florida needed everyone to contribute to get through football’s toughest conference and win the national championship.

Defense wins championships, but freshmen build teams. Adrian Peterson and Ted Ginn Jr. were dominant freshmen. During their careers, they both played in multiple BCS bowl games and won conference championships. Freshmen build hype and give a discouraged fan base something to look forward to. Is your favorite team not strong at QB this year? Do not worry, that “star” recruit will fill the gap next year, right? Pick'Em Contest

Transfers can cripple a team and empower another. Mitch Mustain transferring from Arkansas to USC will hurt the Hogs' chances in the SEC West. USC, who really does not need any help finding stud QBs, will find a way to utilize Mustain in a positive way before he graduates.

A lot like transfers, players who have come back from lots of missed time due to injuries can boost a team’s morale and chance of success. Injuries can be devastating to a young football player and a team. Ask Ohio State or Oklahoma if they did not miss their former freshmen stars from above when they were injured during the 2006 season. When that player returns, especially a big time playmaker or team leader, the whole team changes.

Getting a new coach is like going to rehab and coming out clean. Everyone is excited about the chance of success, but also ready to give up and move on to someone or something else when there is failure. Whether you are happy with your team's hire or not, you will have high expectations. Nothing brings excitement to a football program more than a new coach. Alabama and Nick Saban is a classic example. They sold out their spring game, the only team to do so in 2007.

This year leaves no shortage of young freshmen, new coaches, talented transfers, and returning stars. Teams like Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Tennessee will be affected by newcomers. These teams will live and die because of new players and coaches. Time for your fantasy college football education - Fantasy College Blitz - because in college, everyone scores!

Top Freshmen

1. Eric Berry, Tennessee (CB) – A lot of people had Clausen listed as the best recruit from 2007, but I am not buying it. Berry is a speedy guy (4.33 forty) who projects as a cornerback after playing quarterback in high school. He is a high character guy, something Tennessee needs. Berry will find lots of playing time on defense and special teams this year, and he will be a top 10 pick in 3 years. Berry highlights (as a high school QB)

SCS.com2. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma (RB) – Murray is redshirt freshman that waited patiently for Adrian Peterson to graduate and leave the RB spot open. Oklahoma has a stable of talented young running backs, but Murray is easily the best of the contenders. In OU’s spring game, he had 103 yards on just 4 carries! Some call him the next Reggie Bush, and I do not disagree. Murray's spring game highlights

3. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame (QB) – Clausen is pressured to succeed early at Notre Dame after the Irish were embarrassed last year in games against Michigan, USC, and LSU. Clausen has a strong arm, and like former QB Brady Quinn, he is very quick. The Irish have been recruiting well, but they only return 9 starters this year. This will probably be his worst team in the 3 or 4 years he is at ND. He will start to show his excellence in 2008, and he is the most likely Heisman winner on this list. Clausen highlights

4. Arrelious Benn, Illinois (WR) - Illinois is a young team that is going to compete for a Big 10 title in 2 or 3 years, and Benn fits in perfectly with the Illini. He will get immediate playing time and will be sophomore Juice Williams' favorite target. Benn has power (220 lbs.) and speed (4.45 forty). He is the next James Hardy, except Benn’s team will see more success. Benn highlights

5. Jake Locker, Washington (QB) – Washington had a void to fill at QB after Isiah Stanback got hurt early in his senior season. Carl Bonnell replaced him, and got one win in 5 starts. Locker is a redshirt freshman who is the obvious choice for QB this fall. His forty time is faster than Clausen’s at 4.65. He has great elusiveness and a solid arm, and he should have a great career at Washington. Look for big things from the Huskies in their early season matchup vs. Ohio State. Locker highlights

Top Coaches

1. Nick Saban, Alabama – The controversial Saban was the talk of the off-season when he left the Miami Dolphins to return to the SEC. Saban’s connections from LSU should help him recruit in the South. Alabama has a very talented and experienced team this year, and Saban will have lots of success at Alabama.

2. Gene Chizik, Iowa State – Iowa State made a great hire when they brought in defensive guru Chizik from Texas. Chizik was the DC at Auburn in 2004, and Texas in 2005. Both teams went undefeated and only surrendered 11 points and 16 points per game, respectively. Chizik will take Iowa State back to the top of the Big 12 North, but not this year.

3. Butch Davis, North Carolina - Davis left college for the pros, and now is coming back to back to where he has been most successful, college football. The former Miami Hurricanes and Cleveland Browns coach takes over at UNC, who has gone 32-49 since 2000. UNC returns 9 starters in 2007, so Davis will start with a fresh new team. Davis took over the Miami job when the Hurricanes were on probation and struggling, so expect Davis to rebuild UNC.

4. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State - Dantonio was an underrated hire by Michigan State. He left Ohio State for Cincinnati in 2004, and led them to 2 winning seasons in 3 years. Dantonio will have success recruiting; that is a given. One of his main strengths is discipline, something John L. Smith failed to deliver. Smith also failed to deliver wins. Dantonio will get Michigan State back to the 2nd tier in the Big 10 soon.

5. Randy Shannon, Miami (Fl) – Shannon has been at Miami for 14 years, the past 6 as defensive coordinator. Miami’s strength has been its defense the past 6 years. Since 2001, they have averaged under 20 points per game. Shannon will also clean up “Thug U.” Coker had a great record at Miami, 60-15, but his lack of team control and discipline did him in. With a new offensive coordinator, Shannon should still be able to focus on the defense and lead a talented Miami team to a prominent bowl game this year. Still prepping for college fantasy football the hard way? Read top insight from Fantasy College Blitz.

Top Transfers

SCS.com1. Sam Keller, Nebraska (QB) – Keller had a ton of potential of Arizona State, but never completed a whole season as a starter. He played in 6 games in 2003, 6 in 2004 including a MVP Sun Bowl performance, and 7 games in 2005. All 3 years he had good stats, but staying healthy is a huge question mark. If he can stay 100 percent and consistent, Keller will lead Nebraska to the Big XII North title.

2. Mitch Mustain, Southern California – Mustain was 8-0 as a starter for Arkansas in 2006. In his 8th game, he was pulled after throwing an opening drive INT, and he never saw the starting role again. He also disliked the offense that was run by Arkansas, focusing on star running back Darren McFadden. Mustain threw the ball a measly 132 times in 2006 and then transferred with fellow teammate WR Damian Williams to USC. Mustain will battle Mark Sanchez for the job in 2008.

3. Jevan Snead, Mississippi - Snead was recruited by Texas the same year they recruited Colt McCoy. McCoy won the job in the spring and led Texas to a ten win season in his first year. Obviously, Colt McCoy was not going to give up the starting job. Snead decided to transfer to Mississippi, where he will be the likely starter in 2008. Snead has the opportunity to be the next Eli Manning at UM.

4. Zack Frazer, UConn – Frazer was recruited in 2006, and he was expected to be the starter at Notre Dame after Brady Quinn graduated. However, top prospect Jimmy Clausen chose Notre Dame, sealing Frazer’s fate as a backup. So, the 6-4, 215 pound quarterback transferred to UConn. Frazer will have a great chance to win the starting job because DJ Hernandez, the Huskies’ quarterback in 2006, changed his position to wide receiver. Frazer will be key to a turnaround of the UConn football program.

5. Antwine Perez, Maryland - The highly recruited safety was a Parade All-American and the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year, but he found minimal playing time as the backup at Southern Cal. He is transferring due to the Trojans' depth at the safety position. Perez will replace Chris Varner when he graduates next year, and he should see 2 or 3 good years at Maryland before he makes the jump to the NFL.

Returning from Injury

1. Tyrone Prothro, Alabama (WR) – We all remember the amazing catch against Southern Miss from 2005. Prothro broke his leg later in that year and then redshirted in 2006. Now he is perfectly healthy and ready to lead a talented a receiving core that will catapult Alabama to a solid year.

2. Ben Olsen, UCLA (QB) – UCLA has one of its best teams in years, and is ranked in most preseason polls. The highly recruited Olsen has been average in his first 2 years at UCLA. Last year, his season was cut short due to an injury after 4 games. He has recovered and was named the starter in May. Coach Karl Dorrell obviously has lots of confidence in Olsen, naming him the starter so early.

3. Austin Scott, Penn State (RB) – Scott suffered an ankle injury in 2006 and was redshirted. He is now a 5th year senior. I predict him to have a similar season to Tony Hunt, who did not shine until is senior year. Hunt is now in the NFL, leaving Scott the job. If Anthony Morelli struggles at QB like he did last year, Scott should get plenty of carries.

4. Brandon Murphy, Miami (OH)(RB) - Last year, Murphy only played 4 games. He is not a big time player on a national scale, but it was a huge loss for the RedHawks, and they had their worst season since 1988. Murphy should be greatly improved and should get most of the carries. He will be key for Miami as they make a MAC title run.

5. Anderson Russell, Ohio State (FS) - Last year as a freshman, Russell stepped in and quickly earned a starting spot on a talented OSU defense. He has since had ACL surgery and won’t be 100% by the start of the year, but OSU’s schedule is bottom-heavy. When Russell returns, he will make their defense the best in the Big Ten. Remember Anderson Russell’s name. He is another OSU defensive back who will soon be shipped off the NFL.

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