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February 4, 2009
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every breaks down five of the top impact freshmen on the 2009 class.
Top Five Impact Freshmen
WR Duron Carter, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas (Ohio State)
The Buckeyes lost their top two receivers and return only one receiver who had more than 20 catches. With super sophomore-to-be Terrelle Pryor finally taking over full-time duties at quarterback, he will be looking for receivers who can run precise routes and make tough catches look easy. Carter helped lead his team to an undefeated 5A state championship this past season, catching 39 passes for 738 yards and 14 touchdowns. Carter lacks big-time speed, but he proved at the Under Armour All-American practices that he can run excellent routes and catch anything within reach. He also excels at the little things like run blocking. Look for his work ethic and exceptional hands to earn him early playing time this fall.
DT Jacobbi McDaniel, Greenville (Fla.) Madison (Florida State)
McDaniel burst onto the national scene with a dominating performance at last year's U.S. Army Junior Combine, taking on all comers during one-on-ones. This two-way starter over the last two years has led his team to a 24-2 record and one state title. He also earned a selection to the Under Armour All-American Game, where he again embarrassed the competition. What sets McDaniel apart is his explosion off the ball and his technique. Just when a lineman gets used to the bull rush, McDaniel will work a spin move or a cross face to beat him. Florida State has a strong need for interior lineman. Couple that with the relationship McDaniel has already built with defensive tackle coach Odell Haggins, and you are looking at McDaniel cracking the two-deep chart by the first game.
RB Christine Michael, Beaumont (Texas) West Brook (Texas A&M)
Over the last three seasons Michael has rushed for 3,925 yards and 74 touchdowns while catching 48 passes for 550 yards and six TDs. His stellar career did not go unnoticed. He was selected to represent the West squad in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Michael is what I call a five-tool back ? he has tremendous vision, changes direction, runs with power, is a proven pass receiver and will block. The Aggies lost starting tailback Mike Goodson to the NFL draft, and short-yardage specialist Jorvorskie Lane just finished his senior campaign. This leaves Texas A&M with only one back on the roster with more than 200 yards (Cyrus Gray). I expect the Aggies to have one of the best one-two punches in the Big 12 next season with Gray and Michael.
OLB Zeke Motta, Vero Beach (Fla.) Vero Beach (Notre Dame)
Coach Charlie Weis is looking for difference-makers to bring Notre Dame back to its glory days. Motta recorded 391 tackles, 21 pass breakups and seven fumble recoveries over the past three seasons. He had excellent showings at both the Gainesville Nike Camp and FBU Top Gun Camp in Paisley, Fla., this past summer. What separates Motta from other linebackers is his speed, ball skills, instincts and his willingness to punish whoever is carrying the football. And it doesn't hurt that he is the son of a defensive coordinator at Vero Beach (Fla.). He practices with the same intensity that he plays with, and all these attributes earned him a spot in both the Mainland vs. Hawaii Bowl and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Look for "Baby Urlacher" to add serious speed and leadership skills to the Fighting Irish defense this coming season.
WR Rueben Randle, Bastrop (La.) Bastrop (LSU)
Randle has helped lead his team to a 26-2 record and one state championship over the past two seasons. As a junior he recorded 55 catches for 1,058 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his senior season he switched to quarterback and passed for 2,461 yards and 20 TDs while rushing for 683 yards. He is the one receiver in this recruiting class who has the size, body control and speed to make an immediate impact similar to Julio Jones and A.J. Green. His stellar high school career was capped off by leading all receivers in receptions with seven in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He will get playing time as a freshman. The instant he steps on campus he will be a quarterback's best friend.
OTHERS CONSIDERED: RB Bryce Brown, Wichita (Kan.) East; WR Chad Bumphis, Tupelo (Miss.) Tupelo; PQB Richard Brehaut, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) Los Osos; DT Sheldon Richardson, St. Louis (Mo.) Gateway Tech; S Justin Turner, Massillon (Ohio) Washington.