Home » kzuthlnm » Gridiron: Next in line shine under spotlight

Gridiron: Next in line shine under spotlight

first_imgDivision-I college football programs lose their best players to graduation and the NFL Draft every year. What separates the good programs from the great programs is their ability to recruit and recycle talent, so that when it’s time for their marquee players to go get paid, the programs have sufficient replacements waiting and ready to go.Take USC for example. A quick look at the recent quarterback lineage shows two Heisman Trophy winners — Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart — and current starter and Heisman candidate John David Booty. When teams can recruit a string of talent at multiple positions, they have set up a path toward repeated success.This year is no exception to the rule. Four current top 10 teams lost offensive playmakers to the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Without replacements for those players waiting on deck, these programs would not stand where they do today.Ohio State WR/PR Brian Robiskie (Ted Ginn Jr.)Last year Ted Ginn Jr. was arguably the most dynamic player in the nation, which is why the Miami Dolphins selected him with the ninth overall pick. He burned Big Ten cornerbacks on a consistent basis and returned kicks, including his touchdown against Florida on the opening kickoff of the BCS National Championship Game. With the loss of Ohio State’s other starting wide receiver, Anthony Gonzalez, to the Indianapolis Colts, the Buckeyes needed someone to step up in a big way this season.Junior wideout Brian Robiskie has done just that, settling in nicely as the Buckeyes’ No. 1 receiver and punt returner. After three games, the Cleveland, Ohio, native ranks 11th in the nation in receiving yards with 342 and 28th in the country with an average of 20.1 yards per catch.Robiskie is on pace for a 1,368-yard, eight-touchdown season, which would be a dramatic improvement from 383 yards and five touchdowns in 2006.He has also been a main reason why Ohio State has jumped to No. 8 in the AP poll, and he will be a key ingredient in the Buckeyes’ success for the rest of this season.California RB Justin Forsett (Marshawn Lynch)Despite backing up the Buffalo Bills’ first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch last season, senior running back Justin Forsett was able to steal 626 yards on 119 carries. So far this season, Forsett is making fans in Berkeley forget quickly about Lynch, exceeding expectations as the Golden Bears’ feature back. Forsett currently ranks 14th in the nation in rushing with 367 yards on 62 rushes, for an average of 5.9 yards per carry.Players’ numbers this early in the season are often misleading because many teams have yet to play top-quality opponents. However, Forsett’s best performance thus far came in Week 1 against then-ranked Tennessee, when he rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries (6.0 avg.) and a touchdown, not to mention a 49-yard reception out of the backfield.With Forsett carrying the ball and DeSean Jackson catching passes and returning kicks, expect Cal to make some serious noise in the Pac-10 this season.LSU QBs Ryan Perrilloux and Matt Flynn (Jamarcus JaMarcus Russell)After being selected No. 1 overall, JaMarcus Russell’s shoes may have been the biggest to fill in college football. Added pressure was applied to senior quarterback Matt Flynn because the Tigers were picked by many to square off against USC in the BCS National Championship Game this season. That hasn’t meant a thing to Flynn, who led the Tigers to a 45-0 slaughtering of Mississippi State in his first start of the season.When Flynn got banged up in Week 2 against Virginia Tech, in stepped sophomore quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, who modestly went 5-for-5 for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the 48-7 rout. His encore performance was much of the same. With Flynn still ailing on the bench, Perrilloux threw for 298 yards and three scores.The only problem lingering in Baton Rouge is who will start when Flynn gets healthy, because both he and Perrilloux seem fully capable of leading this high-powered attack.Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray (Adrian Peterson)It’s tough enough for freshmen to adjust to the speed and size of the college game. Succeeding Adrian Peterson — the first running back taken in the NFL Draft (Minnesota Vikings) –should make it a bit tougher. Neither element has fazed DeMarco Murray, who is currently averaging seven yards per carry (which ranks him 24th in the nation in that category) for the surging Sooners. Murray has had limited touches thus far, due to Oklahoma’s 52.7-point average margin of victory in its first three games, which should keep him fresh in his freshman campaign. Despite the lack of carries, Murray has shined when he has touched the ball. He has six touchdowns, including a 92-yarder last week against Utah State. Because he hasn’t had more than 17 carries in a game yet, look for Murray to be fresh for when the Sooners actually need him to carry a heavy load, because this kid can flat-out run the football.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *