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February 1, 2011

Redshirts ready to make an impact in '11

Wednesday is National Signing Day, and while it can seem like Christmas Day to some fans, the flashy gift isn't necessarily the best gift.

In other words, don't overlook the players who don't make an immediate impact; sometimes they turn out to be the best players in the class.

Of the 22 players on the 2010 Rivals.com Freshman All-America team, eight of them redshirted as freshmen, and 14 of the 22 on the second team were redshirted.

So go ahead and revel in the big names your team signs Wednesday, but make sure you pay attention during spring practice in March and April. That's when the players on this list will start to make a name for themselves.

Here's an early look at redshirt freshmen who could have featured roles in the 2011 season. The players are listed alphabetically by school.

High school: Loganville (Ga.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Tech needs to find some new tackles now that Austin Barrick has used up his eligibility and Nick Claytor surprisingly decided to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Bailey arrived at Georgia Tech with a reputation as a solid run blocker, and his 3.8 grade-point average in high school suggests he could be a quick study.
Georgia Tech QB Synjyn Days
High school: Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: He will get a chance to compete for the right to replace the departed Joshua Nesbitt as Georgia Tech's starting quarterback. Tevin Washington has the edge in experience after starting the Yellow Jackets' final four games last season in place of an injured Nesbitt, but Days may have more upside. Days ran for 75 touchdowns and threw for 30 scores in high school.
High school: Baltimore City College High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Terps need to find a receiver with big-play ability now that Torrey Smith has decided to enter the NFL draft. Coxson may be the best candidate on the roster. He signed with Florida last February before announcing in August that he would transfer to Maryland. Coxson rushed for 1,280 yards -- averaging more than 12 yards per carry -- and threw for 650 yards as a quarterback during his senior season.
High school: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Although he was one of the more highly touted players in UNC's 2010 recruiting class, Bernard didn't play this past season because he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during preseason practice. He is expected to compete for a starting job this fall as the Tar Heels attempt to replace Johnny White and Shaun Draughn, their two leading rushers from last season. Bernard played for two state championship teams at St. Thomas Aquinas and was the No. 14 running back and No. 186 overall prospect in the 2010 class. His brother, Yvenson, played running back at Oregon State.
High school: Mount Ulla (N.C.) West Rowan
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Virginia must replace Keith Payne, who rushed for 749 yards and 14 touchdowns to lead the Cavaliers in both categories. The Cavaliers' No. 1 running back almost certainly will be Perry Jones, who ran for 646 yards and a touchdown on 137 carries in 2010. But if Virginia coach Mike London plans to divide carries between two backs again, Parks should contend for that complementary role. He set national records with 1,370 career carries and 55 career 100-yard games in high school. Parks broke North Carolina state records for rushing yards in a season (3,794) and career (10,895). He led West Rowan to consecutive Class 3A state titles.
High school: Pahokee (Fla.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: After arriving from high school last spring with an abundance of speed and a lack of weight, Allen has gained at least 30 pounds. He now is ready to strengthen a defense that surrendered more than 35 points per game last season. He received offers from Michigan, Tennessee and West Virginia, among others. Wake must replace departed starters Hunter Haynes and Matt Woodlief at linebacker.
Cincinnati WR Dyjuan Lewis
High school: Indianapolis Pike
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Lewis was a big get for Cincinnati, especially as the Bearcats went through a coaching transition. He was not academically eligible to practice with the team this past season, but he was enrolled in classes. Even if he were a full member of the team, Lewis might not have cracked a deep wide receiver rotation in 2010. Now that he's eligible, he'll compete for playing time with former high school teammate Anthony McClung and junior college transfer Kenbrell Thompkins. The Bearcats have a go-to receiver in D.J. Woods, but the Nos. 2 and 3 jobs are open.
High school: Miami Northwestern
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Harris was one of Charlie Strong's top recruits last year. The Cardinals expected him to play as a true freshman, but he missed the season because of a knee injury suffered in August. When healthy, Harris is a playmaker.
High school: Secaucus (N.J.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Rutgers' offensive line play was dismal last season, so the Scarlet Knights are looking for an upgrade. Bujari, a 6-foot-4, 295-pounder from Secaucus, N.J., enrolled early as a true freshman, so he's had time to refine his game on the scout team. He could become a starter.
High school: Murrysville (Pa.) Franklin Regional
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Syracuse coaches think they found a sleeper in Hickey. He was slated to contribute as a freshman before a foot injury sidelined him. Syracuse has needed to upgrade its offensive line for several years, so Orange coaches are eagerly waiting to add Hickey, a 6-5, 292-pounder, to the rotation.
High school: Miami Northwestern
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Along with CB Terrence Mitchell, who played as a true freshman, Chandler was one of the early major recruiting victories for USF under Skip Holtz. Chandler was a top-20 defensive tackle out of high school. He will be in the competition to replace standout DT Terrell McClain.
High school: Sterling Heights (Mich.) Stevenson
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Hawkeyes have suffered some big losses up front, so Davis will have a chance for significant playing time. While Iowa defensive tackles typically have been undersized, Davis checks in at 6-5 and 295. He is quick on his feet and has the strength to get the push that could demand double-teams.
High school: Cleveland St. Ignatius
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Teammates raved about Ryan's tackling abilities during bowl practices. Ryan (6-3/225) was dominant at St. Ignatius, and his passion and intensity should provide a big boost to a sagging Michigan defense. Ryan also is a blossoming leader.
High school: Detroit Crockett
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Lippett figures to be the rare two-way threat. How quick and athletic is Lippett, a 6-3, 185-pounder? Coaches had him simulate Michigan QB Denard Robinson the week before the Spartans' game against the Wolverines. Lippett could be a real difference-maker for a team that needs one on offense.
High school: Wheaton (Ill.) North
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Graham, a 6-4, 225-pounder, could play a big role during the first five games of 2011, when Terrelle Pryor sits out for accepting extra benefits. Graham is the son of Kent Graham, who was a Buckeyes signal-caller in 1990-91. He had trouble staying healthy in high school, as his junior (ankle) and senior (knee) seasons were cut short by injury. But Graham is a tantalizing prospect who has coaches excited.
Ohio State WR T.Y. Williams
High school: East Cleveland Shaw
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Williams (6-5/218) is rangy and athletic. He is a raw product who didn't get great coaching in high school, but the light bulb is starting to come on. He has the potential to be a star as he continues to refine his skills and expand his knowledge.
High school: Canonsburg (Pa.) Canon McMillan
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: "Linebacker U." may have another star in Hull, a relatively small 'backer (6-0/211) whose calling card is speed. He is the son of former Nittany Lions and NFL linebacker Tom Hull. Hull has sideline-to-sideline range and a nose for the ball.
BIG 12
High school: Waco (Texas) Connally
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: He's big, athletic and smart -- all criteria for a capable offensive tackle. Last season, he was listed as a backup at left tackle but did not have to play. The exit of all-conference tackle Danny Watkins leaves a void on the Bears' left side. Coach Art Briles may opt to slide junior Ivory Wade over because of experience and put Baker on the right side. Either way, Baker should be a starter.
High school: Sioux Falls (S.D.) Washington
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Although Farniok had few Division I offers coming out of high school, he has bulked up and impressed Cyclones coaches during the past year. The Cyclones need to replace starting C Ben Lamaak, who had been a stalwart. Farniok is expected to step in and be a good, solid starter for the next four seasons.
High school: Wichita (Kan.) Northwest
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: There was no need for him to play last season because the Wildcats had Daniel Thomas. Thomas is gone now, and Robinson, who rushed for nearly 5,000 yards in high school, will vie with heralded transfer Bryce Brown to get in the starting lineup.
High school: Cahokia (Ill.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Tigers lacked a deep threat in 2010. Hunt could have provided that, but he was injured in fall camp. Healthy again, his great speed and good hands figure to give Missouri's offense a boost.
High school: Hutchinson (Kan.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: OU coaches were ready to remove the redshirt this past season until he suffered a broken foot that required a pin to be surgically inserted. He's healthy now and has excellent speed coming off the edge. Grissom could be OU's next dominant pass rusher, though he'll likely start the '11 season backing up Ronnell Lewis and Frank Alexander.
High school: Tahlequah (Okla.) Sequoyah
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: He arrived in Stillwater overweight and needing to drop about 30 pounds. He has done that. He made so much progress that Cowboys coaches considered playing him midway through last season, but they held off. Oklahoma State lost both starting defensive tackles, and Littlehead figures to at least get into the rotation if he isn't in the starting lineup.
High school: Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Pirates need to replace both starting guards (and both starting tackles, too). Helms also played nose tackle in high school, and his physical nature would be a welcome addition to the Pirates' line.
High school: Broken Arrow (Okla.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: An offensive lineman named "Rowdy"? Hey, what could be better than that? Harper, whose real first name is Randy, is a big guy (6-6/285) who could fill the open spot at right tackle for the Cougars, who are a threat to win the league because of QB Case Keenum's return.
High school: Memphis White Station
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Memphis native is a little on the small side (6-11/230). But he was highly productive in high school, including racking up 42 sacks in his final three seasons, and if you saw Memphis play defense this past season, you know the Tigers need some productive players on that side of the ball.
High school: Altair (Texas) Rice Consolidated
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Owls don't return a wide receiver who had more than 16 receptions, so Hull will get every opportunity to make a mark during spring drills. Hull is an excellent athlete -- he also played basketball, track and golf in high school -- with good size (6-1/190).
High school: Jenks (Okla.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: He was a decorated high school center who missed last season with a leg injury. The Golden Hurricane return all five starting linemen, but Alexander's talent means he will press for playing time.
High school: Miami Central
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Reese was a high school teammate of Knights QB Jeffrey Godfrey, and they should hook up again this fall. The Knights lost three key wide receivers off this past season's 11-win team, so there is ample opportunity for playing time for Reese.
High school: New Lenox (Ill.) Providence Catholic
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Coaches likely would have played the big and athletic Sawicki last season had he been healthy. Sawicki's father played at Wisconsin and his brother plays at Connecticut. Look for the Chippewas to find a way to get him the ball this fall.
Temple DT Gregory Gadson
High school: New Rochelle (N.Y.) Iona Prep
Rivals ranking: Unranked
Buzz: With the graduation of NT Elisha Joseph and the early departure of DT Muhammad Wilkerson to the NFL, the Owls have some holes on the defensive line. Gadson (6-3/285) figures to play a big role after impressing the former staff with his instincts and strength while sitting out last season.
Henry's high school: Grand Rapids (Mich.) East Kentwood
Henry's Rivals ranking:
Smith's high school: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Cardinal Gibbons
Smith's Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Broncos need both to play big roles in a secondary that will be overhauled. While redshirting last season, each showed knowledge of the schemes. And each also is a good athlete with instincts. Smith was one of 12 Floridians signed by the Broncos last year.
High school: Snohomish (Wash.) Glacier Peak
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: He committed to Northwestern before deciding to play for Colorado State. Froland nearly played as a true freshman, but the Rams chose to let him wait his turn behind first-team all-conference selection Guy Miller and Ty Whittier. Now that Miller and Whittier have completed their eligibility, Froland should earn regular playing time this fall. He has the ability to play tackle, end or even outside linebacker. He played offensive tackle, defensive end and defensive tackle in high school.
High school: Washington (D.C.) Calvin Coolidge
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Although Barr played in a season-opening loss to Oregon, a fractured hand caused him to sit out the rest of the year and take a medical redshirt. Barr had performed well enough in the preseason to merit playing time on offense before his injury, so he should compete for a major role this fall. Barr caught a combined 86 passes for 15 touchdowns in his final two high school seasons.
High school: Corpus Christi (Texas) Carroll
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The departures of Thorpe Award finalist Tejay Johnson and second-team all-conference selection Colin Jones leave TCU with two giant holes to fill at safety (the Frogs played a 4-2-5 set that utilizes three safeties). Anderson, a physical defender who can play any of TCU's safety positions, should help the Horned Frogs fill that void. Anderson played running back and safety in high school.
High school: Kansas City (Mo.) University Academy
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: We could have picked a few different Wyoming players for this spot. The transfer of Austyn Carta-Samuels leaves Emory Miller Jr. as Wyoming's No. 1 quarterback for the time being, but he must hold off a challenge from true freshmen Brett Smith (an early enrollee) and Adam Pittser (a three-star prospect). Daniel Fleischman should compete for playing time at offensive tackle. But we like the upside of White, who passed for 1,809 yards, rushed for 1,855 yards and accounted for 45 touchdowns as a high school senior. Now that he's had a year to adjust to his move to defense, White should find a role in a secondary that must replace two departed starters.
High school: Mundelein (Ill.) Carmel Catholic
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Wildcats have gaping holes to fill in their offensive line, as four starters are gone. Baucus, a three-star prospect, has drawn raves from coaches because of his potential. If he doesn't step up, the Wildcats may turn to Fabbians Ebbele or Trent Spurgeon, who also are redshirt freshmen.
High school: Eugene (Ore.) South Eugene
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: King will make a big push at getting into the Bears' starting lineup. At the least, he'll get plenty of playing time. King, who is 6-5, has become faster and stronger and has bulked up to 265 pounds. He could be a disruptive force in 2011 as Cal looks to replace probable first-rounder Cameron Jordan at end.
High school: Phenix City (Ala.) Central
Rivals ranking: as a QB
Buzz: He signed as a dual-threat quarterback, but instead of vying to back up Andrew Luck, Daniel (6-4/200) will be on the receiving end of some of Luck's passes. The Cardinal must replace Doug Baldwin and Ryan Whalen, their top two receivers from last season.
High school: Fresno (Calif.) Hoover
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Kendricks was the scout team MVP this past season and has drawn raves from coaches, who feel he's ready to make an impact. His older brother, Mychal, is a starting linebacker at California.
High school: Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The loss of starting QB Jake Locker sets up an interesting competition between Montana and sophomore-to-be Keith Price. Price received limited game action this past season and completed just more than half his passing attempts. Montana, the son of legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana, is accurate. He got bigger and learned last season, and he figures to mount a serious challenge for the starting job.
High school: Berkeley (Calif.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: After rushing for more than 2,200 yards as a high school senior, Galvin was expected to get a chance to play for the Cougars as a true freshman. But he only had one carry in the season opener before sustaining an injury, then sat out the rest of the season. Washington State's leading returning rusher had fewer than 300 yards, so Galvin has a good chance to break into the lineup.
High school: Houston North Shore
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Alabama is losing Julio Jones, its best wide receiver, meaning playing time is available for some youngsters. White should be near the top of that line. White is a burner and should be a legit deep threat for the Tide.
High school: Alpharetta (Ga.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Only one returning Bulldogs wide receiver caught more than 11 passes last season, so Georgia coaches obviously need to find some guys who can work with returning QB Aaron Murray, a burgeoning star. While he isn't a blazer, Bennett has good size (6-3/202) and is a precise route-runner.
High school: Miami Central
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Wildcats lost their top two rushers, and Gainer -- a former high school teammate of UCF's Jeffrey Godfrey and Joshua Reese -- might be at the top of the line for the starting job. He has good speed, and coaches were impressed with his willingness to be a physical runner and blocker during practice last fall.
High school: Baton Rouge (La.) Parkview Baptist
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Tigers have a few redshirt freshmen who figure into the mix, including DT Ego Ferguson, TE Travis Dickson and WR Armand Williams, but Wing is expected to be the full-time punter. He is a native of Australia who moved to Louisiana before his senior season of high school. His dad, David, punted for the NFL's Detroit Lions and the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe.
High school: Memphis Whitehaven
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Bulldogs are losing all three starting linebackers, and though the top backups return, Bohanna is going to get on the field. Whether he'll be a starter will be determined in spring drills. Bohanna is squatty (6-0/235) but provides a physical presence in the middle.
High school: Havelock (N.C.) High
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Gamecocks lose two of their top three tackles and also need to replace a starting guard, so the line needs a makeover. Robinson has great size (6-7/313); he could stand to get more physical but is surprisingly nimble for a guy his size. Fellow redshirt freshman Cody Gibson also will be in the hunt for playing time at tackle.
High school: Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Owls are losing both starting wide receivers, meaning there is playing time available for Cunningham. He impressed during 2010 summer drills, but FAU had a plethora of veteran wide receivers, so he was redshirted.
High school: Mobile (Ala.) Davidson
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Blue Raiders are losing three of their top four defensive tackles, and McNeil seems like a lock to see a lot of time. He played in the first two games this past season -- he had three tackles against Minnesota in the opener -- before suffering an injury and being redshirted. McNeil has good size (6-3/285) and is strong at the point of attack.
High school: Dothan (Ala.) Northview
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: Pass-happy Troy graduates three of its four starting wide receivers. Chitty, who received some recruiting interest from Big Six schools such as Kansas State and Auburn, has excellent size (6-3/190) and can run.
High school: Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: With the established tandem of Cornell Banks and Logan Harrell in the interior this past season, Fresno State had the luxury of redshirting Davison. Banks is gone, opening the door for Davison to compete at nose tackle. The Bulldogs need him to be a physical presence.
High school: Anaheim (Calif.) Servite
Rivals ranking:
Buzz: The Wolf Pack will miss record-setting quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but the staff likes what it has in Fajardo. He'll compete for the starting job this spring, but it's only a matter of time before he takes over. He led his high school in rushing and is more polished a passer than Kaepernick at this stage in their careers.
San Jose State LB Derek Muaava
High school: San Jose Independence
Rivals ranking: as a RB
Buzz: Coach Mike MacIntyre felt good enough about Muaava to play him along with fellow true freshman LBs (Keith Smith and Vince Buhagiar). Alas, Muaava was lost in the fourth game of the season with an injury (he played long enough to record three tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Wisconsin). He's expected to get a medical hardship and be a redshirt freshman in 2011.

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