Blog Entry

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:19 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 2:03 pm
With spring football here this week (thanks to Army getting an early start on things), let's take a peek at some freshmen who redshirted last fall but have generated some buzz within their football programs. The Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen to remember this off-season.

1, Everett Golson, Notre Dame, QB: Brian Kelly's biggest headache in 2011 was due to shaky quarterback play. ND had some very capable weapons in Michael Floyd, Tyler Eifert and Cierre Wood, but the Irish were inept in the Red Zone and prone to momentum-crushing mistakes at the worst possible times. Tommy Rees started most of the season at QB and is back. So is Andrew Hendrix, a more mobile option with a stronger arm. Touted freshman Gunner Kiel is already on campus, but don't underestimate Golson, a 5-11, 185-pounder from South Carolina. When we had Kelly on our Signing Day Central show a few weeks ago and the Notre Dame coach gushed when I asked him about Golson. You heard a completely different vibe from Kelly just as he started to describe the young QB who had led his high school to state championships in both football and basketball. While Golson does not have prototype size, he has a quick release, a strong arm and wonderful footwork. He also apparently has that presence about him that coaches love.

2, Dee Hart, Bama RB: The Tide has to replace the great Trent Richardson, but still has Eddie Lacy. Hart, one of the nation's top recruits last year, would've pushed for playing time had he not blown out his knee and needed surgery in July. The 5-9, 187-pound Orlando product will face more than his share of fellow blue-chippers also jockeying for carries since 2013 signee T.J. Yeldon already is on campus along with Jalston Fowler and Brent Calloway. Hart doesn't quite have the lower body strength that Lacy, Richardson and Mark Ingram have, but he is a very dynamic back with good burst and terrific hands, who should spark the offense and the Tide's return game.

3, Michael Holmes, Va. Tech, RB: The Hokies lost spectacular David Wilson to the NFL, and his production and tenacity is going to be tough to replace. Holmes is an intriguing option. Unlike a lot of players on this list, he was not a celebrated recruit. ranked him as the No. 77 RB in the Class of 2011. ESPN had him as the No. 136 running back. Rivals didn't even rank him among backs, aside from listing him as the No. 25 overall prospect in the state of Virginia. Holmes doesn't have Wilson's explosiveness (almost no other back in college football did) but the 6-1, 200-pounder turned a lot of heads of the defensive coaches and players at Tech with his work on the scout team last fall. His position coach Shane Beamer told me he's just a back who plays really hard, has good vision and has a knack for making plays. Tech seems to have found more than its share of the latter over the past decade or so.

4, Michael Eubank, ASU, QB: Todd Graham inherits a very interesting prospect in the strong-armed, extremely mobile 6-5, 235-pound kid from Southern California. As talented and raw as Eubank was, he wasn't going to beat out Brock Osweiler last year, but with the former Gonzaga hoops recruit leaving early for the NFL, there is a big opportunity there. The new staff is familiar with Eubank because they tried to recruit him when they were at Pitt. There figures to be some growing pains with him, but if he can make smart decisions, he's going to be a guy worth remembering. This is a huge "upside" kid.

5, Kelvin Benjamin, FSU, WR: E.J. Manuel should have some very good options to throw to in 2012. The only target FSU loses is Bert Reed, but they gain the super-sized Benjamin in his place. Coaches say Benjamin is up to 245 pounds on his 6-5 frame and he still has the athleticism to get away from DBs and go up and make acrobatic catches in traffic.

6, Brett Hundley, UCLA, QB: Despite huge expectations (the Bruin fan base dubbed him "the Savior") and the team's spotty quarterbacking, Hundley was on the sidelines for 2011. The former coach Rick Neuheisel deemed that the Arizona product wasn't ready to play. Hundley's arm was inconsistent when he got his reps in practice, but he is bright and has good size and athleticism. Noel Mazzone takes over the offense and will try and sort out an interesting collection of QBs in 2012. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, who have both played a lot, return for their senior seasons. Hyped QB recruits T.J. Millweard, who Mazzone personally reeled in from his previous stop, ASU, and dual-threat QB Devin Fuller, will also join the mix. Can Hundley win over the new staff this spring to help spark what has been a sputtering offense?

7, Jay Rome, Georgia, TE: Touted by many as the top tight end in the 2011 signing class, the 6-6, 253-pounder saw more action in Georgia basketball games than football games this year. His dad Stan was a two-sport star at Clemson and the younger Rome was an elite AAU hoops talent but it's football where he will make the biggest impact, especially since standout TE Orson Charles has opted to leave UGA early for the NFL. Rome told the AJC recently that the biggest aspect of his game he needs to work on is his blocking but with his size and athleticism he should be a welcome target for Aaron Murray in 2012.

8, Antwaun Woods, USC, DT: The Trojans return experience at almost every other spot but they are going to be pretty young on the interior of their defense. Only sophomore George Uko has played a lot in the middle of the D-line. Lane Kiffin redshirted most of his celebrated 2011 D-line signing class. Woods has reshaped his body considerably since arriving last summer, going from well over 330 down to under 310. Coaches really like his explosiveness but will challenge him to bring his effort on consistent basis. The improved conditioning no doubt will help on that front.

9, Jalen Collins, LSU CB: The Tigers have taken to call LSU "DBU" and the defensive backs I spoke to down in New Orleans around the BCS title game touted Collins as the next great one in the pipeline. He's a rangy 6-1, 195-pounder (up about 20 pounds since high school), who was a prep track star and really not that highly touted in the recruiting process. Teammates call him the most athletic guy on the team, which is obviously a mouthful. Don't expect him to overtake Tharold Simon in the race to replace Mo Claiborne, but Collins will be a big factor in a loaded DB rotation.

10, Greg Robinson, Auburn, OT: Gene Chizik redshirted a bunch of former blue-chippers in 2011 with the Louisiana product and Christian Westerman both sitting out. Classmate Reese Dismukes filled an immediate need, starting the entire season at center. Robinson, a nimble 305-pounder, who Westerman remarked moves like a tight end, has talked about working hard this past season to improve as a pass protector. He will have plenty of opportunity since the Tigers have to replace both starting tackles, Brandon Moseley and A.J. Greene.


Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: February 17, 2012 3:55 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

The concept of redshirting during the decades when freshmen were eligible to play has always been intriguing to me.  I can understand if someone is injured and you want to give them the year to rehab and preserve their eligibility.  But how do coaches make the decision to hold back blue-chippers here and there, while putting other 18-year olds straight into the lineup?  Like everything else, it's a gamble.

Since: Mar 28, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:55 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

5'11" 185 (which is probably more like 5'9.5" 180 if the standard discount is applied) ... any chance the Domers are so intrigued by this guy because his middle name is Rudy?

Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: February 16, 2012 8:41 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Ray Drew should probably be on top of this list. He is going to be a stud.

Since: Aug 12, 2008
Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:36 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen


Since: Oct 29, 2009
Posted on: February 15, 2012 1:00 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

 ND and a defense, news to me. It looks like your the one that needs to get you facts correct.

Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: February 15, 2012 12:06 pm

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Are the "Domers" still relevant? They haven't been worth a toot since the 80's.

Since: Mar 5, 2008
Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:59 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Golsen seems to be the guy alot of Irish fans are pinning their hopes on.  I hope this kid is the real deal but at the same time it's alot of pressure for a kid that has never taken a collegiate snap.  Turnovers and mistakes didnt't just crush the Irish but destroyed their season. And while I will agree with Gipper that the Irish defense was strong at times, their secondary (yes Gary Gray I'm talking about you) was absolutely pathetic, looking lost half the time not even turning around to look for the damn ball!  Golsen may help turn the QB play around but as an Irish fan I'm not expecting any miracles

Since: Jul 26, 2011
Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:26 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Ray Drew (DE) for the Georgia Bulldogs will also be a name to watch out for. 

Since: Sep 12, 2009
Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:50 am

Tuesday Top 10: Most intriguing redshirt freshmen

Oh yeah, the Domers had a great defense...please. They ranked 34th in total team defense in the NCAA. Right below powerhouse program FIU and just above Eastern Michigan. 

Perhaps YOU should get your facts straight and quit living in that green and gold fantasy land. ND has not truly been relevent since 1993, in spite of high rankings and expectations every year. At best, they are a middle of the pack team and nowhere near "elite" status anymore. 

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: February 15, 2012 9:21 am
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