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July 29, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #19 Florida State


2009 Record – 7-6, 4-4 ACC
Bowl Game – Gator Bowl – Beat West Virginia 33-21
Letterman Returning: 43
Stadium – Doak S. Campbell Stadium (82,300)
College Location – Tallahassee, FL
Coach – Jimbo Fisher, (1st year)


Key Returnees – QB Christian Ponder (below), G Rodney Hudson, RB Jermaine Thomas, WR Bert Reed, T Andrew Datko

Key Losses – WR Rod Owens, WR Richard Goodman

- Offensive lines don’t get a lot of love. Close to about the amount Keanu Reeves gets from movie critics. The biggest men on the field often go unnoticed. It’s hard not to notice the FSU offensive linemen; however, it seems like the group has been playing with one another for a decade. All five starters return for the second consecutive season, led by first team All-America guard, Rodney Hudson and All-ACC selection, tackle, Andrew Datko. Between the five starters, 146 starts lie under their belt, second most amongst FBS teams. The offensive line plays a particular important part in the FSU offense in keeping all-conference quarterback Christian Ponder off the ground. Ponder has been a reliable starter for the Seminoles, however, he has yet to pass for more than 14 touchdowns in two seasons as a starter. Last season’s 68.8 percent completion percentage proves he is capable of a larger load though. This season, Ponder will have more opportunities to throw in a more spread out offense. A talented group of receivers returns in juniors Jarmon Forston and Bert Reed. The two combined for 105 catches for 1,320 yards last season, but caught just four touchdowns – all Forston’s. For the first time since 2003 the Seminoles brought in over 400 yards of total offense a game last year, 272 of it coming in the passing game. Because of that, it may be unlikely to expect a 1,000 yard rusher in FSU’s backfield this season, as the team has not produced one since Warrick Dunn in 1996. Junior running back, Jermaine Thomas, brought in 832 yards with nine scores last season and should see around the same amount of production in a passing offense in 2010.


Key Returnees – OLB Nigel Bradham (below), CB Greg Reid, MLB Kendall Smith, DT Jacobi McDaniel

Key Losses – OLB Dekoda Watson, CB Patrick Robinson, S Jamie Robinson, ROV Korey Mangum

- You won’t find the caliber of player along the lines of a Derrick Brooks or Antonio Cramartie or even a Corey Simon on the 2010 FSU defense, but you will find that typical FSU speed and lots of it. Unfortunately for the 2009 Seminole defense, speed doesn’t always translate to holding offenses at bay. Last season’s defense gave up an average of 435 total yards a game, including 205 rushing yards. The most shocking stat however was the 30 points per game given up by the Seminoles, a number more typical of an ACC foe like Duke. It should go without saying that if this seasons FSU team wants to improve on last season’s seven wins, a better defense is a dire need. Five members from the teams front seven return, led by junior linebacker, Nigel Bradham. Bradham has all the physical tools at 6’2’’ 242 pounds to be great, leading the team with 93 tackles last season, along with 5.5 for a loss. Senior Kendal Smith returns to his middle position. Ends Everett Dawkins and Markus White, return to the defensive line and will need to produce far more than they did in ’09. Neither player had more than two sacks last season. Sophomore defensive tackle Jacobi McDaniel is a player to keep an eye on this season. The number one player at his position in high school, McDaniel should come into his own in his second year as a Seminole. The secondary returns just one starter in senior corner, Ochuko Jenje, but also returns freshman sensation, Greg Reid. Reid busted onto the scene early in Tallahassee, becoming a playmaker in the secondary and on special teams. Big sophomore safety, Nick Moody, steps into departed rover Korey Mangum’s position. Moody started two games last season, bringing in 33 tackles. The number one goal for the FSU defense in 2010 will be to shut down the run. All areas of the defense will need to put behind a season in which they gave up an average of 6.0 yards rushing five times and a 401 yard game against Georgia Tech.


- For the first time since 1975, a new face will be in control of the FSU sidelines. Jimbo Fisher, the longtime assistant to the longtime head man Bobby Bowden, takes the reins of a program looking to rebound. The last five years the Seminoles have not surpassed more than nine wins a season and have brought in three 7-6 years. The first task Jimbo Fisher will have is to win at Doak Campbell, where the team has put together a 7-6 record on the grounds of what used to be a nasty place to play for opponents. Equally bad, a 12-13 away record lies on the backs of the Seminoles the last five seasons. This year the Noles will be tested early with a Sept. 11 meeting at Oklahoma, followed by home visits from BYU and Wake Forest in consecutive weeks. The heated rivalry game between the Noles and Hurricanes kicks off Oct. 9 with a trip to Miami and you can believe both teams will be ready. A pivotal ACC Atlantic game against Boston College is set for Oct. 16, in a matchup in which the Eagles have won two out of the last three meetings. Four consecutive ACC matchups lie in wake starting with at NC State, Thursday, Oct. 28, then UNC Nov. 6, Clemson Nov. 13 and at Maryland Nov. 20. The battle for the sunshine state kicks off Nov. 27 against the Florida Gators. The Noles have lost the last five meetings by an average score of 36-11.

Schedule rating: B+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Christian Green, *#5 WR, 6-2 185, Tampa, FL

Green, a phenomenal athlete, played quarterback and some wide receiver in high school, but will concentrate on wideout fulltime for FSU.

2.) Lamarcus Joyner, #2 CB, 5-8 165, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Don’t let Joyner’s size fool you. One of the best cover men in the country, he plays much bigger than his size indicates.

3.) Jeff Luc (left), #2 MLB, 6-1 240, Port Saint Lucie, FL

Luc is one of the hardest hitters from the high school ranks in years making him a Youtube star.

4.) Christian Jones, #5 OLB, 6-4 230, Winter Park, FL

The size and athleticism are there for Jones but the learning curve to the college game may take a year.

5.) Kenny Shaw, #28 WR, 5-11 155, Orlando, FL

Shaw is quick off the line and shifty in open space but will need to add some size before he sees the field.

*Rankings according to

July 26, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #20 West Virginia


2009 Record – 9-4, 5-2 Big East
Bowl Game – Gator Bowl – Lost to Florida State 21-33
Letterman Returning: 31
Stadium – Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium (60,000)
College Location – Morgantown, WV
Coach – Bill Stewart 19-8 (3rd year)


Key Returnees – RB Noel Devine (below), WR Jock Sanders, G Josh Jenkins, WR Brad Starks

Key Losses – QB Jarrett Brown, WR Alric Arnett, T Selvish Capers

- The West Virginia offense has enough speed to make an Olympic sprinting team jealous and delivers enough excitement on the field to rival Circus De Olay. Small in stature – the offense has six players on their one and two deep depth chart below 6-foot - the Mountaineers make up for their lack of size with nonstop football motors. Unusual for a spread offense team, the offense starts at running back with first team All Big East senior, Noel Devine. Devine is simply marvelous, or divine, when it comes to carrying the football. With back-to-back 1,200-plus yard seasons under his belt, including 1,465 last season, Devine is a veteran player who explodes with the ball in his hands. Over the last three seasons, Devine has had seven carries of at least 70 yards, including runs of 88 and 92. At quarterback, the offense loses Jarrett Brown, who under high pressure to live up to the billing left behind by Pat White, didn’t necessarily disappoint. Filling the vacancy now is sophomore, Geno Smith. Smith played sparingly as a redshirt-freshman last season, completing 32 of 49 passes for 309 yards and a score. Smith may be a more polished passer than Brown when it’s all said and done, but for now, as a young QB, he will need to stay calm and collected in the pocket. Smith has a stellar set of wideouts in senior Jock Sanders and junior Brad Starks. Both can fly. A dark horse to watch this season for the Mountaineers is that of sophomore Tavon Austin. Austin, a five star running back recruit out of high school, has since moved to wide reviver to better utilize his speed. A 4.3 runner in the 40, Austin will have plenty of opportunities to showcase his afterburners this fall. True freshman, Ivan McCartney, will also get an early opportunity to get on the field.


Key Returnees – S Robert Sands (below), LB JT Thomas, DT Chris Neild, DE Julian Miller, CB Brandon Hogan

Key Losses – LB Reed Williams, S Nate Sowers

- Last season, the Mountaineer defense allowed its most points per game average since 2006, at 21.7 points and allowed the highest yards per game average since 2004, at 337 yards a game. In all fairness to the 2009 defense, however, their past defenses have set the bar high. A bright spot on the ’09 Mountaineer team and defense was that of the secondary. With four of its five starters returning, the unit stands as one of the best of the Big East, led by junior safety, Robert Sands and senior corner, Brandon Hogan. Sands, a mammoth 6’5’’ 225 pounder, looks the part of an out-of-place defensive end roaming the secondary. Last season, as a sophomore, he led the conference in passes defended with 13, while also bringing in five interceptions and 65 tackles. Hogan finished third in the Big East with 12 passes defended. Junior corner, Keith Tandy and senior bandit, Sidney Glover, also return. The secondary held opposing quarterbacks to a 53 percent completion percentage and gave up just two 300 yard games last season. Two starters return to the linebacking corps in seniors, Pat Lazear and JT Thomas, the team’s No. 1 and No. 2 tacklers, respectively. Thomas was a first team Big East selection last season. The line brings back all three starters including senior All-Conference nose-tackle, Chris Neild and leading sack man, Julian Miller. As a sophomore last season, Miller brought in nine sacks and 14 tackles for a loss. The line and linebacking corps will again be one of the best of the conference and contribute to a defense which held opponents to fewer than 90 yards rushing five times last season.


When Bill Stewart took over at West Virginia in 2008, he was heading into a position and program that had built pretty high expectations for their football team. The man in whom he was replacing, Rich Rodriguez, headed to Michigan with just as high of expectations from fans. Today, only one of those men has lived up to expectations and oddly enough, it isn’t the man being paid $2.5 million annually by the University of Michigan. Although Stewart has failed to deliver on a BCS season, two straight 9-4 seasons in a balanced Big East conference are also very nice. This year, five non-conference games open the 2010 season against Coastal Carolina, at Marshall, Maryland at home Sept. 18, at LSU, Sept. 25 and UNLV, Oct. 9. The Terrapins and Tigers won’t be easy early season matchups for the Mountaineers. A Thursday night home game against South Florida Oct. 14 opens conference play. Two weeks later, a trip to Connecticut kicks off on a Friday night. Cincinnati at home Nov. 13, at Louisville Nov. 20, and at Pittsburgh Nov. 26, round out a tough November. A home meeting with conference foe Rutgers ends the season on what it sure to be a cold Dec. 4 night in Morgantown.

Schedule rating: C+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Ivan McCartney (left), *#12 WR, 6-1 180, Miramar, FL

McCartney, the cousin of Bengal great Chad Ochocinco, is a former favorite option of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in high school.

2.) Quinton Spain, #26 OT, 6-5 320, Petersburg, VA

A massive offensive tackle will be counted on for blocking for Smith in the near future.

3.) Barry Brunetti, #20 QB, 6-0 205, Memphis, TN

Brunetti has equal intangibles of a long line of West Virginia spread quarterbacks.

4.) Troy Gloster, #15 MLB, 6-0 225, Olney, MD

Gloster is an athletic linebacker who has the ability to cover and play the run equally well.

5.) Jeremy Johnson, #16 QB, 6-1 175, Silsbee, TX

Johnson is a rare athlete for his position but also just as raw as a quarterback.

*Rankings according to

July 20, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #21 Oregon State


2009 Record – 8-5, 6-3 PAC-10
Bowl Game – Las Vegas Bowl, lost to BYU 20-44
Letterman Returning: 58
Stadium – Reser Stadium (45,674)
College Location – Corvallis, OR
Coach – Mike Riley 64-47 (10th year)


Key Returnees – RB Jacquizz Rodgers (below), WR James Rodgers (below, #8), T Michael Philipp TE Joe Halahuni

Key Losses – QB Sean Canfield, WR Damola Adeniji, G Greg Peat, QB Peter Lalich

-The sing-along songs and overly nice guy attitude of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood may be long off the airwaves of the TV, but in Oregon, a new Rodgers family has been giving opposing fans and teams, just as big of headaches for the past three years. James and Jacquizz, or “quizz” for short, are the senior and junior offensive stars for the Beavers. The two both top the charts at 5’7’’ and tip the scales to just fewer than 190 pounds. James, the senior wideout, is coming off a junior campaign in which he finished with 91 catches for 1,034 yards and nine scores. In his career in Corvallis, James has amassed 161 receptions, 1,849 receiving yards and 24 total touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,297 yards. In just two seasons as the starter, Quizz has piled up 2,693 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns, while also catching 107 passes for 769 yards. Last season he brought in just less than 2,000 all-purpose yards, with 22 total touchdowns. The Rodgers brothers have been as reliable as fireworks on the fourth of July and put on just as good a show. Apart from the brother’s duo, OSU has questions to answer on offense. Reliable starting quarterback Sean Canfield departs, as does Virginia transfer, Peter Lalich, who was kicked off the team in the offseason. It leaves the Beavers with one dependable replacement in sophomore Ryan Katz. Katz attempted just 27 passes last season, but beyond him, depth gets pretty thin. Four out of five of the offensive line starters return however, giving OSU a solid base up front. If the James can bring in the long ball and Quizz can have another Heisman campaigning season, the offense may be one of the best in the PAC-10.


Key Returnees – DT Stephen Paea (below), S Lance Mitchell, LB Dwight Roberson

Key Losses – LB Keaton Kristick, LB David Pa’aluhi

- For the Beavers defense, it all starts along the defensive line. Tackle Stephen Paea may not wow the opposition with statistics, but he does a superb job of containing offensive lineman and disrupting plays in the backfield. Paea finished 2009 with 43 tackles and eight and a half tackles for loss. Senior end, Gabe Miller, made the switch from the offensive side of the ball in 2008, starting the last five games for the Beavers last season, bringing in 23 tackles and three sacks. Miller should have a breakout season, after one more offseason getting familiar on defense. Senior defensive tackle Brennan Olander also returns as a starter along the front. The Beavers lose its No.1 and No.2 leading tacklers from a year ago in linebackers Keaton Kristick and David Pa’aluhi, but have solid replacements in senior outside ‘backer Keith Pankey and either sophomore Rueben Robinson or sophomore Tony Wilson in the middle. All have solid range and speed for the position. Junior safety, Lance Mitchell returns as the team’s leading tackler with 72 stops a year ago and leader in interceptions, with three. Junior Cameron Collins, a big 6’2’’ 230 pound safety, and senior corner James Dockery, who brought in 10-pass deflections last season, also return in the secondary.


On paper everything looks bright for OSU. A solid defensive group returns, the Rodgers brothers return, and a steady group of coaches and coordinators return as well. Everything looks great until the road record and record versus ranked opponents gets read. The last three years the Beavers have played like a giant group of agoraphobia patients, with a 10-8 record traveling away from Corvallis. Just as bad, the Beavers have been unable to overcome ranked opponents the last two years, going 2-7 against ranked teams. This season the month of September is kicked off with two away matches against the two best non-BCS conference schools in at TCU Sept.4 and at Boise State, Sept. 25. Nine straight conference games then lie in store for the Beavers. On October 9 and 16, OSU travels to PAC-10 sleepers Arizona and Washington. A home meeting from Cal on the Oct. 30, rounds out the month. The last three games of the year give the Beavers a daunting gauntlet in games against USC Nov. 13, at Stanford Nov. 27, and Oregon at home Dec. 4. The annual “Civil War” game against the Ducks could decide the PAC-10 champion once again this season.

Schedule rating: A

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Sean Mannion (below), *#23 QB, 6-5 205, Pleasanton, CA

A excellent pocket passer with great field vision, committed to the Beavers very early.

2.) Thomas Molesi, #40 DT, 6-2 280, Oceanside, CA

A space eating defensive tackle who plays with a high energy and non-stop motor.

3.) Shaydon Akuna, #44 S, 6-3 209, Kapolei, HI

A speedy safety in high school, Akuna has the frame to play linebacker for the Beavers.

4.) Roman Sapolu, #32 G, 6-2 255, Huntington Beach, CA

The son of an ex-NFL lineman, Sapolu will most likely sit a year to add some size.

5.) Trevor Romaine, #4 K, 6-0 185, Corona, CA

Who says kickers can’t be important parts to recruiting classes? Romaine has a big leg and is very accurate for his age.

*Rankings according to

Rodgers: Curtis Barnard/The Daily Barometer
Paea: Ric Tapia/Icon SMI
Mannion: Dan Neied

Top 25 Countdown: #22 Houston


2009 Record – 10-4, 6-2 CUSA
Bowl Game – Armed Forces Bowl - Lost to Air Force 20-47
Letterman Returning: 46
Stadium – John O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium (32,500)
College Location – Houston, TX
Coach – Kevin Sumlin 18-9 (3rd Year)


Key Returnees – QB Case Keenum (below), WR James Cleveland, WR Tyron Carrier, WR Patrick Edwards, RB Charles Sims

Key Losses – T Jarve Dean, C Carl Barnett, WR Chaz Rodriguez

- Just 4,122 yards separate senior quarterback Case Keenum from Hawaii's Timmy Chang for the NCAA record of career passing yards, plus one of course, if Keenum wants to break it. That much yardage in one season may seem to be as similar a feat as scaling the Sears Tower in khakis and snow boots to some quarterbacks, but for Keenum, who surpassed the chasing amount last season by over 1,500 yards, it may be nothing more than a backyard game of catch. The Houston single-caller has passed for back-to-back 5,000 plus yard seasons, as well as two consecutive 44 touchdown seasons. Counting the number of 400 plus yard passing games the last two years for the Cougars is like counting the number of tequila shots passed out at a Cancun bar, its little mind numbing, on both parts. Keenum is supported by a stellar cast of pass catchers led by 3rd team All American, senior James Cleveland, who caught 104 passes with 14 scores last season. All CUSA wideouts, Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier, both juniors, also return. The unsung hero of the Cougar offensive attack last season, however, was true freshman running back, Charles Sims. Sims brought in 1,457 total yards and 10 touchdowns on his way to being named the CUSA freshman of the year, with 698 rushing and 759 receiving. Sims has been ruled inelligable for the 2010 season but the Cougars have past CUSA freshman of the year in junior running back, Bryce Beall. Beall rushed for 1,247 his first season and is capable of carrying the rushing load, bringing in 670 yards and seven scores last season. The Cougar offensive line will need to replace two all-conference players, but welcomes back 1st team CUSA performer, in junior, Chris Thompson.


Key Returnees – LB Marcus McGraw, CB Jamal Robinson (below), S Nick Saenz, LB Phillips Steward

Key Losses – LB CJ Cavness, DE Tyrell Graham, CB Brandon Brinkley

- Like a lot of high powered offensive teams, the Houston defense struggled with keeping teams at bay last season. Opposing teams drilled an average of 227 yards on the ground into the Cougar defense last season, up from a staggering 175 the year previous. In fact, the inability to stop the run can be credited to the loss in two of their four, at UTEP and in the bowl game against Air Force, giving up 305 and 404 rush yards respectively. The team returns its leading tackler in junior linebacker, Marcus McGraw, who brought in 156 stops last season, to go with four sacks. The Cougars also lose all conference linebacker CJ Cavness, who ranked second on the team with 143 tackles. Junior safety Nick Saenz and senior corner Jamal Robinson return as the only starters back to the secondary, but both are solid contributors. Robinson led the team last season with five interceptions. Senior corner Loyce Means steps in filling the departed corner spot, with nine starts in his up and down career. For the second year in a row the Cougars lose their top sack man. In 2008m it was senior CUSA Defensive Player of the Year in end Phillip Hunt with 14. Last season, end Tyrell Graham led the team with seven. Graham has since moved on, leaving junior end, David Hunter, 4 sacks in 2009, as the player poised to take the next step along the defensive front.


Surprisingly it wasn’t the BCS conference schools who gave the Cougars fits in 2009, instead it was the CUSA. In three games last season against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State, Houston came out 3-0. Although the Cougars should always come out on the top end of the CUSA, there have been at least two or three familiar teams every year who have given them problems. This season, after an easy opener against Texas State, Houston will look for revenge of a 58-41 loss last season in a game against UTEP on Sept. 10. A week later, the Cougars travel to PAC 10 sleeper UCLA. A home visit from Mississippi State brings in October, before a three game conference road stretch against Rice, SMU and Memphis. Central Florida comes scheduled Friday Nov. 5, in primetime. Tulsa Nov. 13 and a trip to Southern Miss Nov. 20 end conference play on the season. An aerial assault game, which saw the likes of 756 total passing yards last season, lies in the last game of the year in a trip to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech, Nov. 27.

Schedule rating: C

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Terrance Broadway, *#54 QB, 6-1 200, Baton Rouge, LA

A talented passer who also had offers from Alabama, Oregon and Nebraska, among others.

2.) Jordan Jolly (left), #59 WR, 6-1 170, Missouri City, TX

A project at wideout, Jolly has great ability to slit defenders after the catch.

3.) DeAndre Perry, #31 TE, 6-3 210, Austin, TX

A tight end in high school, Perry will most likely be split outside at Houston, in a an offense that rarely, if ever features a tight end.

4.) Aaron Johnson, #73 QB, 6-1 180, Longview, TX

One of four quarterbacks signed in the 2010 class, Johnson may be the best athlete of the four.

5.) Alton Demby, 113 CB, 5-10 175, Galena Park, TX

Demby also serves as a dangerous return man, to go along with solid coverage skills.

*Rankings according to

Robinson Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

July 16, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #23 Arkansas


2009 Record – 8-5, 3-5 SEC (West)
Bowl Game – Liberty Bowl – beat East Carolina 20-17
Letterman Returning: 59
Stadium – Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (72,000)
College Location – Fayetteville, Arkansas
Coach – Bobby Petrino 13-12 (3rd year)


Key Returnees – QB Ryan Mallett (below), TE DJ Williams, WR Greg Childs, RB Broderick Green, WR Joe Adams, WR Jarius Wright

Key Losses – G Mitch Petrus, RB Mike Smith

- A lot has changed in the Arkansas offense since Bobby Petrino took the reins of the team in ’08. In 2007, the team featured a stellar trio of running backs in Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis. The three combined for over 3,300 rushing yards in ’07, and were all high selections in the 2008 NFL draft. In 2008, after the signing of Petrino and departure of the Hog rushing game, the Razorbacks received a blessing from heralded Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett, who opted to transfer to Arkansas. After sitting out the ’08 season due to transfer rules, Mallett did nothing but destroy SEC defensive backfields like John Daly and a pocket of cash through a Las Vegas casino. Mallett passed for 3,624 yards with 30 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions. Not bad for a state and team that had gotten used to the likes of Matt Jones and Casey Dick tossing balls to opposing defenses like they were grenades at Stalingrad. Mallett may be in store for an even bigger 2010 in his junior season with the likes of his entire receiving corps intact, including All SEC tight end, DJ Williams. With Mallett touting the rock, the offense average 36 points per game and had over 580 total yards three times last season. The offense also features the power running game of bruising tailbacks Ronnie Wingo, 6’3’’ 227, and USC transfer, Broderick Green, 6’2’’ 250. Green rushed for 11 touchdowns in mostly goal line action last season. The line welcomes back four of the five starters from last season, but losses the likes of All SEC guard Mitch Petrus.


Key Returnees – MLB Jerry Franklin, OLB Jerico Nelson (below), DE Jake Bequette, DT Zach Stadther

Key Losses – OLB Wendel Davis, DT Malcolm Sheppard, DE Adrian Davis

- As good as the offensive side of the ball was at gaining yards, the 2009 Hog defense was just as good at giving those yards back to opposing teams. The defense gave up an average of 401 yards a game last season, with the secondary nearly giving offenses a 60 percent completion percentage. In six games last season the defense gave away more yards than the offense could contribute. With seven starters returning and a solid two deep depth chart, the Razorback attack should only improve. The teams No.1 and No.3 tacklers return in linebackers Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson, both juniors. Nelson is an undersized outside ‘backer at 5’10’’ 205, but has the pop of a 240 pound player. The secondary returns three of four starters but needs to get more hands on balls this season. No player in the secondary had more than four passes defended last season or more than three interceptions. Former Florida State and junior college transfer safety, Anthony Leon, steps into starting action in 2010 and brings an intimidation factor to the secondary with his 6’4’’ 230 pound frame. Along the line, junior defensive end Jake Bequette returns as the Hogs leading sack man with 5.5. Junior tackle, Zach Stadther, steps into his third year as a starter in 2010.


There can only be so many good teams in the SEC year in and year out. With the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Auburn and on occasion Tennessee, stealing the spotlight and the national rankings each year, it’s only fitting that in what is suppose to be one of the Razorbacks better teams in recent memory, that they should garner a bit of attention in 2010 as well. It’s not like Tennessee should mind, they’re players are busy using their one phone call, rather than reading playbooks, for now at least. With so much talent in the SEC, schedules get a little hectic in the West and East. For Arkansas, SEC play kicks off with a September trip to Georgia on the 18th, before a home meeting with Alabama on Sept. 25. An Arlington meeting with Texas A&M on Oct. 9 following a bye week starts off a grueling October of SEC play which also features at Auburn, Mississippi and Vanderbilt. A Nov. 6 meeting at South Carolina should come with a cold hearted welcome as well. Ending the season is SEC West opponent LSU Nov. 27.

Schedule rating: A-

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Calvin Barnett, *#13 DT, 6-3 305, Tulsa, OK

The Razorbacks were able to pluck the Tulsa native away from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

2.) Jacoby Walker (left), #40 QB, 6-1 200, Houston, TX

Walker is an accurate passer with an exceptional deep ball in his arsenal.

3.) Cam Feldt, #35 G, 6-4 295, Pilot Point, TX

Has the size to step in right away if injuries deplete the line.

4.) Chris Smith, #104 OLB, 6-1 220, Mount Ulla, NC

An edge rushing defensive end in high school, Smith brought in 25 sacks as a junior and 32 as a senior.

5.) Byran Jones, #85 DT, 6-2 310, Junction City, AR

Absurdly strong lineman has a 400+ pound bench press and 550 pound squat.

*Rankings by

July 15, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #24 Georgia Tech


2009 Record – 11-3, 7-1, ACC Champions
Bowl Game – Orange Bowl – Lost to #10 Iowa 14-24
Letterman Returning: 54
Stadium – Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000)
College Location – Atlanta, GA
Coach – Paul Johnson (3rd year) 20-7


Key Returnees – QB Josh Nesbitt (below), RB Roddy Jones, RB Anthony Allen, C Sean Bedford

Key Losses – RB Jonathan Dwyer, WR Demaryus Thomas, G Cord Howard

- A lot of people questioned whether or not Paul Johnson’s flexbone option style offense could compete in a major conference like the ACC. It’s safe to say now, many were wrong. Johnson has had one key player over the last two seasons that has run the option attack to near perfection, that of course being Joshua Nesbitt. Nesbitt has left doubters looking like brokers who invested in Enron stock. The numbers for Nesbitt may not all be there yet, although his 18 rushing touchdowns a year ago stand out, so does his 46% completion percentage and 116 ranked passing offense. The wins speak for themselves however, with a 2009 ACC Championship and a 13-4 conference record since Johnson took over. The loss of running back Jonathan Dwyer and his 1,400 yards rushing will hurt the offense, as he was a rare player. Senior back, Anthony Allen, 6’ 239, is in a similar mold to Dwyer and will take the reins of the main running back duties after a 2009 campaign in which he rushed for over 600 yards on a 9.7 average. Perhaps the biggest loss of the offense though comes from standout wide receiver Demaryus Thomas, who brought in 46 of Nesbitt’s 75 completions last season. The second leading receiver on the team, sophomore Stephen Hill, caught just six passes and with that, a lot of pressure this season is put on both Hill and junior Tyler Melton to step up. The offensive line will also need to replace three starters, two at the guard position.


Key Returnees – MLB Brad Jefferson (below, #51), CB Jerrard Tarrant, CB Mario Butler

Key Losses – DE Derrick Morgan, S Morgan Burnett, OLB Sedrick Griffin

- The good news heading into the 2010 season for the Yellow Jackets defense is the fact that they lose just three starters from last year’s unit. The rather bad news is that the three players lost were without a doubt the defenses three best players. Stepping into his first year as defensive coordinator will be ex-Virginia head coach Al Groh who brings with him his 3-4 defensive scheme. The key to success will be getting pressure on the opposing passer and that is exactly what the 3-4 is designed to do. Derrick Morgan, an NFL first round pick, takes with him 12.5 of the team’s 25 total sacks from last season, so finding a rush won’t be easy. Senior middle linebacker Brad Jefferson, the team’s leading tackler, returns, as does junior linebacker Steven Sylvester, who will be making the move to the other middle position. Seniors, Anthony Egbuniwe and Anthony Barnes, should be counted on to bring the rush from the outside ‘backer positions. At corner, junior Jerrard Tarrant and senior, Mario Butler, form an impressive duo in the secondary.


In their 11 wins last season the Yellow Jackets averaged 335.7 yards rushing a game. In the three losses, Miami, Georgia and Iowa, Tech averaged just 147.6 yards an outing on the ground. It’s clear that when it comes to shutting down Georgia Tech, it starts with the ground game. The past two seasons under Johnson the team has struggled against speed defenses, like Miami and Georgia last season and North Carolina and LSU in 2008. This season, after a cupcake Sept. 4 game, action kicks off Sept. 11 in a trip to Kansas, which opens a two game away stretch. On Sept. 18, the Jackets head to Chapel Hill to take on UNC, before hitting a breather conference stretch that features the likes of NC State, Wake Forest, and Virginia. Oct. 23 the team travels to Clemson for its fourth meeting with the Tigers in three years. A brutal November lies in store with a trip to Blacksburg against Virginia Tech Nov. 4, followed by a home visit from Miami, Nov. 13. As usual the last game of the season comes down to an out of conference meeting with Georgia, Nov. 27.

Schedule rating: B+

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Louis Young, *#11 CB, 6-0 177, Olney, MD

Once a Stanford commit, Young made the switch to GT on signing day to bolster the 2010 Yellow Jacket class.

2.) Ryan Ayers, #16 CB, 5-10 180, Douglasville, GA

An Under Armor All American, Ayers had offers to many of the top teams in the country.

3.) Denzel McCoy, #53 DT, 6-4 275, Duluth, GA

A defensive tackle in high school, McCoy may play end in the Jackets new 3-4 scheme.

4.) Shawn Green, #31 DT, 6-0 270, Loganville, GA

Green has room to grow into a space eating nose guard for Tech in the future.

5.) Charles Perkins (above), #39 RB, 6-1 205, Suwanee, GA

Tech’s first 2010 commit, Perkins is a powerful one cut runner, who can burst through a hole.

*Rankings by

July 14, 2010

Top 25 Countdown: #25 Penn State


2009 Record – 11-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Bowl Game – Capital One Bowl – Beat #13 LSU 19-17
Letterman Returning: 37
Stadium – Beaver Stadium (107,282)
College Location – State College, Pennsylvania
Coach – Joe Paterno 394 – 129 – 3 (45 Years)


Key Returnees – RB Evan Royster (below), G Steve Wisniewski, WR Derek Moye, WR Graham Zug

Key Losses – QB Daryll Clark, TE Andrew Quarless, OT Dennis Landolt

-Unlike most Penn State offenses, last year’s team revolved around the arm of Daryll Clark’s accurate passing. Clark has since moved on and the offense will take a turn from relying on the arm of the Clark, to the legs of senior running back Evan Royster. Royster brought in 1,169 yards last season, with a 5.7 average. Replacing Clark will be heralded sophomore, Kevin Newsome. Newsome played sparingly last season with just 11 pass attempts for 66 yards. Like Clark, however, Newsome has the ability to make things happen with his legs, rushing for 95 yards and two scores last season. A talented group of wide receivers lies in wake for Newsome in senior Graham Zug, junior Derek Moye, and sophomore Curtis Drake – one of the fastest players in the Big Ten. In the past, Royster has proven he can carry a heavy load and along with speedy junior tailback Stephan Green, that is exactly what will be the story of the 2010 Nittany Lion offense, especially with a young quarterback on hand.


Key Returnees – S Drew Astorino (below), DE Jack Crawford, S Nick Sukay, DT Ollie Ogbu,

Key Losses – LB Navaorro Bowman, LB Sean Lee, LB Josh Hull, DT Jared Odrick

-This season “Linebacker U” turns into “Linebacker Who?” The likes of all three starting linebackers depart from last season’s team. With those three ‘backers gone – Bowman, Lee, & Hull – are also 295 tackles and 36.5tackles for loss. Filling the void at linebacker will most likely be senior Chris Colasanti in the middle, along with senior Bani Gbadyu and junior Nate Stupar on the outside. Sophomore linebacker Mike Yancich could be a star in the making and is a player to keep an eye on. The secondary loses one starter, in corner A.J. Wallace. As a whole, the defensive backfield starters will need to bring in more takeaways, as just a combined four interceptions from the 2009 season rest on the shoulders of the 2010 starters. The loss of first round pick Jared Odrick hurts the defensive line, but with the return of junior Jack Crawford at end and senior Ollie Ogbu at tackle, a solid group remains intact.


Like a lot of Big Ten schools, a tough out of conference schedule can be hard to sometimes find. With a trip to defending National Champion Alabama on Sept. 11, however, that can be laid to rest this season for the Nittany Lions, even with the likes of Kent State and Temple on hand. PSU also plays the “big three” of the Big Ten – or what may be now the “big two and questionable one,” – in at Iowa Oct. 2, Michigan at home on Oct. 30 and at Ohio State, Nov. 13. A tough test against Michigan State lies in the final game of the season on Nov. 27.

Schedule rating: B

Red = Toughest Game. Blue = Pivotal to conference.

Top Incoming Freshman:

1.) Paul Jones, #3 QB, 6-3 220, Mc Kees Rocks, PA

Jones may push Newsome for starting spot if the slated number one starts to implode.

2.) Mike Hull, #1 MLB, 6-0 220, Canonsburg, PA

A U.S. Army All American, Hull was Penn State’s first commit to the class of ’10, back in November of 2008.

3.) Robert Bolden, #8 QB, 6-4 200, Orchard Lake, MI (below)

Like Jones, Bolden could see playing time in the near future. Bolden is a pocket passer with ability to run.

4.) Khairi Fortt, #11 OLB, 6-2 220, Stamford, CT

Fortt is an under rated linebacker with 4.5 speed and will team with Hull in the future to form a tremendous duo.

5.) Silas Redd, #7 RB, 5-10 190, Stamford, CT

Redd is an elusive runner with superb agility. Will be one to watch when Royster departs.
All writing and views subject to © Drew P. Kochanny, All Rights Reserved. Photo's credited to rights owner.