The college football season is fast approaching. And for me that means just one thing. Scouting for next year’s NFL Draft. I mean, my alma mater (Indiana) blows and the sport is illegitimate anyways – at least it will remain that way until a playoff system is adopted.
So, I basically just look to be impressed. And I put together one of now-standard top ten lists of the Ten College Football Players I Can’t Wait To See:
10. LB Rennie Curran, Georgia (Jr.)
After starting five games as a true freshman, Curran started all 13 games last season for the Bulldogs and led the team in tackles with 115, including a team-high 10 tackles for a loss. His 115 tackles were the most by a Georgia player since Orantes Grant posted 120 stops in 1998. Any time you watch a Bulldogs’ game (and having grown up in Atlanta, I tend to tune in), No. 35 shows up. Curran is generally everywhere and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution provides us with a video interview about the young man’s passions and his easiness to please when it comes to women.
9. WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois (Jr.)
The Big Ten’s leader in receiving yards last season with 1,055, Benn is another big, explosive receiver, similar to the mold of Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant (spoiler alert: we’ll get to him). Benn is the prototype for a wide receiver. He’s 6-foot-2, 220 lbs., and can flat out fly. His 1,731 career receiving yards in two seasons already puts him seventh in the Illinois record book. You know, behind legends like Jason Dullick and Brandon Lloyd. Benn’s arrival as a top recruit from the D.C.-area raised some eyebrows from Ron Zook’s contemporaries, but chalk it up to sour grapes. Everyone wanted this kid and for some reason, he chose to go to Champaign-Urbana. Apparently, he loves the smell of cow shit. Nicknamed “Rejus,” Benn can bank on becoming a millionaire, like that other fella named Regis. Here’s his video resume.
8. QB Jevan Snead, Ole Miss (Jr.)
Colt McCoy’s early success at Texas forced Snead to look elsewhere for snaps, and the former Parade High School All-American headed east to Mississippi. In his first year of eligibility for the Rebels last season, Snead passed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns and helped guide Ole Miss to its first bowl game since 2003, in which Snead sparkled against Texas Tech with 292 yards and three scores. CBS’s Pete Prisco thinks enough of Snead to think he’ll be the top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft - not Sam Bradford.
7. S Taylor Mays, USC (Sr.)
The second coming of Ronnie Lott, perhaps? Mays surprised many be deciding to listen to Pete Carroll and stay in L.A. rather than bolt for the NFL millions. Mays is a lights out hitter and has highlight upon highlight of taking dudes’ heads off. Phillips, an unabashed USC homer, informs me he thinks Mays is Jewish. As another in an epically long line of failed Jewish athletes, I root way too hard for fellow Tribesmen. But I’m skeptical. We hear these half-Jew stories all the time. It’s really sad how deprived and obsessed we are when it comes to The Chosen All-Stars. And Mays’ case is an intriguing one. I mean, he can’t be Jewish. If he was, wouldn’t he have taken the NFL cash? I kid, I kid. Plus, we’re not known for kicking ass. That’s what made “Munich” so badass. And why do you think I’m so damn excited about “Inglorious Basterds?” But Phillips swears it’s true, and Mays got an 8 out of 10 from JewOrNotJew.com. So, it must be true.
6. WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State (Jr.)
A consensus first team All-American, Bryant was flat out dominant last season. He finished second nationally in touchdown receptions (19) and third nationally in receiving yards per game (113.9) and yards per punt return (17.9). He’s big, strong, fast and a handful for every opposing defense. I got an up close and personal look at him when he culminated his freshman campaign by beating up my Indiana Hoosiers in the 2007 Insight Bowl to the tune of nine catches for 117 yards and two scores. He finished last year with 87 receptions for 1,480 yards and scored 21 total touchdowns (two via punt return). He’s a beast – a freak of nature. And boy is he fun to watch.
5. QB Tim Tebow, Florida (Jr.)
I know, I know. Tim Tebow – Jesus In Shoulder Pads – not No. 1? But it’s old hat by now. I’ve seen what this kid can do I, so I’m not as excited to see Timmy as some other top prospects. Though I will be watching intently to see if the Tony Robbins of Football can alter his throwing motion to entice some NFL team to take a chance on him early in next year’s NFL Draft. Plus, I mean won’t it be interesting to see who joins Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner: Tebow or Sam Bradford? God bless.
4. SS Eric Berry, Tennessee (Jr.)
A starter since Game Two of his freshman year, Berry hasn’t missed a defensive play since for the Vols or been flagged for a penalty. “The Fifth Dimension” as he’s called was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year and was a consensus first team All-American. Berry’s seven interceptions last season tied him for tops in the nation. And when Berry gets his hands on the ball, more often than not he’s going to sparkle. In just two seasons, he’s already set the SEC record for career interception return yards with 487. The NCAA record is 501 set by FSU great Terrell Buckley. The Tennessee hype machine has officially launched its Eric Berry-for-Heisman campaign with www.Berry4Heisman.com fitted with an “Eric Berry” fan chant soundtrack and a sweet video featurette.
3. QB Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State (So.)
The recruiting target who kept Michigan and Ohio State fans on pins and needles, Pryor is to Michigan fans what Tim Tebow is to ‘Bama fans – the one that got away. He didn’t begin his freshman season as the starter, I mean Game Two on the road at USC isn’t really conducive to a constructive learning experience – other than learning whether or not he could take a hit. Pryor’s elevation to starter was helped with the fact Todd Boeckman was the incumbent and Pryor is, well, a badass. He’s a freakish-type talent with a 6-foot-6 frame, a cannon arm and speed unmatched at his position. He’s still rough around the edges, but the Buckeyes were 8-1 in games Pryor started. Not bad for a freshman, even in a weak Big Ten. He’s far from a finished product as a passer, but a full offseason entrenched as the undisputed starter will only help his confidence and development. That means Big Ten teams are in trouble, and perhaps there’s an athlete in the conference ready to challenge the notion the Big Ten is slow and plodding.
2. RB Jahvid Best, California (Jr.)
We know how McD feels about Best, and to be honest I haven’t seen too much of the Cal back. I mean besides Phillips, who watches Pac-10 football? But that’s why Best lands at second on this list. I’m excited to pay more attention to him. Best is being compared to Reggie Bush, which has McD smashing his head against the wall. OK, so perhaps he’s not up to par with one of the most dynamic offensive threats the college game has ever seen. But even the comparison alone, suggests this kid is something of a badass. He ran for a Pac-10 leading 1,580 rushing yards last season, scored 15 touchdowns and averaged 8.1 yards a carry. Giddy up! He broke Cal records for most rushing yards in a single game (311 vs. Washington) and most all-purpose yards in a single season (2,247). I mean, I understand McD’s point that a lot of Best’s production came via inferior opponents, but what do you expect, he plays in the Pac-10.
1. WR Julio Jones, Alabama (So.)
When you type “Julio” into a Google search, it tries to finish your thought. Julio Jones is the sixth choice among Julios. He’s behind the Mexican Spanish Sinatra Julio Iglesias, boxers Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and Julio Cesar Chavez, Julio Osegueda (some college kid who nearly fainted when asking Obama a question at a town hall meeting) and Argentine author Julio Cortazar. Not bad for a second-year college football player. He’s 6-foot-4, 218 lbs., and a load to bring down. As a high schooler, he was compared to Terrell Owens and Michael Irvin. ESPN.com’s recruiting evaluation of Jones: “This guy is a unique, rare prospect for the wide receiver position with his supreme blend of size, power, speed and agility. He reminds us of a high school version of Michael Irvin, but at this state Jones is more explosive and faster.” Jones started every game last year as a freshman and set every first-year receiving record in school history. He finished his inaugural campaign with 58 catches for 924 yards. The only problem for Jones this year is figuring out whose throwing him the ball. John Parker Wilson’s ‘Bama Bangs are gone and junior Greg McElroy, he of the 20 career pass attempts, is the projected starter. But never fear, Julio will get his shine. I mean, that Michael Irvin guy turned out OK.