In case you didn’t realize it already, college football is becoming more and more of a year-round sport. It’s not too long ago that Alabama was battling Texas in the BCS title game and putting a wrap on the 2009 season. With National Signing Day complete and nearly every top recruit not named Seantrel Henderson fully committed to his school, let’s take a look at the prospects that have enrolled at their universities early to get a leg up on the competition.
The following is a list of early enrollees from BCS conferences who could see extended playing time and could make an impact — some immediately — during the 2010 season.
LB Jeff Luc, Florida State: Luc should be one of the best freshman defenders in the ACC for the Seminoles in 2010.
QB Devin Burns, Maryland: Burns could be one of many quarterback candidates in Terrapins camp competing for Chris Turner’s job.
RB Storm Johnson, Miami (FLA): With Javarris James leaving for the NFL and Graig Cooper injured, reps at the running back position may be claimed by the freshman back with the hurricane-like first name.
OTs James Hurst and T.J. Leifheit, North Carolina: Could either one of these top prospects snag the open tackle spot away from Brennan Williams?
WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: The Sooners are going to have to find playing time early on in 2010 for Stills, who is a complete receiver with great speed, excellent hands and very good route-running ability.
QB Connor Wood, Texas: Can Wood push Garrett Gilbert for the starting quarterback job?
OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: Joeckel might have a shot to compete for a spot on the line, as head coach Mike Sherman doesn’t have a problem playing his youth.
WR Deon Long, West Virginia: Long is a precise route runner, is good in the short-to-intermediate passing game and can make big plays in Morgantown.
QB Chandler Whitmer, Illinois: Will Eddie McGee be challenged by Whitmer for the quarterback position vacated by Juice Williams?
ATH A.J. Derby, Iowa: Where will Derby play in Iowa City? It doesn’t matter, as head coach Kirk Ferentz will get production out of this tough and athletic recruit.
QB Devin Gardner, Michigan: I have a feeling that Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are in for a true battle for playing time in Ann Arbor.
LB Max Bullough, Michigan State: Bullough likely will make an impact on special teams in 2010.
QB Paul Jones and LB Khairi Fortt, Penn State: Don’t be surprised to see Jones give last year’s top quarterback prospect Kevin Newsome serious competition for the right to replace Daryll Clark. Meanwhile, Fortt could step in at linebacker, a position hit hard by losses.
WR George Bell and S Brice Schwab, Arizona State: These JUCO’s enter Tempe with a real shot to contribute right away, especially with the Sun Devils suffering losses from graduation and disappointing play on the field in 2009.
RB Dillon Baxter and WR Kyle Prater, USC: Even with a plethora of talent at ‘SC, these five-star prospects will get on the field at some point in 2010. The departures of Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight speed up the process for Baxter, while Prater joins a depth chart lacking a lot of game-breaking ability at the wideout spot.
CBs DeMarcus Milliner and CB John Fulton, Alabama: The losses of starters Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson will make Milliner and Fulton very valuable in Tuscaloosa. Milliner is a five-star recruit who should progress rapidly next season.
QB Cameron Newton, Auburn: The former Florida Gator, who once beat out John Brantley for the right to back up Tim Tebow, is back in the SEC and ready to learn Gus Malzahn’s system at Auburn.
S Matt Elam, CBs Joshua Shaw and Jaylen Watkins, Florida: Five-star prospect Elam should see plenty of action despite a stacked safety position in Gainesville — he’s that good. Shaw and Watkins will also compete for reps in the secondary.
DE Wayne Dorsey, Ole Miss: Dorsey may be the best JUCO prospect in the 2010 class, and he could push for a starting gig.
RB Vick Ballard and DT James Carmon, Mississippi State: These JUCO teammates have a chance to contribute immediately in Starkville — especially Ballard, with the Bulldogs losing backs Anthony Dixon, Christian Ducre and Arnil Stallworth.
LB Toquavius Gilchrist, South Carolina: Yet another SEC JUCO prospect who could play right away. Can Gilchrist have the same impact as Eric Norwood?
QBs Tyler Bray and Matt Simms, Tennessee: With Jonathan Crompton gone, can either Bray or JUCO transfer Simms be new head coach Derek Dooley’s signal caller in 2010?
WR Tai-ler Jones and QB Tommy Rees: How big of an impact can Jones have in new head coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense? And with Dayne Crist still battling back from injury, Rees will be the only other scholarship quarterback on the spring roster.
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