Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bold Predictions: Big Time Freshmen

Jermie Calhoun is ready to run after spending his first year being red-shirted.

Each week leading up to the kickoff of the 2009 college football season I'll be offering up my own bold predictions about what might turn the NCAA on it's head this year. Today, we'll be looking at freshman that might have a real impact on a very talented OU team.

Sooner fans have realized that after the 2009 season their Sooners, as well as many other Big 12 squads, are going to be in trouble after most players will either graduate or decide to enter the NFL draft. Younger players from every team will be seen at the top of the depth charts, and some might not be much of a drop off from their older teammates. Here are five freshman that will be making big plays for the Sooners in '09.

5. R.J. Washington - (Red Shirt) Has not shown those flashes of greatness that would have put him higher on this list. This is probably due more to the fact that he has been thrown in the mix with great players like English, Beal and Alexander who made a lot of plays last season. Washington is set to have a fantastic career with the Sooners, he's just not going to be in the spotlight this year because of the strength of the defensive ends.

4. Stacey McGee - (Red Shirt) McGee came into the Oklahoma program and immediately started to impress coaches and players alike. Word is that McGee has put on some muscle by doing his share in the weightroom and is ready to make his mark at defensive tackle. Stacey, like R.J., won't have a really noticable impact because of the strength at the line.

3. Ben Habern - (Red Shirt) As you all know, Habern will be the starting Center for the Sooners in the coming 2009 season. The talented young Center received a medical redshirt from then NCAA after suffering from injuries early in the 2008 season. The line that once was the weak link of the team has been given a boost by a couple of young guys and is now looking like it could hold its own against anybody Big 12. Habern is as good of a natural Center as you can find coming out of high school.

Now if you're worried about this guy anchoring your offensive line in his second year just think back to 2005 and you might remember a guy named Jon Cooper. Yes, Jon Cooper was a four year starter, one hell of a Center and didn't have the talent that Habern posesses.

2. DeJuan Miller - (Red Shirt) If it was a pick for the best career at OU, DeJuan Miller would probably be my first choice out of the 2008 class. Instead we're looking at young impact players for next season and my gut tells me Calhoun is going to get a lot of touches. After seeing DeJuan first hand at open practices last Thursday I can say that the kid is as big and as fast as advertised. Broad shoulders, long arms and massive hands put Miller physically ahead of the learning curve. Not to mention DeJuan still owns track records in the state of New Jersey. I'm going to get really bold and say that DeJuan will be splitting time with Senior WR Adron Tennell after Oklahoma squares off against Kansas.

1. Jermie Calhoun - (Red Shirt) Calhoun will be on the top of almost everybodies list when it comes to breakout freshman. But, it's not his size and speed that put him at the top of this list. Jermie Calhoun is a relentless runner, and that's why he's currently sitting in the poll position. Every down, every play, Calhoun is doing whatever he can to hit the endzone. And I'm talking about practice! Add in the fact that OU really only has one every down back (Chris Brown), and Justin Johnson's transfer out of Norman and you have a lot of snaps to be had by the young tailback from Van Texas.

Honorable Mention: Leaving these guys off the list just seems like a crime.

Josh Aladenoye - (True Freshman) Aladenoye might not be a name Sooner fans are as familiar with, but the young lineman from Mesquite is going to get considerable playing time due to lack of line depth. Oklahoma's first team is looking good heading into the season, but the second team could prove to be a problem in big games. It's expected that players like Josh and Jeff Vinson will be getting reps early to provide depth for the 2009 season, as well as getting them ready to start in what could be a rough 2010. Look for Aladenoye to get some serious play time when the Sooners take the lead against teams like BYU, Tulsa, and Miami. This will allow the twos to get playing experience against some good squads, while keeping the first team fresh for the showdown with Texas in Dallas.

Joseph Ibiloye - (Red Shirt) Ibiloye is a mystery at this point because of his size. He has the speed to play in the secondary but Brent Vennables is seriously considering putting more weight on Ibiloye's 6"4 frame and moving him up to play at the linebacker position. Expect to see him in the rotation at safety this year, but after that, who knows?
Tom Wort - (True Freshman) Yes, the YouTube sensation will be getting in the mix next season, and at middle linebacker no less. Don't expect Wort to be Supermanning players like he did in high school, but word is that Wort will hit ANYBODY he comes in contact with. Wort will see plenty of time on special teams, but nobody really knows how serious Vennables is about throwing him the middle just yet.

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