This time a year ago, Colt McCoy was a relatively anonymous quarterback faced with the task of replacing arguably the greatest quarterback in Texas history.
By the end of his redshirt freshman season, McCoy had proved he was more than capable of filling Vince Young's shoes.
Many players across the nation want to emerge as this year's version of McCoy, the redshirt freshman who makes an almost seamless transition to the college game. We have profiled some of these players in our list of redshirt freshmen who could make an immediate impact.
In fact, so many redshirt freshman quarterbacks are competing for starting jobs that we decided to divide our list into two categories. We listed five redshirt freshman quarterbacks who could win starting jobs this year plus 10 redshirt freshmen at other positions who should make major contributions.
Whether they're playing quarterback or not, all 15 of these redshirt freshmen would love to match the success McCoy enjoyed at Texas last year.
Which one's the real McCoy? We should know by the end of November.
Crabtree in action
Joel Filani, Robert Johnson and Jarrett Hicks have all departed after combining to catch 205 passes for 2,505 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. Crabtree can't replace all that production, but he could collect at least 50 receptions in Texas Tech's pass-oriented offense. The former high school quarterback had three catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the Red-White Game, including one play in which he turned a screen pass into a 54-yard score.
Jones in action
Florida doesn't return a starting linebacker from last year's national championship team. That opens up a starting spot at outside linebacker for Jones, who missed the 2006 season with an ankle injury after compiling 286 tackles and 22 sacks his final two years at Tampa Middleton High. Florida is counting on several freshmen and sophomores to help the Gators withstand the loss of nine defensive starters. Most of those underclassmen fit Jones' profile. They may lack experience, but they sure don't lack talent.
Murray in action
McCoy in action
Oklahoma may end up getting greater contributions from redshirt freshmen than any other BCS team in the nation. As we've pointed out in our list, the Sooners could open the season with redshirt freshman Sam Bradford starting at quarterback. Although Oklahoma already has Allen Patrick at running back, Murray showed enough gamebreaking ability in spring practice to warrant some ball-carrying responsibilities this fall. McCoy is a former five-star prospect who could shore up a defensive line that lost three of last year's starters.
Boise State must find someone to fill the large shoes of middle linebacker Korey Hall, a four-year starter who collected at least 100 tackles each of his last two seasons and was named the Western Athletic Conference's defensive player of the year in 2006. The Broncos may have found another potential four-year starter to replace him. Acrey collected 248 tackles his last two years at Redlands East Valley (Calif.) High and was named Boise State's defensive scout team player of the year last fall.
Brown in action
The Longhorns will need some newcomers to fill the holes in a secondary that lost three starters from last year, including Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross. Safety Michael Griffin and Ross were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Sophomore Deon Beasley likely will win one starting cornerback spot, while Brown has an excellent shot of earning the other job.
Murphy in action
Louisiana State already has plenty of quality running backs (Keiland Williams, Jacob Hester, Charles Scott), but that shouldn't stop Murphy from getting plenty of carries. LSU has shown an affinity for the running back-by-committee approach in the past, and this former four-star prospect is too explosive to keep off the field. Alley Broussard's decision to give up football should create more of an opportunity for Murphy to prove himself. Murphy ended his Rayville (La.) High career with 7,059 yards, making him the fifth-leading career rusher in Louisiana high school history.
Schilling in action
Michigan's star-studded offense doesn't feature too many question marks, but the Wolverines do have a position battle unfolding at right tackle. Schilling struggled with mononucleosis and a shoulder injury while redshirting last season, but the former five-star prospect now is ready to compete with sophomore Mark Ortmann and fellow redshirt freshman Perry Dorrestein for the starting job. Michigan already has plenty of security at left tackle with probable first-round draft pick Jake Long. Schilling hopes to make the Wolverines feel equally comfortable with the right side of their line.
Only an ankle sprain prevented Thomas from earning substantial playing time last year. Even with the injury, Thomas still was named West Virginia's scout team defensive player of the year. The son of former West Virginia linebacker J.T. Thomas - a linebacker for the Mountaineers in 1994-95 - should continue the family tradition this fall by winning a starting job on the weak side.
Powers in action
The good news for Arkansas opponents is that Sam Olajubutu has departed after recording a total of 185 tackles over the last two seasons. Here's the bad news: Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring believes Powers has more natural talent than Olajubutu. Powers arrived at Arkansas as a two-star prospect and redshirted last year with a pulled hamstring. However, he performed well enough this spring to enter the preseason as the Razorbacks' projected starting weak-side linebacker.
Moreno in action
What we said about Murphy also applies to Moreno. Although Georgia returns its leading rushers from 2005 (Thomas Brown) and 2006 (Kregg Lumpkin), Moreno is too good to remain on the sideline all season. Moreno made his case for an expanded role by rushing for 68 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the G-Day spring game. This former four-star prospect gained 6,268 yards at Middletown South (N.J.) High to graduate as New Jersey's second-leading career high school rusher.
Bradford in action
The Sooners have enough talent elsewhere that they could contend for a national title if they can just solve their quarterback question. Bradford believes he's the answer. The former three-star prospect is competing with junior Joey Halzle and true freshman Keith Nichol for the starting job. We're guessing Bradford wins the competition.
Hawkins in action
Whispers of favoritism often surface whenever a coach's son is competing for playing time, but that apparently hasn't been the case here. Hawkins has won the respect of his teammates with his leadership and work ethic. Although Colorado coach Dan Hawkins hasn't named a starter, his son is expected to beat out junior college transfer Nick Nelson.
Locker in action
This former four-star prospect has been billed as the key to Washington's future success from the time he signed his letter-of-intent. Now he finally gets a chance to live up to that considerable billing. Locker won't get an opportunity to ease into his new role - Washington faces Boise State, Ohio State, UCLA and Southern California in four of its first five games.
Dalton in action
The Horned Frogs boast a solid rushing attack and one of the nation's best defenses, but they still don't know who will replace Jeff Ballard at quarterback. Dalton, a former three-star prospect, is competing with sophomore Marcus Jackson.
Yates in action
Although North Carolina fans eagerly anticipate heralded true freshman Mike Paulus' emergence, the former four-star prospect probably won't open the season as the Tar Heels' starting quarterback. That honor instead will probably go to either sophomore Cam Sexton or Yates, a former two-star prospect who went 10 of 15 for 163 yards with three touchdown passes in the spring game.