February 6, 2007

Impact Redshirt Freshmen: Big 12

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College football teams that win on Signing Day usually win on Saturdays, too.

But sometimes those victorious Saturdays come a year or two later.

The 2006 college football recruiting classes of five Big 12 teams were ranked among the nation's top 25 by Rivals.com, yet the full impact of those classes hasn't yet been felt because many highly touted players sat out redshirt years last season.

In fact, Rivals.com's list of the nation's top 100 prospects included five Big 12 players that did not see game action as true freshmen. The prospects of them making significant contributions increase substantially this season. The linemen have added muscle, receivers and backs have adjusted to a faster, more physical game - or they will simply have a better opportunity to play because previous starters are gone.

Here's a look at some redshirt freshmen in the Big 12 that may step in to starting lineups and then stand out on the field, just as Rivals.com predicted.

Impact Redshirt Freshmen: Big 12
Chykie Brown, Texas, CB
A former four-star recruit, Brown has a good chance to step into the Longhorns' secondary as a starter. Texas loses both its starting cornerbacks, including Thorpe Award winner Aaron Ross. Last season's backups did little to distinguish themselves. The Longhorns must tighten their coverage after finishing 99th in the nation in pass defense last season.
Ugo Chinasa, Oklahoma State, DE
Last year he needed to add bulk to his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame, but don't be surprised if the former four-star recruit emerges as one of the Big 12's premier pass rushers. Oklahoma State ranked 12th in the nation with 38 sacks last season, but loses three of its top pass rushers in Victor DeGrate, Ryan McBean and Marque Fountain. Chinasa, who has 4.6 speed, had 11 sacks as a high school senior.
Cody Hawkins, Colorado, QB
The Buffaloes ranked last in the Big 12 in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense a year ago, so Colorado obviously needs to upgrade. Incumbent quarterback Bernard Jackson completed just 49 percent of his passing attempts in 2006 when the Buffs struggled to a 2-10 finish, so the starting position should be up for grabs. A former three-star recruit and country's 17th rated pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com, Hawkins completed 72 percent of his passes for 2,783 yards and 42 touchdowns as a high school senior. The son of coach Dan Hawkins, Cody is obviously familiar with the offensive system.
Jeremy Maclin, Missouri, WR
A knee injury in August prevented Maclin from playing last season, but the former four-star recruit figures to play a prominent role when healthy. The Tigers have experienced receivers returning, so Maclin might not break into the starting lineup. Still, quarterback Chase Daniel can always use another big-play threat. Maclin definitely fit that bill in high school when he averaged 25.4 yards per catch. He could at least match the numbers posted last season by then-freshman Jared Perry, who caught 37 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns.
Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma, DT
The Sooners return two solid starters at defensive tackle, but the 6-foot-4, 289-pound McCoy has Selmon-like potential. Ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in the nation and the No. 4 player overall in 2006, McCoy may force an incumbent starter at tackle out to the end - or to the bench. Whatever the case, he'll definitely be in the Sooners' rotation at tackle and will often in opponents' backfields, too.

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