This is the first installment that examines training camp happenings from around the college (fantasy) football landscape. The goal is not to repackage the news, but to provide a few additional nuggets for fantasy owners.
USC QB's...now just like every other Trojan skill spot
Even as the running back and wide receiver spot was one big jumble of talent, fantasy owners felt pretty confident in who would lead the USC offense. There had been a pretty clear line of succession: Palmer, Leinart, Booty, Sanchez. And now we have this year.
Early reports have Aaron Corp holding steady as the #1 man, but freshman Matt Barkley remains hot on Corp's heels. I've softened in my belief that Barkley will win the job, as I'm now convinced that the sophomore will likely do enough to start the season.
However unlike recent years, should Corp struggle in Columbus he may find Mr. Barkley playing catch on the sidelines. And this means that drafting Corp will necessitate nabbing another top quarterback...just in case.
On the Banks of the Red Cedar
Glenn Winston has served his time and paid the price for misdemeanor assault...and now he may be ready to push for the MSU starting job. All spring and summer we've sort of hitched our wagon to Edwin Baker, a talented freshie from Oak Park, Michigan. Now with Winston apparently back in the picture things have changed...a bit.
Suddenly we're having visions of a two-headed monster at tailback, not dissimilar to what we saw from the Spartans in 2007. Should he remain in good graces we could see Winston serve as the nuts and bolts back who gains the tough yards and softens the defense to then yield to Baker, the burner. Stay tuned on this one.
Jarrett Brown, Noel Devine...and Jock Sanders
I can't say I've been overly enthusiastic about West Virginia's chances for a successful 2009, and much of this stems from my own uncertainty regarding coach Bill Stewart and everyone's uncertainty regarding the offensive line. But now I find myself leaning a little towards the camp that believes the Mountaineers could make some noise in 2009.
In Brown, Devine and Sanders West Virginia has three serious offensive weapons, the type that can mask many a line's deficiencies. Factor in Alric Arnett, Wes Lyons and even Logan Heastie and suddenly we have more talent than I initially thought. There's no doubt that Jarrett Brown is chomping at the bit. And Noel Devine is always a threat. However it's the reinstatement of Jock Sanders, a heart and soul type guy, that has me suddenly more hopeful about what the WVU offense can become in 2009.
Brock Osweiler making noise out west
Lost in our excitement over young Andrew Luck at Stanford may have been true freshman Brock Osweiler at Arizona State. Early returns have this 6'8" gunslinger looking like much more than another tall quarterback out west...remember Dan McGwire?
In fact Osweiler brings a whole bunch more to the table than just being able to see over those wee little defensive ends. He's a talented athlete that may cause coach Dennis Erickson to give serious thought to granting serious playing time.
Ultimately Erickson will probably ride Danny Sullivan and hope for a steady season that leads to about 6-7 wins and a bowl game. However it's Brock Osweiler that is providing Sun Devil fans hopes beyond 2009. He's a draft and stash special.
Walking on Sunshine
There's a whole lot of happy talk emanating from Tallahassee. The receivers are getting healthy and avoiding jail. Christian Ponder has all the confidence in the world. Jimbo Fisher loves his running backs. And Bobby Bowden is talking one more national championship in between begging for his wins back.
And we'll continue to post news about great practice reports at Florida State...and we want you to take it with a grain of salt. Faith is defined as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. And the Noles haven't provided much proof in recent years. The ACC is getting better, and the FSU offense will need to be much, much better.
Deja Vu all over again at Auburn
Every news report from Auburn camp takes me back to last year. New coordinator. Kodi Burns vs. Chris Todd. Questions over which wide receivers and backs will emerge. The names of the guys blowing the whistles have changed but the song remains the same.
Yes, Gus Malzahn knows the SEC. No, his coach won't throw him under the bus. However fantasy owners will want to steer clear of Auburn's offensive weapons for now. Gus doesn't have a McFadden or Felix Jones at his disposal. Nor does he face Tulsa's schedule. The Auburn offense will be much improved because of Malzahn and the talent that's there, but it's too difficult to predict which players, if any, will emerge as true fantasy factors.
A few other random musings:
-I'm really feeling two UCLA freshmen, tight end Morrell Presley and wide receiver Randall Carroll. Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel have young talent, and they know how to use it.
-You're deep at running back and the draft is past the half-way point. Do you take the shot on Joe McKnight or Mike Ford?
-While they're great awards sponsored by great organizations, why don't the people at Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien just put everyone on the preseason watch list? Does it even matter if you're being "watched' in August?
-I know many owners have been burned by C.J. Spiller over the past three years, but I'm going all in on the Clemson burner in 2009.
-Florida International's T.Y. Hilton may be the most overlooked player on draft day. Reports have Mario Cristobal's offense loaded and ready to unleash something on the Sun Belt.
-Love Utah State's Diondre Borel even more this year.
- Tennessee freshman running back Bryce Brown suffered a slight concussion last week but has since been back at practice.
- Freshman tight end Orson Charles has been a hot name in the Georgia practice report