Tech or Georgia: Who’s getting most impact from new players?
We’re not even a third of the way into the 2009 college football season but it is fairly apparent what new players are going to make the major contributions at Georgia and Georgia Tech. But who would you say will make the most significant impact of the first-year players at the local D-1 universities when it’s all said and done?
I’ll nominate a few players and let you guys tell me what you think. Feel free to add whomever you want.
- RB Anthony Allen: The 6-foot, 231-pound junior transfer from Louisville has proven to be a big-play maker for the Yellow Jackets. Through two games he is averaging 18.5 yards per carry rushing, 25 yards per reception. He went 82 yards for a touchdown on his first carry against Clemson last Thursday. At 19.8 yards per touch, Tech might want to think about getting him more touches.
- LB Julian Burnett: Tech’s version of Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran in that Burnett is not very tall (5-foot-10) but he’s compact (220 pounds) and quick. The Macon-Westside product has 10 tackles and a half-sack despite playing as a backup to junior Brad Jefferson at inside linebacker.
- WR Stephen Hill: The big target (6-4, 200) from Lithonia has yet to make his first catch but he is getting a lot of playing time early and has proven to be an effective downfield blocker, as evidenced by the Jackets’ many long plays. One of the team’s fastest players, he’s gotten the ball once on a reverse but it lost a yard.
- *DB/PR Jerrard Tarrant: I’m somewhat hesitant to include this cornerback from Carrollton because, after being redshirted as a freshman, he missed last season while settling a legal issue. But the charges against Tarrant were dropped and this is indeed his first season on the field for the Jackets. And he’s been all over that field. He leads the nation with a 43-yard punt return average, including touchdowns on two of his four returns. As a starter on defense he has 11 tackles and two pass break-ups.
- CB Branden Smith: Smith is still learning the ropes on defense (one tackle) but he’s making an impact with the ball under his arm (provided it stays there). He’s third among Bulldogs in all-purpose yardage with 163, or 81.5 per game, and is averaging 16.3 yards per touch. Included is a 61-yard TD run off a reverse last week and 84 yards on four kickoff returns. Early comparisons to former Bulldog Champ Bailey seem warranted.
- TE Orson Charles: The Tampa native is second on the team in receiving with four catches for 84 yards, with a long of 25 yards against Oklahoma State. With as unusual speed for his size (6-3, 230), Charles is a nightmare matchup for both linebackers and safeties a threat to go all the way every time.
- WR Marlon Brown: Heralded as the most important member of the 2009 class, Brown did not play in the opener and got only spot duty against South Carolina. He has yet to record a reception but Georgia coaches still believe he’ll become the big-play threat everyone envisioned when he signed out of Memphis as the No. 1 prospect in Tennessee.
- DE Cornelius Washington: After a redshirt year that included a forearm injury and shoulder surgery, we’re finally starting to see what all the fuss is about. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, who ran a 10.6 100 meters in high school, recorded his first career sack and had three tackles against South Carolina last week. He figures to get more playing time with the loss of senior starter Rod Battle to a season-ending knee injury.
Like I said, feel free to nominate other players and tell me why you think they’ll have a major impact on the season. The one prerequisite is that this is the players’ first season on the football field.