Archive for December, 2009

Happy Holidays and Bowl Season

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Happy Holidays!  Enjoy the Bowl Season. 

Next up:  A closer look at FBS all-conference teams.  Do they tell us much about overall conference speed and athleticism?  We think so.  And is the Big 10 really slower and less athletic than the other big conferences? Public perception says yes, we say maybe. Coming January 2010

AP All-America Teams littered with high school track athletes

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

AP All-America Teams have been released and from what I see there are several former state champion high school track athetes.  All three AP teams are full of former high school track and multi-sport athletes.  We can argue all day long about which players should have been All-America and which players might be benefiting more off reputation hype instead of production thus getting the vote.  Regardless, it is what it is…

I’ve listed each AP team’s members that were high school track and field athletes and highlighted (red) players that were high school track and field state champions or state runner-up. 

AP All-America First Team


QB – Colt McCoy /  Texas

RB – Mark Ingram / Alabama

OT – Russell Okung / Oklahoma State

OT – Trent Williams / Oklahoma

OG – Mike Iupati / Idaho

TE – Aaron Hernandez / Florida

WR – Golden Tate / Notre Dame

WR – Jordan Shipley / Texas

AP – C.J. Spiller / Clemson (state champion 100, 200)


DT – Ndamukong Suh / Nebraska (state champion shot put)

DT – Terrence Cody / Alabama

LB – Eric Norwood / South Carolina

CB – Javier Arenas / Alabama

S – Eric Berry / Tennessee (state champion long jump, state runner-up 200)

S – Earl Thomas / Texas

AP All-America Second Team


RB – Ryan Mathews / Fresno State

RB – Dion Lewis / Pittsburgh

OT – Chris Marinelli / Stanford

TE – Dennis Pitta / Brigham Young

WR – Mardy Gilyard / Cincinnati

WR – Danario Alexander / Missouri (state champion triple jump, state runner-up long jump)

AP – James Rodgers / Oregon State


DE – Von Miller / Texas A&M

DE – Brandon Graham / Michigan

DT – Gerald McCoy / Oklahoma (state runner-up shot put)

DT – Jared Odrick / Penn State

LB – Pat Angerer / Iowa

LB – Sean Weatherspoon / Missouri

CB – Perrish Cox / Oklahoma State (state champion long jump)

CB – Kyle Wilson / Boise State

S – Taylor Mays / Southern California (state champion 400 relay)

S – Rahim Moore / UCLA

P – Zoltan Mesko / Michigan

AP-All America Third Team


RB – LaMichael James / Oregon

RB – Jacquizz Rodgers / Oregon State

OT – Ciron Black / Louisiana State

OG – Brandon Carter / Texas Tech

OG – Jeff Byers / Southern California

TE – Dorin Dickerson / Pittsburgh

WR – Demaryius Thomas / Georgia Tech

AP – Dexter McCluster / Mississippi


DE – Jeremy Beal / Oklahoma

DT – Brian Price / UCLA

DT – Dan Williams / Tennessee

LB – Sergio Kindle / Texas

CB – Brandon Harris / Miami (state champion 800 meter run, 1600 relay and 3200 relay)

CB – Alterraun Verner / UCLA

S – Tyler Sash / Iowa

S – Mark Barron / Alabama (state champion discus, long jump, shot put and triple jump)



Freshman of Influence – the misses

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

I received some feedback about a few deserving freshman players that quite frankly we missed in our previous updates.  So here’s one last update to the Freshman of Influence series for this season.  I had several offensive linemen suggested to me…so I included a few.  I’m continually amazed at the athletic backgrounds of players at all positions but particularly the linemen.     

Freshman of Influence – the misses


Tre’ Newton, RB – Texas

Obviously this guy is deserving as the leading rusher of the second ranked team in the nation.  Newton gained 513 yards on 102 carries for six touchdowns and 12 receptions for 106 yards.  Being from Texas it should not surprise anyone that Newton was a high school track athlete at Southlake Carroll High.  Newton ran (10.87) 100 meters and (21’02) long jump at the 2005 District 5-5A Meet and was a member of 4×100 (42.45) and 4×200 (1:31.05) relay teams at 2007 District 5-5A Meet. 

Nik Embernate, OL – San Diego State

This freshman turned some heads with his play at right guard for the Aztecs.  At 6’04 and 290 pounds he’s got the frame to be a dominant player.  Embernate was a very solid high school shot putter at Yucaipa High School in California.  His best shot put effort was 54’06 at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Preliminaries.

Riley Reiff, OL – Iowa

This redshirt freshman overcame a bumpy start to his career at Iowa and had a solid season at guard for the Hawkeyes.  At 6’06 he’s an imposing player that should continue to get better.  He was a three-time state champion wrestler in South Dakota while at Parkston High School.  He was twice state champion at the 215 pound class and once at 275 pound (heavyweight) class.  In addition, Reiff was the Class A state runner-up in the shot put (54’05) as a junior in 2007. 

Tanner Brock, LB – Texas Christian

This true freshman ‘backer has the Horned Frogs pointed in the right direction for the future and will be a major contributor to their top notch defense.  For the season he was credited with 31 tackles, one TFL and 1 forced fumble.  Brock also threw a little shot put in high school.  He attended Copperas Cove High School (Texas) and threw at his regional track meet.  His best throw was 49’07. 

Terry Hawthorne, CB – Illinois

One of Illinois’ few bright spots this season…this freshman corner made some exciting plays including and interception returned for a touchdown.  Hawthorne had 30 tackles and five PBUs in 12 games.  He also dabbled a bit in track and field while attending East St. Louis High School in Illinois.  He was a part of the school’s 1600 meter relay team that finished fourth at the state meet with a time of (3:17.86)….was a high school teammate of Wisconsin’s freshman wide receiver, Kraig Appleton. 

David DeCastro, OL – Stanford

DeCastro had an eye-opening season as a redshirt freshman starter on the O-line.  Listed at 6’05 and 310 pounds, DeCastro helped clear holes for Stanford’s Toby Gerhart.  His size and athleticism, evidenced by his state champion shot putter status,  make for the prototypical super lineman in the coming years.  He won the Class 3A shot put state championship while at Bellevue High School in Washington.  His winning throw was 58’09. 

Desmond Trufant, CB – Washington

Another true freshman defensive back that made an early impact with his team.  Trufant had two interceptions, 47 tackles, one fumble returned for touchdown, six PBUs and two TFLs.  Trufant was a super triple jumper in high school (Woodrow Wilson, Washington).  In fact, he was the Class 4A state runner-up in the triple jump (46’05) and was a member of state qualifying 400 relay (42.77) also long jumped with a best of (22’08). 

Devin Taylor, DE – South Carolina

This redshirt freshman displayed amazing athleticism winning South Carolina’s Class 4A triple jump title going 48’03” as a senior attending Beaufort High School.  His listed height 6’07 and weight of 232 pounds made him an almost can’t miss talent and he’s delivered.  Taylor’s made 26 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, two sacks, two blocked kicks and one forced fumble over 12 games.   For good measure he also high jumped  (6’04) and threw the shot put (48’05) and discus (146’10) in high school.      

Margus Hunt, DE – Southern Methodist

This is easily one of the most interesting freshman stories of the college season.  Hunt a 6’08, 22-year-old, Junior World Champion shot put and discus thrower is playing football for the first time .  He attended SMU with the hopes of resurrecting the track program and training under coach Dave Wollman.  But a few chance encounters with SMU football coaches and he decided to give football a try.  The results have been pretty amazing…12 games, seven tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, one PBU…AND SEVEN BLOCKED KICKS, led the nation in that category. He’s got a lot to learn but head coach June Jones believes Hunt might be a future NFL lineman.   

Here’s a good link getting Hunt’s insights on his transition to football.  

Freshman of Influence for 2009

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Here’s the final edition of this year’s Freshman of Influence.  Over the course of the season we compiled 62 true and redshirt freshman.  Our criteria was pretty simple…find freshman players making an impact on a weekly basis that had multi-sport athletic backgrounds in high school.  Our criteria did sort of limit the number of quarterbacks and offensive linemen we could choose because there are not a lot of freshman that receive playing time at those positions.        

Regardless I was impressed by the number freshman with multi-sport backgrounds.  It indicates to me that most high school players SHOULD be participating in other sports.  Coaches and parents that preach sports specialization and believe in the ‘focus on football only mentality’ might want to take a look at this list and rethink this one.  

Freshman of Influence blogs include detailed breakdowns on 62 players:  20 running backs, 10 wide receivers, 10 defensive backs, 9 linebackers, 8 defensive linemen, 4 quarterbacks, 1 offensive lineman.   

(Click on icon to link to each week of Freshman of Influence blog and complete player data)

WEEK 1:  

Featured Pittsburgh’s star running back Dion Lewis and Florida State’s exciting cornerback / return man Greg Reid


This week highlighted Virginia Tech’s great back, Ryan Williams and Georgia’s all-purpose threat Branden Smith. 


This week included two linebackers, Virginia’s Steve Greer and Walter Stewart of Cincinnati. 


Highlights perhaps the most exciting freshman quarterback in USF’s B.J. Daniels

WEEK 5: 

Two wide receivers are mentioned which will be heard from a ton in future seasons…Rutger’s Mohamed Sanu (he’s also part quarterback and running back too) and Chad Bumphis of Mississippi State. 

WEEK 6: 

Temple’s dominant running back, Bernard Pierce, and Michigan State D-Tackle, Jerel Worthy are detailed. 


 Three D-Tackles this week and TCU’s running back, Ed Wesley


This week the only freshman to intercept Tim Tebow not once but twice!  That would be Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks.  Also this year’s only freshman O-Lineman…Texas Tech’s LaAdrian Waddle


Wisconsin’s tackling-machine, Chris Borland and Tennessee’s surprise starter in the secondary Janzen Jackson…this week. 

WEEK 10:

Warren Norman, Vanderbilt back and SEC Offensive Freshman of the Year, tops this week’s review. 

WEEKS 11 & 12:   

Combine weekly review includes two kick returners Jesse Grandy (Mississippi) and Al-terek McBurse (Purdue) and intriguing Troy linebacker, Kanorris Davis.