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Thursday, August 13, 2009
College Football Pre-Season All-Americans msnbc.com
Tim Tebow, Florida, Senior QB
Does he need an introduction? Not really. Already, Tebow is a college football icon.
In three seasons, he has accounted for 110 touchdowns – 67 passing, 43 rushing. But he’s hoping to add to his most gaudy statistics – two (national championships) and one (Heisman Trophy).
Tebow, who has redefined his position as a dual-threat quarterback, has a self-proclaimed goal of guiding Florida to an unbeaten season. Look for him to occasionally work in a pro-style attack after spending the offseason refining his passing mechanics under new quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler (not that Tebow’s passing – and his career 65.8 completion percentage – has been a major problem).
Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech, Junior RB
Coach Paul Johnson brought an option-based spread offense to Georgia Tech last season and Dwyer was the most obvious beneficiary.
Dwyer rushed for an ACC-best 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns, collecting nine 100-yard games along the way.
He’s speedy, powerful and expected to be even more effective after trimming 10 pounds from his frame, now checking in at a svelte 228.
Jahvid Best, California, Junior RB
Best has proven he can go the distance – even if that distance is practically the length of a football field.
Last season, he rushed for 1,580 yards and averaged 8.0 yards per carry, despite missing one game and part of another with a dislocated elbow. His biggest moments were devastating to opposing defenses. He scored on runs of 86, 84 and 80 yards. Stuck in the 80s, indeed.
He has added 15 pounds of muscle (reaching 205). And if this wasn’t such a QB-heavy year, he would be a prime Heisman Trophy candidate. But if he continues those long scoring runs, don’t sell him short.
Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State, Junior WR
With hands larger than oven mitts, Bryant is a physical nightmare for defenses. Jump ball? Forget it. Chalk up a reception.
That happened plenty in 2008. Bryant had 87 catches and averaged 113.9 yards per game while scoring 19 touchdowns.
Oklahoma State will feature its thrill-a-minute offense. Expect Bryant to be a big part of that once again.
Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati, Senior WR
When the Bearcats need a big play, they dial up Gilyard, who constantly produces with a combination of speed, instincts, body control and escapability.
Gilyard had 81 receptions for 1,276 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2008, helping Cincinnati to its landmark appearance in the Orange Bowl.
He will be a marked man in the Big East – and elsewhere – but look for his playmaking ability to continue in the passing game and on kickoff returns.
Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, Senior TE
Oklahoma hasn’t possessed such a weapon at tight end in more than two decades, when first-round pick Keith Jackson made life miserable for opposing secondaries.
Gresham considered the NFL draft, where he probably would’ve duplicated Jackson’s first-round status, but opted for a return to the Sooners.
On a touchdown-happy offense, Gresham is one of the top threats, especially in the red zone. He already has 26 career touchdowns.
Brandon James, Florida, Senior KR
The question remains: Why would anyone kick it to James . . . ever?
He’s already Florida’s career record-holder with four touchdowns on punt returns. His career average is 13.4 yards with a long of 83.
He’s a mighty-mite who just needs one step, a small opening – and he’s gone.