September 1, 2006

Patience pays: 2006 breakthrough players

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Patience pays off.

Not every highly touted recruit can make an instant impact a la Adrian Peterson, Tyrell Sutton or Steve Slaton.

For some players it takes a few years to find the perfect time to perform.

Some suffered injuries early in their college career, others were stuck behind a proven veteran. All have bided their time.

Now it's their time to shine. Here is's breakdown of breakout players for 2006: 2006 Top Ten Breakout Players
1. Southern California quarterback John David Booty, Jr.
Class of: 2003
Booty graduated a year early from Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian with hopes of replacing Carson Palmer, but Matt Leinart had other plans. With Leinart gone to the NFL, the Trojans' are now Booty's team. Booty inherits the stellar receiving tandem of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith and the pressure of following two Heisman Trophy winners.
2. Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli, Jr.
Rivals100: 2004
Joe Paterno said he hasn't coached a quarterback with the arm strength and physical ability of Morelli, who was the third-ranked quarterback in the class of 2004. If that's not high praise, what is? Morelli will be expected to continue the Nittany Lions' renaissance started under former QB Michael Robinson. Morelli is inexperienced but he has the weapons around him to succeed in wide receivers Deon Butler and Derrick Williams and running back Tony Hunt.
3. Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga, So.
Rivals100: 2005
Maualuga, the No. 5 overall prospect in 2005, worked his way into a backup role as a true freshman last year. He made 37 tackles (4.5 for a loss) in 2005. He showed enough in limited duty to push senior middle linebacker Oscar Lua, the team's leading tackler in '05, for the starting job. During the spring and preseason, USC coach Pete Carroll tinkered with the idea of using a 3-4 formation with Maualuga and Lua and the middle.
4. Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss, Jr.
Rivals100: 2003
Moss led the team in sacks with 7.5 last season, but he played primarily as a backup in obvious passing downs. He will be a full-time starter this season, anchoring what is a promising defensive line for Florida. The 6-foot-6, 252-pound end has taken advantage of his first-team status by harassing Florida quarterbacks during the spring and preseason.
5. Florida State linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Jr.
Rivals100: 2004
Timmons takes over the linebacker spot vacated by first-round draft pick Ernie Sims, and the Seminoles expect little drop off. Timmons looks to continue the recent line of FSU linebackers that includes Sims, A.J. Nicholson, Michael Boulware and Kendyll Pope. The junior offered FSU fans a taste of what's in store in the opener against Miami last year when he blocked a punt to set up a first-and-goal on Miami's 1-yard line.
6. Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, So.
Rivals100: 2005
Stewart sat behind Terrence Whitehead last year as a true freshman, limiting him to 53 carries for 188 yards. He still led the team with six rushing touchdowns while averaging 33.7 yards per kickoff return with two TDs. The former five-star recruit will take over as the starter this year and lead a strong group of runners that also includes Jeremiah Johnson. Coach Mike Bellotti has high hopes the Stewart-Johnson combination will remind fans of the Onterrio Smith-Maurice Morris tandem from 2003-04.
7. LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, Jr.
Rivals100: 2004
Dorsey looks to continue the Tigers' recent tradition of All-SEC defensive tackles. Over the last three seasons, Dorsey has been limited to four starts while sitting behind Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams, who are now in the NFL. This year, Dorsey will be expected to stuff the run as well as rush the quarterback. He will play alongside another Rivals100 recruit who has been waiting for his turn to play, sophomore Marlon Favorite.
8. UCLA quarterback Ben Olson, So.
Rivals100: 2002
No one on this list has waited longer for his time to shine that Olson, who signed with BYU out of high school before leaving for two years for a Mormon mission. He returned in 2005 to UCLA, where he backed up Drew Olson last season. Now Ben Olson, 23, will take charge of the new Bruins backfield which also includes running back Chris Markey.
9. Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman, So.
Rivals100: 2004
Freeman was supposed to join the Buckeyes' outstanding linebacker corps of A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel last year before a knee injury and staph infection knocked him out for the season. He'll be more valuable to the Buckeyes this year by taking over one of the starting roles vacated by the trio of NFL linebackers.
10. Oklahoma safety Keenan Clayton, RFr.
Rivals100: 2005
Clayton aims to become the next great Oklahoma defensive back, joining Derrick Strait and Roy Williams from years past. The No. 3 safety in the 2005 class will be hardest-hitting defensive back the Sooners have had since 2003, coaches say. He should have an instant impact after redshirting last season.
Best of the rest
11. Miami offensive tackle Reggie Youngblood, So.
12. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee, So.
13. Oklahoma defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger, RFr.
14. Georgia defensive end Charles Johnson, Jr.
15. Wisconsin defensive tackle Justin Ostrowski, Jr.
16. Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett, So.
17. Southern California tight end Fred Davis, Jr.
18. Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver, Jr.
19. Boston College offensive tackle Ryan Poles, Jr.
20. Maryland linebacker Wesley Jefferson, Jr.

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