Posted: Thursday August 10, 2006 2:26PM; Updated: Sunday August 13, 2006 3:28AM
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State
Ohio St. QB Troy Smith says that freshman Chris Wells (above) reminds him of a young Jerome Bettis.
Matthew Emmons/US PRESSWIRE
High school: Akron (Ohio) Garfield
It didn't take long for Wells to make his presence felt at Ohio State. During the Buckeyes' Scarlet and Gray game, the freshman pounded his chest before taking a handoff, broke a tackle and barreled his way to a 11-yard gain.
"That was to let them know I was coming," Wells told the Columbus Dispatch.
It was a notice that incumbent Antonio Pittman may want to heed as well.
While Pittman, who ran for 1,331 yards last season, is the starter, he'll no doubt get a push from Wells (6-1, 220), who brings a mix of speed, size and balance that will add much-needed depth to the backfield.
"It's been a few years since we've had that depth and luxury at tailback," Ohio State recruiting coordinator John Peterson said. "We're excited to have Wells and [Maurice] Wells right there in the thick of the tailback competition."
The third-ranked player in the Rivals100 and the recruiting service's top-ranked running back, Wells ran for 2,134 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. And if this bruiser's high-school exploits weren't enough, the comparisons to other players are sure to get Buckeyes fans salivating. Quarterback Troy Smith has likened him to a young Jerome Bettis, while running backs coach Dick Tressel says Wells reminds him of a Jim Brown.
"Chris is big I-back, [a] downhill runner," Peterson said. "He's the kind of player that has a relentless motor and likes to go north and south and get positive yards."
With Pittman nursing his injury, Wells was given the opportunity to take center stage in the spring game and didn't disappoint, running for 48 yards on 11 carries. He also caught a pass two yards behind the line and bowled over a pair of defenders en route to a 9-yard gain.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
High school: Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease
At Bowling Green it was Josh Harris. At Utah it was Alex Smith. And at Florida, if the hype is any indication, Tebow will prove to be the next quarterback tailor-made for coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense.
Tebow, whose game is in the vein of Smith's, threw for 3,324 yards and 31 touchdowns last season and ran for 1,150 yards and 20 scores. Some Florida fans who are frustrated with three-year starter Chris Leak already areclamoring to get the freshman on the field.
His profile got a boost when he starred in a documentary called Tim Tebow: The Chosen One before arriving on campus in January, and he fueled the discussion with his performance in the spring game, going 15-of-21 passing for 197 yards and a touchdown.
But despite the chatter, Meyer's staff is taking it slow with Tebow (6-3, 217), though he will see the field this season.
"As soon as Tim is ready we will put him in the game just to get him repetitions," quarterback coach Dan Mullen said. "However, we will not put him in before he is ready."
Word is Meyer will develop the 22nd-ranked player by Rivals.com and play him in a series here and there. And despite the outcry on message boards, there's probably a bigger chance of Albert the Gator becoming the long snapper than Leak getting benched.
Leak says he's trying to become a mentor to Tebow, something that Leak didn't have when he was thrust into the starting role as a freshman, and has been praising the freshman's worth ethic.
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
High school: Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown
There's no denying what attracted Urban Meyer to Harvin. "One of our goals on offense, I had a dream of being the fastest team in America," Meyer said. "Whether that will happen, who knows? We want speed."
The nation's top-ranked recruit according to Rivals.com, Harvin ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the Gators' first preseason practice -- and was upset over it, boasting that he ran a 4.29 at a combine in Virginia.
Harvin had 1,236 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns last season, ran for 326 yards and 10 more touchdowns and returned three kickoffs and two punts for scores. Often compared to Deion Sanders, he'll give the Gators a chance to score every time he touches the ball, which is exactly what Meyer wants.
"The way my simply mind works is big plays equals scores, so let's recruit speed," Meyer said. "Percy brings speed to our table."
While the Gators return experience in seniors Dallas Baker, Jemalle Cornelius and Andre Caldwell, Harvin (6-1, 188) is expected to be in the rotation at wide receiver, and could supplant Cornelius as both a receiver and kick returner.
The Parade All-America has had his share of troubles. He was involved in four school-related altercations in his final two years of high school and in February was banned from all interscholastic competition by the Virginia High School League.
Meyer, though, says he's not concerned about these problems following Harvin to Gainesville. "It's one of the educated guesses you take in recruiting," Meyer told the Orlando Sentinel. "He realizes he's made some mistakes, but we think he's going to do fine with us. I feel good about this one."