HARRISON BECK Nebraska QB Freshman
The Cornhuskers have attracted few pro-style signal-callers over the years, so it was front-page news in Nebraska when Beck, one of the top three quarterback recruits in his class, committed to the Huskers early, in June 2004. The 6'2", 205-pound Floridian is already the choice of Huskers' fans, but junior college transfer Zac Taylor quickly grasped Bill Callahan's West Coast offense this spring and has the inside track on the starting job.
KEVIN GRADY Michigan RB Freshman
This 5'11", 228-pound bull of a back has been called the best Wolverines' running back since Tyrone Wheatley. Grady set Michigan high school records for career rushing yards (8,431) and touchdowns (151). One problem: Mike Hart, the Wolverines' current starter, rushed for a Big Ten--best 1,455 yards last year and was the nation's best freshman not named Adrian Peterson.
EUGENE HAYES Florida State LB Freshman
Here's a shocker: The Seminoles brought in a top-three linebacker with devastating speed off the edge. The 6'2", 215-pound Hayes, who had 11 sacks as a senior at Madison County ( Fla.) High, joins what is arguably the nation's deepest linebacking unit. Redshirting him might not be a bad idea, but Seminoles' coach Bobby Bowden might not be able to resist putting him on the field this season.
RASHARD MENDENHALL Illinois RB Freshman
One recruiting analyst says the 5'11", 205-pound Mendenhall may be the best running back recruit out of Chicago in 30 years. So why isn't his name written in ink atop the depth chart of the Illini, who were 3--8 last season? Well, Illinois's backfield, which features three returning quality players, including Pierre Thomas (893 yards in '04), is the team's one strength.
RYAN PERRILLOUX LSU QB Freshman
Upon signing with the Tigers in February, Perrilloux, the nation's top-rated quarterback recruit, sized up his competition for the starting job by saying, " JaMarcus Russell struggled last year, and Matt Flynn is definitely not a better quarterback than me." The brash Bayou Bengal is certainly the most talented of those three players, but new LSU coach Les Miles is leaning toward the sophomore Russell.