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January 27, 2011

Looking for Heismans in 2011 class

MORE ROUNDTABLES: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Full NSD coverage

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on National Signing Day topics every day leading up to Feb. 2.

If just one person from the 2011 class eventually wins the Heisman Trophy, who will it be?

Barry Every: Since this award almost always goes to a running back or quarterback on a team that has a chance to win it all, I will have to say Malcolm Brown. Why? Texas has not signed an actual running back for a couple years and he should have an instant impact. He does remind me of Cedric Benson as a player.

Mike Farrell: Jeff Driskel for Florida. I think you put that kid's ability - his arm strength, mobility, size, accuracy - and allow Charlie Weis to develop him at Florida, surround him with talent, and you could have a guy who puts up crazy stats. Major power program, quarterback position, great offensive coordinator, SEC prestige - it all fits.

Adam Gorney: Jeff Driskel has a lot going for him and obviously this is projecting way into the future, but I can see him as a potential Heisman Trophy winner. Here's why: Driskel will have an opportunity to play early in his career at one of the biggest programs in the best football conference. He'll be able to develop his abilities and the school knows how to advertise talented quarterbacks - take Tim Tebow as one example. Lastly, Driskel is just starting to tap his potential.

Chris Nee: If I had to pick a player, I'd go with Cibolo (Texas) Steele running back Malcolm Brown. A great running back going to a great program that uses the running back at a high rate. If he stays healthy, I think he has a prolific career in Austin.

Keith Niebuhr: Sammy Watkins. A five-star recruit headed to Clemson, Watkins is a terrific athlete who boasts tremendous speed and can go the distance on any play. A receiver, he should put up big numbers after he gets a little seasoning. And because he's so fast, it wouldn't be a shock to see him return kicks at some point, and even carry the ball on running plays.

Brian Perroni: I could see Malcolm Brown having the opportunity to do so at Texas. The Longhorns do not have a true difference maker back on campus and, with new co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin coming over from Boise State, the five-star prospect could have a chance to shine early. If the Longhorns actually commit to the run, Brown could be the workhorse they have not had since Cedric Benson. .

What school has missed on its biggest need?

Barry Every: Georgia is signing bodies for the offensive line, but they are not the best-looking prospects on the hoof, or the most athletic. Georgia needs a guy or two to play early along the offensive line.

Mike Farrell: I'm going to say Alabama and the quarterback position. It's not a deep position for the Tide and I just didn't see enough of Phillip Ely in person this year to think he can hold up to an SEC pounding or develop into a guy that can be a national title signal-caller. In a year with pretty good quarterbacks, Alabama could have gone in a different direction and lured someone else or at least brought in a second quarterback in this class. I know it sounds odd to say the No. 1 team in our rankings missed out on a major area of need, but that's my feeling.

Adam Gorney: South Carolina has 30 commits but only five four-star prospects and no five-star commitments - yet. And that is a big "yet" because five-star phenom Jadeveon Clowney might stay home and go to South Carolina. Clowney is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and that's why it's so important for South Carolina to land his signature.

Chris Nee: So far, I'd say it is the Miami Hurricanes and their need for a quarterback. Now that could change if they sway West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett or another target, but nothing on the board yet for Al Golden and company.

Keith Niebuhr: So far, I'd say it's Miami at quarterback. Hurricanes starter Jacory Harris will be a senior in 2011. His backup, Stephen Morris, shows promise but had more interceptions than touchdowns last year. When Harris departs, there probably needs to be an open battle for the spot. But as of today, the Hurricanes have no quarterback commits. Give the Miami staff credit, though; it is working awfully hard to change that.

Brian Perroni: Michigan only has one offensive lineman committed in Tony Posada. While the offensive line may not be the most pressing need for the Wolverines, taking only one in a class can throw off the scholarship balance a few years down the road. It will force new head coach Brady Hoke to rely on young players at the position, not something that is usually a good situation.

Which of the top prospects will make the biggest impact as a true freshman?

Barry Every: I look for running backs Malcolm Brown and Brandon Williams, and cornerback Malcolm Mitchell to have some sort of impact as freshmen. Brown is going into a good situation at Texas with few real running backs in the stable. Williams will have a chance to compete with a couple young guys at Oklahoma. Mitchell brings great speed and ball skills, and could play on either side of the ball for Georgia.

Mike Farrell: Malcolm Brown at Texas. The Longhorns rushing attack has not been good, he's a big back who is talented and used to carrying the rock a lot and he's built for college football. For Texas to get back to a BCS bowl, he has to play the same kind of role Marcus Lattimore played for South Carolina this year. I think he can do it.

Adam Gorney: Clowney is the easy answer - and I believe he'll have a tremendous freshman season - but I'll go with De'Anthony Thomas at USC. If used properly, the Los Angeles Crenshaw two-way standout could be used in the backfield or in the passing game. If he switches to defense, he proved at the Army game that he can cover anybody. Thomas is one of the more athletic players in recent recruiting classes.

Chris Nee: I'll take the easy way out and go with Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. He is physically prepared to play from his first day on campus and if he ends up a Gamecock, they have an immediate need for his services. He can change the game off the edge.

Keith Niebuhr: The obvious answer is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the country's top-rated senior. I see no reason why he shouldn't step up and become a major factor from the start, no matter where he plays. Another guy I really like is five-star safety Karlos Williams, who is headed to Florida State. The FSU secondary has been mediocre at best in recent seasons, but he can help change that.

Brian Perroni: It is hard to see defensive end Jadeveon Clowney not having a big early impact wherever he ends up. Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was very similar to Clowney a few years ago and he had a big year in the ACC as a true freshman. I think Clowney can have the same impact, if not better.

Who is your "sleeper" in this class?

Barry Every: To me a sleeper has to be someone ranked as less than a 5.7 three-star. With that being said, I am going with wide receiver Ronnell Sims, who is committed to SMU. He is electrifying with the ball and a very smart kid. He will learn his new position quickly.

Mike Farrell: It's always either a running back or a quarterback who makes us look silly at times so I'm going to go with a player at one of those two positions. There aren't any running backs below four-star status that stand out to me so I'll go with QB Stephen Rivers at LSU. He has the bloodlines with his brother being an all-pro. He's 6-foot-6 with plenty of room to fill out and he will get a chance at LSU with a ton of talent around him in a few years. I think he could be an NFL guy down the line like big bro, San Diego QB Philip Rivers.

Adam Gorney: My sleeper in this class is defensive end Dylan Wynn. Although he played at one of the most storied high school programs at Concord (Calif.) De La Salle and won the defensive MVP at the Palo Alto NIKE Camp, he has still flown a little under the radar mainly because he didn't pick up his fourth star. Someone close to another program told me they wanted to offer Wynn mainly so they wouldn't have to face him for the next four years. Wynn could be a guy who has an outstanding college career at Oregon State.

Chris Nee: Homewood (Ala.) athlete Ameer Abdullah, who is heading to Nebraska. He can contribute on either side of the ball, as a running back or defensive back, and he is as competitive as they come. He is just a really, really good football player when the lights come on.

Keith Niebuhr: I've got two and both are defensive ends. The first is Miami commit Anthony Chickillo. How can the country's No. 44 prospect be considered a sleeper? Because there are still many out there who think he's not big enough or athletic enough to be a star. I disagree. The other pick is Florida early enrollee Clay Burton, a three-star recruit with a high IQ and tremendous upside.

Brian Perroni: Nila Kasitati played tight end on one of the top high school teams in the country at Euless (Texas) Trinity. However, the 6-foot-4, 280-pound prospect was used primarily as a blocker and will likely make the move to offensive tackle at the next level. Baylor is hoping for a repeat of Jason Smith, an unheralded tight end signee a few years back that went on to be a top 5 NFL draft pick at offensive tackle.



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