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January 26, 2009
Now that underclassmen have made their decisions about entering the NFL draft, what about the teams they are leaving behind?
Here's our look at the impact the college teams will feel. In addition, we look at who we think will take over for the guys who are leaving.
The "impact" section is ranked from five stars (meaning the player will be extremely difficult to replace) to one star (meaning the player will be easy to replace).
WHO: OT Andre Smith. The list of potential candidates is a long one. One possibility is that Mike Johnson, who started at guard this past season, could move to Smith's left tackle spot. Another is that Drew Davis, who started at right tackle this past season, could move to the left side. Youngsters John Michael Boswell, Barrett Jones and Tyler Love also are expected to be in the mix. Alabama has a commitment from five-star tackle prospect D.J. Fluker, who would seem to be a candidate for immediate playing time once he arrives in the summer. And another freshman or two also could end up on the field.
WHO: CB Jerraud Powers. Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood saw action as true freshmen this past season and will be in the mix to start opposite Walter McFadden. Aairon Savage, who missed the season with an injury, bears watching. Redshirt freshman T'Sharvan Bell should get an opportunity this spring as well. The Tigers also could have a true freshman corner get on the field this fall.
WHO: RB Knowshon Moreno. Sophomores-to-be Caleb King and Richard Samuel will battle for the starting spot. King is a former four-star recruit, Samuel a five-star prospect. Redshirt freshmen Dontavius Jackson and Carlton Thomas also will be in the mix, but it would be a shocker if King and Samuel don't come out of spring as the starter and the backup, in some order. The Bulldogs also have a commitment from touted Washaun Ealey, who is set to arrive in the summer.
WHO: QB Matthew Stafford. Fifth-year senior Joe Cox will go into spring practice as the No. 1 quarterback; he played in three games this past season. Sophomore-to-be Logan Gray will battle touted true freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger ? both of whom already have enrolled ? for the No. 2 job.
WHO: TE Richard Quinn. Zack Pianalto and Christian Wilson seem likely to vie for the starting job during spring drills. Both have receiving skills that could help open up the offense. Ed Barham's blocking skills make him a sleeper candidate.
WHO: CB Donald Washington. His departure was somewhat of a surprise and leaves the Buckeyes searching for two new starters. Chimdi Chekwa is a given at one spot. Vying for the other job likely will be Devon Torrence, Andre Amos and Travis Howard. Expect five-star freshman Corey Brown to get a long look when he arrives in the summer. The Buckeyes also have commitments from three four-star corners: C.J. Barnett, Dominic Clarke and Justin Green. Expect at least two freshman corners to see time this fall.
WHO: RB Chris Wells. Dan Herron will head into spring as the starter. Junior-to-be Brandon Saine has the ability to make an impact, but he has been injury-prone and it's tough to count on the guy. Ohio State likely will sign at least three running backs, the most touted of whom is Jamaal Berry; he will play in the fall if healthy.
WHO: TE Jared Cook. Senior-to-be Weslye Saunders will get first dibs at the starting job. He is a big target, but he's not as fast as Cook; he also has had consistency issues. If he puts it all together in '09, he could be a first-round pick. Redshirt freshman Mike Triglia is the only other scholarship tight end.
WHO: DE Brandon Williams. The Red Raiders need to replace both starting ends, and it seems likely seniors-to-be McKinner Dixon, Daniel Howard and Brandon Sesay will be the leading contenders for the jobs; all three were junior college transfers in the 2008 signing class. Seniors Sandy Riley and Brandon Sharpe and redshirt freshman Ryan Haliburton also will be in the hunt.
WHO: CB Sean Smith. Smith's departure means the Utes need two new starting cornerbacks. Utah has two junior college cornerbacks already on campus in Kamaron Yancy and Maxwell Lacy; in addition, they have a commitment from another JC cornerback in Conroy Black. Senior-to-be R.J. Stanford, who was the Utes' nickelback this past season, likely will head into spring as a starter at one spot. The other holdovers who will be looking to impress are Brandon Burton, Justin Jones and Damilyn Tanner.
Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.