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February 2, 2010

Rivals.com five-star tracker: Class of 2007

We're closing in on National Signing Day, but don't necessarily expect that heralded five-star recruit to deliver an instant impact.

Only three of the 33 five-star prospects from last year made the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team this season. The vast majority couldn't crack the starting lineup on their respective teams.

As the list of five-star prospects in the past four signing classes shows, it generally takes a while -- even for can't-miss guys -- to make a big impact in college.

Patience is the key. Many of the players on these lists have gone on to have outstanding careers.

Here is a look at the careers of the five-star prospects in the Class of 2007.

MORE: Class of 2009 | Class of 2008 | Class of 2006

2007 FIVE-STAR PLAYERS

1. QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
BUZZ
: Clausen threw for 3,722 yards and 28 TDs this season, and is turning pro a year early. He finished with 8,148 yards, 60 TDs and 27 interceptions, and started all but three games of his career. He is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2010 draft.

2. RB Joe McKnight, USC
BUZZ
: While he didn't quite live up to the Reggie Bush comparisons that accompanied his arrival at USC, McKnight still enjoyed a productive three-year career before choosing to enter the 2010 NFL draft. McKnight rushed for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 94 carries as a freshman and gained 659 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries in 2008. He rushed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns on 164 carries this past season. McKnight also caught at least 20 passes in each of his three seasons.

3. SS Eric Berry, Tennessee
BUZZ
: Berry capped an outstanding three-year career at Tennessee by winning the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. Berry picked off 14 passes at Tennessee and ranks second in NCAA history with 494 interception return yards. His most productive season came in 2008, when he picked off seven passes and scored on two interception returns. He recorded 87 tackles to go along with two interceptions this past season.

4. QB Ryan Mallett, Michigan
BUZZ
: Mallett made three starts as a freshman at Michigan and went 61-of-141 for 892 yards, with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. After Rich Rodriguez and his spread-option offense arrived at Michigan, Mallett chose to transfer to Arkansas. He went 225-of-403 for 3,624 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions at Arkansas last fall. Mallett heads into 2010 as an All-America candidate and a potential first-round draft pick whenever he enter the pro ranks.

5. DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida
BUZZ
: After playing extensively as a reserve in his first two seasons at Florida, Dunlap became a starter this season and finished with 39 tackles, nine sacks and six pass breakups. He announced that he was turning pro after the season and finished his career with 84 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, four blocked kicks, and eight pass breakups. He is considered a likely first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft.

6. DE Everson Griffen, USC
BUZZ
: Griffen was an important reserve in his first two seasons with the Trojans before becoming a starter as a junior this past season. He had 45 tackles and eight sacks, then decided to bypass his senior season and turn pro. He finished his career with 18 sacks and 84 tackles but never became quite as dominant as expected.

7. DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina
BUZZ
: After starting three times as a true freshman, Austin has been a full-time starter for the Tar Heels the past two seasons. He had 42 tackles, four sacks and five quarterback hurries this season, and has 106 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 13 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in his career. He should contend for All-America honors this fall.

8. WR Ronald Johnson, USC
BUZZ
: Johnson missed the first five games this season with a broken collarbone, then returned to catch 34 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns. He had 33 catches as a reserve in 2008 and seven catches as a true freshman in 2007. He also has been a solid kick returner for the Trojans. Johnson was a dangerous deep threat in '08 but was more of a possession guy in '09. He will get a chance to be the Trojans' go-to receiver this fall, making this spring practice an important one.

9. DT Torrey Davis, Florida
BUZZ
: Davis was a backup for FCS member Jacksonville State this season, finishing with 16 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery. He played in 19 games in two seasons at Florida, making 14 tackles as a reserve, before leaving the program in spring 2009. He did make one notable play at Florida, dropping Oklahoma's Chris Brown for a loss on a fourth-and-goal play in the first half of the 2008 national title game.

10. OT Josh Oglesby, Wisconsin
BUZZ
: Oglesby redshirted as a true freshman, started three times at left tackle in 2008, then started 10 times at right tackle this past season, missing three games because of a knee injury. Oglesby should be one of the Big Ten's best offensive linemen this fall, and a big season could mean he leaves early for the NFL.

11. LB Chris Galippo, USC
BUZZ
: Galippo redshirted as a true freshman because of a back injury, then made 12 tackles as a backup in 2008. He became a starter this past season and finished with 70 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles. His pass-coverage skills should help him adapt quickly to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's schemes, and Galippo can be expected to contend for all-league honors this fall.

12. G James Wilson, Florida
BUZZ
: Wilson played in all 14 games as a backup guard this season; he played in 10 games as a backup guard in 2008 after redshirting in 2007. He is expected to vie for a starting guard spot in spring practice.

13. WR Terrance Toliver, LSU
BUZZ
: Toliver started twice as a true freshman and twice as a sophomore before blossoming into a full-time starter this past season. He had 53 catches for 735 yards and three touchdowns in '09 and was the Tigers' second-leading receiver. In his career, he has 85 catches -- including seven TD receptions -- for 1,241 yards. With the graduation of Brandon LaFell, Toliver needs to show this spring that he has the ability to be the Tigers' go-to receiver.

14. FS Chad Jones, LSU
BUZZ
: Jones, who doubled as a hard-throwing reliever for LSU's baseball team, was a two-year starter for the Tigers after serving as a reserve as a true freshman. He announced he was turning pro a year early after a solid junior season in which he had 73 tackles, three interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. He finished his career with 187 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 15 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one punt-return touchdown.

15. RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
BUZZ
: Devine ran for 1,465 yards and 13 TDs this season, his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Devine surprised some by remaining in school for his senior season, and he has rushed for 3,381 yards and 23 TDs in his career. He will be one of the top players in the Big East this fall and should contend for All-America honors.

16. OL Tray Allen, Texas
BUZZ
: He has been a backup guard and tackle in his three seasons with the Longhorns. He was a reserve guard this season after playing tackle in his first two seasons. He has a chance to earn playing time at guard during the spring.

17. RB Marc Tyler, USC
BUZZ
: Tyler played in the season opener against San Jose State, rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown on five carries, but didn't play again because of an injured toe that required surgery. He redshirted as a true freshman, then ran for 198 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries as a redshirt freshman in 2008. He is expected to be 100 percent for spring practice and will vie with three others for the starting job at tailback.

18. LB Chris Donald, Tennessee
BUZZ
: Donald redshirted as a true freshman, then played in nine games in two seasons without registering a tackle before deciding to transfer to FCS member Chattanooga last month. The Vols had all sorts of injury problems at linebacker this season, but Donald never came close to making an impact.

19. FS Chris Culliver, South Carolina
BUZZ
: Culliver has started at free safety for the past two seasons for the Gamecocks. He had 62 tackles and nine pass breakups this past season, following a 60-tackle, three-interception season in 2008. He played sparingly as a wide receiver as a true freshman but made his mark as a kick returner that season, earning SEC all-freshman honors in that role. He has been a solid kick returner all three seasons. He should be one of the SEC's best defensive backs this fall.

20. DE Ben Martin, Tennessee
BUZZ
: After playing sparingly as a reserve in his first two seasons, Martin emerged as a key lineman for the Vols this season. He had 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He has a chance to contend for All-SEC honors this fall.

21. CB Curtis Brown, Texas
BUZZ
: Brown was a part-time starter as a sophomore in 2008 before emerging as a key component of a solid Texas secondary this season. He finished the '09 season with 47 tackles, one interception -- which he returned for a touchdown against Oklahoma State -- seven pass breakups and a blocked kick. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection this past season and should contend for postseason honors again this fall.

22. WR Dwight Jones, North Carolina
BUZZ
: Jones didn't qualify academically out of high school and went to Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy. He intended to re-sign with the Tar Heels, but UNC announced in the summer of 2008 that Jones wouldn't qualify for enrollment and he instead went to Division II Valdosta (Ga.) State. Then, UNC announced a few weeks later that it had misinterpreted his record and allowed Jones to enroll after all. After all that, he has made five catches in 10 games covering two seasons; all five receptions came this past season, on a team starved for productive wide receivers. He had minor knee surgery in 2009 and needs to make an impression during spring drills.

23. OL Ryan Miller, Colorado
BUZZ
: Miller started all 12 games for the Buffs this season -- seven at guard and five at right tackle. He started seven games at right tackle as a true freshman, then missed the 2008 season with a broken leg. He will be a key performer for the Buffs at guard in 2010 and should be expected to contend for all-league honors.

24. WR Arrelious Benn, Illinois
BUZZ
: He was the freshman of the year in the Big Ten and a freshman All-America selection in 2007, but that may have been the best season of his Illini career. This season definitely was his worst; he finished with 38 catches for 490 yards and just two touchdowns. Still, he decided to bypass his senior season and turn pro. For his career, Benn had 159 catches for 2,221 yards and seven touchdowns. He ran for three scores and also scored on a punt return. He had 13 games with at least five catches in his first two seasons but just two such games this season.

25. CB Donovan Warren, Michigan
BUZZ
: Warren was a three-year starter for the Wolverines and has decided to bypass his senior season. Warren was a freshman All-America in 2007 and a first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, when he had four interceptions, seven pass breakups and 66 tackles. He finished his career with six picks, 22 pass breakups, 170 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and three fumble recoveries.

26. DE Martez Wilson, Illinois
BUZZ
: Wilson was moved to outside linebacker upon his arrival at Illinois and was moved to middle linebacker after the 2008 season. He suffered a season-ending neck injury in the '09 opener but is expected back this fall. He was a backup as a true freshman and became a starter as a sophomore in '08. In 26 career games, Wilson has 111 tackles, with 8.5 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and a forced fumble.

27. QB Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
BUZZ
: Taylor threw for 2,311 yards, with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions, and ran for another 370 yards with five scores this season. He was a part-time starter as a true freshman in 2007, and the plan was to redshirt him in 2008. Instead, he ended up starting 10 games. Going into his senior season, he has thrown for 4,274 yards, with 20 TDs and 15 interceptions. Taylor has also rushed for 1,537 yards and 18 scores. He should be one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks in 2010.

28. QB Cameron Newton, Florida
BUZZ
: He played in five games as the backup quarterback in 2007, then redshirted in 2008. He transferred to Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, in January 2009 and led Blinn to the national junior college title this season. Newton, the nation's No. 1 junior college prospect, has signed with Auburn and will compete for the starting job in spring practice.

29. C Kristofer O'Dowd, USC
BUZZ
: He was a part-time starter as a true freshman, then was a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2008, earning all-conference honors. He went into the 2009 season as the starter, but knee and shoulder injuries slowed him and he started six games and played in just seven. If healthy, he will start as a senior in 2010 and expected to contend for All-America honors.

MORE: Class of 2009 | Class of 2008 | Class of 2006



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