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August 31, 2009
Freshmen set to make an early impact in 2009
There used to be a time when coaches hesitated before handing their most important jobs to true freshmen.
That time has passed.
Need any evidence about the importance of true freshmen in today's game? Take a look at the final Associated Press rankings last season.
Utah ended the 2009 season as the No. 2 team in the nation, while USC was ranked third. Each of those teams could open the season with a true freshman as its starting quarterback.
They won't be the only national powers relying heavily on at least one true freshman. As we head into the final days before the kickoff of the 2009 season, we've put together a list of 12 teams expecting big things from true freshmen this season.
We decided to add a 13th entry, but the uncertain status of one player caused us to put an asterisk next to his name. The players are listed alphabetically with the exception of our asterisked player.
USC QB Matt Barkley
Michigan QBs Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson
South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore
Pittsburgh RBs Ray Graham and Dion Lewis
Auburn RB Onterio McCalebb
Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
Texas DE Alex Okafor
Oregon State OT Michael Philipp
Tennessee WRs Nu'Keese Richardson and Marsalis Teague
Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
Utah QB Jordan Wynn
*Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.