Bruce Feldman lists the Top 10 Spring Performers, DeMarco Murray #1Posted: May 9, 2007
1. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma: No one is intimating that the Sooners aren’t going to miss the great Adrian Peterson, but it looks like the Sooners are still in really good shape in the post-AP era. Hard-running Allen Patrick will provide the toughness and the explosive Murray, a redshirt freshman from Vegas will provide the burst. Murray, a stunning blend of moves and speed, averaged over 11 yards per carry in OU’s three spring scrimmages. He also has very good hands.
2. Rejus Benn, WR, Illinois: Big, fast and confident, Benn lit up the Illini spring, teaming with Juice Williams to give Ron Zook some hope to at least double the win total from last year. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound frosh caught five passes for 145 yards in the Illini’s spring game. Three plays went for 30 yards or more. Benn, a much-needed big-play threat, is a huge reason why Williams (39.5 percent completion rate) should be one of the country’s most improved players in 2007.
3. Cullen Harper, QB, Clemson: The Willy Korn Era in Tigerland is on hold for a little while thanks to the emergence of the Georgia-native. Listening to someone close to the Tigers program, Harper, a junior, was a guy most folks around there had already written off. From the way he played during the spring, completing 42 of 64 passes for 447 yards in three spring scrimmages, it had some folks shaking their heads wondering why the coaches didn’t give him a shot when Will Proctor was struggling so much last season.
4. Brandon Bair, DE, Oregon: The 6-7, 250-pound Idaho-native will actually be a 23-year-old freshman this season after having served two years on a mission, but he certainly appeared to be in a hurry to make an impact on the Ducks D this spring. The one-time tight end prospect was all over the field in spring scrimmages and might’ve won a starting job on the revamped Oregon line.
5. Graig Cooper, RB-KR, Miami: The Canes haven’t had a true home-run hitting threat in their backfield since Willis McGahee was in Coral Gables, but the 5-11, 195-pound Cooper did enough to have UM insiders excited. In fact, Cooper, a dynamic combination of speed and shiftiness, was so impressive early in the spring he had former UM star Edgerrin James saying that Cooper, not his own cousin Javarris James was the best back Miami had. In reality, if the Canes are to get back to national prominence this fall, they’ll need both backs to take some heat off the QB situation there.
6. Greg Matthews, WR, Michigan: There are quite a few questions about the Wolverine receiving corps coming out of the spring (most notably the status of suspended WR Adrian Arrington and the return of injured Mario Manningham), but the 6-2 Matthews came through with a strong performance showing reliable hands.
7. David Bruton, DB, Notre Dame: The Irish are desperate for defensive help and Bruton might have been their best player for much of the spring. He returned a pick for a touchdown and had a few big hits in their spring game, winning MVP honors. He should bring some much-needed speed into the secondary.
8. Louie Murphy, WR, Florida: Urban Meyer wasn’t short on receiving talent to begin with, but Murphy, perhaps his most polished wideout, came through with a great spring. The 6-2, 199-pound junior, who only had two receptions in 2006, caught eight passes for 129 yards in the Gators spring game.
9. Neefy Moffett, DE, FSU: The FSU coaches no longer ride him for being lazy as the speedy edge rusher has really begun to mature for them both physically and mentally. Moffett came to FSU as a 215-pounder and now is around 250, but looks just as quick as ever. From sources inside FSU, Jimbo Fisher couldn’t stop raving about him.
10. Brandon Gibson, WR, Washington State: The Cougars will miss departed star Jason Hill, but Gibson, a junior, showed play-making skills that had the coaches optimistic, scoring on one long touchdown reception and another TD on an 89-yard kickoff return in the spring game. He should team with the very underrated Alex Brink for an exciting combination in the fall.
Just Missed the Cut: Maurice Moore, WR, Wisconsin; Larry Grant, LB, OSU; Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech; Reid Neely, OG, Ole Miss; Joe Craddock, QB, Middle Tennessee; Knowshon Moreno, TB, Georgia; Matt Robinson, DE, Wake Forest; Joe Dailey, WR, UNC; Scott Lutrus, LB, UConn.