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August 22, 2006

Plenty of transfers could make big impact

Coaches are hoping good things come to those who wait. Teams around the country are expecting transfers to play key roles this season.

Some coaches in particular are counting on Division I-A transfers, most of which have to sit out a year before becoming eligible, for major makeovers.

Arizona State looked to Northwestern (Loren Howard), Florida (Tranell Morant) and BYU (Michael Marquardt) to revamp its defensive line.

Ole Miss hopes to give its offense a facelift with quarterback Brent Schaeffer and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Louisville added to its depth at wide receiver with three Division I transfers Patrick Carter (Georgia Tech), Chris Vaughn (Notre Dame) and Corey Thompson (Duke).

Few will benefit more from transfers than UNLV, which hopes it added a starting quarterback (Rocky Hinds from USC), two starting cornerbacks (Eric Wright from USC and Mil'Von James from UCLA) and a starting safety (Tony Cade from Oklahoma).

Here are Rivals.com's top 10 impact non-freshman newcomers:

Rivals.com 2006 Preseason Impact Transfers
1. Arizona State defensive end Loren Howard (from Northwestern)
A three-year starter at Northwestern, Howard is in the Wildcats' record book with 11 career sacks and 34 tackles for loss both good for fifth in school history. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound Scottsdale, Ariz., native should step into a starting spot this season and become one of the top defensive ends in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils bolstered their defensive line with two other Division I-A transfers, defensive tackle Michael Marquardt from BYU and defensive end Tranell Morant from Florida. The three transfers could mean the difference between a middle-of-the-pack team and a conference title contender.
2. South Carolina linebacker Jasper Brinkley (from junior college)
Jasper arrived in Columbia, S.C., earlier than his twin brother, Casper, earning a starting spot at middle linebacker during spring drills. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Jasper "looks like those linebackers that play at Georgia and Tennessee and those other places." The Gamecocks will need him if they are to improve a rush defense that allowed 174.3 yards per game last year.
3. Ole Miss quarterback Brent Schaeffer (from junior college)
Before stepping on campus and before qualifying, the former Tennessee quarterback was named Ole Miss' starter. The Rebels are counting on Schaeffer, who started three games for the Volunteers in 2004. Ole Miss hopes he jump-starts the nation's 111th-ranked offense with his arm (2,970 passing yards and 40 touchdowns at the College of the Sequoias) and legs (860 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns).
4. Illinois offensive tackle Akim Millington (from Oklahoma)
The former four-star recruit was on the cusp of starting for Oklahoma when he transferred back to his home state in 2005 after the death of a relative. He qualified for a hardship and will be immediately eligible. At Illinois, he became an immedaiate starter and one of the team's top players. The Illini will need the 6-foot-6, 310-pound junior to rebuild the offensive line if they hope to escape the Big Ten cellar.
5. Oklahoma State wide receiver Adarius Bowman (from North Carolina)
Bowman was the fifth-ranked wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com when he signed with North Carolina in 2003. In 18 games at North Carolina, he caught 28 passes for 510 yards with the Tar Heels but Oklahoma State will benefit from Bowman entering his prime. Along with returning starter D'Juan Woods (879 yards, eight touchdowns), Bowman will give the Cowboys a formidable pairing at receiver.
6. Louisville wide receiver Patrick Carter (from Georgia Tech)
Carter was the Yellow Jackets' punt returner in 2004, but will join the Cardinals as a wide receiver complement to All-Big East performer Mario Urrutia. With Joshua Tinch and Montrell Jones gone, Carter will get plenty of opportunities in Louisville's high-powered offense. As a sprinter on the track team who stands at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Carter will be a big, speedy target for quarterback Brian Brohm.
7. Arizona defensive end Louis Holmes (from junior college)
The No. 1 junior college recruit in the country, the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Holmes should step in and become an immediate starter at defensive end even though he missed spring drills and the start of fall camp to work on academics. Along with second-team All-American cornerback Antoine Cason, Holmes should further improve the conference's No. 2 pass defense for a team that's trying to reach its first bowl game since 1998.
8. Nebraska cornerback Andre Jones (from junior college)
The knee injury that will keep starting cornerback Zackary Bowman out for the year will make Jones' arrival that much more important. Jones, a five-star prospect ranked fourth among junior college transfers, probably will start alongside cornerback Cortney Grixby, the only healthy corner on the roster with starting experience.
9. Ole Miss running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (from Indiana)
Along with quarterback Brent Schaeffer, Green-Ellis will reshape the Rebels' backfield. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound back rushed for 938 yards and seven touchdowns as a true freshman with the Hoosiers in 2003. He added 794 rushing yards on 231 carries in 2004, his last year in Bloomington, Ind. Ole Miss was 116th in the country last year in rushing with 73.3 yards per game on the ground.
10. Florida State offensive lineman Shannon Boatman (from junior college)
The 6-foot-7, 309-pound offensive tackle earned himself a starting job on the Seminoles' offensive line through spring practice and continued to impress during summer workouts. The junior college All-American will be a welcome addition to a line that struggled last season. He'll line up at right tackle.
Best of the rest
11. UNLV quarterback Rocky Hinds (from Southern California)
12. Auburn defensive tackle Greg Smith (from junior college)
13. Pittsburgh offensive lineman Jeff Otah (from junior college)
14. Florida cornerback Ryan Smith (from Utah)
15. Ohio State linebacker Larry Grant (from junior college)
16. Texas A&M linebacker Mark Dodge (from junior college)
17. North Carolina quarterback Joe Dailey (from Nebraska)
18. UNLV cornerback Eric Wright (from Southern California)
19. New Mexico State wide receiver Akieem Jolla (from Miami)
20. Iowa State linebacker Tyrone McKenzie (from Michigan State)
21. Colorado defensive tackle Brandon Nicolas (from Notre Dame)
22. Tulsa running back Courtney Tennial (from Oklahoma)
23. Oklahoma quarterback Joey Halzle (from junior college)
24. Vanderbilt quarterback Richard Kovalcheck (from Arizona)
25. California offensive guard Tyler Krieg (from Duke)
The Rivals Five
Forget the NFL draft, several players found more creative ways to leave school early this offseason. Here are five departures that will shape the season:
1. Oklahoma quarterback Rhett Bomar
The Sooners, a national championship contender, kicked their starting quarterback and a projected starter on the offensive line off the team after they accepted extra payment at their summer jobs at a car dealership. This is a move that will change the Big 12 and national title pictures.
2. Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick
The Hokies got an early start on college football's rocky offseason by dismissing Vick in January for on-field and off-field conduct. Had Vick remained with the Hokies, they could have been an ACC favorite
3. Minnesota running back Gary Russell
Russell's failure to qualify academically and enroll in classes means the Gophers will have try to find one of their trademark 1,000-yard backs elsewhere. Russell ran for 1,130 yards and 18 touchdowns behind Laurence Maroney.
4. Texas running back Ramonce Taylor
Taylor, who accounted for more than 1,200 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns last season, left the team following a suspension in January and arrest in May. With Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young in the backfield, the Longhorns should remain in good shape despite the loss.
5. Florida cornerback Avery Atkins
Atkins was scheduled to start at one cornerback spot in Florida's thin secondary before he was released from his scholarship in June. In his place converted safety Reggie Nelson will start at one spot while converted wide receiver Reggie Lewis and Utah transfer Ryan Smith will compete for the other.

More Preseason Player Rankings:
Quarterbacks | Running backs | Offensive linemen | Kickers/Punters | Wider receivers | Tight ends

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