There's been some talk in the past month or so about the quality of the top 1-8 players on our football team, as compared to when Coach Johnson took over. (He said that player quality from 1 through 85 has improved without a doubt, though 1 through 8 may have declined some.) That begs the question of how much one superstar, 5-star, blue-chip recruit could change our program. That said, if in some fantasyland we were told we could have any 5-star player on the market for pure football purposes, what position would he play and why?
LilBroey700 -- I'd have to say the one position we could use more than anything would be a D-Lineman. I say this because our offense is built in a way that it prevents a focus from being put on any one player (like how Baylor leaned pretty heavily on RGIII to make plays, or Alabama leaned fairly heavily on Ingram & Richardson). To me, that means that the superstar would have to play defense. From there, I think we could really use a D-Lineman that can singlehandedly create a pass rush and demand a double-team from blockers. We really haven't had anyone to that effect since Derrick Morgan left, and that one elite pass-rusher seems to be a pretty sizeable hole on our team at this point -- one that will get much larger once Jeremiah Attaochu graduates this fall.
acedarney -- The 1-8 comment really stems from the fact that, when Coach Johnson arrived, the best players on the team were becoming upperclassmen. In 2009, the best players on the team were Juniors. I think the biggest problem the past couple years is that the best players on the team were Freshmen and hadn't really moved up above the upperclassmen on the depth chart. Once the players that we feel are special start to move up the depth chart (Lee, Autry, Waller, Kallon, Gotsis, etc.) the 1-8 will have the chance to be on par with that 2008-2009 crowd. As far as where a playmaker would make the biggest impact, that would be pass rusher or quarterback. We'll see what we have at quarterback this season, but I don't see a pass rusher of that caliber out there.
davidkgagne -- I agree with what you guys have said so far, mostly. One stand-out player on offense is unlikely to make a huge difference, since so much of the offensive gameplan relies on timing, execution, and collective coordination rather than individual talent. So, to the defensive side of the ball, and I'm going to go a different direction. I think the most important player, since we are moving to a 4-3 system is a middle linebacker who can cover the field sideline to sideline and plug gaps against the run. While one elite pass rusher is an incredible thing to have, they are often completely useless in run defense and can leave you exposed against the run. I'd rather have 2 balanced guys on both sides of the 4 down linemen, who are pretty equal with each other, so that the opposing offense can't simply attack one guy's weakness all day. Remember what Gio Bernard did to us the last few years?
Atlanta's original team -- It is tough to have to follow the comments of really astute observers, especially when I agree with almost everything that has been said. CPJ has been building depth in this team ever since the great depletion of 2009. I agree wholeheartedly with acedarney that we are going to see some of the star power move to the top of the depth chart. I feel like we have seen that a little already with the play of our linebackers last year. As to the question of game changer, if you are talking defense, I side with Joey on this one. A defensive lineman who makes the opposing offense have to plan around him would be huge. But let me throw out a different game changer. What if this team had a five star, lightning fast big receiver with good hands? I rest my case.
millsgt49 -- I would love to have another Calvin Johnson, but I don't think the marginal benefit to our offense would be as much as what you would get at other positions. Sure it was fun to watch Demaryius go, but receivers are still wide open now as much as ever. Given our current team I think you would have to put Jadeveon Clowney on the D-line. Dude is a beast at a huge position of need. Plus who wouldn't want to see Clowney at B-Back??
orientalnc -- I disagree (surprise!) with you guys. I think the offense needs a play-maker at B-back who can force the middle of the defensive line to play honest. Dwyer and Allen had the ability to break clean and go for 10-20 yards on almost any play. We have lacked that in our backfield the past two years. As a result, the option to the A-back is not working as well. Option football depends on the threat of a breakaway inside. Last year, I thought that would be Sims role, but he never improved beyond where he was when he moved to B-back. I don't know who it might be this year either, but it would sure help to have a guy like that again. On defense, I agree. We need a pass rusher who requires a double team. When we have 1-8 guys are really threats at their position, then it matters. That said, I would rather have 85 guys in the 3-4 star range than 8 guys with 5 stars who think they are the team.
TBuzz - I want my 5-star guy to be a QB. Not only is he the guy who handles the ball the most, but if he's a leader he can single-handedly impact the performance of the other 10 on offense. Plus, out of any position on the team, other recruits will want to play for a stud QB on a winning team. As Brandon Spikes famously said when he met Tim Tebow on a recruiting trip to Alabama..."I'm going where he's going."
chas.plaisance -- I agree with Doug. Every great team has someone on offense who can tear defenses apart. I know we always say its about the whole unit, but that one threat can always be explosive when you need him. But I also think that the D-Lineman would really help too. That's why this is so hard. Honestly, I think to Logan Thomas at VT and am amazed how much of an athlete he is. I hate saying this about any VT player, but I love the way he can just tear defenses apart. He's such a serious threat. As I say this though, you look at Vad and I think that he can develop into this same threat. He already has so much potential. TBuzz, don't you think Vad has some potential? Maybe not as a "coming in" 5 Star, and I am not saying he's going to be a 5 star player, but I think he is going to do great things here in the next few years. We need an explosive, knock-you-in-the-mouth RB. Someone who defenses don't want to risk being in the open field. It will end up opening up other players to make big plays too.
Atlanta's original team -- Interesting thought about the QB. I guess I figured we would usually get a 3 or 4 star recruit at that position and develop them. A 5 star recruit at quarterback only comes around once every few years or so and their success rate in college never struck me as being any better than some 2 star recruits at that position. Not trying to be argumentative, I guess I understood the question to be about someone who could start almost immediately or at the very least be ready in one year to be an impact player of highest proportion. Quarterbacks rarely seem to fit that bill and usually take time to develop.
GTNate -- Late to the party, but I think that a superstar doesn't really have that much ACTUAL impact on what happens on the field. I think it's more of a mental thing; "Oh good, here comes that kid who's out of this world, we can't lose with him on the field!" However, I really don't think one player could make a huge difference. I agree with Joey that we could a standout DT to give us one or two more sacks per game, but I think that's all the value that a superstar kid would bring (that is, one or two plays per game).
acedarney -- But Nate, one or two plays per game, especially if they come late in the game, is the difference between six wins and ten wins. Also, that's why you don't pick offensive guard or something here. You want to pick a guy that's going to affect the game the most. A quarterback handles the ball on every play, so he's more likely to make those one or two plays count. A defensive lineman can make a big third down stop (see Derrick Morgan v. Clemson) or get a sack-strip kind of play and change the game. And AOT, I don't think the question was about the likelihood that any given player will pan out. I took it to mean that the player was a guaranteed playmaker, and where would we want him on our team in particular? I picked a pass rusher because I think our quarterback situation is pretty solid.
orientalnc -- I agree with Dale, but this is an interesting topic for FTRS readers. My take on this is leaning more toward a pass rusher than a QB. The chances of us signing a 5-star QB are far less than a game changing D-lineman or running back.
Atlanta's original team -- Again, given the differences of opinion from this group, if I were to try to build a consensus among us I would lobby for the defensive lineman for sure. Last year we would have beaten VT, Miami and maybe even Clemson if we had gotten a key stop from a defensive lineman.
Whose side are you on here, readers?