June 3, 2010

These five players will be counted on to step up in 2010

With a new coach and a new scheme, the Central Michigan Chippewas will have their work cut out for them in their quest to stay atop the Mid-American Conference. But a new scheme and coach are not the only obstacles the Chippewas must hurdle. Gone are 13 seniors, including five (LeFevour, Brown, Gordy, Zombo, Anderson) who currently are in NFL training camps. With their departures come some very big shoes to fill, and these five current players must step up this season for CMU to stay atop the MAC.

1) R-SO quarterback Ryan Radcliff

-Radcliff will have the weight of the world on his shoulders when he takes the field for his first start this season. After a solid spring, he has all but won the starting quarterback job for 2010 and as a result, must replace arguably the best player ever to put a CMU uniform on in Dan LeFevour. It's a tough spot to be in and everyone, regardless if it's fair or not, will be comparing him to his predecessor. Radcliff has shown a live arm, but is inexperienced and is still in the beginning stages of adjusting to snaps under center. With the Chippewas looking strong on the defensive side of the ball, Radcliff won't be asked to win games with his arm next season, but he can't lose them either. Him playing consistently at QB will have a major impact on the Chippewas record next season.

2) JR defensive end Kashawn Fraser

-CMU lost three senior defensive ends to graduation and desperately need Fraser to step up and be an every down type end. He has performed well in spot duty and as a situational pass rusher, but still hasn't displayed the total package yet. Arguably as athletically gifted as any player on the defense, Fraser needs to supply a consistent pass rush for the Chippewas next season and get over the injuries that plagued him last season and in the spring.

3) SR wide receiver Kito Poblah

-The 6-foot-2 and 210 pound Poblah caught 53 passes for 681 yards and 4 touchdowns last season and has been a reliable #3 wide receiver for CMU since he stepped foot on campus. But 2010 will mark his first season without Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson to draw coverage away from him. He has a tremendous combination of size and speed but hasn't been a #1 receiver during his career. He will need to assume that role and take pressure off fellow wide receivers Jerry Harris, Cody Wilson and Matt Torres. If Poblah can successfully assimilate himself as a dependable #1 guy, he will take pressure off Radcliff as well.

4) SO running back Tim Phillips

-A lot was expected from Phillips last season after he impressed in the spring, but an ankle injury limited the freshman in 2009. Although he lost a redshirt year, Phillips is back to full strength and once again demonstrated his playmaking ability during the spring. He's a playmaker, and the Chippewas currently lack proven playmakers on offense, meaning big things are expected from him in 2010. With a veteran offensive line in front of him and the rushing offense expected to pick up, Phillips is expected to shine. He has also been used as a return man and is the top candidate to replace Brown as a returner.

5) SR defensive back Vince Agnew

-Agnew started four games in 2008 and two last season, but never locked down a starting spot. He has experience and showed flashes last season of his playmaking ability. With two starting corners graduating, Agnew will see tons of action this season with all the spread offenses in the MAC. To top it off, Agnew is also a tremendous special team's ace as demonstrated by his two blocked field goals last season. While he may not start, his experience, versatility (also plays safety), leadership and experience, will be needed next season.

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