Early enrollees making an impact
Russell Shepard, QB (LSU)
This country may be short on greenbacks, but not greenshirts. According to a USA Today survey, 105 players graduated high school early and enrolled at their colleges in time for spring football in 2008, up from just 15 in 2002. Rivals tabbed this year's total at 103, but many expect the final count to surpass the '08 total. The jump start benefits some more than others, however. With that in mind, here are the early enrollees who made the biggest impact this spring.<br><br>Shepard was the crown-jewel of LSU's recruiting class, which Rivals.com ranked No. 2 behind Alabama's, and he's lived up to the hype since arriving in Baton Rouge. While the Tigers recruited Shepard as a QB, coach Les Miles has made it clear the dynamic freshman will wear multiple hats for LSU this fall as a versatile offensive threat.
William Campbell, DT | Tate Forcier, QB | Vincent Smith, RB (Michigan)
Michigan's thin at defensive tackle, so Campbell's head start on conditioning makes it that much more likely he'll see substantial playing time this fall. On the other side of the ball, many Michigan folks expected Smith, a highly touted but undersized back, to redshirt his freshman season while packing on bulk. His impressive spring has eliminated that possibility and ensured Smith will see some snaps this season. Forcier, meanwhile, took advantage of incumbent Nick Sheridan's broken leg and fellow freshman Denard Robinson's delayed arrival to play his way to an early lead in the QB race.
Zeke Motta, LB (Notre Dame)
Manti Te'o generated more buzz than fellow linebacker signee Motta, but the latter has already made a move up the charts thanks to an early arrival. He recorded a game-best seven tackles in Notre Dame's spring game, after which coach Charlie Weis conceded Motta still has a ways to go before he's ready to compete mentally, but gushed over his young linebacker's physical gifts.
Storm Klein, LB (Ohio State)
When a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter asked Klein if he felt like he belonged alongside the Big Ten champs instead of in high school, Klein shot back: "I know I belong. I can play with anybody." Plenty of Buckeyes stand between Klein and the top of the depth chart, but he's shown heart and ability.
Kevin Newsome, QB (Penn State)
Joe Paterno doesn't allow true freshman to meet with the press, but the Penn State staff has spent plenty of time praising its dual-threat youngster for the desire to improve and the mobility he's displayed this spring while cementing himself as Daryll Clark's backup.
Casey Pachall, QB (TCU)
Early enrollment doesn't benefit everyone. Just ask Brian Smith. TCU pulled the plug on the student journalist's video reports after he said Pachall looked good enough this spring to unseat incumbent starter Andy Dalton.
Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Offensive lineman Mason Walters' early arrival generated the most buzz among Longhorns fans, but Okafor made the biggest impact. He's competing for playing time opposite Sergio Kindle and could help ease the pain caused by star Brian Orakpo's NFL departure.
Matt Barkley, QB (USC)
Barkley arrived at USC as one of the most highly touted recruits in the 2009 class and wasted no time making himself a factor in USC's three-man QB race. While Aaron Corp emerged from spring ball with a slight edge, Barkley gained a strong hold on the No. 2 spot over the more experienced Mitch Mustain, the 2005 Parade POY and Arkansas transfer. Barkley will keep nipping at Corp's heels through preseason camps.
Jordan Wynn, QB (Utah)
When spring ball began, juniors Terrance Cain and Corbin Louks were battling to replace Brian Johnson as the Utes' QB. But Wynn quickly began impressing coach Kyle Whittingham, and now the early enrollee could end up starting for a Utah team looking to follow up an undefeated 2008 season with a strong 2009 campaign.
Logan Heastie, WR (WVU)
Heastie's spring quest got off to a bumpy start due to NCAA eligibility issues over high school math credits, but he made the most of his spring once cleared to play, packing on bulk (reportedly as much as 23 pounds) to complement his field-stretching speed.