Need for speed: Fastest players on each top 25 team – ESPN

Need for speed: Fastest players on each top 25 team – ESPN

6 months ago Comments Off on Need for speed: Fastest players on each top 25 team – ESPN

Mark Schlabach’s 2016 Way-Too-Early Top 25 has Alabama and Florida State in the top two spots, with Michigan and Baylor right behind them.

This spring, we’ve taken a look at everything from the biggest team question mark to the best future presidential candidate. Our latest inquiry: Using Schlabach’s top 25, who’s the fastest player on each team?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Tony Brown, Jr., CB
Brown is the crimson blur that can be seen sprinting down the sideline on special teams. The former five-star prospect from Texas is one of the most athletic players on the team and a bona fide track star with a slew of high school records to his name. In 2015, while splitting his time between the football team and the track at Alabama, he won first place in the 60-meter hurdles at the Vanderbilt Invitational with a time of 7.89 seconds. — Alex Scarborough

2. Florida State Seminoles

Kermit Whitfield, Sr., WR
Whitfield was clocked at 4.37 in the 40-yard dash as a prep senior. He broke a 59-year-old ACC record for kickoff return average (36.4 yards) as a freshman in 2013, and scored on a 100-yard kickoff return in the BCS National Championship against Auburn. And the 5-foot-8, 180-pound senior was a state champion in the 100 and 200 meters at Jones High School in Orlando, Fla. His best 100 meters time was 10.21. — Matt Fortuna

3. Michigan Wolverines

Jehu Chesson, Sr., WR
Somewhere in the coaches’ practice notes there is empirical evidence on this topic. Michigan ran 40-yard races during most spring practices and kept track of the winners. Chesson was injured and didn’t have a chance to take the title, but his 96-yard kick return for a touchdown last season against Northwestern provides enough reason to give him the nod. — Dan Murphy

4. Baylor Bears

KD Cannon, Jr., WR
It’s hard to single out one player on a track team in football cleats, but Cannon gets the nod. He has averaged 17.57 yards per catch in two seasons for the Bears and posted a time of 10.58 in the 100 meters at the Big 12 outdoor track championships last year. — Brandon Chatmon

5. Clemson Tigers

Artavis Scott, Jr. WR
The jack-of-all-trades makes plays all over the field for Clemson: Scott caught 93 balls last season for 901 yards and six touchdowns, rushed six times for 20 yards and another touchdown, returned 13 punts for 55 yards, and returned 15 kicks for 371 yards. Few players can be trusted to handle all of those duties at once, let alone a player on the nation’s reigning runner-up. — Fortuna

6. LSU Tigers

Donte Jackson, So., CB
A few Tigers might be able to give him a run for his money — wide receiver D.J. Chark, for one — but Jackson probably holds the championship belt at LSU. After all, Jackson was also a member of the LSU track team this spring after winning multiple Louisiana state track events in his high school career. He could get the opportunity to show off those wheels as a kick returner this season. — David Ching

7. Oklahoma Sooners

Dede Westbrook, Sr., WR
The Sooners have several speedy candidates, but Westbrook is second to none. The juco transfer and Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2015, Westbrook provided a speedy receiving option in Oklahoma’s offense during its push toward a Big 12 title. — Chatmon

8. Stanford Cardinal

Isaiah Brandt-Sims, Jr., WR
This was a close call between Brandt-Sims, who posted a 10.53 in the 100-meter dash for the Cardinal track team, and running back Bryce Love, who turned in a time of 10.68 back in high school. The edge goes to Brandt-Sims, who was part of a 4×400-meter relay team that recently broke a 38-year school record. Interesting side note: Brandt-Sims outran fellow Stanford receiver Michael Rector to win two Washington state championships back in high school. — David Lombardi

9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Corey Holmes, So., WR
The Notre Dame coaching staff raved about the redshirt sophomore’s progress this spring, and with good reason: Holmes ran a 4.39 40-yard dash during the program’s winter testing. Coach Brian Kelly described Holmes as “freakish” — the 6-foot, 190-pounder has a 41-inch vertical, as well. — Fortuna

10. Ohio State Buckeyes

James Clark, Jr., WR
The Buckeyes don’t have a shortage of candidates for this honor, one which the players frequently beg to settle with races on the practice field. But Clark took matters into his own hands this spring, joining the track team and flashing his elite speed. In one of his first outings, while splitting time between football and sprinting, Clark stopped the clock in 6.76 seconds in a 60-meter dash. He has previously been timed at 10.43 over 100 meters to build his case as the fastest of the Buckeyes. — Austin Ward

11. Houston Cougars

Brandon Wilson, Sr., CB
Coach Tom Herman says it’s Wilson, and if Wilson’s special-teams exploits are any indication, that’s accurate. Wilson averaged a whopping 26.6 yards per kickoff return last season, including two touchdowns — a 100-yard return and a 94-yard return. Wilson also had an 85-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown. And although he’s a full-time cornerback, he switched to running back for two late-season games when the Cougars were hit hard by injuries at the position and wound up with a combined 181 yards and two scores on 33 carries. — Sam Khan Jr.

12. Tennessee Volunteers

Evan Berry, Jr. CB
Last year, coach Butch Jones was really excited about the speed and athleticism his younger players in the secondary possessed. He got to see a ton of that from the legs of Berry, who earned All-America status when his blazing speed helped him record three touchdowns and 804 total yards on kickoff returns. Berry averaged a nation-leading 38.3 yards per kickoff return. — Edward Aschoff

13. Ole Miss Rebels

Kailo Moore, Sr., CB
Like some other guys on this list, Moore was a two-sport star when he first got to Ole Miss. He played football in the fall and ran track in the spring. As a true freshman in the spring of 2014, he ran the anchor leg for the Rebels’ 4×100-meter relay team that advanced to the NCAA outdoor championships. His individual times in the 100 meters (10.43) and 200 meters (21.07) that year rank among the top 15 in school history. On the football field, he moved from running back to cornerback, where he recorded nine tackles this past season. — Greg Ostendorf

14. Michigan State Spartans

Donnie Corley, Fr., WR
The early enrollee has caught up quickly in East Lansing. Corley has earned much praise from the Spartans during his first few months on campus, and his breakaway speed is high on that list. He’s expected to give Michigan State a new weapon to get to the edge of opposing defenses next fall. — Murphy

15. TCU Horned Frogs

Deante Gray, Sr., WR
In high school, Gray finished fourth in the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Texas 5A state meet with a blistering time of 10.44 seconds. After missing last football season with an injury, Gray is back in the TCU lineup to give the Horned Frogs another explosive weapon. — Jake Trotter

16. USC Trojans

Adoree’ Jackson, Jr., CB
The Trojans’ multi-position star is equally versatile on the track team. Jackson placed seventh in the Pac-12 championships in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.48 and is the Pac-12 champion in the long jump. USC is stocked with players who double as track stars: Like Jackson, running back Dominic Davis is on the Trojans’ 400-meter relay team. Davis leads off; Jackson anchors. — Lombardi

17. Iowa Hawkeyes

Jonathan Parker, Jr., WR
A converted running back, Parker hung up his track spikes after high school in St. Louis. But he has not stopped sprinting. Parker starred for the Hawkeyes on kickoff returns as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and ranked eighth in the Big Ten with a 22.1-yard average last season. The opportunity exists this year for him to make an impact on offense. Advice to defenders: Don’t let Parker behind you. — Mitch Sherman

18. North Carolina Tar Heels

Ryan Switzer, Sr., WR
Switzer was clocked at 4.52 in the 40 when coming out of George Washington High (W.Va.). But that hardly told the story of a guy who tied the NCAA single-season record with five punt-return touchdowns during his freshman year at UNC in 2013. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Switzer added two more punt-return touchdowns in 2015, leaving him one off the NCAA career record of eight. — Fortuna

19. Georgia Bulldogs

Isaiah McKenzie, Jr., WR
While he is only 5-foot-8, McKenzie has another gear once he breaks into the open field. That’s part of the reason he already has returned five kicks for touchdowns in just two seasons. McKenzie’s blazing speed makes him a promising candidate to handle the ball in a variety of ways, whether it’s as a return man or receiver … or taking reverse handoffs out of the backfield. — Ching

20. Oregon Ducks

Devon Allen, So., WR
As expected, Oregon has an embarrassment of speed riches, but Allen gets the nod as he works toward making the Olympic team for the Rio Games. He was the 2014 NCAA champion in the 110 meter hurdles and is back competing this season after missing 2015 to injury. His time of 13.4 seconds is the fastest NCAA time this year. — Lombardi

21. UCLA Bruins

Ishmael Adams, Sr., CB/WR
Adams is the common answer here, though he doesn’t have the same track-and-field accolades that some of his Pac-12 counterparts have. It is clear, though, that Adams is fast: This was apparent in September 2014, when he returned a kickoff and an interception for a touchdown in the same game against Arizona State. Adams anchored the Bruins’ pass defense that led the conference last year, but he will move to receiver in 2016. — Lombardi

22. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Jhajuan Seales, Sr., WR
James Washington, the All-Big 12 deep threat, gets all the pub among the Oklahoma State receiving corps, but fellow wideout Seales is actually a step faster. A four-year rotation player, Seales is just another reason why the Cowboys have one of the most difficult offenses to cover downfield. — Trotter

23. Washington Huskies

John Ross, Jr., WR
The Huskies may have college football’s fastest player in Ross. He missed all of 2015 with a knee injury but has returned to clock a 4.25 40-yard dash this offseason. Yes, it was hand-timed, but 4.25 is still ludicrous speed, regardless of timing technique. By the way, Ross was faster than his pre-injury self (4.29),so look out for him in 2016. — Lombardi

24. Florida Gators

Chris Thompson, Sr., WR
Thompson hasn’t had a ton of production to hang is hat on as a receiver during his three-plus years with the Gators, but there’s no denying his pure speed. The former high school track star has recorded a 4.37 in the 40-yard dash and has the breakaway speed to be a home run threat on special teams and at receiver. His play at receiver has to improve, but Thompson has a real shot this fall to make a legitimate impact as a kick returner. — Aschoff

25. Boise State Broncos

Devan Demas, Sr., RB
Demas isn’t used heavily on the field — he’ll be behind all-purpose stud Jeremy McNichols again this year — but Demas is the fastest player on the Broncos’ roster. Boise State measures 40-yard dash times during their summer workout program, and Demas led the way with a 4.38 last season. He’ll look to defend his title come July. — Lombardi

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