Brackins, Smith highlight freshmen class

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2002

Sports Editor

If you’re going to throw the ball around, you might as well find some guys that can go catch it.

The Troy State Trojans return basically their entire receiving unit from a year ago, but those starters could be pushed heavily come fall practice if a number of freshmen live up to what’s expected of them.

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Troy State’s 2002 recruiting class is heavy on pass catchers (six total) and light on pass defenders (no defensive backs signed out of 19 players).

Here’s a look what could be the top five newcomers to Troy State’s football program next season:

Larry Brackins, Dothan High School, Dothan, Ala. (6-5, 200), WR: The Tigers’ Brackins was listed as one of the Top 12 senior football players in the state by both the Montgomery Advertiser and Birmingham News. Yet neither Alabama nor Auburn came calling. The reason? Brackins may not qualify, meaning he’ll have to go the JUCO route. A superbly talented athlete, TSU head coach Larry Blakeney said Brackins reminds him of Lawyer Tillman, the former All-SEC Auburn wide out, who Blakeney coached on the Plains. "He (Brackins), not only has the potential to play at this level, but I believe the next level," said Blakeney.

Toris Rutledge, North Marion High School, Reddick, Fla. (6-3, 175), WR: Another player Blakeney likes a lot. And for good reason. Rutledge has the size offensive coordinator John Shannon looks for in his outside receivers and the speed. His numbers aren’t that impressive (27 catches, 581 yards), but what high school receiver’s, (outside Randy Moss), ever is? He was selected "All-Gridiron Dream Team" by the Sunshine Network.

Torrence "Boo" Smith, Garner High School, Raleigh, N.C. (6-1, 235), LB: Smith may turn into the Trojans’ version of Takeo Spikes by the time his sophomore and junior seasons roll around. The best of the three linebackers signed by Troy State this year, Smith recorded 186 tackles and 15 sacks his senior year at Garner. He benches 410 pounds, squats 600 and runs the 40-yard dash in a not-too-shabby 4.6 seconds. And those numbers are only going to get better once TSU Strength and Conditioning Coach Richard Shaughnessy gets hold of him.

Brenton Thomas, Pebblebrook High School, Mableton, Ga., (6-0, 185), RB: Thomas is simply a steal for the Trojans and was listed as one of the top eight running backs in the state of Georgia by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As a junior, he was named Class AAAA Player of the Year. He rushed for over 3,000 yards in his final two years at Pebblebrook and reached the endzone 48 times.

Drew Amerson, Morse HS/Cal-State Northridge, San Diego, Ca., (6-0, 170), WR: Amerson came to Troy in October and liked what he saw. This despite the fact that the Trojans handed his former team, Cal-State, a 44-31 loss. The Matadors disbanded their football program following the 2001 season, so Amerson was looking for a place to finish out his senior season. A quick wide out, who had a 42-yard run against the Trojans, Amerson could be just what Shannon is looking for at one of the slot positions in the ‘Trojan Spread’.