Few things awe people more than the act of speed. I sit here writing this while the Daytona 500 plays out on my television screen, cars ripping across asphalt at nearly 200 miles an hour. The main event at the Olympic games is the 100 meter dash. In college football, our fastest players have quite often been amongst the most celebrated.
Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson came along and spent three seasons simply running right by defenders. They gave way to Ted Ginn who capped his career with a kick return touchdown that was Ohio State's lone highlight in January's BCS Championship Game.
But now that those guys are gone, who is left to fill the void as captivating speedster?
For players already on college rosters, Clemson has two of the zoom zoomiest around in receiver/returner Jacoby Ford and tailback CJ Spiller, both sophomores. There are other players out there yet to make their mark and we'll be on the lookout for them. One such burner is Jamere Holland, a redshirt freshman receiver at USC who clocked somewhere in the 10.3 range in the 100 meters in high school.
Florida sophomore receiver Percy Harvin is also a superb choice, weaving expertly through defenses any time he so much as has a step on a defender. West Virginia junior tailback Steve Slaton has excellent speed and is a worthy candidate. Junior Arkansas tailback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Darren McFadden is an obvious selection here. Finally, there is junior Texas tailback Jamaal Charles who ran somewhere in the 10.2 range in high school and owns several long touchdown runs to his name.
Among incoming recruits, many people have made comparisons between Louisiana's Joe McKnight (a USC signee) and Reggie Bush, but McKnight is probably a step slower with a personal best of 10.71. There are some reports of him having clocked a 10.4, but I have yet to find anything legitimate and official backing that up. He's definitely a playmaker but I'm not sure he's quite in that class of guy who simply runs right by college defenders as Peterson and Bush and Ginn were able to do.
My nominee among this year's incoming freshmen to fill the speed vacuum would be tailback Jahvid Best, a 10.41 runner who has signed with California.
Noble reader: now that you've seen my list, I ask you now who else should be under consideration as an impact player with awe-inspiring speed? Feel free to leave a comment below.