15 Players You've (Probably) Never Heard Of To Watch This College Football Season
The 2012 college football season kicks off today and your average fan knows all the top players in the nation, more specifically who's already on Heisman watch. But who are the guys just under the radar who will make an impact and make watching games this season worthwhile? Lucky for you, we have 15 of them and video evidence of each to back our claims up. Here are 15 Players You've (Probably) Never Heard of To Watch This College Football Season.
School: North Carolina State Position: CB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 13 INT (2 returned for TD) When NFL scouts talk about lockdown corners, they might as well just hold up a picture of NC State's Amerson. The tall, rangy, 6'3" corner and his 13 (!!!) interception performance in 2011 have every opposing offensive coordinator shook in 2012.
School: Ohio State Position: QB Year: Sophomore 2011 Stats: Passing: 85 CMP on 157 ATT for 1,159 YDS with 13 TD and 4 INT; Rushing: 159 ATT for 715 YDS and 7 TD Miller showed sparks of greatness as a true frosh last season, and will now have a full offseason under dual-threat QB miracle worker Urban Meyer (see: Tebow, Tim). Look for him to show out, and, presumably, steer clear of tattoo parlors.
School: Michigan State Position: LB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 10 sacks A sack specialist and spark plug of a linebacker who will do just about anything to make the play, Allen will be leading a Spartans defense that seems to come out of nowhere every year and finished in the top 10 in scoring defense last season. Michigan State is coming off of two consecutive 11-win seasons, but are still looking to go to the first BCS bowl game in school history; if they hope to break through this year they'll need a big season from Allen.
School: Washington Position: QB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 242 CMP on 363 ATT for 3,063 YDS with 33 TD and 11 INT Playing in the sleepy Pacific Northwest kept Price largely off the national radar during his impressive sophomore season. Going score for score with Heisman winner RG3 in the Alamo Bowl put him on the map. Price's big play capability will make him the most talked about QB west of the Rockies not named Barkley.
School: Oklahoma State Position: RB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 208 ATT for 1,216 yds with 24 TD Randle is the latest in a ridiculously good line of college runners to rock a Cowboys jersey. If he has another 24 touchdown season in 2012, you can go ahead put him at No. 3 on that list (behind Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders).
School: USC Position: WR Year: Sophomore 2011 Stats: 73 REC for 1,143 YDS and 11 TD Lee just might be the best player on a stacked USC offense that includes another "All-Everything" wideout in Robert Woods, and a leading Heisman candidate in Matt Barkley. Hailing from across town in Inglewood, Lee will be a true sophomore on this year's Trojan squad that figures to challenge for the BCS Title.
School: LSU Position: DE Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 8 sacks With a nickname like KeKe (Key-Key) you better be the most gangster cat in any room you walk in. Bayou Bengals junior OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo is that dude, a 6'5" 240 pound hybrid who runs a 4.5 forty and will be the unquestioned leader of LSU's almost pro defense. He'll also be looking to add on to last season's eight sacks.
School: Tennessee Position: QB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 147 CMP on 247 ATT for 1,983 YDS with 17 TD and 6 INT Consider Bray's numbers for a second, then add to that the fact that your man missed five games last season. If he stays healthy, the Vols, who are returning 18 starters, could be in for a big season in the SEC East.
School: TCU Position: QB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 228 CMP on 343 ATT for 2,921 YDS with 24 TD and 7 INT Remember when you watched old NFL replays and guys like Warren Moon and Dan Marino threw those perfect spirals that seemed like they made everything around them go in slow motion? That's the kind of ball Pachall throws, and if he can stay out of the news (this offseason Pachall failed a drug test--two weeks before his roommate was arrested as part of a drug sting), look for his name at the top of the passer rating list at season's end.
School: Oregon Position: QB Year: Freshman 2011 Stats: None Mariota's gotta have skills, as he'll be taking the reigns of Oregon's high flying offense after unseating heir apparent Bryan Bennett. Whoever holds it down for Oregon under center is always worth a look.
School: Texas Position: DE Year: Senior 2011 Stats: 58 tackles and 7 sacks While the jury's still out on the Horns offense, their defense could be among the top 5 in the country. Veteran d-line menace, Okafor is a big reason for that. Next spring, after he's done terrorizing opposing quarterbacks and picking up an All-American honors, he'll be a for sure 1st or 2nd round pick in the NFL Draft.
School: Georgia Tech Position: QB Year: Senior 2011 Stats: Passing: 74 CMP on 150 ATT for 1,652 with 11 TD and 8 INT; Rushing: 243 ATT for 987 YDS and 15 TD Washington is the perfect fit for Paul Johnson's unique, high-scoring spread option offense, and has made gains every season since becoming a starter in 2010. He'll face an immediate challenge on Labor Day evening when the Rambling Wreck square off with their ACC rival Virginia Tech.
School: Missouri Position: QB Year: Junior 2011 Stats: Passing: 238 CMP on 376 ATT for 2,865 YDS with 21 TDs and 11 INT; Rushing: 217 ATT for 918 YDS and 15 TD The Tigers are holding heavy artillery in the form dual threat QB James Franklin, as they head into their inaugural SEC season. He's accurate, fast, and big enough to deal with the punishment that awaits. Franklin will also be leading a talented Tiger O, that will challenge for the SEC East title.
School: SMU Position: RB Year: Senior 2011 Stats: 208 ATT for 1,224 YDS and 17 TD Line might be the best running back nobody talks about, but he's been absolutely owning defenses since he was named starter in 2010. We'll spare you with the coded "throwback" label, but dude is a load, shifty, and hard as hell to bring down.
School: Washington State Position: WR Year: Junior 2011 Stats: 82 catches for 1,388 YDS and 12 TD Wilson dominated as a sophomore, but look for him to explode on to the national scene in Mike Leach's offense.