30 Most Fascinating People - No. 11 to 20
UCLA RB Myles Jack
30 Most Fascinating People - No. 11 to 20. Who are the most interesting people in the college football world?
Okay, so the Dos Equis man's title is safe for another year. College football, though, still harbors some very interesting characters, both on and away from the field.
A select handful of players, coaches and administrators are going to generate maximum attention and headlines over the next 12 months. Everyone has a story. The following people have angles so compelling that they warrant being talked about long before the opening kickoff of the new season.
No. 1 to 10. Petrino, Franklin, Golson
No. 21 to 30. Marshall, Urban, Kiel
20. Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini
When did consistency become so doggone irritating?
Pelini has lost exactly four games in each of his six seasons in Lincoln. He's 58-24 overall. He's also firmly on the hot seat entering 2014, bearing the brunt of the reality that Nebraska is still fracking for its first conference championship of the 21st century. Of course, Pelini's temper, both on the sideline and when a mic is in his face, has done no favors to his job security. The coach seems to have the support of Husker legend Tom Osborne, which is the vote of confidence that matters most in these parts. Still, Pelini can use a quieter season, preferably one that ends with fewer than four defeats.
19. QB Max Browne, USC
Steve Sarkisian failed to ink the nation's top-rated high school quarterback in 2013. In an odd twist of fate, he inherits him at Troy.
Browne has many of the attributes needed to become the next great Trojan pocket passer, but first he'll have to unseat incumbent Cody Kessler. Kessler showed steady improvement a year ago, capping a solid finish by outdueling Fresno State's Derek Carr in the Las Vegas Bowl. Browne, though, appears to have a higher ceiling, blending a 6-5 frame with outstanding arm talent. Sark is installing an up-tempo, no-huddle offense similar to the one Browne ran at Skyline (Wash.) High School, adding a twist to an already intriguing quarterback battle.
18. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
Now that Petty has introduced himself to a large chunk of the nation, he's poised to become a household name.
Petty was prolific running Art Briles' fast-paced offense, a fantasy football GM's dream. He accounted for 46 touchdowns and 4,409 yards, while throwing just three interceptions. And it was his first season as the Bear starter. Expectations will be even higher in 2014. Petty is a year older and more experienced, and the ankle that reportedly hampered him late last year is all better. Think better overall decisions, more keepers on the zone-read and even gaudier numbers than last fall.
17. QB Keenan Reynolds, Navy
A member of a service academy has won the Heisman Trophy five times, but it hasn't happened in more than a half-century, when Navy QB Roger Staubach nabbed the honor in 1963. Can Reynolds make a historic run to glory this fall?
Sure, Reynolds is a longshot, but you can bank on him getting pockets of passionate support throughout this season. Really, what's not to like about a Midshipman fresh off one of the best seasons ever in the long and storied history of Navy football? As a sophomore, Reynolds rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 touchdowns, an NCAA record for a quarterback, and threw for 1,057 yards and eight more scores. The Mids open with Ohio State in Baltimore in a must-see game showcase showdown for voters wanting to champion the total package in a student-athlete.
16. Washington head coach Chris Petersen
Someone finally lured Petersen out of Idaho. Now, let's see how he performs in a tougher league and with more pressure than he ever faced at Boise State.
If Petersen enhances what Steve Sarkisian started in Seattle, he'll break a trend that's seen former Broncos Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins stumble at Arizona State and Colorado, respectively. Petersen lasted longer than expected at Boise State, eight years, perennially turning down offers. Now that he's at a higher-profile outfit, it'll be interesting to see if he can maintain the magic and the penchant for coaching up players that he enjoyed for so long as a BCS buster out of the WAC and the Mountain West.
15. RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Potential doesn't amount to a whole lot until the games begin, but Fournette sure does look as if he might be a once-every-decade type back.
Big. Fast. Smart. Motivated. Fournette possesses an exciting mix of skills, especially at a position where rookies often make a smooth transition from high school to college. Yeah, comparisons are never fair, but it's hard not to see a young Adrian Peterson when the tape of Fournette begins to roll. Oh, and the five-star stud happened to choose a program that was in the market for a feature back after Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue left early for the NFL Draft.
14. OC Doug Nussmeier, Michigan
The Wolverines need a new direction. Head coach Brady Hoke hopes he found it in Tuscaloosa.
Hoke made what appears to be a shrewd hire, replacing Al Borges with Nussmeier, Nick Saban's former offensive coordinator at Bama. Nussmeier has a budding reputation as a developer of quarterbacks, and he's inherited a couple of talented ones in senior Devin Gardner and sophomore Shane Morris. The 43-year-old has a future as a head coach. For now, though, he's just hoping to help save the job of the coach giving him another high-profile opportunity in a different region of the country.
13. DC Jeremy Pruitt, Georgia
When a coordinator leaves a national champ, it's almost always for a promotion to a head coaching position. Pruitt is an intriguing exception to conventional wisdom.
Pruitt has dreamt of coaching for Mark Richt at Georgia for a decade, and he got his chance after Todd Grantham accepted an offer to be on Bobby Petrino's staff at Louisville. Pruitt has been on the fast track since leaving the high school ranks for Tuscaloosa in 2007. In 2013, he did a bang-up job with a Florida State defense that led the nation in scoring D. Pruitt has been on the staff of the last three national champions, and now he inherits an emerging Bulldog defense brimming with untapped potential.
12. QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mariota had a very good sophomore year by anyone's standard. Not good enough, in his opinion.
Throw out the numbers when evaluating Mariota; they'll always be impressive, especially in the Oregon offense. The sophomore failed to hit his mark in 2013 because a partially torn MCL limited his full potential down the stretch, and because his Ducks lost two of their final four regular season games. A healthy Mariota is back for his junior year, instead of preparing for the NFL Draft, in an attempt to erase last November's memories and lead his team back into the Pac-12 penthouse.
11. LB Myles Jack, UCLA
If Jack improves on his smashing debut with the Bruins, Marvel Comics might be forced to create a superhero bearing his likeness.
The sophomore approached cult status in 2013, excelling on both sides of the ball like some kind of throwback from your grandfather's generation. After beginning the season as the Pac-12's best young linebacker, he reached a whole different level of publicity by rushing for 120 yards in an emergency assignment versus Arizona on Nov. 9. Jack has been trending ever since, riding a trajectory of popularity and national respect that'll continue cresting in his second season of action.
No. 1 to 10. Petrino, Franklin, Golson
No. 21 to 30. Marshall, Urban, Kiel