Preview 2009 - The Top 200 Players
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
Posted Aug 10, 2009

Who will be the stars of 2009? These are the best players for this and the ones who'll define the season (and NOT a ranking of the top pro prospects ... but Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is high on both lists). We hype up the difference makers with our annual listing of the 200 Best College Football Players.

Preview 2009 ... Top 200 Players

The Top Ten

The Top 200 Players
- The Top Ten | 11-30 | 31-50 | 51-70 | 71-100
- 101-120 | 121-140 | 141-160 | 161-180 | 181-200

Here are the 200 best players going into the 2009 season. This has nothing to do with pro potential and these aren't the 200 best pro prospects (that's a completely different list). These are the stars for this year and they should be the difference makers who'll define the season.

1. QB Tim Tebow, Sr., Florida
The 6-3, 245-pound senior came up with the greatest statistical season in the history of college football as the first to ever run and throw for 20 touchdowns in the same year, doing it in 2007, and followed it up by being even better as an all-around player with 30 touchdowns and four interceptions, with two of them coming in the national title win over Oklahoma, while running for 12 scores and 673 yards. More than the statistics, he's the ultimate leader and the ultimate put-a-team-on-his-back warrior. Yes, the intangibles angle has gotten way out of control and the gushing from the media has taken on a life of his own, but there's no denying what he did to carry the Gators through the fourth quarter in the SEC title win over Alabama, powering away with the running game while throwing pinpoint pass after pinpoint pass, and when things weren't going exactly smooth in the national title, he made up for the problems and inconsistencies by running for 109 yards, his only 100-yard rushing day of the year. Now he wants to go from being among the greatest players in college football history to a top pro prospect.

2. FS Taylor Mays, Sr., USC
The USC D revolves around the 6-3, 235-pound Mays, a fourth-year starter and two-time All-American. His physical resume reads like a fable, blending the size and pop of a linebacker with the speed and agility of a cornerback. He's able to do things on the field that no free safety in recent memory can even approach. Last year's 53 tackles and nine pass breakups don't do justice to the number of times he obliterated and intimidated opposing receivers.
3. SS Eric Berry, Jr. Tennessee
The 5-11, 203-pounder has done everything for the defense as a last line of defense making 86 tackles two years ago and finishing third on the team with 72 stops last season. A pass rusher, he also made three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. But for all the big hits and all he does as the sheriff of the secondary, he's at his best when the ball is in the air tying for the nation's lead with seven interceptions with 13 broken up passes. Deadly when he gets the ball in his hands, he holds the SEC record for a season with 265 interception return yards. A pure playmaker at strong safety, he should do even more to help out this year in the Tampa 2 system.

4. QB Colt McCoy, Sr. Texas
It could be argued that Sam Bradford deserved the Heisman by being the signature player of the regular season, and Tim Tebow would’ve won the award in a walk if the voting was done after the bowls, but there was no more valuable player to a team than McCoy was last year. He did it all with 11 rushing touchdowns, a team-leading 561 yards, and an ungodly 78% completion percentage while throwing for 3,859 yards and 34 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He made everyone around him better, and now, as frightening as this might be for UT opponents, he knows what he’s doing. He has the offense down cold and he should be even better.

5. QB Sam Bradford, Jr. Oklahoma
Bradford had one of the greatest seasons in college football history on the way to the Heisman by completing 68% of his throws for 4,720 yards and 50 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He showed a total command of the attack making all the right decisions and proving to be the perfect conductor for the record-setting offense that put up cartoonish numbers week after week. With 6-4, 223-pound size, a quick release, and enough mobility to finish with a net 93 yards and five touchdowns, he would've been in the hunt for the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft had he decided to come out early. Instead of becoming a Detroit Lion, he's back to try to improve his overall strength, boost up his arm a little more, and, in his mind, mature a little more to be ready for the big league

6. LB Brandon Spikes, Sr., Florida
In a total shocker, he chose to come back for his senior season rather than be a sure-thing top 15 pick in the NFL Draft after making 93 tackles with eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and four interceptions. At 6-3 and 258 pounds he has prototype size, tremendous burst and quickness, and the smarts to always be in the right position. He can play on the outside or could be used as a smallish, pass rushing end, but he's the man in the middle who cleans everything up that the rest of the linebacking corps doesn't get to. Beyond all the tools, he's the ultimate leader. While everyone can't stop writing love letters about how Tim Tebow wills his team to wins and about what kind of a leader he is, Spikes does every bit as much for the defense. Florida might be Tebow's team, but this is sure as shoot Spikes' defense.

7. WR Dez Bryant, Jr. Oklahoma State
Who was going to replace Adarius Bowman? That was the big question mark going into last season, and then Bryant went from being a rising star to, arguably, the nation's best receiver. At 6-2 and 215 pounds he has good size, and he plays even bigger with tremendous leaping ability and good hands. He has the speed to go along with the size hitting home runs from all over the field averaging 17 yards per catch. The knock on him was his inability to come up with big games against the top teams, catching three touchdowns against Houston, Troy, and Texas A&M, and four scores against Iowa State. And then he showed up big time against Oklahoma catching six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns and 13 catches for 167 yards and a score against Oregon. On the year he made 87 grabs for 1,480 yard and 19 touchdowns, and now the spotlight will be on with top five draft pick talent if he can stay healthy. Dinged up at times throughout last year, he was out this spring getting his knee worked on.

8. DT Gerald McCoy, Jr., Oklahoma
McCoy was the 2006 USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year coming out of high school and was one of the program's top recruits in a class of superstar prospects. He has lived up to the hype and then some following up Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year campaign by making 30 tackles, with 6.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and an interception on the way to an All-America season. The 6-4, 297-pounder is exceptionally quick off the ball and is a proven anchor against the run. A sure-thing first round draft pick if he chooses to leave early, he could end up being a top ten selection if he has another big year. He's on the short list of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.

9. QB Terrelle Pryor, Soph., Ohio State
The super-recruit who kept Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State fans waiting on the edge of their seats was the team's best quarterback from the moment he arrived on campus, but the coaching staff still went with Todd Boeckman early on and gave Pryor a few drives here and there to throw defenses a curve ball. He completed 7-of-9 passes against USC, and ran for 40 yards, and he threw four touchdown passes in a win over Troy, but his era truly arrived late in an early October game against Wisconsin. He only ran for 20 yards on the day and he completed 13-of-19 passes for 144 yards with an interception, but when he had to, he came up with a tremendous late scoring drive for the 20-17 win. This offseason, the 6-6, 235-pound sophomore with elite speed busted his tail to become a better quarterback, and worked his arm to the point of exhaustion with throw after throw after throw to improve his accuracy. While he still needs technique work, and he's still going to rely on his legs more often than not, he should be a far more confident passer and he should do far more for the offense.

10. DT Ndamukong Suh, Sr. Nebraska
Suh isn't the best defensive tackle in the country, he's probably the most productive stat-wise. The 6-4, 300-pound senior has always had all-star potential and he has always had the tools, but he was never able to put it all together. Enter Bo Pelini and the new coaching staff, and now Suh might be a top five overall draft pick next season. He has the total package with tremendous speed and quickness to go along with his size. He did everything for the defensive front with a team-leading 76 tackles with 7.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He even came up with two interceptions with one going for a 49-yard touchdown against San Jose State and one going 30 yards for a score against Colorado. The one slight concern is a former knee injury, but it wasn't an issue last year and it's not expected to be a problem this season.

The Top 200 Players
- The Top Ten | 11-30 | 31-50 | 51-70 | 71-100
- 101-120 | 121-140 | 141-160 | 161-180 | 181-200