Preview 2009 ... Top 200
31 to 50
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |
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.
31. QB Todd Reesing, Sr. Kansas
He might not fit the mold of a high-octane passing quarterback, but Reesing is about to close out his career as the best passer to ever play at Kansas. He’s only 5-11 and 200 pounds, he not necessarily a runner, and he doesn’t have a rocket arm. However, he’s a pinpoint passer when it comes to getting his targets on the move, and he’s a pure gamer. Tough as nails, he managed to fight his way through injuries at the end of last season to beat Missouri in a classic with 375 yards and four touchdowns. Then he healed up in time to beat up Minnesota with 313 yards and four touchdowns to close out his second straight season with 30+ touchdown passes, and he’ll be a lock for a third if he stays healthy. He struggled a bit at times against the better teams last season, but he still finished with tremendous, KU-record 3,888-yard, 32-touchdown season with four rushing scores and 13 interceptions. While he’s fine in the pocket, he’s better when he gets on the move and makes things happen with his creativity. While he’ll take off when needed, he’s a bomber who’s at his best when he can get into a rhythm. With the receiving corps he has returning, he should be in for a tremendous season.
32. DT Marvin Austin, Jr., North Carolina
Austin is gearing up for his third season as a regular and the type of season that brings him national notoriety. He’s one of those explosive, disruptive interior linemen, who gets gobbled up by the NFL on the opening day of the draft. At 6-3 and 300 pounds, he’s quick off the snap and able to use his upper body strength to gain an edge. Voted the team’s Defensive Lineman of the Year, he had 38 tackles and a sack, modest numbers for his abilities.
33. DE Greg Romeus, Jr. Pitt
Romeus has gone from a lightly-regarded 220-pounder to a 6-5, 265-pound force and one of the nation’s premier pass rushers. A terrific all-around athlete with long arms and a bounce in his step, he had 51 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks, en route to a spot on the All-Big East second team. He also blocked three kicks, further testament to his big-play ability.
34. QB Colin Kaepernick, Jr., Nevada
After battling for the starting quarterback job last year, and with two years of experience under his belt, Kaepernick has now established himself as one of the special players in the WAC, and one of the most dynamic players in college football. A Vince Young type, he’s 6-6, 215 pounds, and quick with tremendous running skills. After running for 593 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman, to go along with 19 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, he was even better once he got the gig all to himself. Helped by a 240-yard, three touchdown rushing day against UNLV, he ran for 1,130 yards and 17 touchdowns, while throwing for 2,849 yards and 22 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He’s not always accurate, completing just 54% of his passes, but the WAC Offensive Player of the year has a major-league fastball to go along with his mobility.
35. NT Arthur Jones, Sr., Syracuse
Jones, one of the best nose tackles in America, has been one of the team's few bright spots. He can play for anyone, and will be playing this fall for a lucrative NFL contract. First, he’ll need to complete his rehab from a torn pectoral muscle suffered before spring. A two-time All-Big East selection, he has the size and strength to stuff the run and the quickness and technique to live in opposing backfields. Over the last two seasons, he’s accounted for 111 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks.
36. RB Darren Evans, Soph., Virginia Tech
After Branden Ore was booted from the team, this was
a giant mystery last summer. No longer. Thanks in
large part to the rapid development of Evans, a 6-0,
213-pound sophomore, the Hokies were supposedly set in the
backfield for the foreseeable future, but he
suffered a torn ACL and is out for the year. A physical
downhill runner, he hits the hole quickly and has
the balance to pick up yards after contact. Of
course, now he'll have to work his way back into
form for next year.. His
Freshman All-American debut included 1,265 yards
rushing, 17 receptions, 11 touchdowns, and a
school-record 253 yards versus Maryland for an
exclamation point, and his future is still bright.
37. QB Robert Griffin, Soph. Baylor
There was a tremendous buzz before last season began about Griffin, a true freshman who wowed everyone every time he stepped on the field. He turned out to be worth the hype and more rushing for 843 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 60% of his throws for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns with a mere three interceptions. He stepped into the game early against Wake Forest and ended up setting an NCAA record with 209 straight passes without an interception to start his career. After bulking up a bit, now he’s 200 pounds on a still-skinny 6-3 frame, but he should be able to withstand punishment a bit better. While he’s an accurate passer, and will be asked to do even more this year, the key to his game is raw speed. A track star, he won the Big 12 gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles with the third fastest time in school history. Now that he has a year under his belt, he has the size, the speed, and the smarts to become an even more dangerous weapon.
38. OT Russell Okung, Sr. Oklahoma State
The 6-6, 305-pound junior might have been the first tackle taken in last year's draft had he decided to come out early, and now it's salary drive time. Phenomenal against top-shelf pass rusher, highlighted by the job done against Texas star Brian Orakpo. He's an exceptional athlete who's a sure-thing All-American and the anchor of one of the nation's best lines.
39. QB Zac Robinson, Sr. Oklahoma State
Robinson was out of the spotlight compared to Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, and the rest of the Big 12 superstar quarterback, but he was as good as any of them finishing fifth in the nation in passing efficiency and 18th in total offense. Not only did he throw for 3,064 yards and 25 touchdowns, but he ran for 562 yards and eight scores, too. The one issue is with interceptions, spreading out ten over the course of the season with one in each of the last four regular season games and two against Oregon. He makes up for his mistakes with tremendous athleticism in a 6-3, 220-pound frame. With a good arm and his mobility, there are some scouts that think he's the best NFL quarterback prospect in the Big 12, but he has to be more consistent to make it happen, and he needs to come up bigger against the top teams.
40. DE Jermaine Cunningham, Sr., Florida
The 6-3, 252-pound senior could've gone pro
early, but he's back and should be on the short list of All-Americans after making 52 tackles with six sacks and ten tackles for loss. He was even better this spring showing off even more quickness on the outside and even better toughness against the run. He's an all-around playmaker in a salary drive; he should come up with a huge season considering there are other players up front to worry about, too.
41. QB Juice Williams, Sr., Illinois
Williams started out his career completing 39% of his throws in his true freshman season, it didn't seem possible that he'd be in the discussion of the greatest Illini passers, but he's 2,321 yards away from being the leading passer in school history. No, he's not the passing talent that Jeff George was, and he's not going to erase the entire record book with Kurt Kittner and Jack Trudeau to stay alive in a few areas, but he has improved enough to be considered more than just a runner. At 6-2 and 235 pounds, the senior has excellent size and dominates the school record book for rushing by a quarterback, amassing 2,050 yards and 14 touchdowns, but his passing is the key improving last year completing 58% of his throws for 3,173 yards with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He has a big-time arm and is fantastic on the move, but he throws way too many picks. With his terrific receiving corps, he'll put up huge numbers and could be in the hunt for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
42. QB Case Keenum, Jr., Houston
Keenum isn't just a good quarterback. He’s the nation’s most prolific returning pass after accounting for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a breakthrough sophomore season. Tailor-made for this pass-happy attack, he climbed up the school’s passing charts, while stringing together 13 straight games of at least 300 yards passing and finishing No. 9 nationally in passing efficiency. While not exactly the prototype at 6-1 and 210 pounds, he has a feel for the position that you’d expect from a coach’s son and great footwork, especially when the pocket begins to collapse.
43. TE Rob Gronkowski, Jr. Arizona
Gronkowski is a 6-6, 265-pound force of nature, who’ll have a difficult time saying no to the NFL at the end of this season. One of the most complete tight ends to hit the college ranks in years, he can block, stretch a defense, and catch anything remotely near his body. A reigning All-Pac-10 first teamer and Mackey Award candidate, he’s already caught 75 passes for 924 yards and 16 touchdowns in just two years.
44. LB Eric Norwood, Sr., South Carolina
Norwood is about to become a college football household name. Overshadowed by Jasper Brinkley, at least as far as recognition on a national scale, Norwood came up with the better year finishing second on the team with 75 tackles with nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. Used as pass rusher to disrupt things in the backfield, and also the team's most consistent run stopper, he can do it all. While his weight has fluctuated, he's a fast 6-1, 252 pounds and should add big numbers to his school-record tackle-for-loss total of 43. He's not going to do anything against the pass, but that's not his job on the weakside.
45. LB Sean Lee, Sr., Penn State
So where will he play and how is his knee? Lee would've been on everyone's All-America list going into last season before he tore up his knee in preseason practices. A superstar on the outside, he made 228 tackles in two years going into last season, and now he'll likely move into the middle where he should be back to form. At 6-2 and 236 pounds he has excellent size and he's back to form. There isn't any major issue considering the injury happened over a year ago and has time to heal, so now he'll get a chance to turn it loose and be on the short list for the Butkus Award.
46. DE Carlos Dunlap, Jr., Florida
The 6-6, 290-pound junior is more like a big tackle than a true end, but he's a serious force no matter what his body type. While he wasn't an every game starter, he was a big-time situational pass rusher making a team-leading 9.5 sacks with 13.5 tackles for loss, to go along with 39 tackles. An ideal 3-4 end who'll make millions at the next level, he'll have to get over an abdominal injury to be the game-changer on the other side of Cunningham. The Defensive MVP of the national championship, he makes things happen both on defense and on special teams. He's great at getting enough of a push to block kicks.
47. OT Trent Williams, Sr. Oklahoma
While the NFL scouts are conflicted on just how good the 6-5, 318-pound senior is, and are wondering if he's a next-level left tackle or will be tagged with the dreaded right-tackle-only label, all that matters is that he's back as one of the nation's top blockers. He's also the only returning starter up front and will have the spotlight on after moving from right tackle to the left to replace Phil Loadholt. The first-team All-Big 12 selection is a decent athlete for his status and is good in pass protection, but he's a superstar on running plays.
48. LB Quan Sturdivant, Jr., North Carolina
The graduation of steady Mark Paschal has forced the 6-2, 235-pound Sturdivant to shift from
weakside to middle linebacker for the upcoming season. He’s coming off a
breakout year that was highlighted by a team-best 122 tackles, 5.5
tackles for loss, two sacks, and two interceptions. Blessed with
outstanding range and sideline-to-sideline speed, the former star
quarterback is ready to become one of the ACC’s most productive
49. RB Kendall Hunter, Jr. Oklahoma State
Hunter followed up a nice 696-yard, ten touchdown season by turning in one of the best seasons of any runner in America. Not only did he rush for 1,555 yards and 16 touchdowns, while catching 22 passes for 198 yards and a score, but he was tremendously consistent. He ran for 90 yards or more in 11 games before being held to 84 yards by Oklahoma and 37 against Oregon. At 5-8 and 190 pounds, he's not all that big and he's not a blazer, he rips off yards in chunks, is great at getting through the hole, and is ultra-reliable as both a workhorse runner and a receiver.
50. WR Mardy Gilyard, Sr., Cincinnati
Two of last year’s top three pass-catchers may be gone, but Cincinnati has few concerns about its receiving corps thanks to the return of the 6-1, 190-pound senior. One of the nation’s most explosive all-purpose weapons, he took his game to a new level in 2008, catching 81 balls for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns. One of the team’s fastest players, he gets to second gear in a hurry, streaking past defensive backs and bolting through seams in the defense.
The Top 200 Players
Top Ten |