Spring Preview 2010 - Players Who'll Blow Up
Jake Locker, Greg Jones, & Ryan Broyles
Who's about to be the NCAA's all-time greatest passer? Could Oklahoma have its first Biletnikoff winner? Will Jake Locker play up to his No. 1 NFL prospect status? Who's this year's IT linebacker? Who are the ten players who'll go from great to special? It's question No. 4 in the CFN 2010 Spring Preview.
2010 Spring Preview
- No. 4
Players About To Go Nuclear
These are the players who you know about, they might have earned all-conference status, but now they're about to take things to another level in 2010. These are some of college football's superstars, and they're ten players who'll go a long way to defining the season.
Ryan Broyles, WR Oklahoma
He's not all that big and he's going to get bounced around, but it's not overstating things to say that he saved OU's 2009 season by catching 89 passes for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns, making him the first Sooner receiver to ever lead the team in scoring. He also served as a special punt returner averaging 15.9 yards per try with a score. Oklahoma has never had a Biletnikoff Award winner; Broyles is good enough to end that.
John Clay, RB Wisconsin
On this list last year, he didn't disappoint rushing for 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns with 100 yards or more in each of the final six games. A big, bruising back with the home run hitting speed to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, he's a special runner who could flirt with 2,000 yards behind a line with all five starters returning. The only thing that can stop him is the Badger talent with speedy back Montee Ball to get plenty of work while QB Scott Tolzien will bomb away at times with one of the Big Ten's best receiving corps to work with.
Andy Dalton, QB TCU
Dalton might have had a rough outing in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State with three interceptions, but he threw for 272 yards and a touchdown pass. Before that he gave away a mere five interceptions on the season as he led the Horned Frogs to a 12-0 record and within a whisker of the national title. He might not be flashy and he might not put up the mega-numbers, but he'll once again be the leader of a loaded Horned Frog team and he should be solid for around 250 passing yards per game with a few touchdown passes and about 40 rushing yards. He'll be the signature star on a team destined for another trip to the BCS.
Greg Jones, LB Michigan State
Jones was the best linebacker in America last season, but he didn't get the publicity of Alabama's Rolando McClain and he shockingly went unnoticed despite finishing third in the nation in tackles with 154 and averaging 11.85 per game (compared to 105 tackles from McClain) while leading the Spartans with nine sacks (while McClain came up with four). He had to do everything for the MSU defense, and now he'll start to get his just due as the odds-on favorite to win the Butkus and be the hot defensive star of the season. He's on the radar now, and he'll be the IT linebacker on the cover of every preview.
Case Keenum, QB Houston
Keenum was on this list last year and now he could take things to a historic level. Former Hawaii QB Timmy Chang is the NCAA record holder for passing yards (17,072), total yards (17,183), passing touchdowns (117), and completions (1,388), and he needed a sixth year of eligibility, the extra games Hawaii gets to play, and bowls to reach those numbers starting in 50 of a possible 53 games. Keenum has played in 40 games so far and has completed 1,076 passes for 12,950 yards and 102 touchdowns, and has rushed for 791 yards and 20 scores, amassing 13,741 yards of total offense. If he has just a decent year for him (averaging the numbers of his first three seasons), and barring injury there's no reason he won't with all the stars from the nation's top offense returning, he'll obliterate the all-time records. Keenum completed 492 passes for 5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns last season, and right now he's 4,122 passing yards, 15 touchdown passes, 312 completions, and 3,442 total yards away from erasing Chang from the top of the record books.
Dion Lewis RB Pitt
As a true freshman, Lewis finished third in the nation in rushing with 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns, running for 100 yards or more in every game but three, and his low total was a solid 79 yards. While Pitt loses three starters off the line, this is a good enough offense to make sure the star gets to keep carrying the workload. He ran a whopping 325 times last year, and touched the ball 52 times against Cincinnati, and he won't be handled with kid gloves. It's asking a lot to repeat the same amazing numbers, but he'll get his chances as his reputation and NFL stock goes through the roof.
Jake Locker, QB Washington
The fashionable line is to say Locker would've been the top overall pick to St. Louis had he come out this year and will be the top selection when he's in next year's NFL draft. There's one problem; he's been totally mediocre on the field. He has the tools, the size, and the measureables, but he only completed 58% of his throws last year for 2,800 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions, and he has completed just 53% of his career throws with 36 touchdowns and 26 interceptions (to go along with 1,554 rushing yards and 23 scores). Now he has more talent to work with and won't have to carry the team completely on his back, and he'll have another year of training under Steve Sarkisian. In other words, he should finally play like a No. 1 pick and not the projected No. 1 prospect everyone's making him out to be.
Von Miller, DE Texas A&M
The nation's leader in sacks chose to come back for his senior season and has more talent around him to take the heat off. After starting out like a house of fire with nine sacks in the first four games, he cooled off a bit and was completely shut down and erased at times. However, he still finished with 17 sacks with 21.5 tackles for loss, and now he has more help around him with two other starters back up front and nine starters total back on defense. He could be this year's Jerry Hughes and should be on the short list for every major defensive award.
Kellen Moore, QB Boise state
Moore finished second in the nation in passing efficiency coming through with one of the most impressive seasons in college football history that went totally unnoticed. All he did as a sophomore was complete 64% of his passes for 3,536 yards and 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He only threw one pick over the final nine games, and he should once again be the steady leader of a loaded team. While he'll have to face a lathered up Virginia Tech early on, his Broncos should be a preseason top five team with everyone back on the nation's No. 1 scoring offense.
Keith Smith, WR Purdue
He's not all that fast, but he's a physical 6-2 and 226 pounds with hands that suck in every throw that comes his way. He turned into a special player last year catching 91 passes for 1,100 yards and six scores highlighted by a two-game stretch against Michigan and Michigan State when he made 26 grabs for 246 yards. He'll be a great No. 1 target and a leader for a slew of great young athletic targets.