Preview 2010 - Top 100 Players, No. 81 to 100
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Posted Aug 22, 2010

The 100 Most Important Players Going Into the 2010 Season ... No. 81 to 100.

Preview 2010 - Top 100 Players

Players No. 81 to 100

2010 Top 100 Players
- No. 1 to 20 | No. 21 to 40 | No. 41 to 60 | No. 61 to 80 | No. 81 to 100

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These aren't necessarily the top pro prospects, and they might not even be among the most talented players, but they're going to be the most influential and most productive stars of the 2010 season. These will be the difference makers, the playmakers, and the award winners. In other words, these are the players everyone will care about. 

100. FS Rahim Moore, Jr. UCLA
The undisputed leader of the strong Bruin secondary is the 6-1, 195-pound Moore, a returning All-American and a Thorpe Award candidate. A third-year starter, with the ball-hawking skills of an elite cornerback, he had 49 tackles, three tackles for loss, and 10 interceptions, the most by an FBS player since 1993. He has outstanding field awareness and instincts, rarely getting caught out of position or being beaten through the air.

99. DE Sam Acho, Sr. Texas
The Texas line needs a new star pass rusher to emerge to pick up the slack left by Sergio Kindle, and now it's up Acho to be the main man. The 6-3, 260-pound senior isn't exactly like Kindle in style, he's tougher against the run and could be used as a smallish defensive tackle in a pinch, but he's a big play performer making ten sacks and 14 tackles for loss to go along with 63 stops. Stronger than his size, he doesn't get pushed around and he has a terrific burst into the backfield. Very smart and very productive, the Lott semifinalist and honorable mention All-Big 12 performer will get the spotlight as the next All-America candidate on the UT line.

98. CB Trevin Wade, Jr. Arizona
Two starters may be gone, but Arizona is hardly destitute in the secondary. It rarely is. At cornerback, the 5-11, 182-pound Wade is ready to build on an impressive resume and stake claim to being one of the nation's up-and-coming cover guys. A terrific all-around athlete, with the hips and footwork to stay with even the best receivers, he parlayed 71 tackles, five picks, and nine pass breakups into a spot on the All-Pac-10 second team. His ball skills will encourage quarterbacks to avoid half the field.

97. WR Keith Smith, Sr. Purdue
Smith started out his career at safety after playing quarterback in high school. Now he'll be one of the nation's top wide receivers after making the switch just two years ago. The 6-2, 226-pound senior followed up a 49-catch season with an All-America-caliber campaign making 91 grabs for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns with four games (Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State) with 11 or more catches. He's big, tough, and just fast enough to hit the occasional home run, and while he doesn't have top-end, NFL wheels, topping out at around 4.6, he should be productive enough to get a paycheck at the next level.

96. TE D.J. Williams, Sr. Arkansas
In the hunt for All-America honors will be Williams has the skills to the NFL right now. Only 6-2, but 251 pounds, he's built more like a fullback, but he has phenomenal hands catching 61 passes for 732 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore before making 32 grabs for 411 yards and three scores last year. With the upgrade in wide receiver he wasn't needed quite as much, but he still produced whenever he got the chance … against the mediocre. While he caught seven passes for 137 yards against South Carolina, he was shut out against Florida, Ole Miss, and LSU, and he was held to two catches for 26 yards against Alabama. The talent is there to become a 50-catch playmaker and a go-to target across the middle.

95. OT Marcus Cannon, Sr. TCU
Four starters return to the TCU line, but the one loss, all-star left tackle Marshall Newhouse, is a big one. The spot will be filled by another first-team All-Mountain West performer, Cannon, who has been a rock of a starter over the last few years at right tackle. While he's a big 6-5, 350-pound blocker, he's great in pass protection failing to allow a sack last year. Also a star on the track team as a top shot putter, he's a great athlete who's growing into a special blocker and a top NFL draft prospect. If he gets his mitts on a defender and locks on, it's over.

94. OG Stefen Wisniewski, Sr. Penn State
In one of the biggest moves of the offseason, Wisniewski, an all-star center, moved over to a more natural right guard spot. The 6-3, 297-pound veteran was one of the line's only bright spots last year and continues to be one of the nation's best technicians. The nephew of former Penn State and NFL star, Steve, he's physical for the ground game and moves extremely well. While he's not massive by next-level standards, and he might end up having a future as a center or a zone-blocking guard, he'll end up earning All-America honors as the anchor of a resurgent line.

93. P Drew Butler, Jr. Georgia
There wasn't much of a buzz about Butler taking over the punting job last year. All he did was bomb away for a 48.1-yard average, put 19 inside the 20, and crank out 24 kicks of more than 50 yards on his way to the Ray Guy Award. Consistent and a weapon who bailed out the offense and gave the defense a few big breaks, he'll be one of the SEC's most important players.

92. C Tim Barnes, Sr. Missouri
Missouri has become a factory for strong centers, and Barnes is keeping up the tradition. The 6-4, 310-pounder had a good season in the middle of the Tiger line, but he wasn't elite and didn't step up his play quite as much as expected. Even so, he has lived up to his billing as one of the team's top recruits a few years ago as he has grown into the job. While he'll get more of a look at guard at the next level, he should be an all-star center in his final season at Mizzou.

91. QB Tyrod Taylor, Sr., Virginia Tech
A veteran of 28 career starts, the 6-1, 217-pound Taylor is back for one final season and an opportunity to win a third ACC championship. He made his biggest strides toward becoming a complete quarterback last season, going 136-of-243 for 2,311 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions to lead the league and rank No. 13 nationally in passing efficiency. Consistent with his exceptional athletic ability, he also added 370 yards and five scores on the ground. More than ever before, he has a total grasp of the offense and has emerged as a dangerous deep-ball thrower, sliding in the pocket rather than bolting from it and averaging 17 yards a completion.

90. DE Adrian Robinson, Jr. Temple
While Robinson might be built more like an outside linebacker than a true defensive end, he sure rushes the passer like a lineman. The 6-2, 245-pound reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year was one of the team's top recruits in the strong 2008 class, and he more than lived up to his immense potential last season making 46 tackles with 13 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and an interception while also forcing five fumbles. Extremely quick off the edge, it's over when he gets a step on a tackle. More importantly for the Owl defense, it's not like the production came in bunches and it's not like he was stuffed against the big boys making a sack against Penn State and playing well against UCLA.

89. FS Davonte Shannon, Sr. Buffalo
It's time to start including Shannon on All-America teams, and a case could be made that he's going to end his career as the greatest defensive back in the history of the MAC. The three-time all-conference performer has made 341 career stops, coming up with 123 as a freshman, 121 as a sophomore, and a team-leading 97 last year. Not just a run stuffer at free safety, he's also great at getting into the backfield with 24.5 career tackles for loss and six interceptions. The 6-0, 196-pounder has decent size, never missed a stop, and is as smart as they come with tremendous instincts to be around the ball all the time. Able to play either safety spot, he produces whenever he's on the field.

88. LB Dont'a Hightower, Soph. Alabama
If Hightower is 100% healthy, he'll be every bit the stat-sheet filler, if not more so, than Rolando McClain was in the middle. The junior was on his way to a terrific season making 16 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss before tearing his knee and being out the rest of the way. Now he'll move from the weakside to the middle where he's not going to need to fly around as much, but can hold up in the middle and make tackle after tackle against the run. At 6-4 and 260 pounds he has great size and great range, even with his knee problem, and he has the hitting ability making 64 stops in 2008.

87. QB Jacory Harris, Jr., Miami
Harris is more than just important. He might be the most pivotal Hurricane player in a decade. Yes, he showed flashes of excellence in his first full year as a starter, but he was also maddeningly inconsistent, which has to change if Miami is going to win an ACC championship. He wound up going 242-of-406 for 3,352 yards, 24 touchdown passes, and a league-high 17 picks. A slender 6-4, 190-pounder, he has a great feel for the pocket and is one of the most poised players at the position late in games. However, if he can't stop forcing passes into tight spaces and bird-dogging many throws, it's going to have a negative impact on the entire program.

86. WR James Rodgers, Sr. Oregon State
Rodgers proved more than capable of handling an expanded role last season, catching a team-high 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. He also carried the ball 58 times for 303 yards and a touchdown on fly sweeps, giving the offense a multi-dimensional playmaker from the flanker position. Like younger brother, Jacquizz, he's turned his modest, 5-7 and 185-pound frame into a plus, hiding behind blockers before exploding into the open field. Fast in the first few yards and a stop-and-start nightmare, he often requires more than one defender to keep him from taking over.

85. QB Blaine Gabbert, Jr. Missouri
The Cougars became just the fourth team in NCAA to have three 1,000-yard receivers last season. All three are back for another year, troubling news for the rest of Conference USA. Senior James Cleveland wasted no time becoming Case Keenum's preferred target, finishing sixth nationally with 104 catches for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first year out of Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College. The 6-2, 205-pound former Iowa recruit is a physical receiver, with big mitts to pluck the ball and enough toughness to play through a torn labrum in 2009.

84. WR James Cleveland, Sr. Houston
The Cougars became just the fourth team in NCAA to have three 1,000-yard receivers last season. All three are back for another year, troubling news for the rest of Conference USA. Senior James Cleveland wasted no time becoming Case Keenum's preferred target, finishing sixth nationally with 104 catches for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first year out of Trinity Valley (Tex.) Community College. The 6-2, 205-pound former Iowa recruit is a physical receiver, with big mitts to pluck the ball and enough toughness to play through a torn labrum in 2009.

83. TE Kyle Rudolph, Jr. Notre Dame
Rudolph is one of the nation's most talented tight ends and would be a key part of an NFL attack if he could've left early. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, he has the size, the quickness, and the hands to act like a huge wide receiver, finishing third on the team with 33 catches for 364 yards and three scores. He got hurt late in the year suffering a shoulder injury that ended things three games early, and he didn't catch a touchdown pass after week five, but he's good enough to become an even bigger part of the offense and on the short list for All-America honors.

82. OG Justin Boren, Sr. Ohio State
As a symbol of the shift in the rivalry, Boren is mostly known for leaving Michigan after a supposed lack of a family atmosphere under Rich Rodriguez. However, the veteran left guard is more than just a defector; he's a top-shelf NFL prospect. At 6-3 and 320 pounds with a mean, nasty streak, he's a bear of a run blocker earning first-team All-Big Ten honors as the team's best blasted for the ground game. While he was banged up a bit with a foot problem, he still managed to start in 12 games providing the physical presence the line was in need of.

81. LB K.J. Wright, Sr. Mississippi State
The former strongside star, the team's second-leading tackler will take over on the weakside to get him in space to make more plays. The 6-4, 250-pound senior has the size to handle the interior, the speed to handle the outside, and he has the tackling skills making 82 stops with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. He has NFL upside with tremendous speed and great range, but now he has to show he can hold up and become more of a big-play performer.