Preview 2010 - Top 100 Players, No. 21 to 40
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick
Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick
Posted Aug 22, 2010

The 100 Most Important Players Going Into the 2010 Season ... No. 21 to 40.

Preview 2010 - Top 100 Players

Players No. 21 to 40

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

- Expert Football Predictions from ATS Consultants - Absolutely Free.
- Get Tickets For Your Team, Any Game

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. 

40. LB Mike Mohamed, Sr. California
There's a need for more linebackers in Berkeley, especially at a school that operates out of the 3-4. The one constant on the inside is the 6-3, 238-pound Mohamed, who'll enter 2010 on a lot of Preseason All-America teams and watch lists. In his first season as the cover boy of the group, he broke out by parlaying a league-high 112 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and three picks into a spot on the All-Pac-10 first team. While he has the requisite speed and size, he also harbors the instincts and field awareness to usually be in the right place at the right time.

39. OT Matt Reynolds, Jr. BYU
Reynolds has been one of the Mountain West's best blockers over the last few seasons as the anchor of the strong line. At 6-6 and 329 pounds, he has prototype NFL size and tremendous talent at left tackle. One of the best offensive line prospects the program has ever brought aboard, the former Utah Gatorade Player of the Year has lived up to the hype and more. While he hasn't been impossible to get by, most pass rushers haven't been able to get to the quarterback. He'll once again be the blocker everything works around.

38. S Mark Barron, Jr. Alabama
Barron had one of the best under-the-radar seasons of anyone in America. The 6-2, 214-pound safety is the only returning starter in the secondary, and he's a great one finishing second on the team with 76 tackles with seven interceptions and 11 broken up passes. He has the speed, size, and tackling ability to have a long career at the next level, but first he'll be on the short list for everyone's All-America team and should be in the hunt for the Thorpe Award.

37. DT Jerrell Powe, Sr. Ole Miss
Returning as the Rebels' anchor is the 6-2, 330-pound Powe, a big, strong talent who'll be in the NFL next year at this time. The crown jewel of the 2005 Rebel recruiting class, it took a few years to finally get academically eligible, and now the Second Team All-SEC performer is living up to his immense potential. While he came up with 34 tackles as a tough run stuffer, he also showed the quickness to be a dangerous interior pass rusher with three sacks and 12 tackles for loss. When his motor is running, he's among the nation's best tackles.

36. S Deunta Williams, Sr., North Carolina
Carolina's all-conference free safety is the 6-2, 210-pound Williams, who's entering his fourth season as a starter. A do-it-all defensive back, he can hit like a linebacker and defend the pass as well as some cornerbacks, picking off six passes last season and a dozen for his career. He has the combination of size, speed, and focus to light up unsuspecting receivers and jump routes when opposing quarterbacks least expect it.

35. QB Jake Locker, Sr. Washington
When Locker decided to return for his senior year rather than declare for the NFL Draft, it represented one of the most important developments in the recent history of Husky football. He's a game-changer, who's good enough to elevate an entire program that's been floundering for a decade. At 6-3 and 226 pounds, he's uncommonly athletic, breaking containment and barreling into the defense with the force of a fullback and quickness of a tailback. As a passer, he made a quantum leap in his first year under the guidance of head coach Steve Sarkisian and assistant Doug Nussmeier as he became more consistent, more accurate, and simply better after struggling at times over the first part of his career. There's more room for growth, but the strong-armed dual-threat looked like a different player, going 230-of-394 for 2,880 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 picks, adding 388 yards and seven scores on the ground.

34. QB Jerrod Johnson, Sr. Texas A&M
The hope was for Johnson to grow into a consistent bomber after getting a little bit of experience under his belt, and then … KABOOM. The 6-5, 243-pounder finished third in the nation in total offense and led the Big 12 averaging 314 yards per game completing close to 60% of his passes for 3,579 yards and 39 touchdowns with eight interceptions while adding 506 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. When he was on, he was unstoppable including an incredible final two games throwing for 342 yards and four touchdowns, and running for 97 more, and chucking for 362 yards and two scores against Georgia. However, A&M lost both of those games and lost four of his six 300-yards games (with the two wins coming against New Mexico and Utah State). A legitimate pro prospect with his size, arm, and mobility, he could grow into a Josh Freeman-like first rounder who can up his stock immeasurably if he can start leading the team to more big wins and if he can stay healthy; he has had problems with his shoulder.

33. LB Alex Wujciak, Sr., Maryland
The headliner in the middle of a great Terp linebacking corps will once again be the 6-3, 245-pound Wujciak, a first team All-ACC performer, with All-America potential. For the second straight year, he led the team with 131 tackles, adding 8.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. First to the ball, he has tremendous instincts to go along with the range and size to be a force in run defense.

32. QB Andy Dalton, Sr. TCU
Dalton has grown from a nice player who was a caretaker for the offense to one of the school's greatest statistical quarterbacks. His job has been to not screw up and let the defense win games, and he has been able to do that with 24 career interceptions in 1,001 attempts, but he grew into more of a playmaker last year as the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year completing 62% of his passes for 2,756 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and he ran for 512 yards and three scores. Of his eight picks, three came in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State and he didn't throw more than one interception in any game and threw for 200 yards or more eight times. While the 6-3, 215-pounder isn't a high-powered passer and doesn't have a next-level arm, but he has been a perfect leader for the Horned Frog offense.

31. DT Jared Crick, Jr. Nebraska
There's simply no replacing Ndamukong Suh, one of the most productive and decorated defensive tackles in college football history. However, it's not like his running mate, Crick, was along for the ride. A superstar who'd have the spotlight to himself just about anywhere else, the 6-6, 285-pound junior finished fourth on the team with 69 tackles with 9.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hurries in a First Team All-Big 12 season. Incredibly quick off the ball, he gets into the backfield in a hurry and is tremendously active as a tough run stopper. A perfect 3-4 end at the next level, he'll put up his share of stats again this season on the inside. However, he has to prove he can hold up and be the main focus of blocking schemes without No. 93 next to him.

30. DE Cliff Matthews, Sr. South Carolina
Even with some big losses, the line should be solid as long as Matthews is healthy. The 6-4, 260-pound Second-Team All-SEC performer came up with 47 tackles, seven sacks, and ten tackles for loss, and now the former linebacker will need to be even more of a pass rushing star. Extremely quick and one of the team's hardest working players, he has a great motor and will find his way into the backfield on a regular basis. The non-stop motor gets him to the quarterback on sheer want to.

29. WR Julio Jones, Jr. Alabama
As the famous saying went, the only person who could consistently stop Michael Jordan was Dean Smith. The 6-4, 211-pound Jones has NFL franchise, No. 1 wideout written all over him if, and it's a big if after having a few problems in his first two years staying healthy. He has the size, he has the elite speed (being named the Alabama Track and Field Athlete of the Year three years ago), and he has the attitude. Not a diva, he's a driven football player who'll make himself better, but again, he has to prove he can produce through the nicks and bumps and he also has to show he can be consistently unstoppable. However, even though he doesn't put up huge stats, he takes plenty of attention away from everyone else and is a whale of a downfield blocker. A player with top-five overall talent should do more than catch 43 passes for 596 yards and four touchdowns in a national title season, and while the style of offense that Nick Saban runs (along with the injury issues) might be the way to keep him under wraps, it's time to blow up and be truly special instead of having all-world talent with honorable mention All-SEC production.

28. RB Daniel Thomas, Sr. Kansas State
Thomas went from being a top JUCO transfer into a possible first round draft pick. The 6-2, 228-pounder is getting a long look as one of the top next-level NFL prospects after running for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns averaging 5.12 yards per carry while also adding 25 catches for 257 yards. With size, speed, and workhorse ability, he's also a passing threat after serving as a dual-threat option at NW Mississippi JC. The Wildcats were 4-1 when he ran for 100 yards or more last season, and he'll be the focal point of the attack once again. The key will be able to produce when he's the focus of the entire opposing defensive game plan. Of his 100-yard games, none came against a team that went to a bowl, two were against the FCSers (UMass and Tennessee Tech), and the other three were against Louisiana, Colorado, and Kansas.

27. QB Ricky Dobbs, Sr. Navy
Option quarterbacks have never made much noise in the Heisman race, but Dobbs is no ordinary option playmaker. He set the NCAA record for touchdown runs by a quarterback scoring 27 times and running for 1,192 yards with seven 100-yard games, and he even threw a little bit completing 53% of his passes for 1,031 yards and six touchdowns with three interceptions. Making the season and the stats even more impressive was that he missed the Wake Forest and was limited against Temple with a knee problem. Had he been 100% in those three games, he would've been a mortal lock for more than 30 rushing scores.

At 6-1 and 198 pounds he has decent size and the prerequisite quickness for a Navy quarterback, he's also tough as nails running inside or out, and he can hit the home run from anywhere on the field. With his experience and his skill in running the option (even though offensive coordinator, Ivan Jasper, thinks he could do a better job on his reads), now he has to do more to let others do the work; the fewer shots he has to take, the better. With a terrific arm, he'll also expand the passing game a little bit and he needs to be more accurate after struggling way too much when he was forced to throw. But any negatives and concerns are nitpicking for a leader and a talent who could go down as the most productive spread-option running quarterback of all-time.

26. RB LaMichael James, Soph. Oregon
In one of the strangest developments of 2009, the 5-9, 180-pound James turned the opening day suspension of LeGarrette Blount into his personal launching point to stardom. Who could've imagined? Thrust into the starting role, he responded with 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns on 230 carries, adding 17 catches for 168 yards. A model of consistency, he went over 100 yards nine times, shredding rival Oregon State for 166 yards and three scores. Like a missile coming out of the backfield, he hits the hole with authority, runs with great vision, and can make defenders look silly with his shake-and-bake in the open field. Oh, and don't be fooled by his size. He's tougher than he looks and won't be brought down by arm tacklers. Now a sophomore, he'll begin vying for national honors after serving a one-game suspension for a domestic violence charge.

25. QB Colin Kaepernick, Sr. Nevada
Kaepernick hasn't led the team to many big wins and he hasn't come through in the bowls, but he has been one of the nation's top dual-threat playmakers with two straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons while completing 56% of his career throws for 7,076 yards with 61 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. When he's on a roll, he's unstoppable rushing for 240 yards and three touchdowns against UNLV a few years ago and ripping off 230 yards and four scores against Idaho while running for five 100-yard games on the year. Deadly on the move, he has rushed for 39 career scores averaging 6.8 yards per carry. How accurate was he last year? He threw just two interceptions over the final 11 games. A Vince Young type of quarterback, he's 6-6 and 215 pounds with a slippery running style and a live arm with a major-league fastball. But for all the stats and for all the amazing things he has done over his phenomenal career, it's all about coming up with the big wins in his final year.

24. QB Ryan Mallett, Jr. Arkansas
Mallett might not have gone No. 1 overall to St. Louis in the 2010 NFL Draft, but he would've been considered. At 6-7 and 238 pounds, he has tremendous size, a huge arm, and is a pure pro bomber who's expected to take Arkansas to a whole other level. After starting out his career at Michigan, and getting a few starts as a true freshman completing 61-of-141 passes for 892 yards and seven scores, the hiring of Rich Rodriguez meant the end of Mallett's time in Ann Arbor. A perfect fit for Bobby Petrino's offense, he has all the throws in the bag and is a fiery leader who's the unquestioned main man in the offense.

Expected to shine right away after getting a year off after transferring, he blew up from the start highlighted by a 409-yard, five touchdown day in the loss to Georgia and continued to roll from there. He finished the season as the SEC's best passer completing 56% of his throws for 3,624 yards and 30 touchdowns with seven interceptions, and while he had his problems against the teams with the better pass rushes, he managed to fight back from adversity to make big plays. He might have completed 12-of-27 passes against Florida, but he had the Hogs in the game up until the end. However, consistency will be a key and he needs to be far better against the top teams. Against Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, and in the bowl against East Carolina, he completed 68-of-171 of his throws (just 39.7%) and with five touchdown passes while never throwing for more than 254 yards.

23. CB Patrick Peterson, Jr. LSU
Peterson would probably be starting for most NFL teams this year and will almost certainly be one of the top three defensive backs picks in next year's draft (if he chooses to leave early) and he could be a top ten overall selection. All the skills are there with 6-1, 211-pound size and terrific coverage skills. While he might be not be a blazer, he has sub-4.5 wheels and fluidly cuts like a much smaller player, and he can hit like a safety. 43 of his 52 tackles last year were made in the open field, and he led the way with 13 broken up passes to go along with two picks. While he earned second-team All-SEC honors last year, he should be on everyone's All-America list coming into this season.

22. CB Ras-I Dowling, Sr., Virginia
While there are key departures, such as CB Chris Cook, the Cavaliers return the core of a defensive backfield that was among the ACC's best in 2009. Leading the way for one final year will be the 6-2, 205-pound Dowling , a next-level cornerback and two-time all-league selection. He possesses a tremendous combination of size, closing speed, and natural instincts, shutting down passing lanes and stepping up in run defense. Voted the team's most improved player a year ago, he had 58 tackles, two tackles for loss, three picks, and eight pass breakups.

21. QB Kellen Moore, Jr. Boise State
It's time to start including Moore in the discussion among the best players in America. Everyone wants to talk about Boise State being a buster in the BCS and possibly the national championship, but Moore could also be a bit of a trailblazer (at least since Ty Detmer won 20 years ago) and bring the Heisman to a non-BCS team.

After setting the NCAA record for completion percentage by a freshman (69.4%), the lefty was even more magnificent last year completing 69.3% of his throws for 3,536 yards. After throwing ten picks in 2008, he threw just three last season along with 39 touchdowns (to 25 in 2008). But his great year was more than just about stats; he always seemed to generate the foot-on-the-throat drive to put teams away and came up with the scores needed to prevent any legitimate threats. At 6-0 and 186 pounds he's not big, has decent arm, and he's not all that mobile, but he's accurate and he knows how to get things moving. The Washington high school record holder for touchdown passes (173) is ultra-efficient, mistake-free, and as cool as they come. A 26-1 career record isn't bad, either.