By mark rogers
August 1, 2009

I think by now many of you are familiar with the big names in the Big 12 and the state of Texas: Colt McCoy, Taylor Potts, Case Keenum, Sergio Kindle, Jordan Shipley, Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, Robert Griffin, and on and on...

But what I think makes college football season fun is knowing some key players to watch or key in on when you're watching games featuring teams outside the region...you know, the guys that will end up being stars in the NFL and you ask yourself and your friends, "where did this guy come from?"

I have a friend who recently told me, "Hey Mark, you should write an article on your blog about some guys in college football who are awesome but no one knows about." And I thought...hey, that's a great idea. So here goes...

My friend would like credit for his idea...his name is Terrell "Owens" Hinlee. I've changed the spelling to protect the innocent.

Here are some great athletes to watch for during the 2009 season:

Dan LeFevour - A senior QB at Central Michigan. He's the second player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 and throw for 3,000 in a single season. The other? Vince Young. In 2007 only one other FBS QB rushed for more TDs than he did...that year's Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Central Michigan is picked by many to win its conference. So if you see them on the guide on your TV, don't just think "well, guess I'll be taking a nap during that game"...turn it on and watch LeFevour.

Colin Kaepernick - A junior QB at Nevada. He was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2008. He's another dual threat in the mold of LeFevour and the fifth player in FBS history to have 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season. The guy is 6'6" and weighs 215. He's long, lean, has a canon for an arm and makes defenders look silly trying to run him down.

Jake Locker - Washington Huskies junior QB. He burst onto the scene in 2007 showing flashes of brilliance with his legs, but he needed big time improvement with his accuracy. He made some improvements but then missed most of 2008 with a thumb injury. You may remember him from the ridiculous celebration call that cost them a come-from-behind win over BYU early last year. He's 6'3" and weighs 222 pounds. Really a fun athlete to watch. You never know what he'll do next.

Jarrett Brown - West Virginia's senior QB. 6'4", 220 pounds. The guy is a beast. Not quite as big, but has the same body type as Penn State QB Darryl Clark. He was used as a bruising RB some the last few years, and the offensive coaches at WVU compare him to Eric Dickerson. So the guy can use his legs...he also has a career completion percentage over 60%. He'll make WVU a contender in the Big East.

Patrick Pinkney - East Carolina's senior QB. Pinkney was granted a sixth year of eligibility which is great news for ECU. He's only 6 foot, 200 pounds but he plays much bigger. Reminds me a little of a Daunte Culpepper or Steve McNair-type of QB. You may remember him from early in 2008 when he led ECU to back-to-back, upset wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

MiQuale Lewis - Ball State's senior RB. He's what I like to call a "fire hydrant" runner. Standing just 5 feet, 6 inches tall but weighing in at nearly 200 pounds. Those kinds of guys are a nightmare to try and tackle. It literally feels like you're running head first into a fire hydrant. That would NOT be fun. Not only that, he set school records for rushing yards and rushing TDs last year. Reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew.

Darren Evans - Virginia Tech's sophomore RB. A true freshman last year, Evans rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns. He had an amazing 253 against Maryland. He's 6-feet, 213 pounds...bigger and faster than last year. One to look out for...

Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech's junior RB. If the Texas Tech offensive system is perfect for giving QBs huge numbers, G Tech's is perfect for giving a good RB huge numbers. And Dwyer is the perfect RB for G Tech's system. He's big: 6-feet even, 230 pounds, and has breakaway speed (two runs more than 80 yards last year). He had an amazing 7 yards per carry in 2008 and was the ACC's Offensive Player of the Year. I would LOVE to see Georgia Tech and Texas Tech play...we can only hope for a bowl match-up.

Darrell Scott - Colorado's sophomore RB. A true freshman last year that was the #1 rated RB in the country by many experts. He was hurt most of 2008 but is fast, big (6-1, 200) and ready to live up to his hype. If he does, Colorado has a great shot at winning the North.

Jacquizz Rodgers - Oregon State's sophomore RB. Yeah, we all remember the 5-7, 190 pound true freshman dodging and darting his way through the ferocious USC defense on a Thursday night last year. A game that kept USC from playing for the national title. He ran for 186 yards to be exact. More than 5 USC opponents had in TOTAL offense against them last year. He ended up with more than 1200 yards, had 11 TDs and missed the last two games due to injury. And wouldn't you know it...Rodgers is from Houston.

Toby Gerhart - Stanford's senior RB. Want a reason to watch Stanford? Here you go. Gerhart is one of the most underrated RBs in the nation. 6'1" 240 pounds with breakaway speed. He can go the distance at any moment. He set a Stanford record with 1,136 rush yards last year.

Victor Anderson - Louisville's sophomore RB. Another small guy that runs huge. He's just 5'9" and weighs 185, but was the Big East Rookie of the Year with more than 1,000 yards rushing and eight TDs. He caught my attention early in the season last year with his elusiveness, quickness and fact that his name sounds a lot like "Mr. Anderson" from the Matrix trilogy.

And finally some receivers...

Dezmon Briscoe - Kansas' junior WR. You remember his one-handed, helmet catch against Texas last year, right? Easily the catch of the year in college football. Standing 6'3" and weighing in at 220, he had 1,407 yards and 15 TDs...ridiculous numbers. He has great hands and has a great chance to be an NFL starter, but he's day-to-day right now because of academics.

Arrelious Benn - Illinois junior WR. He's enormous for a receiver - 6-2", 220. He was WAY hyped out of HS but didn't really break out until his sophomore season when he broke the 1,000 yard barrier. He returns kicks and is used in many different ways. He's a game breaker and anytime he gets the ball he can score. He's a really fun football player to watch.

Golden Tate - Notre Dame's junior WR. The perfect name for a ND golden boy. He headlines what could be the best receiving corps in the nation...seriously. He's big, fast and had 131 yards receiving in his first college start. Easy name to remember, easy to team to watch since they're on national TV every four seconds.

AJ Green - Georgia's sophomore WR. It seems like every one of his highlights is a finger tip catch in the endzone. He's 6'4", 200 pounds and catches just about anything within his grasp. He was 1st Team SEC last year and should have an even bigger year in 2009.

DeAndre Brown - Southern Miss' sophomore WR. One of the most hyped WR coming out of HS. He's a whopping 6'6", 230 pounds and was a steal for the Southern Miss' staff. As a true freshman he was 1st team Conference USA with 1,117 yards and 12 TDs. There is one big question mark with him this year though, and you know what it is if you saw his leg snap in half during the bowl game...will he be 100%? Southern Miss thinks so. I hope so...it'll give me a reason to watch the Golden Eagles.

Vidal Hazelton - Cincinnati's senior WR. He'll play if the NCAA grants him eligibility. He was the nation's #1 overall prospect when he came out of HS and committed to USC. He played and was great at USC but transferred.

And finally my lone defensive player to look out for...(I could write for days about all the defensive freaks out there but I know that the offense gets all the glory):

Taylor Mays - USC's senior Safety/Neanderthal/Juggernaut. He's 6'3", 230 (but I think he's closer to 245), ran an electronically timed 4.3 40, has a 41" vertical, 6% body fat and was 1st Team All-American last year. He also anchored a secondary that allowed six passing TDs all year. His dad played for Washington and wouldn't let him play football until he was 13. He'll be a top 5 pick in next spring's NFL draft...guaranteed. And oh yeah - he used to do his homework with his football helmet on.

So there you have it...reasons to watch some teams you may not have watched before. I narrowed this list down from about 50 players that I think are noteworthy, but this post is probably too long as it is.

5 weeks from today!!!!!!!!


This site does not necessarily agree with comments posted below.

Krystle on August 2, 2009 7:44 PM

What an amazing article... where do you get such awesome ideas????

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