1. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
Talented back on one of the NCAA’s best offenses. He’ll look to improve on a sophomore season of 1,500+ yards and 16 touchdowns and enters the season as a favorite for the Doak Walker Award.
2. Jacquizz Rogers, Oregon State
Jacquizz rushed for 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman last season, while his older brother James also is a top playmaker for the Beavers (He just missed this list). The diminutive back and former Texas AP High School POY made a name for himself by running all over USC last year.
Expect more of the same in 2009.
3. Antonio Brown, Central Michigan
The junior wideout has caught over 90 balls in each of his first two seasons at CMU, but has yet to surpass 1,000 yards. That will likely change this season as CMU returns star QB Dan LeFevour for his senior season. Brown is a lightning rod who has scored touchdowns catching, rushing, passing, returning punts, and kickoffs.
4. Noel Devine, West Virginia
While it’s arguable whether Noel is “under the radar” given his much documented story and multi-million views YouTube videos, the enigmatic back from Ft. Myers, FL is running wild in Morgantown, WV, which is hardly a college football Mecca.
Devine, and his almost seven yards-per-carry average is one of the best and most exciting backs in the nation. Devine has a gear that very few others can match and if he gets a seam, it’s over.
5. Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
Taylor is a dual-threat QB who matured as a leader last season, leading Tech to a victory in the Orange Bowl, while posting over 700 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
He still lacks polish throwing the ball, as his 57.2 completion percentage and 2-to-7 touchdown to interception ratio illustrates, but even marginal improvement as a passer will make him one of the most dangerous playmakers in the nation.
6. Andre Debose, Florida
Debose was Mr. Everything for my alma mater, Sanford (FL) Seminole High School, en route to their FHSAA Class 6A State Championship and will fill an immediate void at Florida with Percy Harvin leaving for the NFL.
This kid is the same type of athlete and will likely see the ball early and often on passes, reverses, and runs from the backfield. Instant offense.
7. Darrell Scott, Colorado
After a disappointing and injury plagued frosh season for the blue-chip tailback, hard work in the offseason has him 30 lbs. lighter and poised for a breakout year.
8. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State
After posting the fifth best QB rating in the NCAA last season, the Cowboys signal caller should be one of the best players in the country. He has weapons at RB and WR that should make his job easier and an aggressive head coach.
9. Denard Robinson, Michigan
D-Rob has recently been getting much fanfare for his track exploits, running separate 100-meter times of 10.44 and 10.28. That is great speed for any position on a football field, but prolific for a QB.
Denard will be in competition with fellow freshman Tate Forcier for the starting QB job at Michigan, but even if he doesn’t win it, it will be difficult to keep him off of the field.
10. Case Keenum, Houston
As a sophomore last season, Keenum took CUSA by storm. He threw for over 5,000 yards and 44 touchdowns, but went largely unnoticed due to his team’s pedestrian 7-5 record. Look for Houstonto win more this year, which will thrust Keenum into the National spotlight and likely get him some much deserved recognition.