College Football Fall Camps: Which Players Are Under the Biggest Microscope?

Carl Stine@@CFBAllDayCorrespondent IAugust 3, 2012

College Football Fall Camps: Which Players Are Under the Biggest Microscope?

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    Every college football player in fall camp across the country is under some level of scrutiny.

    Coaches are closely scrutinizing to see who deserves to make the two-deep, fans are eagerly watching every snap and then spending all of their time discussing reasons why "this could be the year."

    And, unsurprisingly in the least, the media gets involved, analyzing and over-analyzing every snap, every play and every off-day outfit until you are overfilled with information.

    The players found here are under an even higher level of scrutiny going into fall camp, however, for reasons ranging from off-field troubles like an unprovoked beating, to on-field expectations of taking over for a star at their position.

    Let's hope these 10 hold up under the pressure.

10. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas

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    Knile Davis broke out with a huge season in 2010, leading the SEC in rushing that year.

    Last season was cut short by an ankle injury late in fall camp, and this year's camp will give him an opportunity to show the world that he is back in 2010 form.

    The Razorbacks are poised for a special season, especially if Davis performs at a high level.

    His ability to get right back into the swing of things and deal with contact the same way he did a couple years ago will be key to their success, prompting plenty of attention this fall.

9. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

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    Skov missed much of last season due to injury and returns to a very different Stanford squad in '12.

    Obviously, Andrew Luck is gone, and the Cardinal willy rely heavily on their defense to keep them in games and winning while the new quarterback figures things out.

    Skov's level of intensity brings a whole new dimension to Stanford's defense, and his tenacity and speed to the ball are welcome additions to David Shaw's defense.

    In fall camp, he will need to demonstrate that he can still impact a game much like he did pre-injury.

8. Michael Holmes, RB, Virginia Tech

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    The Hokies are loaded on defense, but must replace several key players on offense, including star running back David Wilson.

    Michael Holmes seems to be the primary choice at this point to fill that gap. He's speedy and has the elusive moves that make him a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

    The fortunes of this offense depend on his ability to effectively open up the passing game for quarterback Logan Thomas.

    His success in fall camp will be a gauge of the ceiling for the ACC's Hokies.

7. Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State

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    With Brandon Weeden departed for the greener pastures of the NFL, Mike Gundy has already tabbed early-enrollee true freshman Wes Lunt as the successor.

    This fall, Lunt will have to survive a charge by Clint Chelf, a sophomore with minimal experience, to take over the position held down by the elderly Weeden in the previous seasons.

    As the next to take the reins in Stillwater, Lunt will find himself under a terrific amount of scrutiny in fall camp.

    The 'Boys won their first BCS game last season, and if there is any chance of duplicating that success, Lunt will have to demonstrate poise and maturity well beyond his years.

6. Danny O'Brien, QB, Wisconsin

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    The Badgers have become the prime destination for ACC quarterbacks looking to start anew. After last season's successes with Russell Wilson and Bret Bielema, welcome Maryland expatriate Danny O'Brien.

    Regardless of how many times Wisconsin fans hear that he is not Russell Wilson, it will be impossible for them not to compare the two.

    Not only that, but O'Brien has not yet officially won the starting nod.

    In camp, he will have to solidify his bid for the position. If he does win—as he's expected to do—you better believe much of the credit (or blame) will be placed squarely on the shoulders of their new signal-caller.

5. Brett Nottingham/Josh Nunes, QB, Stanford

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    Replacing Andrew Luck is no picnic. This battle will last long into fall camp, but these two are the primary candidates to have the unenviable task of taking over where Luck left off at Stanford.

    No matter how much David Shaw stresses the need for his new quarterbacks to distance themselves from Luck's gigantic shadow, the inevitable comparisons will be made.

    This will leave Josh Nunes/Brett Nottingham under some intense pressure and receiving more attention than they may be used to ever receiving. 

4. David Ash, QB, Texas

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    The Texas Longhorns are always under a level of scrutiny that few players in the nation understand.

    That fanbase is intense.

    In 2012, the Longhorns are looking for a resurgent season after a few disappointing campaigns. And right now, David Ash is the guy that will lead the offense.

    That is, he will lead it if Case McCoy doesn't pass him heading into the season. McCoy is talented, but for now, it appears that Ash has the edge due to his mobility. 

    A rough camp for Ash, though, would practically hand the job to McCoy.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

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    Every Wisconsin fan in the world will be watching how Ball fares in fall camp with bated breath.

    A day after Ball was attacked by five men near UW's campus, head coach Bret Bielema has now stated that he will miss at least some of the first week of camp.

    While the Badgers have plenty of talent backing Ball up, the man scored a ridiculous 39 times, not counting his passing touchdown.

    That kind of production does not just pop up in the form of a second-string tailback, even at such a RB-rich program like Wisconsin's.

    Ball will be the subject of all discussion until he can begin to participate, and then heavily scrutinized to see if he is prepared to face another punishing season of Big Ten football.

2. Silas Redd, RB, USC

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    Penn State running back Silas Redd had the potential to challenge Montee Ball for the title of best running back in the Big Ten in 2012.

    Now he's gone. Redd transferred to USC in the wake of all the NCAA violations being handed down to the Nittany Lions.

    The assumption is that Redd will immediately compete for plenty of carries with the Trojans, who now have two 1,000-yard rushers, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 5,000-yard passer on their offense.

    No matter if he wins the bulk of the carries or comes off the bench, the Trojan faithful and LA media will definitely be intrigued by the progress and production of this hyped, yet, relatively unknown product on the West Coast.

1. Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

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    He plays for the No. 1 team in the country—the first time a team has been ranked No. 1 in the preseason without a returning quarterback since he was in grade school. So it's simple, really.

    If Mettenberger performs effectively, LSU will be in the national championship discussion. If he does not, the Tigers will have a difficult time beating out Alabama and Arkansas.

    The Tigers offense is stacked with talent, from offensive line to wide receiver, leaving Mettenberger as the key to their offensive success.