Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Players in College Football

Jonathan McDanalContributor IIIOctober 25, 2012

Ranking the 10 Most Underrated Players in College Football

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    College football is about teams, rankings, marquee games and superstars. The trouble with all that is the fact that there's only so much time in the week to devote to any given top-25 list.

    The even bigger crime is that there are many players who aren't mentioned at all until something spectacular happens. After the week is over, there's a whole new set of highlights rolling on TV, and the person fades into obscurity until he does something else spectacular.

    This slideshow ranks the 10 most underrated players in the nation. Some you will already recognize, while others you won't. You may be looking for a name that isn't here; if that's the case, drop a comment below and make a case for the "missing" player.

    Enjoy the read!

10. Tyler Tettleton

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    In Week 1, the Bobcats got a little hype for defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions. After Penn State lost the next game, the pundits wrote the Lions off and assumed that they weren't going anywhere for a long time.

    As Penn State began to rack up wins, there were slight murmurings that the Lions might be shaping up. Ohio was discussed as having beaten a team that was down at the time. Nobody seemed to realistically consider that the Bobcats might be for real. That is, until Week 9, when the Bobcats finally entered the BCS rankings at No. 24.

    Against the Nittany Lions, quarterback Tyler Tettleton went 31-of-41 for 324 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. For the entire season, he has gone 108-of-179 for 1,343 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception.

    His efficiency rating of 144.4 is 37th in the nation.

    Should he be all over the headlines just because of those stats? No, but the fact that he has led the Bobcats to an 7-0 start should have him in some discussions each week.

9. Taylor Heinicke

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    Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke set NCAA single-game records against New Hampshire in Week 4 with 730 passing yards and 791 yards of total offense. No, he wasn't blowing out the competition just for fun. That game's final score was 64-61 in favor of the Monarchs.

    As his defense continued to allow the New Hampshire Wildcats into the end zone, he did not get disheartened. He merely stepped onto the field and scored...repeatedly. He carried the entire team on his back and placed it in the end zone quickly and decisively until victory was secured.

    Heinicke faded into obscurity as quickly as he'd arrived on the scene, though, and nobody has really talked about his accomplishments since that game.

    Heinicke has led his team to a 6-1 overall record, and the Monarchs currently sit third in the Colonial Athletic Association.

    This kid should definitely be on the Heisman watch list, but we all know that won't happen. As a member of the FCS, his team will not have enough national exposure to merit that.

    Of course, one's team isn't supposed to have anything to do with the Heisman, right?

8. Terrance Williams

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    Terrance Williams is putting up some mind-blowing numbers this year as a wide receiver for the Baylor Bears.

    He has got 47 receptions, which isn't all that many. The trick is that he has 1,013 yards, nine touchdowns and one 300-yard single-game performance against West Virginia already this year.

    That means he's averaging a touchdown for just about every five receptions, and he's tagging defenses for an astonishing 21.6 yards per catch.

    Regardless of how well he's covered, he's always the X-factor on the field for the Bears. At 21.6 yards per catch, it's also confusing as to why he's not on the Heisman list.

7. Phillip Thomas

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    Phillip Thomas is a highly underrated safety for the Fresno State Bulldogs who currently leads the NCAA with seven interceptions.

    While he earned three against the Colorado Buffaloes, his most impressive performance was against San Diego State. He brought down only two interceptions in that game, but against much tougher competition than the Buffaloes.

    When you have a safety that's good enough for other quarterbacks to avoid throwing near, that's a player who should be fairly well-known. Yes, Thomas' numbers are against weaker competition than, say, Jordan Poyer of Oregon State, but he's still a name that should have been mentioned a few times on the air.

6. Jordan Lynch

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    Let's go over a few stats that will let you in on the secret that is Jordan Lynch of the Northern Illinois Huskies.

    First, there's his quarterback rating at 146.7. That's probably not going to convince you, though.

    Let's try his completion percentage at 61.1. Didn't work?

    OK, let's try his rushing yard total at 1,049.

    That worked? Excellent.

    Jordan Lynch would be getting a lot of hype as a running back with those totals after only eight games.

    We all want to know why he's not being talked about each week. He's No. 2 on the rushing yards list for this season. The other four players in the top five on that list are all running backs.

5. Barrett Jones

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    When it comes to the most underrated player on the Crimson Tide, some people may be expecting me to talk about A.J. McCarron and his passing efficiency. The fact is that McCarron is currently fourth on ESPN's Heisman Watch List, so he's far from being one of the 10 most underrated players this year.

    Barrett Jones, on the other hand, is highly underrated. He was an All-American in 2010 at right guard and 2011 at left tackle. This year, he's the Tide's center, replacing William Vlachos.

    If Jones can finish as an All-American again, he will be the most versatile offensive lineman to play at his level of skill in college football history. The fact that he is not on the Heisman list is a horrible oversight by all voters, period. He should be higher on the list than A.J. McCarron.

    Of course, A.J. McCarron should be higher on the Heisman list, but that's nitpicking.

4. Beau Blankenship

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    The Ohio Bobcats have already been described in depth via the Tyler Tettleton slide, so we can skip ahead to Beau Blankenship's resume.

    Blankenship has rushed for 951 yards on 198 carries this season and is among the nation's elite in number of attempts. His 4.8 yards-per-carry average may seem a little low, but if he can bank almost five yards on every attempt, he's a valuable piece of Tettleton's arsenal.

    Blankenship has added 124 yards receiving on 10 catches to bring his total offensive yardage to 1,075 on the season. He has a few weeks left to pad those stats, and the Ohio Bobcats will be more than willing to let him carry them to the Mid-American Conference championship.

3. Nick Florence

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    Nick Florence had the unenviable task of succeeding the legendary Robert Griffin III at Baylor. While many kids would have basically written themselves off, Florence has done the opposite.

    Florence is currently 142-of-217 for 2,226 yards, 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Yes, that 10-interception mark puts a damper on things, but he's still managing to gain an awesome 10.26 yards per attempt.

    No, he won't be drafted in the first round in April, but he should definitely be commended for potentially leading Baylor to a bowl game. He has three wins already, and games against Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are coming on the schedule.

    If he can rein in his interceptions, he can find enough wins on that schedule to play in the postseason. All he needs is for the defense to make a few stops between now and then.

2. Stefphon Jefferson

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    Stefphon Jefferson is the nation's leading rusher, period. He has the most carries at 251 and the most yards at 1,248. At five yards per attempt, his presence on this list should come as no surprise to anyone.

    Again, a five-yard rush is a guaranteed opportunity to take a long shot on 2nd-and-5 or less. Jefferson would do the Wolf Pack a gigantic favor by sticking around for another season, but he may just take the safer route and jump into the NFL in the second round.

    It makes no sense to me that a potential 2,000-yard rusher isn't on the Heisman watch list, regardless of conference affiliation.

    Should he be at the top of that list? Probably not, but he's definitely deserving of a spot on the list.

    Again, the curse of the non-AQ conference strikes again, but that's an article for a different day.

1. Colby Cameron

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    Louisiana Tech's quarterback currently holds (and is still setting) the NCAA record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception at 275. Colby Cameron is the signal-caller for the nation's top offense and is planning on trucking through this week with no interceptions against New Mexico State.

    This season, he has 196 completions for 2,306 yards, 20 touchdowns and zero interceptions. For a quarterback that's tagging teams for an average of 329.4 yards per game, that is an astounding mark for interceptions.

    Don't forget, the LA Tech Bulldogs went up against the Texas A&M Aggies two weeks ago and scored 57 points in that loss. This proves that his stats aren't simply a product of playing weak teams from weak conferences.