With some of the greatest college coaches getting "up there" in age, eyes are constantly looking for the next installment of sideline generals to relieve the watch.
Most of these 10 players are heading to the NFL. Whether they will start as pros still remains to be seen, but they are definitely going to be given the opportunity. Some will go pro, but could probably benefit from getting on with a smaller school's coaching staff right out of college.
While it's great to watch guys like Nick Saban, Les Miles and Will Muschamp do their thing on the sideline, fans of teams like Texas are already wondering who can take their team over the next hurdle.
Here are 10 current players who will make great coaches at some point in the future, presented in no particular order.
*Pictures are action shots of the school's football program, not necessarily of the player himself.
"Under the radar" doesn't begin to describe the junior from Stanford named John Flacco. In fact, the only thing you may recognize is his last name, which appears on the backs of Baltimore Ravens jerseys all over the nation. (John is Joe's little brother.)
John Flacco was valedictorian of his high school class and he lettered in basketball, baseball and football. (He lettered in football as both a wide receiver and a middle linebacker.) As a biomechanical engineering major at Stanford, his intelligence is not in question.
Why he would make a great coach: So many of the greats didn't start as star pro players. On the bench at Stanford, he's pretty much had all the time he could possibly need to observe a football program from the inside. Coaching is about outplaying the coach on the opposite sideline, not about being able to prove to your players that you could beat them at anything.
Nick Saban is in his 60s, he could probably not out-endure many of his players, but he's one of the greatest college football coaches of all time. Similarly, Flacco has seen one of the greatest runs of Stanford football during his time with the Cardinal.
If he's half as smart as his resume suggests, he could easily have a future in coaching if he doesn't wish to immediately pursue biomechanical engineering. Oddly enough, out of all the players on this list, he's the most likely to end up in coaching.
The rest of the players are pretty likely to have long careers in the pros.
Colby Cameron may or may not get drafted, but he has proved himself worthy of consideration by any team looking to add to its coaching staff. Of course, anyone entering the coaching realm is going to have to start at a lower-tier school.
Any school looking for a quarterbacks coach in the coming season should probably make Cameron a contingency offer in case he isn't drafted. Cameron has played against the likes of Damontre Moore (Texas A&M) and has yet to throw an interception in his 366 attempts this season.
Cameron has a strong head on his shoulders and plays with poise and no sign of panic when he's in the backfield. Some say you can't teach that, but that's not true. Anything is teachable, as long as the coach knows how to teach it.
Yes, there are certain instincts that some people are born with, but nothing is impossible to learn. Circumstance is the greatest teacher. The greatest coaches don't teach kids football in the drawing room. They teach it on the field. Composure is a teachable attribute. Nobody knows how to teach it better than one who has learned it firsthand.
He is currently 206/316 for 2750 yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Those are far from bad statistics, and he can only be accused of losing one of USC's games this year. (Stanford, in which the Trojans only scored 14 points; the other two were lost by the defense, not the offense.)
Matt Barkley could easily step into the coaching realm with his understanding of offenses (not at a major school, yet). After his NFL career, Barkley will have experienced enough to be a complete coach to the bargaining table. Whether he chooses to do that is another matter entirely.
Ryan Nassib of the Syracuse Orangemen is another highly intelligent signal-caller on this list (among many). While quarterbacks don't always make the best coaches, they have the unique ability to see the field differently from anyone else on the team on every play.
They are used to seeing defensive packages, calling audibles and generally being an on-field coach much more than most other players. (Linebackers will be mentioned later in the show.)
Nassib is leading the Big East in quite a few categories:
Completions (with 226)
Yards (with 2773) and yards per game (with 308.1)
Touchdowns, tied with Teddy Bridgewater (with 18)
Nassib is underrated as a collegiate quarterback, and a good bit of that is due to the Big East's current weakness on the national level. However, the NFL pundits (see quarterback draft link in the Colby Cameron slide) have him slated to potentially get nabbed in the third round.
Manti Te'o has been as consistent of a linebacker for Notre Dame as anyone in South Bend could wish for. He's been more than simply effective at his position, registering a season-high two interceptions in the tight win over Michigan and a season-high 12 tackles in the tight win over Michigan State.
While it may or may not have mattered, he even picked off Landry Jones in the blowout victory over the Oklahoma Sooners. While he may or may not be the best linebacker in the nation, it's safe to say he's consistently improved all the way through his senior season.
With that kind of work ethic, he will be successful in any venture he chooses. With his spirit, he could lead teams to great heights. If he could find a great head coach to start under, there's little doubt that's exactly what he'd do.
Nick Florence hasn't won or started enough to be nearly as viable of a draft pick as his predecessor was. Of course, Robert Griffin III isn't exactly an act you really want to follow.
Florence has already earned his economics degree from Baylor and is the Bears' signal-caller as well. Florence joins eight others on this list as finalists for the William V. Campbell trophy (given to the nation's top scholar-athlete).
With a brain, a knack for numbers and a decent amount of starting experience in one of the nation's top football conferences, Florence should have little issue picking up the coaching aspect of the game. He'd certainly benefit from exploring his opportunities if he doesn't go in the draft.
Marcus Lattimore suffered a knee injury in 2011 that left him rehabbing until long after the season ended. He came back from that injury to wreak havoc on the schedule until another knee injury took him out against Tennessee this year. (Lattimore underwent successful surgery on Nov. 2, 2012 for that injury.)
Lattimore has already promised to return to the football field, and there's no reason to doubt his word. If you watched the Tennessee game, you saw that he commanded the respect of the entire nation. That level of respect is earned, not given.
Lattimore's promise shows us something else about him: He's got a fire in him that most people will never understand. He knew exactly what he was about to go through when he made that promise. He's just come through it over the last year. He didn't have any shred of delusion over him when he said what he said.
Lattimore may have something in him that others don't think can be taught. That "thing" is fire. Believe me, fires spread. Fires don't spread by people who want to spread them. Fires spread from people who possess that fire.
If anyone in America can coach a team with heart, it's Lattimore. Hopefully, he does that after his career in the NFL. Gamecocks fans would love to see him back in Columbia before he retires from the game. There's nobody with better intangibles than Lattimore, and there are very few with better tangibles.
Few players are ever truly comfortable in a spread offense, even after years of learning the system that governs that configuration. Not only is Johnny Manziel comfortable, he's one of the best quarterbacks ever to run it.
As a freshman, Manziel has led Texas A&M to a 7-2 record in 2012, and he hasn't had a "cake" schedule, either. He's lost only to Florida and LSU, and we're not sure he would lose that Florida game if it were played this week instead of as his first-ever collegiate start.
As for LSU, well, almost everyone else has lost to them, too, so that's not even a big deal. Manziel and the Aggies only lost by five to the Tigers, and the No. 1 team in the nation only beat LSU by four.
Manziel has a head for the game, instincts, work ethic and a set of instincts that should improve very well over the next few years. If he's not a first-round draft pick to the NFL, he should be snagged by any of the non-AQ conferences at the end of his run at A&M.
Manziel will have a bright future no matter what he chooses to do, but a coaching career will probably await him after he is done on the field.
Sean Renfree has led Duke to its first bowl game since 1994. As a National Football Foundation scholar-athlete, he's proven himself to have the mind to campaign for a job on a coaching staff.
Renfree leads the ACC in completions with 254, and he's one of the more productive tossers with 19 touchdowns (tied for third in the conference).
A scholar-athlete with a current 3.81 GPA in his master's program while he's playing football is a definite candidate for coaching. A quarterback with a bird's-eye view of all that's going on on the football field during every offensive play of the game is a valuable bullet point on your resume.
Renfree even sounds like a good, strong coach's name, doesn't it? (It's not as cool as Freeze, though.)
There are a few players on the Crimson Tide that will likely make good coaches, but this one stands out above the rest by a large margin. Barrett Jones was an All-American right guard, then an All-American left tackle, and he's on his way to being an All-American center. All this happened in three years.
Most players who become coaches will have to go through the internships at lower schools and earn their way up the ladder until they finally get into a marquee program. Jones has already had his internship under one of the best coaches in the game today.
There is probably very little that Jones doesn't already know about the offensive line and its duties. He could take over as offensive line coach at over half of the schools in the AQ conferences, and that's not exaggerating.
As one of the most versatile football players ever, it's safe to assume that somebody in the NFL will pick him up. If not, he should get snarfed up by any one of a dozen schools in need of a quarterback protection unit.
Seriously, this guy learned to snap a football during this past offseason. He's that quick a study.