Every College Football Team's 2012 MVP
Sadly, the 2012 college football regular season will come to an end this weekend. It seems like just yesterday that we were in the dog days of summer, waiting for the season to start. Now, here we are, trying to figure out which teams will end up in which bowl games.
It's been another entertaining year filled with great action and terrific individual performances. We saw plenty of breakout stars step out onto the national stage and become household names in 2012.
While there were plenty of players who had outstanding seasons this year, there were just a special few who proved to be the most vital and important part of their team's success.
Here's a look at the 2012 most valuable player of all 124 FBS college football teams.
Alabama Crimson Tide: LB CJ Mosley
Alabama lost many of its key veteran defensive leaders from last year's national championship team, including high NFL draft picks such as Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick and Courtney Upshaw.
Obviously, the Tide needed a new defensive leader in 2012, and that's just what linebacker C.J. Mosley has become.
After showing flashes of his enormous potential in each of his first two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Mosley has now become the true centerpiece of Alabama's dominant defense.
The athletic and instinctive inside linebacker has totaled 92 tackles, including 56 solo stops, four sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble during his breakout campaign.
Arizona Wildcats: RB Ka’Deem Carey
Rich Rodriguez's spread offensive system helped Pat White, Steve Slaton and Denard Robinson all become stars during his previous two coaching stops at Michigan and West Virginia.
This year, Rodriguez's offense helped RB Ka'Deem Carey reach his full potential and flourish as one of the Pac-12's biggest breakout stars of 2012.
Carey has rushed for 1,757 yards, caught 33 passes for 288 yards and scored 21 total touchdowns.
The sophomore's biggest game of the season was his eye-popping performance against Colorado when he rushed for a whopping 366 yards and five touchdowns, which broke the Pac-12 single-game rushing record.
Arizona State Sun Devils: DT Will Sutton
Arizona State ranks second in the Pac-12 with 47 total sacks. The player that has contributed most to that total is DT Will Sutton.
Sutton racked up 9.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles in 2012.
The 6'1'', 267-pound junior certainly isn't the biggest defensive tackle in college football. But this season he proved that he's definitely one of the most explosive, athletic and disruptive interior players in the country.
Arkansas Razorbacks: QB Tyler Wilson
Arkansas was one of the most disappointing teams of 2012. However, the team's 4-8 record certainly can't be blamed on QB Tyler Wilson, who tried his best to be a stabilizing force and a team leader during a tumultuous season.
Wilson bypassed the opportunity to be a first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft to return to Fayetteville for his senior year. What he didn't know at the time was that coach Bobby Petrino's off-the-field transgressions would soon cost him his job and force an ill-equipped John L. Smith into the head-coaching role.
The senior signal-caller may not have won many games this year, but he definitely made all the NFL-caliber throws that scouts are looking for. Wilson completed 62 percent of his passes for over 3,300 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Auburn Tigers: LB Daren Bates
Auburn suffered through a disastrous 3-9 campaign this season. The Tigers clearly lacked discipline and determination in 2012. However, there was at least one player, LB Daren Bates, who consistently played as hard as he could no matter what the score was.
Bates ended up leading the team in tackles for the second year in a row. He totaled 94 take downs, including 39 solo stops and 5.5 tackles for loss, as well as two sacks and four quarterback hurries.
It's a shame the rest of the team didn't play as hard as the senior defensive leader did in his final season.
Baylor Bears: WR Terrance Williams
Baylor had to deal with the losses of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III and WR Kendall Wright, the school's all-time leading receiver. Even with the departures, however, the Bears were still able to put together a lethal passing attack in 2012 due in large part to the emergence of WR Terrance Williams.
Williams embraced his role as the team's new go-to target, catching 89 passes for 1,693 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The 6'2'', 205-pound senior has now put himself in position to potentially be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Boston College Eagles: LB Nick Clancy
Former Boston College LB Luke Kuechly seemed like the type of irreplaceable player whose departure would devastate a defense. But luckily for the Eagles, they found another tackling-machine to help fill the void that Kuechly left.
Nick Clancy stepped up in a big way this season, leading the team with 145 total tackles and 10 pass breakups.
Clancy may not be destined to be a top-10 pick like Kuechly was in the 2012 NFL draft. But he certainly made his presence felt in a big way throughout his senior season.
California Golden Bears: WR Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen only played in nine games this season due to a knee injury, but he still managed to solidify his status as one of the Pac-12's most dangerous offensive playmakers. Although he had to deal with inconsistent play from his quarterback Zach Maynard, Allen still managed to haul in 61 passes for 737 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.
If the 6'3'', 210-pound junior decides to declare for the 2013 NFL draft as expected, he's got a great chance to be the first wide receiver taken, and possibly even a top-15 pick.
Cincinnati Bearcats: RB George Winn
George Winn faced a tall task this season, trying to replace RB Isaiah Pead, who rushed for 1,259 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
Winn proved that he was ready for the challenge, however, as he nearly matched Pead's 2011 production.
The 5'11'', 210-pound senior powered his way to 1,134 yards on the ground and scored 11 touchdowns, and he still has a bowl game left to add to those numbers.
Winn is obviously a big reason why the Bearcats finished the regular season ranked first in the Big East in rushing offense.
Clemson Tigers: QB Tajh Boyd
Tajh Boyd may not have been able to win the two most important games of the season against Florida State or South Carolina. But if you take away those two losses, Boyd had an absolutely fantastic season in 2012.
The junior signal-caller proved that he was one of the premier passers in the country.
He completed 66 percent of his passes for 3,550 yards and 34 touchdowns, and he led the Tigers to another 10-win season.
Because of Boyd, Clemson currently ranks in the top 10 nationally in both total offense and scoring offense, averaging 42 points and 518 yards per game.
Colorado Buffaloes: DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe
Colorado suffered through a miserable 1-11 season in 2012. But there was at least one Buffalo player, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, who shined during the dark times.
Uzo-Diribe turned out to be one of the Pac-12's most underrated pass-rushers.
He finished the season with seven sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.
The athletic 6'3'', 250-pound junior will definitely be a player to watch out for in 2013.
Connecticut Huskies: LB Yawin Smallwood
Connecticut had one of college football's best linebacker corps of 2012, and the undisputed leader of that unit was Yawin Smallwood.
After putting together a very encouraging debut campaign last year, Smallwood took his game to another level this season. The 6'3'', 235-pound sophomore tallied 111 total tackles, including 56 solo stops and 15 tackles for loss, and he also notched 3.5 sacks, four pass breakups and forced two fumbles.
It's a shame we won't get to see Smallwood play in a bowl game this year, because he's undoubtedly one of the best young linebackers in the country.
Duke Blue Devils: WR Conner Vernon
WR Conner Vernon has had to suffer through a lot of losses during his time at Duke (31 to be exact). But he's finally going to get to experience the thrill of playing in the postseason this year when the Blue Devils head to a bowl game for the first time since losing to Wisconsin in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl.
This is the third straight season that Vernon has led the team in catches. The 6'1'', 200-pound senior hauled in 75 passes for 955 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.
Florida Gators: RB Mike Gillislee
Before the season started, a lot of Florida fans were worried about how the team was going to replace Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, the two leading rushers from 2011. But Mike Gillislee quickly put their fears to rest by showing that he was ready to be the Gators' featured back in 2012.
Gillislee carried the ball 235 times and rushed for over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. The senior back finished off the regular season with his best performance of the year against in-state rival Florida State. He totaled 162 yards of offense and scored two touchdowns in a 37-26 win over the Seminoles.
Florida State Seminoles: DE Bjoern Werner
Florida State lost star defensive end Brandon Jenkins after just one game. However, fortunately for the Seminoles, they got huge seasons out of both of their other top defensive ends, Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine.
Werner has been the most impressive impact player for a Florida State defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in most major categories.
The German native is tied for first in the country with 13 sacks, and he's also notched 18 tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and five quarterback hurries in 2012.
Georgia Bulldogs: LB Jarvis Jones
Jarvis Jones had a sensational sophomore campaign in 2011, in which the former USC transfer immediately became a star in the SEC. Somehow, Jones has managed to top that effort with an even better performance in 2012.
The explosive edge-rusher has been one of the most disruptive defenders in the country this year. Jones has racked up 71 tackles, including 19.5 tackles for loss, and he's also notched 10.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hurries and forced six fumbles.
The 6'3'', 241-pound junior appears destined to be a top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: LB Jeremiah Attaochu
Georgia Tech managed to make it all the way to the ACC championship game, even though the Yellow Jackets finished just 6-6 this season.
The team as a whole certainly didn't perform as well as expected in 2012, but one player who did surpass expectations was LB Jeremiah Attaochu.
Attaochu showed that he is truly one of the top pass-rushers in the ACC, as he piled up eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss this season.
Illinois Fighting Illini: LB Jonathan Brown
Illinois was a complete mess in 2012.
The Illini lost their last nine games of the season to finish 2-10 in Tim Beckman's first year at the school. The team was basically unwatchable, but one player who actually was enjoyable to watch was LB Jonathan Brown.
Although he was limited to just nine games, Brown still managed to pile up 59 tackles, including a team-leading 9.5 tackles for loss, and he also notched 3.5 sacks.
Indiana Hoosiers: RB Stephen Houston
Stephen Houston proved to be a highly effective and versatile playmaker for the Indiana offense in 2012. Not only did Houston run for 749 yards and 12 touchdowns this season, he also caught 37 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns.
The 6'0'', 218-pound junior is the type of back that can do damage to an opposing defense in a variety of different ways.
Iowa Hawkeyes: LB Anthony Hitchens
It certainly wasn't a great season for Iowa in 2012. The Hawkeyes struggled to win just four games.
There was one player, though, who actually did have a great season, and that was LB Anthony Hitchens.
Hitchens stepped out of the shadows of fellow linebackers James Morris and Christian Kirksey and proved that he's one of the premier defensive players in the Big Ten.
The 6'1'', 224-pound junior led the team with 124 tackles, including 56 solo stops.
Iowa State Cyclones: LB A.J. Klein
Linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott have been battling to be Iowa State's team-leader in tackles since they both entered the starting lineup as sophomores in 2010.
Knott won it that year, but Klein led the way in 2011.
He did the same thing once again this season.
The 6'2'', 248-pound senior finished the regular season with 98 total tackles, including 53 solo stops.
Kansas Jayhawks: LB Ben Heeney
Kansas may have won just one game in 2012, but at least the Jayhawks can take solace in the fact that they didn't finish last in the Big 12 in both scoring defense and total defense for a second straight year.
The unit certainly wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination. However, at least it did show some semblance of improvement this season.
What really helped the defense the most was the leadership ability of veteran linebacker Ben Heeney.
Heeney managed to rack up over 100 total tackles, and he was the most consistent player that Kansas had.
Kansas State Wildcats: QB Collin Klein
Collin Klein may not be the fastest runner in the country, and he may not have the prettiest throwing motion and mechanics that your eyes will ever see. Nevertheless, Klein is the type of dual-threat quarterback who caused fits for opposing defenses all season long.
The senior signal-caller has put together an absolutely outstanding final season in 2012. Klein has totaled over 3,100 yards of offense and accounted for 34 touchdowns, as he's led the Wildcats to another double-digit win season.
Although he'll likely finish second in the Heisman voting to Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, you still have to appreciate what Klein was able to do for a Kansas State program that many considered to be a second-tier team in the Big 12 before he took over as the starter last year.
Kentucky Wildcats: LB Avery Williamson
Kentucky was downright awful in 2012. The Wildcats could only muster up two victories the entire season, which is why coach Joker Phillips is no longer in Lexington.
There really wasn't a lot to love about this year's team, but one player that does deserve recognition and respect for the way he played this season is LB Avery Williamson.
Even though his team was struggling and losing week in and week out, Williamson still strapped it up and came to play every single game. The 6'1'', 243-pound junior ended up leading the team with 135 total tackles, which was more than double the amount of tackles he had in his first two seasons combined.
LSU Tigers: LB Kevin Minter
Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Eric Reid were the three LSU defenders that everybody was talking about before the season started. But as it turned out, the real top impact player on the Tigers defense this year was middle linebacker Kevin Minter.
Minter was a big reason why the team allowed just 3.1 yards per carry in 2012. The big, tough and instinctive junior led the team with 111 tackles, including 48 solo stops and 13.5 tackles for loss, and he also had three sacks and five pass breakups.
Louisville Cardinals: QB Teddy Bridgewater
QB Teddy Bridgewater arrived at Louisville as a highly rated high school recruit out of Florida powerhouse Miami Northwestern High School last year. It certainly hasn't taken the former blue-chip prospect all that long to show that his high school hype was indeed legitimate.
Bridgewater has led the Cardinals to a share of the Big East championship in each of his first two seasons, and this year, he's guided the team to just its second ever BCS bowl game.
The sophomore signal-caller has completed 68 percent of his passes for over 3,100 yards and thrown 23 touchdowns compared to just six interceptions.
Maryland Terrapins: WR Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs was one of the highest-rated high school recruits to ever sign with Maryland. Diggs managed to live up to sky-high expectations in his first season, as he quickly became Maryland's most dangerous offensive threat.
The freshman sensation led the team with 54 catches for 848 yards and he scored eight total touchdowns. He was also one of the most dangerous returners in the country, averaging 10 yards per punt return and 28 yards per kick return.
Diggs is an exciting young player who definitely possesses true star potential.
Miami Hurricanes: RB Duke Johnson
Miami has produced plenty of great running backs in recent years such as Frank Gore, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Lamar Miller. Now, it appears that Duke Johnson is going to be the next great back in Coral Gables.
Johnson became an overnight star as a true freshman in 2012, as he burst onto the ACC scene.
The dynamic playmaker led the team with 947 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also displayed his prowess as a receiver and a returner, catching 27 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown, and averaging 33 yards and scoring two touchdowns on kickoff returns as well.
Michigan Wolverines: LB Jake Ryan
Michigan once again had one of the best defenses in the Big Ten this season. The Wolverines ranked third in the conference in both scoring defense and total defense in 2012, giving up an average of just 18 points and 311 yards per game.
The leader of the strong unit is LB Jake Ryan.
After a solid freshman season in 2011, Ryan has developed into one of the top defenders in college football this year. The sophomore strong-side 'backer leads the team with 84 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss, and he's also notched 4.5 sacks and forced five fumbles.
Michigan State Spartans: RB Le’Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell possesses a rare combination of size, speed, power, agility and natural rushing instincts the likes of which you just don't see very often from a running back at the collegiate level. Bell used his remarkable physical tools and skills to his advantage in 2012, and he ended up putting together an extremely impressive campaign.
The 6'2'', 244-pound junior rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 12 touchdowns, and he was one of just three backs in the country to total over 200 rushing yards on three separate occasions this season.
Big Ten defenses can breathe a sigh of relief, because there's a good chance that Bell will be doing damage to NFL defenses next season, since he has nothing left to prove on the college level.
Minnesota Golden Gophers: CB Troy Stoudermire
Minnesota finished the regular season with the 11th ranked pass defense in the country, allowing just 178 yards through the air per game. The leader of the Golden Gophers secondary was once again CB Troy Stoudermire.
Stoudermire turned out to be one of the most stable cover corners in the country this year, as he consistently locked on and shut down his receiver on a regular basis. The senior led the team with 78 tackles, and he also broke up three passes.
Mississippi Rebels: QB Bo Wallace
During the offseason, pretty much every major media outlet predicted that Ole Miss would be an SEC cellar dweller once again in 2012. However, the Rebels proved their doubters wrong by winning six games and surprisingly becoming bowl eligible.
The key to the revitalization of the program was the play of first-year starting quarterback Bo Wallace, who added some much-needed life to the offense.
Wallace ended up using both his arm and his legs to burn opposing defenses this year.
He finished the regular season with 2,843 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns and 363 rushing yards and eight rushing scores.
Mississippi State Bulldogs: WR Chad Bumphis
Mississippi State fans had been waiting a while for WR Chad Bumphis to make the most of his potential and put together a true breakout season.
They finally got what they were hoping for this year. Bumphis rose up and became one of the most dangerous receivers in the SEC in 2012.
The senior led the team with 55 catches for 904 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he gave the offense a true spark in the passing game.
Missouri Tigers: DT Sheldon Richardson
Missouri definitely didn't look ready for SEC-caliber competition in 2012. But one Tiger who certainly did look ready for the new league is DT Sheldon Richardson. Following a solid debut season in 2011, many expected the former coveted high school recruit from St. Louis to deliver a true breakout season in 2012.
Richardson did just that. The powerful and agile junior tackle piled up a whopping 75 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss and 39 solo stops. He's also racked up four sacks and seven quarterback hurries, and forced three fumbles.
The powerful and agile 6'4'', 295-pound junior has likely ensured himself a spot in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft based off his tremendous performance this season.
Nebraska Cornhuskers: QB Taylor Martinez
Everyone already knew that Taylor Martinez was one of the best running quarterbacks in the country based off what we saw from him in his first two seasons in Lincoln, in which he totaled 1,839 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. The question everyone had coming into this season, however, was could Martinez improve his passing and become a true dual-threat quarterback?
The junior signal-caller answered that question with a resounding yes. This year, Martinez completed 63 percent of his passes for over 2,400 yards and 21 touchdowns. Plus, he led the Cornhuskers to a 10-win season and a berth in the Big Ten championship game.
North Carolina Tar Heels: RB Giovani Bernard
This season, Giovani Bernard showed that he is truly one of college football's most exciting and explosive talents. Bernard once again proved to be a versatile and dangerous playmaker, who could hurt opponents in a variety of different ways.
The sophomore speedster currently ranks first in the nation with an average of 171 yards from scrimmage per game, and he also ranks third with a 16.4 punt return average and 10th with 19 total touchdowns.
NC State Wolfpack: QB Mike Glennon
Mike Glennon had an up-and-down season in 2012. But when he was on his game, he was one of the most proficient passers in all of college football.
Glennon threw for over 3,600 yards and 30 touchdowns, and he led the Wolfpack to another 7-win regular season.
The senior signal-caller has the type of size, arm strength and intangibles that pro scouts are looking for. He could become one of the hottest prospects for the 2013 NFL draft in the coming months.
Northwestern Wildcats: RB Venric Mark
Nobody really knew what to expect from Venric Mark before the start of the 2012 season, considering he carried the ball just 15 times for 105 yards last year. But it only took Mark two games to surpass his entire 2011 production, as he quickly showed that he was ready to be a featured back for the Wildcats offense.
The 5'8'', 175-pound junior ended up finishing the regular season with 1,411 total yards of offense and 12 offensive touchdowns. He also averaged an astounding 20 yards per punt return and brought two punts back to the house for scores.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: LB Manti Te’o
Manti Te'o truly looked like a man on a mission this season.
Te'o obviously was not happy with the way Notre Dame had performed in the previous two seasons, so he did everything he could to make sure that the team returned to national prominence in 2012.
The intimidating inside linebacker has been the heart and soul of an Irish defense that allowed an average of just 10 points and 286 yards per game in the regular season.
Te'o totaled over 100 tackles for the third time in his career. Overall, he put together the type of season that is definitely worthy of serious Heisman consideration, especially since Notre Dame is now destined for the BCS championship game.
Ohio State Buckeyes: QB Braxton Miller
Many thought that the arrival of Urban Meyer would help QB Braxton Miller become a star in 2012.
That's exactly what ended up happening.
Miller proved to be a perfect fit for Meyer's spread offensive system.
The dynamic dual-threat quarterback threw for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns and added over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground as well.
The sophomore signal-caller showed the college football world that he is an elite playmaker and a true team leader, as he helped lead the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 season.
Following his brilliant performance this year, Miller will surely enter 2013 on the short list of Heisman favorites.
Oklahoma Sooners: FS Tony Jefferson
Tony Jefferson has been a key leader for the Oklahoma defense since breaking into the starting lineup as a freshman in 2010. This season, he's finally reached his full potential, and become a true standout for the Sooners.
The 5'11'', 212-pound junior leads the team with 105 tackles, including 76 solo stops, and he's also picked off two passes and broken up another two throws. Jefferson is truly a special talent, who has emerged as the key defensive leader that Oklahoma needed for this season.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: RB Joseph Randle
With both QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon having moved on to the NFL, RB Joseph Randle was asked to become the focal point of Oklahoma State's high-powered offense this season. It's a role that Randle has definitely embraced.
The 6'1'', 200-pound junior is the only running back in the Big 12 who has topped the 1,000-yard rushing mark this season. Randle has rushed for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he's also caught 24 passes for 201 yards.
The explosive offensive weapon is a key reason why the Cowboys currently rank in the top 5 nationally in both total offense and scoring offense.
Oregon Ducks: RB Kenjon Barner
Oregon's offense has yet again been one of the most explosive in college football. The Ducks rank second in the nation in scoring offense and fourth in total offense, averaging 50 points and 550 yards per game. They also rank fourth in rushing offense, averaging 343 yards on the ground due in large part to RB Kenjon Barner.
Barner had to wait in LaMichael James' shadow for three years, but he finally flourished as the main rushing threat in Eugene this season.
The 5'10'', 190-pound senior has shown that he's the perfect type of back for Oregon's spread system, as he's rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Oregon State Beavers: CB Jordan Poyer
Jordan Poyer quietly put together a terrific junior season in 2011, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors. But since Oregon State was just 3-9, Poyer didn't receive all that much national attention. However, that's changed now that the Beavers have made a dramatic improvement in 2012 and won eight games.
The college football world has started to take notice of Poyer's accomplishments and he's finally getting the level of respect he deserves. This season, the senior cover man has been one of the Pac-12's top defenders. In 10 games, he has six interceptions, six pass breakups and 43 tackles.
Even though opposing quarterbacks have tried to avoid throwing in his direction, Poyer has still found a way to make a huge impact for the Oregon State defense this season.
Penn State Nittany Lions: QB Matt McGloin
Bill O'Brien deserves a ton of credit for what he did at Penn State this season. He also deserves a lot of praise for what he was able to do with the team's quarterback Matt McGloin.
Last year, McGloin looked about as average and mediocre as a starting college quarterback possibly could.
This season, however, under the tutelage of O'Brien, he looked like a completely different player.
The senior signal-caller completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,271 yards and threw 24 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. Most importantly, he led the Nittany Lions to a surprising 8-4 season.
Pittsburgh Panthers: RB Ray Graham
Ray Graham didn't seem to show any ill-effects from the knee-injury that sidelined him for the last five games of the 2011 season. Graham was once again one of the most productive offensive players in the Big East this year.
The 5'9'', 190-pound senior rushed for 948 yards and nine touchdowns and he also caught 36 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
Purdue Boilermakers: DT Kawann Short
Kawann Short already solidified his status as one of the best overall defensive tackles in college football with a breakout performance in 2011.
He managed to enhance his reputation as a dominant interior force with a strong senior season this year.
Short totaled 42 tackles, including 34 solo stops and 14.5 tackles for loss.
The 6'3'', 315-pound future NFL starter also notched six sacks and blocked four kicks in 2012.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: LB Khaseem Greene
Khaseem Greene won Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year honors for his outstanding performance in 2011, his first year after switching from safety to linebacker. Greene appears destined to receive that honor once again this season, as he's been the conference's most impressive overall defender of 2012.
Greene finished the regular season as the team-leader in tackles, racking up 115 total take downs, including 63 solo stops and 10 tackles for loss. The 6'1'', 230-pound senior also totaled 5.5 sacks, seven quarterback hurries, five pass breakups, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and he scored a touchdown on a fumble return.
South Carolina Gamecocks: DE Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney arrived at South Carolina last year as arguably the most hyped high school football recruit of all time. After showing that he could handle the high expectations with a strong debut campaign in 2011, this season, Clowney developed into the pass-rushing phenom that many were expecting him to become.
The star sophomore defensive end has been a nightmare to try to block, and he's embarrassed plenty of offensive tackles, including some of the best linemen in the SEC. Clowney has totaled 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss in 2012.
He's definitely shown that he was worth every bit of praise that was bestowed upon him when he was a highly touted high school senior.
South Florida Bulls: LB Sam Barrington
As a whole, South Florida's defense did not come close to meeting expectations this season. But one Bulls defender who actually did have a solid campaign in 2012 was LB Sam Barrington.
Barrington finished his senior season with 73 tackles, including 43 solo stops and 4.5 tackles for loss.
He was the most consistent and reliable player for the struggling South Florida defense all year long.
Stanford Cardinal: RB Stepfan Taylor
No one seemed to expect Stanford to challenge Oregon for a Pac-12 North division title following the loss of star quarterback Andrew Luck, who was arguably the greatest player in the program's history. However, RB Stepfan Taylor stepped up and helped make up for Luck's loss by becoming the true centerpiece of the Cardinal offense this season.
After playing in the shadow of college football's biggest star quarterback for the past two seasons, the senior rusher has finally started to garner the recognition he really deserves. Taylor has once again been a workhorse back. He's carried the ball 278 times for 1,364 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2012.
Syracuse Orange: QB Ryan Nassib
Syracuse quietly had one of the most impressive and productive passing attacks in the country this season.
QB Ryan Nassib has been one of the most efficient passers in all of college football in 2012.
Nassib has completed 63 percent of his passes for over 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Most importantly, he's led the Orange to seven wins and given them a chance to play in the postseason.
The senior signal-caller will be a late-round sleeper prospect to keep an eye on for the 2013 NFL draft.
TCU Horned Frogs: DE Devonte Fields
Stansly Maponga was expected to be TCU's most dangerous pass-rushing threat this season. But it was actually Devonte Fields who turned out to be opposing quarterbacks' worst nightmare.
Fields, who arrived in Fort Worth as a 4-star rated recruit out of nearby Martin High School, immediately made a huge impact for the Horned Frogs defense in his first season of action.
The 6'4'', 240-pound freshman has totaled nine sacks, 31 solo tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and three quarterback hurries in 2012, and he's still got two games left to play.
It's clear that Fields has the type of potential to develop into one of college football's elite edge-rushers over the next few years.
Tennessee Volunteers: QB Tyler Bray
If you look just strictly at Tyler Bray's 5-7 record as a starter, you probably wouldn't think he had such a great season in 2012. However, Bray was actually one of the few bright spots for the Volunteers this season.
The talented junior signal-caller threw for over 3,600 yards and 34 touchdowns, and he made the types of throws that surely raised a few NFL scouts' eyebrows.
It will be interesting to see what Bray's decision will be in regards to entering the 2013 NFL draft. If he decides to return to Knoxville for his senior year, he has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick in 2014.
Texas Longhorns: DE Alex Okafor
Texas' defense wasn't nearly as good as it should have been this season, considering the amount of future NFL talent that the unit is loaded with. However, DE Alex Okafor was one Longhorn defender who definitely did live up to his potential in 2012.
Okafor helped make up for the loss of his partner in crime, fellow DE Jackson Jeffcoat, by racking up eight sacks, nine quarterback hurries and 11.5 tackles for loss this season.
The senior pass-rusher has truly been the most dependable defender that Texas has.
Texas A&M Aggies: QB Johnny Manziel
Not much was expected from Texas A&M in its first season in the SEC. Many fans from some of the other prominent schools in the conference joked that the Aggies would be lucky just to make it to a bowl. What those doubters couldn't have realized at the time was just how good quarterback Johnny Manziel was going to be.
In his first season as a starter, Manziel turned out to be one of the most explosive and electrifying players in all of college football. The dynamic dual-threat signal-caller totaled 4,600 yards of offense, a new SEC record, and he accounted for 43 touchdowns, as he led A&M to 10 wins, including a huge upset of Alabama.
Manziel's 2012 campaign is one of the best that we've ever seen from a freshman player. Johnny Football's definitely proven that he's the most deserving candidate for this year's Heisman Trophy.
Texas Tech Red Raiders: QB Seth Doege
Seth Doege hasn't received nearly the same amount of press or national publicity as more heralded Big 12 quarterbacks such as Collin Klein, Geno Smith and Landry Jones have in 2012.
The fact is, though, that Doege has actually been the most productive overall passer in the conference this season.
The senior signal-caller is on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards for the second straight season, and he currently leads the nation with 38 touchdown passes.
UCLA Bruins: QB Brett Hundley
First-year UCLA head coach Jim Mora caused a bit of a stir when he chose unproven redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley to be his starting quarterback instead of more experienced veterans such as Kevin Prince or Richard Brehaut.
It's turned out to be a magnificent decision by Mora, though.
Hundley has been one of the biggest breakout stars of the 2012 season, and he's been one of the best freshman quarterbacks in conference history.
The highly athletic dual-threat signal-caller has totaled over 3,500 yards of offense and accounted for 34 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, and he's led the Bruins to a Pac-12 South division title.
USC Trojans: WR Marqise Lee
USC didn't come close to living up to preseason expectations, going just 7-5 after starting the year ranked in the top three. As a team, the Trojans may not have been nearly as good as advertised, but one player who certainly lived up to the hype was WR Marqise Lee.
Lee proved he was the best receiver and the best offensive player in college football with an unbelievable 2012 campaign. The sophomore star leads the nation with 112 catches for 1,680 yards and he's caught 14 touchdowns.
Utah Utes: DT Star Lotulelei
Utah had one of the best run defenses in the country this season. The main reason why is because the Utes had one of the best run-stuffing defensive tackles of the last decade, Star Lotulelei, lining up right in middle of their defense.
Lotulelei is a 6'4'', 320-pound monster who is capable of causing plenty of chaos in the interior.
The supremely gifted run-stuffer dominated almost every blocker that he faced this season. He proved to scouts that he's definitely worth a top-10 pick in next year's NFL draft.
Vanderbilt Commodores: WR Jordan Matthews
Vanderbilt won eight games this season, which is notable, because it's the first time the Commodores have had that many victories in one season since 1982. One of the key players to the team's success this year has been WR Jordan Matthews.
Matthews has been QB Jordan Rodgers' favorite receiving target once again this season. The 6'3'', 205-pound junior finished the regular season ranked second in the SEC with 87 catches for 1,262 yards and seven touchdowns.
Virginia Cavaliers: LB Steve Greer
Steve Greer managed to total over 250 tackles in his first three years at Virginia. But he saved his best performance for his final season in 2012. This year, Greer led the Cavaliers in tackles for the third time in his career. He totaled 91 take downs, including 51 solo stops and 5.5 tackles for loss.
The 6'2'', 230-pound senior has certainly cemented his place as one of the best defensive players in the program's history.
Virginia Tech Hokies: LB Jack Tyler
There wasn't a lot to like about Virginia Tech's extremely disappointing 6-6 season in 2012. However, the Hokies did at least have a few nice individual performances on the defensive side of the ball this year.
The team's most consistent defender was LB Jack Tyler.
Tyler stepped out of the shadow of teammate Bruce Taylor and turned out to be Virginia Tech's most valuable defender. The 6'1'', 236-pound junior led the team with 112 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss, and he also added 2.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: WR Michael Campanaro
Wake Forest may have lost Chris Givens, the team's leading receiver in 2011. Luckily, though, Michael Campanaro stepped up and became the team's No. 1 target in the passing game this season.
Even though he only played in 10 games, Campanaro still finished the season with 79 receptions, which was the most in the ACC.
Washington Huskies: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
QB Keith Price didn't have the type of stellar season that many expected from him in 2012, but it wasn't because Price lacked a receiving threat that he could rely on. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins consistently provided the junior quarterback with a huge target in the passing game, which is why Price seemed to rely on him so heavily this season.
Seferian-Jenkins was the second most productive tight end in the nation behind Stanford's Zach Ertz. He finished the regular season with 63 catches for 791 yards and six touchdowns.
Washington State Cougars: LB Travis Long
This season, Travis Long switched from a true 4-3 defensive end to a hybrid outside edge-rusher role in the team's new 3-4 defense. However, Long still managed to keep his productivity level at an all-time high.
The 6'4'', 245-pound senior had the best season of his career in 2012, and he was one of the few standouts on an otherwise putrid-looking Cougars team. Long finished the year with 61 total tackles, including 42 solo stops and 12 tackles for loss. He also notched eight sacks, three quarterback hurries and three pass breakups.
West Virginia Mountaineers: WR Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin was the most productive player in college football last season, totaling 2,574 all-purpose yards, which was the most of any player in the country.
This season, Austin has already surpassed that total with 2,580 all-purpose yards, and he still has two games to play.
Austin is the type of well-rounded weapon who can do serious damage as a receiver, returner or runner out of the backfield. The 5'9'', 173-pound senior has been the most reliable player for the Mountaineers this season, and he's proven that he's a true game-breaking threat.
Wisconsin Badgers: RB Montee Ball
During the first half of the 2012 season, Montee Ball definitely didn't look like the same player who took the college football world by storm last year. However, Ball really picked his game up in the second half of the year and finished the season in strong fashion.
The 5'11'', 215-pound senior ended up finishing the regular season with over 1,500 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
Air Force Falcons: RB Cody Getz
Cody Getz may not be the biggest or most physically gifted running back in college football, but he just so happens to be a perfect fit for Air Force's Flexbone tripe-option offense.
After carrying the ball just 25 times for 102 yards last year, Getz emerged as the team's main rushing threat in 2012.
The 5'7'', 175-pound senior ran the ball 191 times for 1,213 yards and scored nine touchdowns in 2012.
Akron Zips: QB Dalton Williams
Akron was absolutely terrible this season. The Zips finished the year with a 1-11 record, and seven of those losses were by double-digits.
Although the team as a whole was awful, Akron actually did have a formidable passing attack, led by QB Dalton Williams, who completed 62 percent of his passes for over 3,300 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Arkansas State Red Wolves: Ryan Aplin
Before the season started, Arkansas State fans were obviously excited to see what QB Ryan Aplin could do in new head coach Gus Malzahn's unique offensive system. Ultimately, Aplin turned out to be a great fit for Malzahn's offense.
This year, the talented dual-threat quarterback has completed 66 percent of his passes for over 2,800 yards and thrown 20 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. He's also added 379 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Aplin hasn't just been the best player on Arkansas State. You could make the argument that he's been the best overall player in the Sun Belt Conference in 2012.
Army Black Knights: QB Trent Steelman
Army has only won two games this season, but at least the Black Knights can hang their hat on the fact that they have the top rushing offense in the country for the second straight year.
The team is averaging 369 yards on the ground per game this season, and the catalyst of that attack is QB Trent Steelman.
Steelman may not be much of a passer but he has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012.
Ball State Cardinals: RB Jahwan Edwards
Going into this season, Ball State hadn't had a running back top the 1,000-yard rushing mark since MiQuale Lewis did it back in 2008. But RB Jahwan Edwards was able to end that drought this season.
Edwards rushed for 1,321 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012.
Boise State Broncos: RB D.J. Harper
D.J. Harper had some mighty big shoes to fill, taking over for Doug Martin as the main man in the Boise State backfield this season. But Harper has done an admirable job and proved to be a worthy successor to the "Muscle Hamster."
Harper has been the Broncos' most consistent offensive weapon in 2012.
The senior back has totaled over 1,000 yards of offense and scored 15 touchdowns.
Bowling Green Falcons: DT Chris Jones
Bowling Green finished the regular season ranked first in the MAC in basically every major statistical defensive category, including total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense.
One of the keys to the Falcons' defensive success was the play of DT Chris Jones.
Jones was a truly disruptive force in 2012. He led the conference with 12.5 sacks and ranked second with 19 tackles for loss.
Buffalo Bulls: LB Khalil Mack
Another MAC defender who put together a dominant performance in 2012 is Buffalo LB Khalil Mack.
Mack displayed an intriguing combination of speed, power and natural instincts on the edge of the Bulls defense. The 6'3'', 245-pound junior finished the season with eight sacks, 20 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.
BYU Cougars: WR Cody Hoffman
Even though he didn't get the most consistent play from his quarterback Riley Nelson, WR Cody Hoffman still managed to be one of the most productive receivers in the country this season.
Hoffman finished the regular season with 90 catches for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. Given his exceptional performance this season and his evident NFL skill-set, the 6'4'', 215-pound junior will have a tough decision to make when the season ends concerning whether to declare for the 2013 NFL draft.
Central Michigan Chippewas: RB Zurlon Tipton
Central Michigan isn't a team that's necessarily known for producing quality running backs. The last Chippewa player to top the 1,000-yard rushing mark was actually QB Dan LeFevour back in 2007.
This season, however, the team had one of the most productive rushers in the MAC, Zurlon Tipton.
Tipton finished the 2012 season with 1,391 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
Colorado State Rams: QB Conner Smith
Colorado State was 1-5 when Conner Smith took over as the team's new starting quarterback midway through the season. However, Smith managed to rally the team down the stretch, as he led the Rams to three wins in their last six games.
The 6'5'', 220-pound freshman definitely got fans excited for the future with his performance in 2012. Smith completed 63 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards and threw six touchdowns.
East Carolina Pirates: WR Justin Hardy
Last year, East Carolina fans realized that WR Justin Hardy had the chance to be a special player when he outproduced senior receiver Lance Lewis as just a redshirt freshman.
This season, with Lewis gone, Hardy has had even more of a chance to shine. He's embraced the opportunity to prove himself.
The 6'0'', 181-pound sophomore finished the regular season with 83 catches for 1,046 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Eastern Michigan Eagles: TE Garrett Hoskins
Eastern Michigan's offense wasn't loaded with a lot of playmakers this season. But one player who did stand out on the otherwise lackluster unit is TE Garrett Hoskins.
Hoskins was one of the most productive tight ends in the country this season, catching 38 passes for 537 yards and three touchdowns.
FIU Golden Panthers: SS Jonathan Cyprien
FIU will not be heading to a third-straight bowl game this year following a 3-9 season. That means that safety Jonathan Cyprien will have to wait until the postseason All-Star game circuit to show off his skills for NFL scouts again.
Cyprien has been one of the Golden Panthers' key defensive leaders since entering the starting lineup as a freshman back in 2009. This season, the 6'1'', 210-pound senior had his best season yet, leading the team with 93 tackles and four interceptions.
Florida Atlantic Owls: QB Graham Wilbert
Florida Atlantic's offense didn't exactly light up scoreboards this season.
The Owls averaged just 20 points and 331 yards per game and finished the year with just three wins. However, there were times when they got some pretty solid play out of QB Graham Wilbert.
Wilbert completed 64 percent of his passes for over 2,400 yards and threw 16 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.
Fresno State Bulldogs: SS Phillip Thomas
QB Derek Carr was the star of Fresno State's offense, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns.
You can make the case, however, that safety Phillip Thomas was just as important to the Bulldogs defense as Carr was to the offense this year.
Thomas was one of the best defensive backs in the country in 2012.
He's going to be a serious contender for All-American honors as well as the prestigious Jim Thorpe Award.
The 6'1'', 215-pound senior led the team with 82 tackles and eight interceptions, and he also notched four sacks, four pass breakups and forced four fumbles.
Hawai’i Warriors: DE Paipai Falemalu
Norm Chow's first season as head coach at Hawai'i wasn't exactly a memorable one. The Warriors won just two games, one of which came against Lamar.
The defense was pretty horrid overall, allowing 38 points per game. However, there was at least one defensive player, DE Paipai Falemalu, who actually turned in a solid campaign in 2012.
Falemalu finished the season with 53 tackles, including 34 solo stops, nine tackles for loss, and he also notched four sacks.
Houston Cougars: LB Phillip Steward
Houston took a giant step back this season. After going 13-1 last year, the Cougars could only muster up five wins in 2012. One player who certainly didn't take a step back, however, is LB Phillip Steward.
Steward finished off his college career on a strong note, leading the team with 128 tackles, including 57 solo stops and 19 tackles for loss. He also totaled 11 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and forced five fumbles.
The 6'0'', 223-pound senior was truly one of the top impact defenders in not just Conference USA, but the entire country.
Idaho Vandals: FS Gary Walker
Idaho was one of the worst teams in college football this season. The Vandals won just one game this year. They were so bad that head coach Robb Akey made it just eight games into the season before being fired.
It's too bad that safety Gary Walker was stuck on such a terrible team this year, because he was actually one of the best defensive backs in the WAC.
Walker finished the 2012 season with 99 total tackles, including 57 solo stops, and six pass breakups.
Kent State Golden Flashes: RB Dri Archer
Even though Kent State has won 11 games this season, including a big upset over Rutgers, the team's top offensive playmaker, RB Dri Archer, has still remained one of college football's best kept secrets.
Archer has been one of the most productive players in the country this season, averaging 197 all-purpose yards per game, which is the fifth highest average in the country.
The multifaceted weapon can produce a home-run play any time he gets the ball in his hands.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs: RB Kenneth Dixon
Louisiana Tech had one of the most explosive offenses in the country this season.
The Bulldogs finished the season ranked first in the nation in both scoring offense and total offense, averaging 51 points and 578 yards per game.
QB Colby Cameron and WR Quinton Patton formed one of the most impressive passing combinations in college football. But the offensive player who was really the most impressive was RB Kenneth Dixon.
Dixon finished the season ranked first in the nation with 28 total touchdowns scored, and he also averaged a whopping 5.9 yards per carry.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns: LB Justin Anderson
LB Justin Anderson wasn't much of a factor for the Louisiana-Lafayette defense last year. Anderson finished the 2011 season with just 13 tackles. However, he developed into a much bigger part of the unit this year.
Anderson leads the team with 91 tackles, including 63 solo stops and seven tackles for loss.
Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks: QB Kolton Browning
Louisiana-Monroe's big early-season upset win over Arkansas may have been a bit diminished by the fact that the Razorbacks went just 4-8 this year. However, the Warhawks still have a lot to be proud of in 2012, as they managed to compile an 8-4 season.
The key to the team's success was dual-threat quarterback Kolton Browning.
Browning completed 64 percent of his passes for over 2,800 yards and threw 27 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions. He also led the team with 441 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
Marshall Thundering Herd: QB Rakeem Cato
It's understandable if Rakeem Cato's arm is a little sore for the next few weeks. That's because Cato led the nation with 584 total pass attempts in 2012, which was 62 more passes than the next closest quarterback, Colby Cameron.
Amazingly, Cato completed 69 percent of those throws for over 4,200 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Massachusetts Minutemen: LB Perry McIntyre
Massachusetts didn't exactly fare all that great in its first season playing with the big boys at the FBS level. The Minutemen won just one game in 2012, a 22-14 victory over a one-win Akron team.
There was one UMass player who did actually look ready for life at college football's highest level and that's LB Perry McIntyre.
McIntyre finished the season tied for sixth in the nation with 132 total tackles, and he also had three sacks and four pass breakups.
Memphis Tigers: DE Martin Ifedi
Memphis didn't exactly make a huge improvement this season under first-year head coach Justin Fuente. But the Tigers did manage to improve their win total from two wins to four wins in 2012.
The big change came on the defensive side of the ball, where the team went from having the worst defense in the conference to ranking third in the league in total defense.
The most impressive defender this year was DE Martin Ifedi.
Ifedi finished the season with 46 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss. He also notched 7.5 sacks and had four quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks: QB Zac Dysert
Zac Dysert wanted to show NFL scouts what he was really made of in 2012. Although his 4-8 record as a starter may not be all that impressive, Dysert did prove that he's got an NFL-caliber arm and skill-set.
The 6'4'', 228-pound senior completed 63 percent of his passes for over 3,400 yards and threw 25 touchdowns this season.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders: QB Logan Kilgore
Middle Tennessee State has been one of the best teams in the Sun Belt this season.A big reason why is because the Blue Raiders have one of the conference's top quarterbacks, Logan Kilgore.
Kilgore has been one of the league's most efficient passers this season.
He's completed 63 percent of his passes for over 2,400 yards and thrown 16 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.
Navy Midshipmen: LB Matt Warrick
Navy is best known for its triple-option attack. But this year, the team's defense has been just as good.
The Midshipmen have allowed just 23 points per game in 2012.
The team's key defensive leader has been LB Matt Warrick.
Warrick has racked up 73 tackles and picked off three passes, and he's been a strong presence against both the run and the pass all season long.
Nevada Wolf Pack: RB Stefphon Jefferson
Nevada may have experienced a drop-off late in the season, losing three-straight games after starting the year 6-1. However, one player who certainly didn't experience a drop-off is RB Stefphon Jefferson.
Jefferson has been one of the most consistent and productive backs in the country throughout the season.
The 5'11'', 210-pound junior has totaled over 1,700 yards of offense and scored 21 touchdowns this season, and he's still got two games left to add to those already gaudy numbers.
New Mexico Lobos: RB Kasey Carrier
New Mexico experienced a bit of a resurgence under new head coach Bob David this season.
The Lobos improved from just one win last season to four wins in 2012.
The teams' best player was RB Kasey Carrier.
Carrier finished the season as the second most productive running back in the Mountain West, rushing for 1,469 yards and 15 touchdowns.
New Mexico State Aggies: QB Andrew Manley
New Mexico may have made a nice improvement in 2012. But its in-state counterpart, New Mexico State, actually went in the exact opposite direction, going from four wins last year to just one victory this season.
The Aggies didn't have much of an offensive identity, but they at least got a decent season out of QB Andrew Manley, who threw for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns.
His top receiver Austin Franklin also had a very respectable showing, catching 69 passes for 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns.
North Texas Mean Green: LB Zachary Orr
Zachary Orr was one of just three players in the Sun Belt Conference who totaled over 100 tackles this season.
Orr led the Mean Green with 108 total take downs, including 56 solo stops.
The 6'0'' 223-pound junior will enter the 2013 season as one of the league's most talked-about defenders.
Northern Illinois Huskies: QB Jordan Lynch
Heisman candidates Collin Klein and Johnny Manziel may be considered the two top dual-threat quarterbacks in college football. But in actuality, the quarterback that has run for the most yards this season is Jordan Lynch.
Lynch currently ranks fifth in the country with 1,611 rushing yards. He's also thrown for over 2,700 yards and accounted for 39 touchdowns.
Since losing to Iowa back in Week 1, the junior signal-caller has led the Huskies to 11 straight wins and a MAC West division title.
Ohio Bobcats: RB Beau Blankenship
In terms of rushing yards, Beau Blankenship was the most productive running back in the MAC this season.
Blankenship rushed for 1,500 yards on 293 carries and scored 12 touchdowns for the 8-4 Ohio Bobcats.
Rice Owls: WR Sam McGuffie
Sam McGuffie may not have turned out to be the star running back at Michigan that many predicted he would become when he was a 4-star recruit coming out of Cy-Fair High School in Texas back in 2008. Nevertheless, McGuffie was able to revive his career down at Rice, where he became the team's top wide receiver in 2012.
McGuffie finished his senior season with a team-leading 49 catches for 523 yards, and he also scored six touchdowns.
SMU Mustangs: RB Zach Line
June Jones' Hawaii teams were known for their Run and Shoot pass-heavy offenses. However, Jones has decided to run the ball more often over the past few years at SMU. That's because the Mustangs have had one of the most underrated backs in the country, Zach Line.
Line showed off his rare blend of size, power and athleticism on a regular basis in 2012, carrying the ball 258 times for 1,207 yards and also catching 32 passes for 231 yards.
The 6'1'', 230-pound senior is definitely an underrated sleeper prospect to keep an eye on for the 2013 NFL draft.
San Diego State Aztecs: TE Gavin Escobar
Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert may have been the two most talked-about tight ends in college football this season. But another tight end that deserves similar praise for his performance in 2012 is San Diego State's Gavin Escobar.
The highly athletic 6'6'', 255-pound junior finished the season with 41 catches for 519 yards and six touchdowns.
San Jose State Spartans: QB David Fales
San Jose State was one of the biggest surprise stories of the 2012 season. The Spartans won 10 games this year, which is two more than they won in the past three seasons combined.
A big reason for the team's turnaround was the emergence of QB David Fales.
Fales certainly didn't fail this season. Instead, the California native excelled in his first year as a starter. He completed 72 percent of his passes for over 3,700 yards and hit 31 touchdowns strikes, while throwing just nine interceptions.
South Alabama Jaguars: LB Jake Johnson
South Alabama had a bit of a rocky first season at the FBS level in 2012. The Jaguars won just one game over an FBS opponent and just two games overall this season.
While the team still has a long way to go before it can compete at the highest level of college football, one player who proved that he could handle the step up is LB Jake Johnson.
Johnson led the team with 122 tackles, including 67 solo stops and 14 tackles for loss.
It's too bad that this was the senior backer's final season at South Alabama, because the Jaguars could sure use his help as they try to build a contending team.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles: DE Jamie Collins
Southern Miss was the only winless team in college football this season. The Golden Eagles lost all 12 of their games, which is a bit surprising when you consider that they had arguably the most talented defensive player in Conference USA, DE Jamie Collins.
Although his team may have been crummy in 2012, Collins still managed to flourish. The 6'4'', 239-pound senior led the team with 92 tackles, including 66 solo stops and 20 tackles for loss. He also racked up 10 sacks and forced four fumbles.
Temple Owls: RB Montel Harris
After leaving Boston College, where he rushed for over 2,500 yards, Montel Harris managed to finish off his collegiate career with a very solid senior season at Temple this year.
Harris rushed for over 1,000 yards for the third time in his career, and he led the Big East with 12 rushing touchdowns.
Texas State Bobcats: QB Shaun Rutherford
Texas State won just three games in its first season in the WAC, but the Bobcats did have a few strong individual performances in 2012, including a solid season from quarterback Shaun Rutherford.
Rutherford was overshadowed by some of the conference's other top signal-callers such as David Fales, Colby Cameron and Chuckie Keeton. However, he still put together a very respectable campaign.
The dual-threat quarterback completed 65 percent of his passes for over 2,000 yards and threw 14 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions. He also added 459 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as well.
Toledo Rockets: RB David Fluellen
Toledo's offense averaged 33 points and 456 yards per game this season. The unit's key weapon was RB David Fluellen, who was one of the most productive players in the MAC in 2012.
Fluellen leads the conference with an average of 155 yards from scrimmage per game, and he ranks sixth in the league with 13 total touchdowns scored.
The 6'0'', 215-pound junior is the type of versatile back who's equally effective as both a runner and a receiver.
Troy Trojans: QB Corey Robinson
Troy has ranked either first or second in the Sun Belt in passing offense in every season since 2008. This season, the Trojans had the most productive passing attack in the league yet again.
QB Corey Robinson was the Sun Belt's most productive passer, completing 66 percent of his passes for 3,141 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Tulane Green Wave: QB Ryan Griffin
Most teams that finish with just two wins in a season usually have some glaring issues at quarterback. But in Tulane's case, the Green Wave actually had huge holes pretty much everywhere but behind center.
QB Ryan Griffin didn't have a great season in 2012, but he was certainly serviceable.
The senior signal-caller completed 62 percent of his passes for over 2,700 yards and threw 20 touchdown passes, yet the team still finished at the bottom of the league.
At least, Griffin has Conference USA All-Academic honors to be proud of.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane: RB Alex Singleton
Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts may have been Tulsa's two most productive running backs in terms of yardage. But when it came time to put the ball in the end zone, the two of them combined weren't as effective as Alex Singleton was.
Singleton leads Conference USA and is tied for seventh in the nation with 20 total touchdowns scored in 2012.
He's also totaled 665 yards on the ground.
UAB Blazers: LB Marvin Burdette
During his time at UAB, LB Marvin Burdette has displayed a radar for the football that you just don't see very often from college players.
After combining to rack up 249 tackles in his first three years, Burdette had the best season of his career in 2012.
The short, but stout 5'11'', 230-pound senior finished the regular season ranked second in the nation with 157 tackles, including 90 solo stops and 13 tackles for loss.
UCF Knights: FS Kemal Ishmael
UCF has the top-ranked scoring defense in Conference USA, allowing just 21 points per game.
The leader and face of the unit is safety Kemal Ishmael.
Ishmael is a four-year starter who has gotten better each and every year, and he had his best season yet in 2012.
The 5'11'', 206-pound senior leads the Knights with 102 tackles, and he's also picked off three passes.
UNLV Rebels: RB Tim Cornett
Tim Cornett has led UNLV in rushing each of the past two seasons, and he repeated that feat once again in 2012. Cornett had his best season yet this year, rushing for 1,232 yards and seven touchdowns.
The 6'0'', 210-pound junior was a true workhorse for the Rebels, carrying the ball 242 times.
UTEP Miners: LB Josh Fely
LB Josh Fely was the true linchpin of UTEP's defense in 2012. Fely led the team with 112 tackles, including 44 solo stops and 5.5 tackles for loss, and he also racked up 1.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries.
The Miners defense is definitely going to miss the highly productive senior 'backer next season.
UTSA Roadrunners: QB Eric Soza
UTSA had a solid debut season on the FBS level, winning eight games in 2012.
One of the keys to the team's success was the play of QB Eric Soza.
Soza threw for over 2,000 yards and hit 20 touchdown strikes, while throwing just three interceptions.
Utah State Aggies: QB Chuckie Keeton
Chuckie Keeton showed plenty of glimpses of his potential throughout his freshman season in 2011. However, Keeton really put it all together this year and had a tremendous performance, as he led the Aggies to a 10-2 record and a WAC championship.
The sophomore signal-caller completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,144 yards and 27 touchdowns.
He also added 527 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Keeton finished the regular season ranked 13th in the nation with 3,671 total yards of offense
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: RB Antonio Andrews
Antonio Andrews had the unenviable task of having to replace RB Bobby Rainey, who rushed for 1,695 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. However, Andrews certainly proved that he was a worthy successor, as he rushed for 1,614 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012.
The 6'0'', 211-pound junior finished the regular season with 600 more rushing yards than the next closest back in the Sun Belt.
Western Michigan Broncos: WR Jaime Wilson
There were some great performances by freshman receivers in 2012, and one of the best was by Western Michigan's Jaime Wilson.
Wilson led the Broncos with 67 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns.
The productive pass-catcher certainly has a bright future ahead of him in Kalamazoo.
Wyoming Cowboys: QB Brett Smith
Wyoming finished with just four wins this season, but you can't put blame for the team's struggles on QB Brett Smith's shoulders.
Smith followed up a terrific freshman campaign with an even better sophomore season in 2012.
The athletic signal-caller completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,832 yards, rushed for 284 yards and accounted for 33 total touchdowns while throwing just six interceptions.
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