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12 Small School Studs We Wish Would Transfer to Bigger Programs

Andrew SteierContributor IIIOctober 8, 2016

12 Small School Studs We Wish Would Transfer to Bigger Programs

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    Sometimes college football prospects are evaluated incorrectly by recruiters.  Other times, great high school players prefer smaller schools to the big-time programs.

    One way or another, there will always be a Byron Leftwich or Daunte Culpepper who falls to a small school, despite clearly having the talent to compete in any conference in the nation.

    Here are the top 12 stud athletes with eligibility remaining who are dominating at small schools, but would be fun to see transfer so they could play on the biggest stages in college football.

12. Kicker Cairo Santos, Tulane

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    Many will undoubtedly roll their eyes at referring to a place kicker as a "stud", but Cairo Santos' numbers prove otherwise.

    Despite a decent 2010 and shaky 2011, Santos came out firing in 2012.  He knocked through all 21 of his season field goal attempts, 12 of which came from at least 40 yards and two of which were beyond 50.  His season long was a 57-yard bomb.

    But playing for the 2-10 Tulane Green Wave did not exactly put him in any pressure situations.  It would be great to see if he could nail a kick from those distances with all of LSU's Death Valley in his ear.

11. Defensive Lineman Martin Ifedi, Memphis

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    Memphis' Martin Ifedi was simply a terror for opposing quarterbacks in 2012, recording seven and a half sacks and forcing two fumbles.  He finished the season with 46 total tackles, 11 of which were for a loss.

    At 6'3" and 260 pounds, he has the size to challenge offensive linemen and the speed to track down ball-carriers in the backfield.

    We just wish we could see him put that size and speed up against the athletic offensive lines and backfields of the ACC and SEC throughout the season.

10. Wide Receiver Austin Franklin, New Mexico State

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    Austin Franklin of the New Mexico State Aggies is a true diamond in the rough.  Among a team that failed to beat a single FBS team in 2012, losing by at least eight points in every contest, Franklin was able to post some impressive numbers.

    Of course, his best performance came against FCS Sacramento State, when he caught eight balls for 236 yards and two touchdowns.  But more notably was that his second biggest game came at Auburn, the premier date on the Aggies' schedule, in which he went for 154 yards on seven catches.

    Is Franklin good enough to shred SEC defenses week in and week out?  Or was he just picking on one of the worst teams the SEC has to offer?  We would love to find out.

9. Linebacker Justin Cherocci, Central Michigan

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    Central Michigan's Justin Cherocci led the nation last year in a very unheralded statistical category: assisted tackles.  With 89 of his 132 total tackles coming with the help of a teammate, Cherocci tallied nine more assisted tackles than any other player in FBS.

    Although solo tackles are generally what make highlights and draw the greatest respect and attention.  Accumulating so many assisted tackles shows a player's determination to find the ball on every play and help finish tackles.

    It is just a shame that we cannot see Cherocci's ball-hawking displayed more prominently in a bigger-name conference.

8. Wide Receiver Davante Adams, Fresno State

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    Davante Adams ended 2012 on an absolute tear, catching at least one touchdown in Fresno State's final eight games and surpassing 100 yards receiving in four of the last five.  When the dust settled, Adams had caught 102 passes on the season for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    And the most incredible part: he is only a freshman.

    If he was able to offer this sort of production in his first season, just imagine what he can accomplish with more time to develop.  If only he was not accomplishing it in Fresno, then more people could watch.

7. Defensive Tackle Travis Raciti, San Jose State

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    An All-Western Athletic Conference first team selection as a sophomore, Travis Raciti broke onto the scene in 2012.  He offered the Spartans consistency from the defensive tackle position, racking up eight and a half sacks and 13 total tackles for loss on the season.

    Standing at 6'5" and weighing just shy of 290 pounds, Raciti is an imposing force that any school would love to have.  He could easily be an NFL talent hiding in WAC.  All he has to do is show that 2012 was a sign of better things to come.

6. Running Back Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

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    As a freshman, Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon led the nation in rushing touchdowns with 27, turning in a six-touchdown performance against Idaho and a pair of four-touchdown games against UNLV and Texas State.

    The only problem is that against Illinois, Virginia and Texas A&M, the only major-conference teams on Louisiana Tech's schedule, Dixon averaged 77 yards per game and scored just two touchdowns.

    Seventy-seven yards and almost a touchdown per game is not bad, except when compared to the rest of Dixon's season.  It would be very interesting to see his numbers if he played his whole season against that caliber of opponents.

5. Quarterback Rakeem Cato, Marshall

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    In the 2012 season, Marshall's Rakeem Cato led the nation in passing yards per game with 350.  Impressively, he threw for those yards with accuracy too, completing 70 percent of his passes for 37 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.

    It is one thing to mindlessly sling the ball all over the field.  It is quite another to air it out that much with such quality decision-making and precision.

    We only wish he was throwing it around for pass-happy Texas Tech or USC and not hidden away at Marshall.

4. Center Tyler Larsen, Utah State

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    Rarely is the center, one of the most under-appreciated players on the field, the face of a football team.  But for Utah State, Tyler Larsen is just that.

    Named to the WAC's all-conference first team both his sophomore and junior years, Larsen returns for his senior season as one the most talented players the entire conference has to offer.  As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches, expect to hear his name more and more.

    But playing at Utah State, the NFL Draft may be the first time many fans hear of him.

3. Defensive Back Bene Benwikere, San Jose State

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    Bene Benwikere, a sophomore from San Jose State, was second in the nation last year in interceptions.  He picked off seven passes, returning them for 152 yards and a touchdown.

    In some the season's biggest moments, Benwikere rose to the occasion, intercepting Louisiana Tech three times in the season finale and averaging five solo tackles per game in conference play.

    His level of consistency and reliability make one wish he was tested with stiffer conference competition. 

2. Running Back Dri Archer, Kent State

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    Kent State's Dri Archer averaged an astounding nine yards per carry in the 2012 season on 159 attempts.

    To put that in perspective, the next highest average from a running back with at least 150 rushes was Utah State's Kerwynn Williams, who averaged 6.9.

    Archer provided a consistent level of production on which Kent State could rely, scoring touchdowns in 12 of their 14 games, while still offering a home-run threat every time he touched the ball.

    Kent State's schedule offered little chance to watch Archer up against top competition, but his eye-popping numbers certainly make one wonder how he would fare in the Pac-12 or SEC.

1. Quarterback Derek Carr, Fresno State

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    Even though he is in all likelihood firmly planted at Fresno State, where his brother David first put the Bulldogs on the map, that does not stop Derek Carr from being the top small school stud who would be great to see transfer to a major conference.

    Last season as a junior, Carr threw for 37 touchdowns and only six interceptions.  He compiled 316 yards per game while completing 67 percent of his passes.  But his numbers hardly tell the whole story.

    Carr is a play-maker, plain and simple.  He brings a fire and an energy that his team only builds on.  And as Nebraska can attest, he is not afraid of the big stage.

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