Defense wins games, but offense is where the action is. The 50 best offensive players in college football for 2013 offers fans a glimpse of that.
The players on this list are some of the most electrifying in all of college football. From a Heisman Trophy winner in Johnny Manziel to little-known quarterbacks in the MAC, this list has it all.
While it is filled with talent across the SEC, every conference at the FBS level is represented in one way or another.
Here are the top 50 offensive players in college football heading into the 2013 season.
Here are five names that just missed the list. Watch out for these guys as well in 2013.
Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe: This dual-threat quarterback passed for more than 3,000 yards and rushed for nearly 500 more, while totaling 36 touchdowns last season.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: Cooks is one of the top returning wide receivers in the country. Last year he caught 67 passes for 1,151 yards and five touchdowns, despite rotation at the quarterback position at Oregon State..
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama: When it comes to potential, few players have more than this guy. He will have to live up to it this season, as he will be relied on heavily for the Crimson Tide up front.
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State: Perhaps one of the least-known players here, Franklin finished last season with 74 receptions for 1,245 yards and nine TDs. Those numbers should improve in 2013.
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State: This guy is an absolute workhorse for the Aztecs. Last season he carried the ball 237 times for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns. His 6.2 yards per carry average is something to take note of.
Josh Stewart is the latest of the talented Oklahoma State wide receivers. It does not really matter who is throwing him the ball, because this guy is a playmaker.
Last season he caught 101 passes for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns.
The small, but talented, junior will be counted on even more in 2013. Odds are he will respond with another huge season.
Silas Redd did not quite have the season he was looking for in 2012, but the Penn State transfer still manged to put up 905 yards and nine touchdowns on only 167 carries.
Those were not the numbers from his sophomore campaign in Happy Valley (244 and 1,241), but he will almost certainly get more carries in 2013.
That should mean better numbers and more balance on offense for the Trojans.
This is a guy who absolutely burst onto the scene last year. After totaling only 36 receptions during his first two seasons at Boston College, the talented wide receiver caught 78 passes for 1,210 yards and seven scores in 2012.
With quarterback Chase Rettig throwing him the ball once again, it could be another big season for Alex Amidon.
While a lot of people have still not heard of him, that will not be the case a a few months from now, as he is one of the best receivers in the ACC.
Tyler Tettleton has put up dynamite passing numbers over the past two seasons, combining for 6,150 yards, 46 touchdowns and only 14 picks.
Those are excellent numbers that should be even better in 2013.
The Ohio Bobcat is one of the best passers in the country, and that will be on full display in the season opener at Louisville. The Cardinals better watch out, or there could be an upset in the making.
With Rex Burkhead having moved on, Ameer Abdullah could put up astronomical numbers next season playing alongside quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Last year, Abdullah rushed for 1,137 yards and eight touchdowns on 226 carries. The number of touches will greatly increase during his junior campaign and the Nebraska offense will be one of the best in the country when it comes to running the football.
Donte Moncrief is someone who has the ability to have a breakout season in 2013.
He is coming off a season of 66 catches, 979 yards and 10 TDs and is a very talented player who has flashed signs of some enormous potential. At 6'3" and 216, Moncrief has excellent size and an ability to go up and get most passes thrown in his vicinity.
If he has the year that he is capable of, Ole Miss will once again be a factor in the SEC and in the bowl picture.
This is another running back that not a lot of people have heard much about.
David Fluellen was a workhorse last season for the Rockets. He rushed for 1,498 yards and 13 touchdowns on 259 carries. Those numbers could have been a little higher if not for an injury late in the season that slowed him down.
He is also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. He will once again team with quarterback Terrance Owens to form an excellent one-two combination in the MAC.
Davante Adams was one of the best WRs in the country last season. He teamed with Derek Carr to form a fantastic duo.
Adams caught 102 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 scores in 2012. Those are astronomical numbers for anybody, let alone a freshman.
Expect much of the same this year from Adams, as the Bulldogs will be a team to be reckoned with in the Mountain West.
There are few running backs in the country who carried the ball more times last season than Beau Blankenship of Ohio.
The workhorse toted the rock 312 times for 1,604 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 182 yards and another score.
Expect much of the same in 2013. Ohio could be a factor once again in the MAC.
When it comes to size, the Tennessee offensive tackle has plenty of it. He is 6'6" and 327 pounds. Combine that with his athleticism and skill, and Richardson is very hard to get around.
There is little doubt that the junior is one of the best in the country at his position. While he is not as good as some of the bigger-name offensive tackles, he might be by the end of the season.
Now, finding some playmakers around him is a different story for the Vols and head coach Butch Jones.
When it comes to pure passers, there are fewer better than Rakeem Cato of Marshall.
He is not a big name, but he passed for 4,201 yards and 37 touchdowns with 11 interceptions last season as a sophomore.
Cato should have another huge season in pass-happy Conference USA.
Noel Grigsby had a breakout season in 2012, teaming with quarterback David Fales to put up some huge numbers last year.
Grigsby finished the year with 82 receptions for 1,309 yards and nine scores. He is a bit undersized at 5'11" and 175, but makes up for it with his big-play ability.
His numbers might get even better this season with the return of Fales behind center. If that happens, the Spartans could have two potential All-American candidates on their hands.
James White has already rushed for more than 2,500 yards during his three years at Wisconsin without ever being the starter at RB.
He played behind Montee Ball the past few seasons, but this year he will finally get his chance to step into the starring role.
White will still lose some caries to Melvin Gordon, but the 125 carries he received last year will likely be surpassed by the midway point of the season.
This 6'5", 335-pound massive Richardson is one of the best guards in the country. He will help to open up holes along the offensive line for two very talented Baylor running backs in Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.
Richardson has the versatility to play either guard or center along the line, and the Bears will benefit greatly from his decision to come back for his senior season. He might just be the key to the offense for the Bears.
The Cardinal have had plenty of talented offensive linemen over the years and the latest is guard David Yankey.
Yankey may be one of the most versatile linemen in the entire country; he has the ability to play and excel at any position along the offensive line, and quarterback Kevin Hogan will rely on him heavily for time and protection.
Not many players put up better stats than Derek Carr did a season ago. He totaled 4,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and only seven INTs.
He is one of the best pure passers in the nation. Fresno State lost some weapons on offense, but there is still some talent coming back, including Davante Adams.
With his favorite target coming back, Carr and the Bulldogs should expect a big season again on offense.
Mike Evans was the go-to guy for Johnny Manziel last year, catching 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman.
There is a lot more talent coming in this season for the Aggies, so Evans might need to learn to spread the wealth around a little bit.
Either way, Manziel is going to be running around and hitting open receivers all over the place, and expect Evans to put up similar numbers in 2013.
Antonio Andrews put up astronomical numbers a season ago for the Hilltoppers. He rushed for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns on 304 carries.
He also proved to be a threat out of the backfield, catching 37 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns.
His 5.5 yards a carry are something to take note of—if he was starring for a big-time program he would likely be a household name. Even so, he might be known across the country after the 2013 season.
Northwestern came on strong last season, and part of the reason for the success was the play of running back Venric Mark.
Mark rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns on 226 carries, good for an average of six yards a carry. Pretty impressive in the defensive-minded Big Ten. He also caught 20 passes out of the backfield for the Wildcats.
With a lot of pieces returning on offense next year, it could be an even better season in Evanston for the Wildcats and head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is nothing short of explosive. Even playing way out West, he began to gain some recognition by the end of last season.
During the 2012 campaign, Keeton passed for 3,373 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions while leading the Aggies to an 11-2 season. Along with that 11-2 season came a 41-15 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Toledo.
Keeton is also a huge threat with his legs. Last year he rushed for 619 yards and eight touchdowns on 129 carries. Look for even better numbers in 2013 from Keeton, even with a new head coach.
The Alabama roster is filled with talent up and down the roster, and one of the freshmen who emerged last season was wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Cooper caught 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. With the exception of the LSU game, he caught at least one ball in every contest.
This 6'1", 198-pound stud looks to be one of the most dangerous playmakers in the country. Quarterback A.J. McCarron has more than enough talent to work with, and Cooper will be one of the biggest Crimson Tide playmakers.
Even though Taylor Martinez does turn the ball over, as evidenced by his 12 interceptions last season, the Nebraska QB is as valuable to his team as nearly any player in the country.
Last season Martinez passed for 2,871 yards with 23 touchdowns. He was also a major threat on the ground, rushing for 1,019 yards with 10 touchdowns on 195 carries.
While running back Rex Burkhead is no longer around, there is still enough talent remaining around Martinez for the Cornhuskers to contend for the Big Ten title.
Even though Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard suffered a broken finger during spring practice, that does not take away from the fact that he is the one of the best offensive linemen in the country.
He has already been a two-time All-Big 12 selection, and with 37 career starts he is one of the most experienced players on the entire roster.
With a new quarterback and plenty of skill position players who have not seen much action, Ikard will be a very important piece for the Sooners.
Even though he averaged 6.7 yards a carry in limited action as a freshman, nobody expected Bishop Sankey to have the season he did in 2012 for the Washington Huskies.
Sankey carried the ball 289 times for 1,439 yards with 16 touchdowns, while averaging 5.0 yards a carry. He had seven 100-plus yard game and was a workhorse for the Huskies throughout the year.
It will be hard to improve on the numbers from last year, but Sankey has the talent to put together a similar campaign in 2013.
If not for freshmen Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, the nation might have been mesmerized by the performance of freshman quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA.
The 6'3", 223-pound signal-caller passed for 3,745 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Like the other quarterbacks previously mentioned, he is also a threat with his feet. In 2012, Hundley rushed for 355 yards and nine touchdowns on 160 attempts.
With star running back Johnathan Franklin now in Green Bay, the onus will be on Hundley to carry an even bigger burden. If he can continue to improve, he could be a Heisman contender as early as 2014.
BYU received excellent news when its two best players decided to come back for their senior seasons.
Wide receiver Cody Hoffman and linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be two of the top players in the country at their respective positions this coming campaign.
Hoffman caught 100 passes for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. He has steadily improved each season in the program, and even though he only averaged 12.5 yards a reception, his 100 catches are hard to argue with.
Even though Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch struggled in the Orange Bowl against Florida State, that does not take away from the magical season he had.
The Huskies quarterback was the epitome of a dual-threat QB. He passed for 3,138 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also rushed for a stellar 1,815 yards with 19 touchdowns on 294 carries.
No player in the country had the ball in his hands more than Lynch, and he is as important to his team as nearly any player in the nation.
While his numbers would not be as good if he were playing in a BCS conference, there is no doubt that Lynch is still one of the top signal-callers in college football.
What helps Duke Johnson climb so high on the list is the fact that he is one of the best special teams players in the country.
Throw in the fact that he will be the go-to guy on the Miami offense in 2013 and Johnson cracks the top 25.
He rushed for 947 yards with 10 touchdowns on only 139 carries last year as a freshman. That was good for an average of 6.8 yards an attempt. Johnson has the talent to be an All-American on special teams as early as this season.
Penn State's Allen Robinson is coming off a breakout year. He caught 77 passes for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns, including two games with 10 catches.
After only catching three passes for 29 yards as a freshman in 2011, it did not appear Robinson would have anywhere near the year he ended up having.
He should have no problem putting up similar numbers this coming season for the Nittany Lions, particularly if 5-star signee Christian Hackenberg can emerge in the QB competition and immediately live up to the hype.
San Jose State had a wealth of success last season, and one reason for that was the play of David Fales. He passed for 4,193 yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions, leading the Spartans to an 11-2 season.
Now entering his senior season, the junior college transfer and former 2-star recruit may not be well known, but the 6'3", 220-pound Fales can put up some real impressive numbers.
By the end of the 2013 season, David Fales might just be a household name.
Vanderbilt had a huge 2012, and the emergence of Jordan Matthews (94 receptions, 1,323 yards and eight touchdowns) was one of the reasons for it.
He has shown steady improvement in each of his three seasons with the program and has developed into one of the top receivers in the country.
Matthew will have a new quarterback, but that will not matter, because this guy is very talented.
Dri Archer is one of the most explosive players in college football, and his decision to come back for his senior season will greatly benefit the Golden Flashes in 2013.
He carried the ball 159 times for 1,429 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. That average of 9.0 yards a carry is other-worldly. He also caught 39 passes for 561 yards and four TDs.
There is no doubt that Archer is as good as it gets in the MAC, but he is also one of the best running backs in the country.
Going into the season, Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins looks to be the best tight end in the country.
He has tremendous size at 6'6", 266 pounds, and is a terrific athlete who also contributed to the UW basketball team in 2012.
He put those tremendous skill set to good use on the field, with 69 receptions for 852 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs had a remarkable freshman campaign (54 passes for 848 yards and six touchdowns) despite the fact that the Terrapins went through five quarterbacks.
Diggs might be the most talented receiver in the country by 2014 and could be a Heisman contender by this time next year.
Look for him to easily go over the 1,000-yard mark and put together a season to earn All-ACC honors. That is, if somebody can get him the ball, of course.
Aaron Murray is a guy who has seemingly been in college forever, but the 2013 campaign will be his final season for the Georgia Bulldogs.
He has passed for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first three seasons and has gone above 10,000 yards already for his career. With the way he is trending, there is a great chance he could go above 4,000 yards in 2013.
Murray has plenty of weapons around him on offense and Georgia will be a threat for the SEC title once again.
If he could avoid turning the ball over in big games, he would be much higher on the list. Still, Aaron Murray is one of the top signal-callers in the game.
Lache Seastrunk might just be one of the two or three most explosive players in the nation.
He came on strong at the end of last season, going above 135 yards in each of the final four games while averaging more than seven yards a carry in each game. He finished the year with 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns on only 131 carries. Seastrunk also had nine receptions, 109 receptions and a TD via the pass.
There is no doubt that he has more carries coming; look for Seastrunk to easily eclipse 1,500 yards and possibly more in 2013.
Few players in college football are more accomplished than Alabama's A.J. McCarron. He has been a part of three national championships and will be looking to make it four.
McCarron nearly went the entire season without throwing a pick last year. He finished the year with 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions, while passing for 2,933 yards.
The Crimson Tide run a more conservative offense, which is a big part of the reason McCarron will not put up the numbers a lot of others will.
With that said, there are few leaders any coach would rather have under center than McCarron.
Clemson had a plethora of skilled position players last season. But along with quarterback Tajh Boyd, the star is Sammy Watkins.
Watkins missed three games last year and despite only really getting going at the midway point of the season, he finished with 57 receptions for 708 yards and three touchdowns.
That is certainly not the season he was expecting after 82 catches and 1,219 yards as a true freshman in 2011, and expect numbers similar to those of his freshman year in 2013.
Oregon will once again feature a very explosive offense. Paving the way will be sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota, who won the starting job from Bryan Bennett and never looked back last year.
Mariota passed for 2,677 yards with 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions, while amassing 752 yards and seven scores on 106 rushes.
There are plenty of playmakers around him, particularly in the backfield, so look for those numbers to only go up. The Heisman Trophy might be in his future a year or two from now.
Tajh Boyd is the next of the very talented quarterbacks in college football. There are few quarterbacks who are tougher in the pocket—Boyd is not afraid to stand in there and take a hit.
Last year he passed for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Boyd also did a little bit with his feet, rushing for 514 yards and 10 touchdowns on 186 carries.
He will need to get help from the running back position, as Andre Ellington has graduated to the Arizona Cardinals. If that happens, the Tigers will be a very dangerous squad.
The ceiling for Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon might be as high as any—he has a chance to explode this year.
Serving as a backup to Eddie Lacy in 2012, Yeldon rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 TDs on only 175 carries as a freshman back. An average of 6.3 yards a carry is something special in the SEC.
He will likely get closer to 250 carries this time around, and if that happens, this guy could be in the Heisman conversation by year's end. Only problem for Yeldon is there is a lot of talent waiting behind him if he slips up at all. That is not likely to happen, however.
The talent on the Alabama O-line is not what it was, but is still one of the best in college football.
Braxton Miller excelled in his first season in the Urban Meyer system and was in Heisman contention the entire year. That will likely be the case again as his numbers should only continue to improve.
Last year he passed for 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. He was even more dominant on the ground, rushing for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns on 227 carries.
The WR group continues to grow and mature, so Miller will have improved targets as well. Look for a big increase in his passing numbers and possibly a slight decline in his rushing yards.
There are explosive players, and then there is De'Anthony Thomas. The running back is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and should get more carries in 2013 than he has in the past.
Thomas rushed the ball 92 times for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards a carry iast season. Out of the backfield, Thomas brought in 45 receptions for 445 yards and five scores.
Thomas can also beat teams with his kick return skills, as he returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown in 2012. Look for more of the same this coming season. He is a very special talent.
It came as a huge surprise to most that Taylor Lewan decided to come back to Michigan after his strong junior campaign.
The 6'8", 309-pound big man is tough to get around, and his combination of size and athleticism makes him perfect for the next level.
Even though he would have likely been a high draft selection, Lewan is coming back to anchor a rebuilding Michigan O-line. Needless to say, he will be relied upon heavily in the Wolverines offense.
Todd Gurley was another explosive freshman who made a name for himself in 2012.
Gurley rushed for 1,385 yards on 222 carries with 17 touchdown—again, as a freshman in the SEC.
He totaled 100 or more yards in nine games and is certain to get as many or more touches this coming season.
Gurley is a powerful back who is not afraid to run through defenders. Where Gurley was especially tough was at home, but one area of concern was his struggles in true road games.
In a move that was probably more surprising than even that of Taylor Lewan, Jake Matthews decided to return for his senior season at Texas A&M.
Matthews earned First Team All-American honors from the Football Writers of America Association and AP Third Team honors. He had the potential to be a top-10 pick in the draft.
He has the pedigree (cousin of Clay Matthews) and the size (6'5", 305) for the NFL. One player certainly happy the star tackle came back is Johnny Manziel.
Even though Teddy Bridgewater is coming off an excellent sophomore season, he did not get the notoriety he deserved Sugar Bowl performance against Florida.
Bridgewater finished with 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Those numbers were a steady improvement from 2011 and he might have the best future at the next level of any in the NCAAs.
Louisville will be playing its only season in the American Athletic Conference and the Cardinals will probably dominate the league with Bridgewater leading the way.
Ka'Deem Carey was a straight workhorse last season. The sophomore rushed for 1,929 yards, leading the nation and being name a First team All-American by the AP.
He carried the ball 303 times and averaged 6.4 yards a carry while also totaling 23 touchdowns. Throw in 36 receptions for 303 yards and a TD and it is easy to see that Carey was and is a huge part of the Wildcats offense.
Carey has a chance to get into the Heisman conversation if he can replicate his success and lead Arizona to success. Staying out of trouble off the field, however, is also a must.
Marqise Lee is as talented a wide receiver as there is in the country. Lee caught an astounding 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. And that came after catching 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 scores during his freshman campaign.
There is very little doubt who the best wideout in the country is. Even though Lee will not have Matt Barkley throwing his way anymore, there is still too much talent in Lee for him to be slowed down too much.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner tops the list. Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will try to become only the second player to ever win multiple Heisman trophies, and he will only be entering his sophomore campaign.
Last year as a freshman, he passed for 3,706 yards with 26 touchdowns and only nine INTs. He also rushed for an incredible 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns on 201 carries.
Johnny Football is one of the most exciting players in the game and it will be very interesting to see if he can duplicate the massive success against the talented defenses of the SEC.
Good luck trying to slow this guy down in 2013.