Top 10 College Football Players We'll Miss the Most Next Season
Every year, college football loses some of the best players the game has to offer.
For some, their departure is simply due to graduation, but for others, the lure of the NFL is just too much to pass up.
All in all, these players not only leave a void for their respective teams to fill the following season, but they also leave college football fans wanting more.
Join B/R as we count down the 10 players we will miss the most.
10. QB Jordan Lynch (Northern Illinois)
He may have spent his career playing in the MAC conference, but Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch was a special player to watch.
Over four seasons at Northern Illinois, Lynch threw for 6,209 yards, 51 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also added another 4,343 yards and 48 touchdowns on the ground.
Thanks to several record-breaking outbursts—Lynch set the FBS record for rushing yards by a quarterback not once, but twice—the Chicago, Ill., native found himself in New York City for the 2013 Heisman Trophy presentation.
He finished last season with 2,892 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions through the air while rushing for another 1,920 yards and 23 scores.
Lynch was certainly a one-of-a-kind quarterback and will be hard to replace.
9. RB Andre Williams (Boston College)
Eagles running back Andre Williams was definitely one of the feel-good stories of the 2013 season.
Over his first three seasons, the Schnecksville, Pa., native never once topped 600 yards. Furthermore, he only accounted for 10 rushing touchdowns over that span.
That only makes Williams' 2013 campaign all the more impressive.
In 13 games, he rushed for a total of 2,177 yards and 18 touchdowns on 355 carries. Williams’ total yards led the nation by nearly 300 yards more than second place.
Nine times he topped the century mark on the ground, which included rushing for more than 260 yards four times.
Williams had a season that will be tough to duplicate at Boston College for quite some time.
8. OLB Anthony Barr (UCLA)
Not too many defensive players had as great an impact as Bruins outside linebacker Anthony Barr did in 2013.
In 13 games, the senior recorded 66 tackles (20.0 for loss) and 10.0 sacks, and he forced six fumbles and recovered another. Furthermore, he tended to save his best efforts for Top 25 opponents, tallying 10.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, two fumbles forced and a fumble recovered in five games against such competition.
A converted running back, Barr really thrived in his defensive role. It’s led to a likely top-10 selection in the upcoming NFL draft.
Barr’s leadership and big-play ability made him one of the most exciting defensive players to watch.
Those same qualities will make him a sure star on Sundays as well.
7. WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)
Was there a more explosive wide receiver in 2013 than the Tigers' Sammy Watkins?
In his freshman season in 2011, Watkins exploded onto the scene. He recorded 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for another 231 yards on 32 carries.
That success continued last season, as the junior brought in a career-high 101 passes for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. Watkins surpassed the century mark eight times this season in receiving.
Included is a sensational effort against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl, when the Fort Myers, Fla., native caught a season-high 16 passes for 227 yards and two scores.
If losing Tajh Boyd to graduation hurts, losing Watkins to an early decision to jump to the NFL is certainly worse for the Tigers.
6. QB Aaron Murray (Georgia)
You have to hand it to Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.
For four years, the Tampa, Fla., native laid it all out on the line for his team.
He racked up 13,166 yards, 121 touchdowns and 41 interceptions through the air, while adding another 388 yards and 16 scores on the ground, as well as breaking several school records in the process.
Murray was the definition of consistency for Georgia, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and at least 24 touchdowns in each of his four seasons in Athens.
In what was easily the most difficult of his four years, Murray really carried the Bulldogs in 2013.
Through injury after injury, Murray remained strong last season. His 158.8 passer rating served as the second highest in his career.
Furthermore, Murray put his heroics on full display, leading the Bulldogs to 21 points in the fourth quarter, nearly pulling off the improbable upset over Auburn late in the season.
All in all, quarterbacks like Murray are one of a kind, and he will certainly be missed.
5. RB Tre Mason (Auburn)
Without Tre Mason, it’s safe to say that the Tigers may not have reached the BCS National Championship Game.
The Palm Beach, Fla., native put on a clinic in 2013, rushing for 1,816 yards and 23 touchdowns on 317 carries. His play not only carried Auburn mere minutes away from glory, but it also took him to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
What was most impressive about Mason’s season, though, was that he was able to turn it on in the second half. Mason rushed for a whopping 1,063 yards and 14 touchdowns just in the Tigers' final six games. That’s more than half of his total outputs in both yards and touchdowns.
We can only guess as to how high Mason could have soared in his senior season if he had chosen to return to school.
4. QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)
There’s a reason Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is expected to go No. 1 overall in this year’s NFL draft.
The three-year starter at Louisville had a wonderful career, throwing for 9,817 yards, 72 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. The best of his seasons came in 2013, when he racked up 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions through the air on 71.0 percent passing.
A loss to UCF derailed any hopes for a BCS title and a Heisman Trophy; however, given that the Cardinals had a 28-7 lead midway through the third quarter, it’s tough to put the blame on Bridgewater.
Hardly making headlines, unless it was for his performance on the field, Bridgewater was just the kind of quarterback college football loved.
The NFL will be fortunate to have him represent their product in the future.
3. DE Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina)
Hate him or love him, there’s no denying that Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney knows how to get people talking.
His spectacular play got him attention during his first two seasons in school. In 25 games during that span, Clowney recorded 90 tackles (35.5 for loss), 21.0 sacks, eight forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles.
The impressive play had many experts believing that the Rock Hill, S.C., native could be a true Heisman Trophy candidate in 2013.
Unfortunately, his campaign last season was mostly forgettable.
In 11 games, Clowney finished with just 40 tackles (11.5 for loss), 3.0 sacks, nine quarterback hurries and a forced fumble; however, it should be mentioned that five of those tackles for loss and a sack came in his final three games.
Whether it’s making a jaw-dropping tackle in the backfield or speeding more than 100 miles per hour on the highway, Clowney’s antics will surely be missed by college football fans everywhere.
2. QB AJ McCarron (Alabama)
Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron may not be the flashiest player at his position. Heck, his girlfriend Katherine Webb may even get more camera time than him during Alabama football games.
But it goes without saying: College football certainly won’t be the same without McCarron.
In five seasons in Tuscaloosa, the Mobile, Ala., native has racked up 9,019 passing yards, 77 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He’s also put together an impressive 36-4 record in three years as a starter, winning two BCS titles in that span.
Not surprisingly, McCarron’s performance has helped him capture many of the school’s passing records.
Prior to McCarron, you’d have to go pretty far back to find the last time the Tide had a quarterback who struck fear into the hearts of opponents.
He will certainly be missed.
1. QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
No other college football player has been more talked about than Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Likewise, no other player will be missed more than him.
In just two years as the starter in College Station, Texas, Manziel wowed with his play, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012 as a freshman. In that time, he racked up 7,820 passing yards, 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, while adding another 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns on the ground.
With his grit and determination, Manziel willed Texas A&M to victories time after time.
Most recently, he played spectacularly, leading the team to an improbable comeback win against Duke, 52-48, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Critics may point to Manziel’s size as a potential issue in the NFL, but in college football, he had everything necessary to succeed.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.
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