College Football's Most Overlooked Stars
College football is a game played by thousands of athletes on Saturday yet many distinguished players fly far under the radar.
Many of these star players may not be Heisman-caliber athletes but they may be darn close, close enough that if they keep piling up stats and winning ball games that they may end up being mentioned in the Heisman Trophy conversation.
S Kyle McCarthy (Notre Dame)
Notre Dame is led defensively by senior safety Kyle McCarthy. He is already in the midst of a breakout season thanks to his three interceptions, a career high.
McCarthy's 19 solo tackles is a team best for the Fighting Irish as they continue to lack a serious presence among their front-seven.
With that said, McCarthy has maintained a good defensive posture in the secondary, despite Notre Dame being ranked 96th in total defense.
If the linebackers and defensive linemen can get things together in South Bend, McCarthy could become more independent to rove the backfield, putting himself in a position to make even bigger plays.
CB Rahim Moore (UCLA)
UCLA's resurgence as a power in the Pac-10 relies heavily on its offense but it is the defense that is carrying the burden for the 3-0 Bruins.
Sophomore cornerback Rahim Moore has five interceptions through three games, including two picks at Tennessee.
He is fast and elusive, flips his hips well, and has yet to blow coverage.
Most of the talk around the nation's best defensive backs focuses on Tennessee's Eric Berry, USC's Taylor Mays, and Cal's Syd'Quan Thompson.
The fact of the matter is that it is time to involve Moore in the discussion.
He currently leads the nation in interceptions and is two more picks away from tying the individual mark set for interceptions in 2008.
LB Dekoda Watson (Florida State)
Through just three games this season, Florida State has had more up's and down's than an amusement park.
While their play has peaked and bottomed out, one thing has remained consistent and that is the play from senior linebacker Dekoda Watson.
It is rare for a Seminole linebacker to fly under the radar but after 4.5 sacks in three games, it is time to pay him his proper due.
Despite not recording a sack in their romp at Brigham Young, Watson was very active in playing the decoy while the BYU blockers focused in on him.
With all of the great linebackers to hail from Florida State, only one has ever won the Butkus Award.
Only Dekoda Watson can prevent himself from winning that award this year.
DE Jack Crawford (Penn State)
Penn State was expected to be stuck in neutral with its pass rushers this year since they lost defensive end's Aaron Maybin and Maurice Evans to the NFL.
While most slept during the night though, sophomore Jack Crawford worked to fill the void left by Maybin and Evans.
Through three games Crawford has compiled two sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss.
While their appears to be some confidence issues with Crawford, Penn State will rely on him heavily as the schedule gets tougher and the weather gets colder.
Jack Crawford has the goods to become the next great Penn State pass rusher, following along the lineage of recent first round picks Maybin (2008), Tamba Hali (2006), Michael Haynes (2003), and Courtney Brown (2001).
TE Weslye Saunders (South Carolina)
Traditionally, South Carolina is a school that has produced many great college receivers.
Since Steve Spurrier has been head coach, the Gamecocks have begun producing highly productive tight ends.
Weslye Saunders, a junior tight end, is ready to fill the void vacated by Jared Cook, who left for the NFL in 2008.
Saunders has 13 catches for 153 yards through three games this year.
He is looking to follow in the footsteps of Sterling Sharpe, Robert Brooks, Troy Williamson, Sidney Rice, Kenny McKinley, and Jared Cook.
Weslye Saunders will continue to be an integral cog within the Gamecocks offense as the season progresses.
WR Tim Brown (Rutgers)
When we think of wide receiver Tim Brown, we think of the NFL great that 100 touchdowns throughout his career with the Raiders.
Rutgers senior wide receiver Tim Brown, a native of Miami, Florida, is ratcheting up what is expected from wideout's at Rutgers, despite playing in an offense headed by a very inexperienced quarterback.
Through three games, Brown has 14 receptions for 349 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging nearly 25 yards per catch.
Don't worry that Brown plays for Rutgers, he is a big-play threat that will be torching defenses in the Big East all season long.
RB Graig Cooper (Miami Fl.)
His numbers will not impress you but Graig Cooper is one of the most fascinating players in all of college football.
He is a running back that runs at a low-pad level, keeping his head down while churning his legs.
Cooper has a second gear like no other, one you would expect from a playmaker from "The U."
He is averaging 34 yards on kick returns, while remaining a threat to take the pigskin into paydirt every time he touches it on offense.
QB Tony Pike (Cincinnati)
A campaign has been waged to get Tony Pike recognition for the Heisman Trophy in 2009.
Many felt in my Heisman watch articles that Pike should have been considered among the dozen chosen. Well, from a week to week basis, Pike will likely remain in the top 20 but depending on play from others, namely Darryl Clark (Penn State) and Eric Decker (Minnesota), Pike will always be on the cusp.
Still, Pike is putting up good numbers in a pro-style offense.
Cincinnati has a solid chance at finishing 2009 undefeated.
While they are not considered serious contenders for the BCS crown, one has to wonder what else the Bearcats have to do to gain a little respect.
Pike is sixth nationally in completion percentage and 12th nationally in yards per game.
He ranks higher than the likes of Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Jacory Harris (Miami Fl.), Colt McCoy (Texas), and Jake Locker (Washington) in either of those categories.