If there is one position in football that is commonly overlooked, but can have a dynamic impact on a game, it's that of kick returner.
Kick returners are the ones that set up an offense in good (or poor) position either to begin a half or to bounce back from giving up a score. In an instant, these speedy returners can change a game.
However, the thing about kick returners, and punt returners for that matter, is that, like their feet, their fame is fleeting.
One year they can average 30 yards a return and be a threat to take it all the way every time they touch the ball. The next year the holes just don't seem to open, opposing teams key on them, and they average 20 yards or less.
Remember the NFL's Dante Hall?
While with the Chiefs only six or seven years ago, Hall was the talk of the league. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard Dante Hall's name?
I'm willing to bet it wasn't recently.
Even in college, returners' success can change drastically year to year. Ask the Wisconsin Badgers' David Gilreath.
As a freshman, Gilreath was considered one of the brilliant returners in the land. As a kick returner, his production has kept at a constant pace, but as a punt returner, he averaged only 2.8 yards a return last year compared to almost 10 yards as a freshman.
The fact is, returners usually have a few good seasons, but if they aren't capable of stepping in at another position, history shows that their time is limited. Desmond Howard, Dante Hall, even Devin Hester (unless he proves to be a reliable wide receiver) have experienced this phenomenon.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that predicting what kick returners will have exceptional years is somewhat of a crap shoot.
But anyways, despite all that, kick returners are still a crucial part of the game.
So, who are the top 10 in college football? Take a look.
Note: Rankings were based on a combination of number of returns, return yards, return yard average (based on ESPN's minimum attempts eligibility), and touchdowns from 2009. There were many players who had very similar numbers, so good kick returners were inevitably left off this list. After all, there can only be 10.