College Football: 10 Players With The Most To Prove In 2010
Every player has something to prove this college football season, whether it is proving they can step up and be that impact player, or return to form post-injury.
To narrow this list down to just 10 is very difficult, but I have taken several factors into consideration: national hype, what big stars they are replacing, and the aforementioned post injury status.
I have tried to avoid having all QBs, even though there are plenty of them that could qualify for being guys with something to prove.
Also not on this list are guys like Mark Ingram, who I feel have already proven themselves.
This list is simply the guys with perhaps the biggest chip or chips on their shoulders in 2010. Chips that could make or break both their college and pro careers...
John Brantley, QB, Florida
This first entry is obvious; it's the guy who is replacing Tim Tebow.
All Tebow did for the Gators was win a Heisman, two national titles, and earn consideration for being perhaps the greatest college QB of all time.
So what can John Brantley do that Tebow hasn't?
Not much, but Gators fans will take another SEC title run, BCS title run, and some numbers.
Brantley will be under the microscope maybe more than any other QB in the nation, leading him to have to prove himself to Gator Nation and the entire college football world.
Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
Jared Crick enters his junior season without the luxury of playing alongside Ndamukong Suh.
Last year he racked up 9.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. This year he is being considered the next big thing on the Nebraska D-line.
There is no question that Crick is a talented player, but the question is how well he will do now that he has the target on his back.
He will need some help from fellow tackles like Baker Steinkuhler and Justin Jackson. However if they are half as good as Crick appears to be, opposing lines better watch out.
Crick simply has to prove that last year was what Husker fans can expect from him this year and in the future if he stays for his senior year.
Darren Evans, RB, Virginia Tech
All Darren Evans did his freshman year of 2008 was break records and help the Hokies make an Orange Bowl run. His sophomore season unfortunately never got going as he tore his ACL before it even began.
Ryan Williams filled in and broke Evans' freshman rushing records at VaTech.
It looks like a two-headed monster could emerge in Blacksburg, right?
Evans must prove that 2008 was no fluke and that he is 100 percent healthy. The good news is that most teams nowadays have to utilize two solid backs to keep guys healthy and productive.
Evans must prove that he is both and find a way to allow the gameplan to see him getting more and more carries.
Braylon Broughton, DE, TCU
Some people may not know who Braylon Broughton is. Let me fill you in.
He was the preseason freshman of the year in the MWC in 2008. Last year he saw more and more action during TCU's run to the BCS.
Broughton is now in position to replace All American end Jerry Hughes, who is now in the NFL.
He has size, 6'6", 270lbs, and speed. But after spring drills in which he was not 100 percent he was in a battle for the No. 1 end spot.
Look for coach Gary Patterson to go with him early on in the season to see if Broughton is able to step in and be productive.
Broughton has to prove he is talented enough to start in Division 1 football, and that he can fill the void of a Jerry Hughes.
A big chip is on his shoulder to say the least...
Jake Locker, QB, Washington
NFL scouts are already pegging Jake Locker as the top QB taken in the 2011 snap before a snap has been taken.
The statement above should be enough to put him on the list, but there's more.
Locker has put up solid stats while at Washington, but has never led his team to a bowl game or even a winning season.
When people talk about having the world strapped to their backs, you can ask Locker how it feels, because he has the pressure of living up to the NFL hype, and having Huskies fans all over the state looking for him to lead them to their first bowl game in several years.
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Adrian Clayborn is a pre-season All-American and reigning Orange Bowl MVP. He is also a senior on an Iowa defense that many think can carry the Hawks all the way to the Rose Bowl.
So what does he have to prove?
Well, like Jared Crick, he has the target on his back for teams to try and contain. He also has to prove that his 11 sacks and 20 TFLs were not a fluke.
Many are also saying he has the best shot out of all defenders to make a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
A lot to prove indeed for Mr. Clayborn in Iowa City.
Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
All the talk in Tuscaloosa this past spring was how nobody could stop Marcell Dareus from making plays. That may be a scary thought considering he is going up against one of the best offenses in the land.
Dareus had a great Spring, but many remember his pick six in the BCS National Title game that sealed the Tide's 37-21 win over Texas.
So what does he have to prove?
Well, he has to anchor a defense that lost Mt. Cody, Rolando McClain, and Javier Arenas. Can he be the one-man wrecking crew that Tide fans hope he will be?
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
Baylor hasn't been to a bowl game since 1994, and last season Bears fans put all of their hopes on dual-threat QB Robert Griffin to get them back there.
Then he tore his ACL in the season's third game and was shut down by head coach Art Briles, even though he did throw for three TDs and over 200 yards after the injury.
The Bears would only win four games in 2009, but showed signs of life with a road win in Columbia and a close loss against Texas Tech.
Griffin must prove that he is healthy and can be the guy to take Baylor to the promise land in a very tough Big 12 South.
Dayne Crist, QB, Notre Dame
There isn't a lot of talk about the Golden Domers heading into 2010, but that may change if their newest QB can open both the nation's and Irish eyes.
Dayne Crist is the odds on favorite to replace Jimmy Clausen as the Irish QB this season. He was highly recruited coming out of high school and has looked okay in limited action.
Crist has to prove he is the man for the job, which is easier said than done at Notre Dame.
On the positive side, he has one of the nation's best receivers in Michael Floyd and a solid TE in Kyle Rudolph.
Where Crist may benefit the most is with Brian Kelly's quick strike offense in which there is potential to put up big points and big numbers for Crist and the Irish.
Jeremiah Masoli, QB, Ole Miss
He helped lead Oregon to the Rose Bowl last season and a Pac-10 title. By the end of May he was suspended from the team for charges of second-degree burglary in a fraternity theft.
Now he is gone from Oregon and has re-surfaced in Oxford, Miss.
Masoli is attempting to walk on at Ole Miss and will challenge for the starting job since Jevan Snead is gone and graduated.
What does he have to prove?
He has to prove he has character. If he wants to succeed in college football and in life he will have to show he is a high-character guy.
One slip and he will find himself looking back and wondering what could have been...
As I said earlier there are plenty of other guys that could have made this list like QBs Terrelle Pryor, Jacory Harris, and Case Keenum.
Here are some other notables that are looking to prove themselves in 2010.
Linebacker Tank Carder is going to have to continue his dominance in Gary Patterson's defensive scheme if the Horned Frogs are to make another BCS run.
A.J. Green is a standout WR at Georgia and a favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award, but can he produce with a Bulldog QB situation that is inexperienced to say the least?
Finally, I will throw Cal QB Kevin Riley in here. He has been consistent throughout his Cal career and has been ever so close to winning the Pac-10 until late season slides.
Can he step up and lead Cal from beginning to end to a Pasadena bowl berth?
Those are the guys I feel have the most to prove this college football season.
Do you agree or disagree?
Who would be on your list?
As always feel free to post your thoughts below and as I always say, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong....