Cam Newton of Auburn Heads College Football's Top 10 Offensive Players of 2010
The college football season is nearing the postseason, and we are starting to see some huge numbers being put up by some of the country's best talent.
There are so many dynamic athletes in NCAA football today that it is hard to take 10 of them and label them the "best" or "most valuable." A lot of big numbers come from certain styles of play or programs that have great offenses.
That said, here are the top 10 offensive players of 2010 so far. I took into consideration who their teams play and what conference they are in because that can affect numbers as well.
I will also hand out some awards along the way, including the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award (best WR), Doak Walker Award (best RB), Johnny Unitas Award (best senior QB) and Walter Camp Award (player of the year).
10. Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii
Hawaii has one of the most potent passing attacks in college football, and they have for quite some time. They always have a top offense, and their players put up huge numbers every season.
This year, it's Greg Salas' turn.
Salas—a Chino, California native—is enjoying the best season for a wide receiver this year. He has already recorded 81 catches for 1,236 yards and eight touchdowns. His receptions and yards lead the NCAA, and he hasn't had a game with less than seven catches and 130 yards since Week 3 of this year.
You may ask why he is No. 10 on the list if he has top honor in these important categories. My answer to you is that he is a product of the system. Although Salas is a great player, the numbers are inflated because of the style of offense Hawaii runs. Hawaii also doesn't play as hard of a schedule as the top-notch college programs, so Salas isn't facing the toughest competition the country has to offer.
Normally I wouldn't even put a Hawaii receiver on this list, but Salas is the best in two extremely important categories, so I'll put his name out there for all of you who don't already know of him.
9. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Martinez has electrified college football fans all season. A sure-fire freshman All-American, this guy has the tools to beat you with his arm or his legs.
His passing numbers aren't huge—1,161 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions—but they are very efficient, especially for a true freshman first-year starter.
He is ranked in the top 15 in rushing with 886 yards and 12 touchdowns, good for 7.9 yards per carry, which is tops in football for players with over 100 carries.
His ability to sneak out of trouble and turn something into nothing has fans all over America turning their heads.
He came out of nowhere and was not expected to produce at nearly this high of a level, especially this early in his career. It is going to be scary to see what he can do in his sophomore and junior seasons.
8. Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa
Efficiency breeds excellence.
Ricky Stanzi's 180.3 passer rating is good for second in the country. He has thrown for 1,922 yards with 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He flat-out doesn't make mistakes.
Although Iowa has lost two heartbreakers this season already, Stanzi continues to be a vocal leader, and it showed in their 37-6 dismantling of No. 5 Michigan State this past Saturday. He completed 73 percent of his passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns. He even got it done on the ground with a long 26-yard scamper.
His numbers aren't huge, but they are extremely impressive when you look at all the powerhouse defenses Iowa faces each week.
Award: Johnny Unitas Award (best senior QB)
7. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
When you think Oklahoma football, the first thing that comes to mind is probably great quarterback play and a stingy defense.
But Oklahoma has a long line of solid wide receivers that have come and gone through the program, and Ryan Broyles could be the best to ever put on the maroon and white.
Broyles is third in the NCAA in receiving yards with 1,018 and second in receptions with 78. He is playing the best defenses in football coming out of the Big 12 Conference, yet he still manages to put up monster numbers.
He has developed a great rapport with quarterback Landry Jones and enjoyed his best game of the season this past weekend, catching nine passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns against Colorado. His combination of size and speed, to go along with his tremendous hands, will make him a joy to watch at the next level.
6. Kendall Hunter, RB, Oklahoma State
Hunter is a guy who I feel has been overlooked all season long. Oklahoma State is always nestled in the Top 25, and they always have one of the better offenses in football, but Hunter is putting up a stat line to remember.
After an injury cut his junior season short very early, the senior from Tyler, Texas is third in the NCAA in 2010 in rushing yards with 1,174 and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He has 12 touchdowns and only had one game in which he didn't rush for 100 yards.
Even more impressive, Hunter hasn't fumbled the ball in 189 carries this season. In fact, in his entire college career, spanning 626 carries, he hasn't put the ball on the ground once. He is only 5'8" and 197 pounds, but he delivers blows and is extremely elusive.
5. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
If you thought there was nobody as consistent and error-free as Ricky Stanzi, think again.
Moore leads a Boise State team that is undefeated and has its eyes set on that BCS Championship Game. He has completed almost 70 percent of his passes (69.8) and has thrown for 1,865 yards, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions.
He leads the NCAA in passer rating at 188.3 and hasn't had a game when he has thrown for less than two scores and 196 yards. He has been the model of efficiency and has this Boise State team in position to win a title if a couple of teams falter in front of them.
4. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Before Blackmon was suspended for a game for an underage DUI charge, he was on pace for one of the greatest seasons a wide receiver has ever had at this level.
In seven games this season, Blackmon has 1,112 yards on 62 receptions with 14 touchdowns. He averages almost 160 yards per game and is still on pace to set some Big 12 records in scoring for receivers and yards.
He has absolutely dominated every team he has faced and is the top receiver in the NCAA for sure. The most mind-blowing part of these stats is that Blackmon is only a sophomore. A receiver this talented at the ripe age of 20 means he will only get better with age.
Look for Blackmon to return this week with a vengeance to prove to everyone why he is the best at his position hands down.
Award: Biletnikoff Award
3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
It truly is unreal what LaMichael James has done this season. He lost a game when he was suspended for the first game of the year, but that didn't stop him from putting up the best rushing stats in college football this season.
James leads all running backs in yards (1,210) and total touchdowns (15). He has rushed for 200 yards three times and only has one game where he rushed for less than 100 (94 yards at Arizona State).
He ranks second overall in rushing yards only to Denard Robinson, and he has even managed to take a screen pass 87 yards to pay dirt. He is a top Heisman candidate and potentially the most dangerous player in the country with the ball in his hands.
Award: Doak Walker Award
2. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
If it weren't for the man who is No. 1 on my list, Robinson would probably have the Heisman Trophy under wraps. The way he can elude defenders, run the option and pass the ball so effectively, it's a wonder how Michigan has lost its way in recent weeks.
His 1,505 yards passing with 10 scores and five interceptions seem modest, but when you accompany those numbers with the best rushing stats in college football, Heisman aspirations are within reach.
Robinson and his untied shoelaces have run for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns at 7.8 yards per carry. The sophomore out of Deerfield Beach, Florida makes defenders miss with ease and is sure to wow Michigan fans for at least this year and next.
He usually the fastest player on the field and reminds me of a young Mike Vick, but with a little more discipline throwing the football. His passing stats are actually very solid ,as his 155.27 passer rating is good for 23rd in the NCAA.
Although I think that the same player who will win the Heisman will win the Walter Camp Award too, for this list, I will give the awards separately.
Award: Walter Camp Award
1. Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn
Talk about coming out of nowhere.
Last year, Newton was playing for a tiny junior college named Blinn College. He led his team to the NJCAA National Championship game and was considered the top recruit at quarterback from high school or junior college.
He committed to Auburn early this year, and since then, it's been a match made in heaven.
Newton has torn up the stat sheets, recording 1,573 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and only five interceptions. His 172.61 passer rating is good for third in the NCAA, only behind Kellen Moore and Ricky Stanzi.
The best part about Newton is he runs the ball just as well as he passes, if not better. Denard Robinson can run with the best, but his passing is nothing compared to Newton's.
Cameron has 1,122 yards rushing on 168 attempts with 14 touchdowns. His 29 total scores are by far the best in the NCAA, and he is fourth in the nation in rushing yards. No player in college football today is as balanced as he is, and I wouldn't be surprised if he stepped in at receiver one game and caught 10 passes for 150 yards.
He is the best player in the NCAA, and I don't think there is anyone that can come close to what he has accomplished so far.
Award: Heisman Trophy
Phil Lombardo is a Senior Journalism/Mass Communications major at Saint Bonaventure University.
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