College Football Preview: Denard Robinson, the 25 Most Overrated Players in 2011
Just as the 2010 college football season ended with Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers celebrating, so began the look ahead to 2011.
Many college football voices offered their insight on teams that could contend for a BCS championship in 2011, and players who will either stay in school or run to the greener pastures of the NFL.
Once all that is figured out, and recruiting classes are in place, avid college football fans can begin looking ahead to next year. For some players, such as ultra-talented Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, success on Saturdays next fall appears imminent.
However, many other players are surrounded by far more question marks. Often times their actual production can fall far short of their expectations.
Players that are seen as potential NFL talents are also sometimes overvalued in terms of their actual impact as a college football player at that time.
Without further delay here is a list of the 25 most overrated college football for the upcoming 2011 season.
25. John Brantley, Quarterback, Florida
Brantley has done little to win over the Gator faithful since taking over for the legendary Tim Tebow. In fact he has brought the Gators in the wrong direction for much of his time under center.
Last season Brantley threw just nine touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions. However, he will still likely enter the season as the starter in Florida. New coach Will Muschamp will need to teach Brantley quite a bit in one season if he is going to bring the Gators back to prominence.
Up to this point Brantley has done little over his career to suggest that he is capable of taking a team to such heights.
24. Montel Harris, Running Back, Boston College
Harris actually accumulated some solid yardage totals for the Eagles in 2010. He ended the year with 1,355 total yards and nine touchdowns.
However he also did so with an inordinate amount of carries. Harris' yards per carry average was just 4.6 yards. In 2009 he produced similar averages.
This just goes to show that he lacks the big-play ability that so many college football teams thrive on. If Boston College wants to get back to the winning ways it had with Matt Ryan then they will need speed and big-play potential.
Sadly this is something that Harris does not really offer, even though he can be a fairly reliable running back.
23. Nathan Scheelhaase, Quarterback, Illinois
The rising sophomore actually had a productive freshman season for the Illini, but will likely be asked to do too much in 2011.
Last year Scheelhaase accounted for 2,693 total yards and 22 touchdowns en route to leading Illinois to a matchup with Baylor in the Texas Bowl. However he was able to generate only 151.0 passing yards per game, which was good for just 111th in the country.
On top of that, Scheelhaase will be asked to build off of a successful season while losing some key pieces to the puzzle. Most notably the third leading rusher in the nation, Mikel Leshoure, has foregone his senior season for the NFL.
All signs point to 2011 being slightly too much to handle for Scheelhaase.
22. Stepfan Taylor, Running Back, Stanford
Taylor will probably get a lot of recognition heading into 2011 after he rushed for 1,137 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 2010. He also averaged a solid 5.1 YPC for the year.
However his numbers must also be taken with a grain of salt because he plays with the best quarterback in all of college football.
Taylor has the luxury of having opposing defenses constantly worrying about getting beat over the top by all-world quarterback Andrew Luck. On top of that, Luck himself is capable of taking off and scrambling. Even with all of that help Taylor was not a top 30 rusher in college football.
With Luck returning Taylor will not get to prove this season that he is a force by himself. However this year may prove that Luck is still the biggest asset to the Cardinals, and that all others are far more replaceable.
21. T.J. Moe, Wide Receiver, Missouri
Moe became Missouri's leading wide receiver in 2010 as he caught 92 passes for 1,045 yards. He will also be remembered for finishing the season strong with a 15-catch and 152-yard performance against Iowa in the Insight Bowl.
However, in 2011, Moe will have to prove that he is capable of putting up numbers without an all-world quarterback. Blaine Gabbert has left for the NFL draft, which will bring an inexperienced quarterback to the helm.
If the Missouri Tigers want to have any chance of coming close to their 10-3 record of a year ago they will need a big season from Moe. However without the pieces around him he may not be able to shoulder the load.
20. Marquis Maze, Wide Receiver, Alabama
It may be strange to see Maze's name on this list since he was certainly not a top three option for the Tide during 2010. However, with Julio Jones now in the NFL he will need to pick up a lot of the leadership and production that was left behind.
Maze will certainly be counted on to make big plays in the passing game and it remains to be seen whether he has that kind of ability.
He also will need to be a leader and a mentor for up-and-coming players such as the No. 5-ranked wide receiver recruit Bradley Sylve. Bringing these players along, as well as producing on the field, will go a long way to getting Nick Saban back to another BCS national championship.
19. Dayne Crist, Quarterback, Notre Dame
In Crist's defense it really is not his fault that he finds himself on this list. After all, any high-caliber talent with a strong arm is often over-hyped in South Bend. However, that does not change the fact that he is still overrated.
Crist did not play particularly poorly last year as he compiled a 4-4 record and 15 touchdowns during the first eight games. But in all honesty he does not deserve to be in contention for the starting job in 2011.
Rising sophomore Tommy Rees played usually well, going 4-1 over his five starts to end the season. Included in this are back-to-back wins to close out the year over rivals USC and Miami.
If all goes correctly then Crist should not even have a starting gig in 2011.
18. Bryant Moniz, Quarterback, Hawaii
Last season Bryant Moniz produced some staggering numbers, like 5,040 passing yards and 39 touchdowns. He also was the signal-caller for the best passing team in college football.
However more than just numbers come into play when determining if a player is overrated. Moniz is a classic player who is in the perfect system in a very weak conference.
Granted he put up a significant amount of points per game and did win a fair amount, but one must wonder how that would change if Hawaii were to leave the WAC.
On top of all that, Moniz's numbers will still probably decline because he is losing some of his top weapons this year. Both of his top receivers, Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, were seniors.
Hawaii also lost senior running back Alex Green who produced solid totals considering his lack of touches. Moniz could definitely take a step back in 2011, but even if he does not he still is not among the elite quarterbacks in college football.
17. Janoris Jenkins, Safety, Florida
Jenkins finds himself as one of the few defensive players to appear on this list, but it is his off-field issues and not his production on Saturdays that make him overrated.
In fact, Jenkins is a force on defense and could one day hear his name being called very early during the NFL draft process. However, this likely will not happen if his immaturity and laziness are as widespread as some would lead us to believe.
It is also never good to get off on the wrong foot with a new coach. Jenkins did just that when he was arrested for possessing marijuana.
That is the type of distraction that new coach Will Muschamp and his regime will not want to deal with as they try and get Florida back to a national title contender.
16. Johnathan Franklin, Running Back, UCLA
Don't be fooled by Franklin's 2010 season totals. At first glance 1,190 total yards and eight touchdowns seems to be a solid steppingstone for a sophomore running back.
However in three consecutive regular season games against weak opponents Houston, Texas and Washington State, Franklin amassed 501 yards. That simply shows how much less of a factor he was in other significant conference games.
He was also held under 5.0 YPC during six different games this season. If UCLA wants to compete with the new powers of the Pac-10 it will need a much more consistent effort from its top running back.
15. Garrett Gilbert, Quarterback, Texas
At this point in his career Gilbert is most remembered for his admirable play filling in for the injured Colt McCoy in the 2009 BCS National Championship Game. However, for Texas to get back to contending for national titles he will have to be so much more next season.
During his first full season under center, Gilbert looked lost at times. He played in a full slate of games but threw just 10 touchdowns compared to 17 interceptions.
The Texas Longhorns were also 50th in passing yards per game and 88th in points per game according to FBS rankings.
The Longhorns will be expected to improve on their abysmal 5-7 record last year and a lot of that improvement must come from quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
14. Rodney Stewart, Running Back, Colorado
It is tough to put Stewart on this list because he has been one of the few driving forces on the Colorado offense for the past few seasons.
Just this past year he rushed for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. This came on a team that had the 81st-worst scoring offense in all of college football.
However of all the players in the top 20 for rushing yards in 2010, Stewart is the only one who failed to surpass 4.5 yards per carry. In fact only one other player out of the 20 failed to reach the 5.0 YPC mark.
Stewart will continue to be one of the few options for the Buffaloes, which is why he will likely produce a respectable stat line in 2011. However, these numbers are more about accumulation than actual greatness as they come for a losing team.
13. Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
As Cousins returns for his senior season for the Spartans he will have to shake off the bad lasting memories from 2010.
Cousins threw six touchdowns and six interceptions over his last five games, which included losses to Iowa and Alabama. In particular, Cousins will have to shake off the 49-7 beating the Spartans received at the hands of Nick Saban and company.
He has had two solid consecutive seasons, but there have been few spectacular statistics or noteworthy wins during that time.
Cousins and the Spartans will both be overrated heading into 2011 due to their 11-1 season this past year.
12. Jordan Wynn, Quarterback, Utah
Wynn put up respectable numbers during his first full season as the Utes starting quarterback. He threw for 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
However, Utah is typically known for putting up monster offensive totals, which does not bode well for Wynn. He would need to improve on those numbers even if he was staying in the Mountain West Conference.
However, since Utah is moving to the Pac-10 it is going to be an even bigger adjustment period for Wynn. If he wants to make sure that the Utah faithful remain with the team as they struggle through a Pac-10 season then he will need a strong start to the year.
Wynn will also need to stay on the field if he wants to make a difference. Last year he missed three games to injury, including the much-anticipated matchup with Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
11. Juron Criner, Wide Receiver, Arizona
Criner flirted with the idea of entering the NFL draft, but ultimately he chose to return to school for his senior season. This could be due to the fact that he knows where his current stock stands and must improve it with a better season.
Criner posted solid totals in 2010 with 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns, but his season was filled with inconsistency.
In five of the team's 13 games he was held to fewer than five catches. On top of that, in three of those games he caught two passes.
Meanwhile Criner managed to top the 100-yard mark in just four games. At 6'4'' he has the size to be an elite weapon and must hone his craft before he is considered a more dangerous threat.
10. Jacory Harris, Quarterback, Miami
Many readers may be surprised to see Harris on this list because they may feel that he is simply not that good. However there are certainly still many Hurricane backers who believe in his skill set.
Harris is just a season removed from a promising campaign that included 25 total touchdowns and a 59.6 completion percentage.
However after a disappointing junior season, highlighted by his 15 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns, Harris' stock has plummeted. He will need to have a strong start to the year if he wants to impress new coach Al Golden and prove to him that he should be the team's starting quarterback.
9. Roy Finch, Running Back, Oklahoma
The main reason that Finch finds himself on this list is due to his inability to stay healthy. Remaining injury-free is a special skill, and one that Finch certainly does not possess at this point in his career.
Last season, lingering injuries kept the potential freshman standout out of the first five games of the season and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. His talent is not in question, but Finch must stay healthy if does not want the Sooners to find a more reliable option.
The Sooners also are being called the best team in the nation by several polls, which means the expectations are astronomical.
Finch will have to live up to the hype if he does not want incoming freshman recruit Brandon Williams to make a run at the starting job.
8. Jordan Jefferson, Quarterback, LSU
Jefferson's stature often times makes people believe that he is capable of things that may not come to fruition. At 6'5'' he has the size to see over the offensive line and become a dominant quarterback.
However, this has never really translated while at LSU. Granted he was a part of the Tigers team that went 12-2 in 2010, but he was not the reason behind this record.
Instead Jefferson was more seen as a quarterback who needed to manage the game and not necessarily make plays. This can be seen by his measly seven touchdown passes in 2010.
In other words Jefferson is much more of an athlete playing quarterback than anything else. If things do not get off to a solid start do not be surprised if Miles makes a move towards a more traditional passer.
7. Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
The 5'11'' wide receiver for the Sooners obviously possesses some serious talents. Last season he recorded 131 receptions to go with 1,622 yards receiving.
In fact Broyles may even be able to put up similar numbers again this season in Oklahoma. However the point remains that he is overrated because of the cast and system surrounding him.
Last season only two schools threw for more passing yards per game than Oklahoma. That provides plenty of opportunity for Broyles to rack up statistics.
On top of that, he has one of the best quarterbacks, Landry Jones, in the country throwing him the ball. It appears more likely Broyles is not an intricate piece of success but rather a somewhat replaceable asset.
6. Jonathan Massaquoi, Defensive End, Troy
In recent years Troy has been known for producing pass-rushing hybrids that can get pressure on the quarterback. Recently DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora have gone on to have big-time success at the NFL level.
However Massaquoi will have to build off his 2010 season to prove he belongs in that class. Last year he recorded 13.5 sacks, which placed him third in the country.
Those numbers must be taken with a grain of salt because he also had the help of NFL draft prospect Mario Addison at outside linebacker.
In order to prove his true worth, Massaquoi must prove he can create a pass rush when he is the focal point of the offensive line
5. Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Floyd is a classic player who gets caught up in the hype simply because he is a top option at Notre Dame. This is not to say that Floyd is not a solid college football player, but rather that he benefits greatly from his environment.
Notre Dame's top wideout had two mediocre seasons before he really exploded on the scene with 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010.
However, when we look more closely it appears Floyd's impact was not what it seemed. He only went over 100 yards receiving in three of Notre Dame's 12 regular season games. On top of that only one of those times came during an Irish victory.
Floyd opted to come back to school with good reason in 2011. He knows that he must continue to improve on his play because he is not yet ready for the next level.
4. Darron Thomas, Quarterback, Oregon
Undeniably, Thomas had an outstanding statistical season in 2010, thanks in large part to coach Chip Kelly's scheme. He amassed 35 total touchdowns and also accounted for over 3,300 total yards.
However he finds himself on this list due to the offensive-friendly scheme that he plays under, and the playmakers that surround him at every position. In particular, running back LaMichael James may be the best player in the country at his position.
Leading up to the 2011 BCS National Championship, coach Chip Kelly even noted that Thomas' job was to get the ball into the hands of playmakers. He even likened his job to an NBA point guard, whose main focus is distribution.
This sounds a lot more like a player that plays a specific role rather than one who is intricate to a team's success.
3. Michael Dyer, Running Back, Auburn
Dyer won a BCS national championship in 2010, while rushing for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns. So how is he overrated?
Well for starters he did so while playing alongside arguably the most talented quarterback that we have ever seen in college football.
Dyer will be asked to shoulder a lot more of the load in 2011 and it remains to be seen whether he will be up to the task. He wore down in 2010 and averaged just 56.7 rushing yards per game over his final four regular season contest.
On top of that Dyer caught just one pass last season and offers absolutely nothing in the passing game. Dyer needs to become a more complete player if he does not want the Tigers to fall completely off the radar in 2011.
2. Terrelle Pryor, Quarterback, Ohio State
Pryor has to be on this list, not because of a lack of production, but more because of the huge hype that has always surrounded him in Columbus.
After all, the Buckeye quarterback did make some major strides, setting career best marks across the board, during the 2010 season. Most notably Pryor's 65 percent completion percentage and 34 touchdowns show signs of an even brighter future.
However, many people see Pryor's athleticism and potential and consider him to be a Heisman contender when it is not justified.
It also does not help his case that part of being a quarterback is also being a team leader. It will be very tough for Pryor to lead by example during his five-game suspension to begin the season.
For Pryor to gain more praise as a potential NFL quarterback he will have to come back and right the ship for Jim Tressel and company in 2011.
1. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Robinson had a monstrous statistical season in 2010 and was one of the early front-runners for the Heisman Trophy. By season's end he had accounted for 32 total touchdowns while rushing for over 1,700 yards.
Even with all of Robinson's individual accomplishments in 2010 there was still little done to improve the overall product on the field for the Wolverines.
As a result, the University decided to go in a different direction and brought in Brady Hoke to rebuild a national championship contender for 2011. This new regime could come with a more balanced attack that does not allow for the statistical outburst.
Denard "Shoelace" Robinson will have to prove himself as a passer in the coming years. More importantly he must help produce wins in Ann Arbor to truly live up to his full potential.