College Football: Most Underrated Player at Each Position
The NCAA gives out a series of awards every year that are given to the nation's best players, but what many people do not realize is that there are many players that do not receive these awards that are just as talented as the award-getters.
The purpose of this article is to introduce the under appreciated talents of the NCAA to the college football world.
I don't know about you, but I get sick of hearing the same names over and over again in the off season and having those names disappear once the season starts (ie. Jacory Harris, Dion Lewis). So I have decided to compile a list of the guys that no one is talking about that have a chance to have monster seasons in 2011. Naming the most underrated player at each position will help expose the hidden gems of college football.
QB: Ryan Tannehill and Dan Persa
Tannehil: Once Jerrod Johnson began to struggle for the Aggies in 2010, the head coach for the Aggies, Mike Sherman, benched Johnson for leading receiver and backup QB, Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill immediately led the Aggies to six straight wins, including wins over Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma.
Tannehill is one of the most versatile players in all of college football; last year he caught, threw and ran for touchdowns, and on top of that, he punted the ball a couple times and chipped in with a tackle. Tannehill will build off of his success last year, and have a huge season for Texas A&M.
Persa: Although he was injured for the last three games of the 2010 season, Dan Persa still posted impressive stats. Persa threw for 15 TD's and just four picks, and also rushed for nine TD's in 2010. Persa led the nation in completion percentage, threw less interceptions than any other QB who had at least 250 passing attempts and is fourth amongst returning QB's in passer rating.
If Dan Persa stays healthy and has similar numbers to those that he put up in 2010, he could be in good position to gain a great deal of national exposure.
RB: David Wilson and James White
David Wilson: Running a 4.29 40-yard-dash, David Wilson is one of the fastest players in college football. He has always been able to use his game-breaking speed in the return game, as he returned two kicks for touchdowns last season, he was a solid option at running back last year for the Hokies, as he carried the ball 100 times for 600 yards and four touchdowns. But now with the departure of starter, Ryan Williams, Wilson really has the opportunity to have a breakout season. Look for Wilson to use his speed in big ways for the Hokie backfield this year.
James White: James White led all running backs with at least 150 rushes last season in yards per rush with 6.7. Although White split time with Clay, and Ball last season he still racked up 1,000-plus yards, and with Clay gone, he can put up even better numbers.
The Wisconsin offensive line will continue to open up huge wholes for the Badger running backs, and White will take advantage of that and have another spectacular season.
WR: Tavarres King
Someone has to replace AJ Green, right? Tavarres King's athletic ability has been overshadowed by the freak of nature AJ Green. In the past, King has been utilized as a down field threat, but has not been able to put it all together and receive for 1,000 yards.
With the No. 1 receiver spot wide open, King will grab it and use his superior athletic ability to post huge numbers for the Bulldogs.
TE: Coby Fleener
Fleener had a good junior season for Stanford last year and looks to build off of that success this year. Fleener is in a great position with Andrew Luck as his quarterback and in a pro style set that utilizes its tight ends extensively. Coby could put up receiver-like numbers this year for Stanford.
OL: Jaymes Brooks
The 6'2", 310 pound Virginia Tech guard, Jaymes Brooks, had a good enough 2010 campaign to earn himself Second Team All-ACC honors.
Jaymes is a lock for a spot on the preseason All-ACC team and will look to build upon his great 2010 season with an even better 2011 season that I believe will culminate into All-American honors.
C: David Molk
I am a Michigan fan, so I had to give at least one Wolverine an award.
Although I may have chosen Molk out of my love for the Michigan Wolverines, he is very deserving of the award.
David Molk was a part of the 2010 All-Big Ten team, over the likes of Ohio State center Michael Brewster but is still overlooked due to his size.
DL: Brandon Jenkins
After a monster 2010 season, Brandon Jenkins is still flying under the radar as the starting defensive end for the Florida State Seminoles.
The fact that he is being overlooked by experts may be because of his diminutive 235-pound frame.
Regardless of his size, Jenkins recorded 13.5 sacks last season—a total that was only topped by two other players.
CB: Jayron Hosley
In his sophomore season, Jayron Hosley lead the country in interceptions with nine and also defended the fifth most passes in the nation.
Look for Jayron Hosley to cash in with a huge season, but he may see a drop in his interception total due to the quarterback's unwillingness to throw in his direction.
LB: Tanner Brock
Tanner Brock has spent his first season as a starter in the shadows of Tank Carder, because of this, his talent has been overlooked. In his 2010 sophomore campaign, Brock recorded over 100 tackles, two sacks, one pick and six tackles for loss.
Despite being a top five defense in the past five years, the Horned Frogs need to step up on defense because the production on offense will take a hit with the loss of Andy Dalton. Brock will compensate for the loss of Andy Dalton and snatch the national spotlight from Tank Carder.
Safety: Delano Howell
Because of the greatness of Andrew Luck and the Stanford offense in 2010, not many people realized how good the Stanford Defense was. Stanford's defense was ranked in the top 10 in scoring and had a defensive backfield that was led by strong safety Delano Howell.
Howell recorded five picks, a sack and 60 tackles. In his senior season, Howell will step it up and look to lead the Stanford defense to a national championship run.
Kicker: Danny Hrapmann
Danny Hrapmann may be flying under the radar because he does not go to Southern Miss, which is not a BCS conference school. But regardless of what conference he plays in, he is still a great kicker.
Hrapmann went 26/31 (84 percent) last season including hitting: 10/10 from 30-39 yards, 6-8 from 40-49 yards and 2-3 from 50+ that included a 54 yard field goal.
Hrapmann definitely has the skills to be considered the best kicker in college football, but his small market school will hold him back.
Punter: Will Hagerup
While Michigan struggled on the kicking front, they thrived in punting. Although their punter, Will Hagerup, did not get as many opportunities to punt as most other punters because of Michigan's high-powered offense, he shined as one of the nation's premiere punters.
Hagerup averaged 45 yards per punt as a freshman in 2010 and had a season long of 72 yards.
If Hagerup did this as a freshman imagine what he can do as he matures, I expect big things from the Michigan punter this year.
Coach: George O'Leary
Since becoming head coach for the UCF Knights in 2004, O'Leary has molded the program into a consistent winner. O'Leary has led the Knights to two conference championships and has built a solid fanbase that has allowed the Knights to build a new stadium.
Last year, George guided UCF to their first ever 11-win season, the Conference USA championship and an bowl game victory over Georgia.
The Knights earned their first-ever national ranking in 2010, finishing the year at No. 20, and O'Leary was rewarded with the C-USA Coach of the Year Award for the third time in his six years as coach for the Knights.
The UCF Knights have a good chance at going undefeated this season, and in that case, they would most likely finish with a berth to a BCS Bowl; this would translate into a much deserved national respect boost for O'Leary.