The Most Important Player on Every College Football Team
As a junior in 2011, Perry Jones improved on all of his numbers from a season ago.
He carried the ball 184 times for 915 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging just over five yards a carry. .
In 2012, he will be counted on even more heavily and is one of the best running backs returning in the ACC.
Air Force: Alex Means, Linebacker
Alex Means will be entering his senior season, and is a leader on the Falcons' defense.
Last season Means anchored a defense that ranked third in the Mountain West. He is the top returning tackler on the roster.
Means came on strong after only starting seven games in his first two seasons combined. He finished the year with 77 tackles, five sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
He will be one of the best linebackers in the Mountain West, and could help anchor the best defense in the conference.
Akron: Jawon Chisholm, Running Back
Jawon Chisholm had a big freshman campaign last season and will look to do even more in 2012.
He was one of the few bright spots on an Akron team that only won one game last year.
Chisholm finished the season with 961 yards and five touchdowns on 218 carries.
He had four games over 120 yards, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry for the season. Chisholm will be counted on heavily in 2012 for the Zips.
Alabama: Barrett Jones, Center
Few offensive linemen can have the impact on a football team that Barrett Jones does, and he is one of the few linemen who can be considered the most important player on his team.
Jones won the Outland Trophy in 2011 as the nation's best interior lineman on either side of the football.
He is an All-American, and arguably the best offensive lineman in the country.
This season, he is making the move to center and will likely shine there as well.
Arizona: Brian Wagner, Linebacker
Akron transfer Brian Wagner will be eligible to play immediately next season for Arizona because he is a graduate transfer.
He will make an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball, as he is one of the best tacklers in the nation.
Last season he recorded 147 tackles, good for third in the country. He also ranked second nationally in tackles per game at 13.36.
He led the Mid-American Conference in tackles last season, and could do the same in the Pac-12 this season.
Arizona State: Cameron Marshall, Running Back
Cameron Marshall had a breakout junior season last year with 1,050 yards and 18 touchdowns on 230 carries.
He has improved consistently in each of his three seasons in Tempe, and could be one of the best running backs in the Pac-12 next season.
Marshall went over 110 yards four times last season, and will certainly improve on those numbers in 2012 if he can stay healthy.
Arkansas: Knile Davis, Running Back
This is a toss up, and could just as easily have gone to Tyler Wilson.
If Davis can regain his form and get healthy in 2012, he will be one of the top five running backs in the country.
In 2010, as a sophomore, he rushed for 1,322 yards and 13 touchdowns on 204 carries. That was one of the best seasons for any running back in the country.
If he comes back healthy next season, he will be just what Arkansas needs to contend for an SEC title.
Arkansas State: Ryan Aplin, Quarterback
Arkansas State loves to throw the ball around and quarterback Ryan Aplin will be entering his third season as a starter, looking to improve on some pretty impressive numbers.
Last season Aplin threw for 3,588 yards and 19 touchdowns. He did throw 16 interceptions, a number he will be looking to improve upon in 2012.
Arkansas State won 10 games last year and was undefeated in the Sun Belt. If Aplin can have another solid year, expect much of the same from the Red Wolves in 2012.
Army: Thomas Holloway, Safety
This junior safety had a big season in 2011, despite the struggles of the rest of the Army defense.
He had some big games, including a 16-tackle performance against Miami (OH) and a 14-tackle outing against Rutgers. He also had 11 tackles against Temple. All three of those games were losses.
Holloway finished the season with 76 tackles and an interception.
He will be counted on for another big season, anchoring the secondary in 2012 if Army is going to have any success.
Auburn: Emory Blake, Wide Receiver
There are a few playmakers on offense for Auburn, but none more important than Emory Blake.
With the sudden transfer of Michael Dyer, Auburn may be looking to put the ball in the air more, and Blake is the perfect target.
Onterio McCalebb will be counted on heavily as well, but Blake is the go-to guy.
Last season he missed five games due to injury, but still finished the year with 613 yards and five touchdowns on 36 receptions.
Ball State: Keith Wenning, Quarterback
Wenning was impressive last year in his sophomore campaign.
He threw for 2,786 yards and 19 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions.
After seeing playing time as a freshman and making big strides, look for much of the same from Wenning in 2012.
He threw for over 300 yards three times last season. Expect that number to increase in 2012.
Baylor: Sam Holl, Safety
Sam Holl was one of the few bright spots on a Baylor defense that gave up a lot of points and yards last season.
He finished the season with 113 tackles and had some huge games, including a 21-tackle performance in a 31-30 overtime victory over Kansas.
Holl went for double digits in tackles in five of his last six games. He totaled three interceptions for the year, and will need to keep up that production for Baylor to be able to compete in the Big 12.
Boise State: D.J. Harper, Running Back
It is very rare to be granted a sixth year of eligibility, but that is the case for D.J. Harper.
The Boise State running back will now finally get his chance to shine after playing in the shadows of Doug Martin the previous few seasons.
Harper did carry the ball 115 times for 557 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He also caught 19 balls out of the backfield for 140 yards and a touchdown.
Look for those numbers to at least double next season, as he will be the go-to guy on offense.
Boston College: Chase Rettig, Quarterback
With the exception of Luke Kuechly on the defensive side of the ball, Boston College had a downright awful season in 2011.
The most important player for 2012 is junior quarterback Chase Rettig.
He showed signs last season of being a capable quarterback, and finished the year with 1,960 yards and 12 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Look for vast improvements from Rettig and Boston College next season.
Bowling Green: Chris Jones, Defensive Tackle
Chris Jones was a first-team All-MAC performer last season, and looks to be one of the best defensive players in the entire conference this year.
The big 6'1", 295-pound defensive tackle finished last season with 8.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.
With a few improvements, Jones could be the best defensive player in the MAC for 2012.
Buffalo: Branden Oliver, Running Back
After struggling a little bit during his freshman season, running back Branden Oliver burst onto the scene last year during his sophomore campaign.
He carried the ball 306 times for 1,395 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Oliver was one of the few bright spots for a Buffalo team that finished the season 3-9.
At only 5'8", Oliver weighs 200 pounds and is not afraid of contact.
He had his best game, as did many MAC players, against Akron when he carried the ball 29 times for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
BYU: Kyle Van Noy, Linebacker
The junior linebacker is one of two big-play linebackers who will return next season for a BYU team that went 10-3 a year ago.
He was first on the team last year with an impressive 15 tackles for loss, and also led the squad with six sacks.
Even though he is still developing, Van Noy has a lot of talent and could see marked improvement in 2012.
California: Keenan Allen, Wide Receiver
Keenan Allen is not only one of the best receivers in a talented Pac-12, but could be one of the best in the country next season.
As a sophomore in 2011, he caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns.
Allen can do it all on the field, and is one of the most explosive players in the conference.
If California has success next season, it will be on the back of Allen.
Central Florida: Kemal Ishmael, Safety
UCF safety Kemal Ishmael is a tackling machine, and he has proven that over the past two seasons.
He had led the team in tackles over that span with 174, and had four games last season with double-digit stops.
Ishmael is a playmaker on defense and will be counted on heavily by UCF next season.
Central Michigan: Ryan Radcliff, Quarterback
Central Michigan only won three games last year, but that didn't stop them from throwing the ball around an awful lot.
Quarterback Ryan Radcliff threw for 3,358 yards as a sophomore and followed that up last season with 3,286 yards. Toss in 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, making Radcliff easily the most important player on the Chippewas' squad.
If they are to improve on their three wins from last season, Radcliff will need some more talent around him.
Cincinnati: Walter Stewart: Defensive End
Cincinnati lost a lot of senior leadership last season, and it is nearly impossible to figure out the most important player on their team.
Fifth-year senior defensive end Walter Stewart is certainly near the top of the list.
He has the ability to get to the quarterback and disrupt the passer, while also having the versatility as a converted linebacker to drop back in coverage.
Big things are expected from Cincinnati's defensive ends in 2012, and Stewart is the most talented of the bunch.
Clemson: Tajh Boyd, Quarterback
This could almost just as easily have gone to Sammy Watkins or Andre Ellington, but as the quarterback and leader, Boyd is the most important player on Clemson.
Last season he passed for 3,828 yards and 33 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
Even bigger numbers will be expected from Boyd next season, particularly with the talent coming back on the offensive side of the ball.
Colorado: Ray Polk, Safety
The Colorado defense was bad last year. It was actually the worst in the Pac-12.
One of the lone bright spots on that defense was safety Ray Polk.
He finished in the top ten in the conference in solo tackles with 52, and anchored a secondary that could use a little help.
Look for the Buffaloes' defense to improve next season, but it may still be a struggle to win games.
Colorado State: Chris Nwoke, Running Back
This running back had a breakout sophomore campaign and will likely be called on even more this coming season.
Nwoke carried the ball 200 times for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. Expect those numbers to rise next season.
He had two games over 230 yards and showed signs that he can be dominant next season for the Rams.
Connecticut: Trevardo Williams, Defensive End
Trevardo Williams is one of the best defensive ends in the Big East.
Last season he was a monster rushing the passer, totaling 12.5 sacks.
The Huskies struggled last season, but have a lot of talent returning in 2012. Running back Lyle McCombs will be very important on offense, but nobody on the team will be relied upon as much as Williams.
Duke: Walt Canty, Safety
The worst pass defense in the ACC could have been in much worse shape had it not been for Walt Canty.
Canty was second on the team last season with 88 tackles, and recorded double digits in four games.
He returns in 2012 to anchor a Duke secondary that will be looking to improve and help the team win more than three games next year.
East Carolina: Jeremy Grove, Linebacker
This 6'1" 230-pound freshman burst onto the scene last year with 122 tackles, earning Honorable Mention All-Conference USA honors.
The best part about Grove is East Carolina will have him for the next three seasons.
He will only get better, and could be one of the best linebackers in the country within a few years.
Eastern Michigan: Alex Gillett, Quarterback
Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett did not have too many stats to write home about in 2011, but as a returning quarterback who threw for twice as many touchdowns as interceptions last season, he makes the list for the Eagles.
As a junior, he threw for 1,504 yards and 14 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. The yardage was down slightly from his sophomore season, but the interceptions were cut nearly in half.
Eastern Michigan improved last year, and with another good year from Gillett they could be even better in 2012.
Florida: Jelani Jenkins, Linebacker
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is as talented as anybody on Florida's squad and a lot will be expected from this hard hitter entering his junior season.
As a freshman he had 78 tackles and followed that up last season with 75 tackles, despite missing a game in the middle of the year.
He has the talent to be an All-SEC performer in 2012 and have a breakout year for the Gators.
Florida Atlantic: David Hinds, Linebacker
David Hinds had some huge games last season when it came to tackles, helping to lead a Florida Atlantic team that only won one game.
He had four games with 10 or more tackles and finished the year with 101 stops.
The Owls return seven of their top nine tacklers from last year, so things will likely get better in 2012, but it all starts with this linebacker, as his importance to the team is greater than anybody else's.
Florida International: Kedrick Rhodes, Running Back
Florida International had a solid year in 2011, going 8-5 and reaching a bowl game.
That success was due in large part to sophomore running back Kedrick Rhodes.
Rhodes was a workhorse, carrying the ball 234 times for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging nearly five yards a carry.
He had four games over 115 yards, and while he did struggle in a few contests, he is likely to improve for 2012 and be even better for the Golden Panthers.
Florida State: Brandon Jenkins, Defensive End
Brandon Jenkins was a beast in 2010, but was somewhat of a disappointment for the Seminoles last year.
He totaled eight sacks last season and 12 tackles for loss. Not bad numbers, but considering he had 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks the season before, it certainly left something to be desired.
With a lot of talent on that side of the ball around him, look for Jenkins to have a huge bounce-back year and be dominant once again in 2012.
Fresno State: Robbie Rouse, Running Back
At only 5'7" and 185 pounds, Robbie Rouse is one of the toughest running backs in the country to bring down.
He is a workhorse who last season carried the ball 324 times for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Rouse has quietly developed into one of the best running backs in the country, and even though Fresno State will likely throw the ball a little more next season, Rouse will still be the guy on offense.
Georgia: Jarvis Jones, Linebacker
This distinction could also go to Aaron Murray for Georgia, but on the defensive side of the ball there are very few players who are as important to their team as Jones.
Last season he led the conference in both tackles for loss with 19.5 and sacks with 11.5.
Jones is a big-play guy who loves to get in the backfield, and while his tackle totals are not extremely high, he makes some big plays for the Bulldogs every night.
Georgia Tech: Tevin Washington, Quarterback
Tevin Washington is a true dual-threat quarterback who can beat opponents with his arm, but mostly his legs.
Last season he passed for 1,652 yards and 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He did a lot of his damage with his feet, rushing for 987 yards and 14 more touchdowns on 243 carries.
He has the ball in his hands as much as almost anybody in the country (with the exception of Collin Klein), and if Georgia Tech is going to improve on an 8-5 finish from last season, he will be the one to do it.
Hawaii: Jeremiah Ostrowski, Wide Receiver
Little man Jeremiah Ostrowski had a breakout season in 2011 for the Warriors.
The 5'9", 175-pound wideout had 65 catches for 687 yards and five touchdowns.
He will be the number one target next season in the high flying offense of Hawaii, with a lot of seniors now having moved on.
He had an eight-catch, 133-yard performance against Nevada, and if he had not missed three games in the middle of the season his numbers would have been much higher.
Houston: Charles Sims, Running Back
Houston lost a ton on offense from last season and it will be hard to duplicate the offensive output of last year.
They will likely concentrate a little more heavily on the running game in 2012 and will be giving the ball to Charles Sims. He only carried the ball 110 times last year, but had 821 yards and nine touchdowns.
If Houston is going to have any success next season, Sims will have to carry the load on offense.
Idaho: Gary Walker, Safety
Gary Walker is not only the best player on the Idaho team, but is also a tackling machine.
Last year he had 109 tackles, making him one of the best players in the WAC.
He had some big games, reaching double figures in tackles in half of the Vandals' 12 contests.
Expect Walker to have as many tackles as almost any secondary player in the country in 2012.
Illinois: Nathan Scheelhaase, Quarterback
With the exception of touchdown passes, Nathan Scheelhaase progressed nicely for Illinois last season, leading them to seven wins and a bowl victory.
The sophomore passed for 2,110 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
The thing about Scheelhaase is his ability to move around in the pocket and beat opponents with his feet.
Last season in the bowl victory against UCLA, he rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries, while passing for 139 more and a touchdown.
Indiana: Stephen Houston, Running Back
Last year as a sophomore, Stephen Houston carried the ball 151 times for 802 yards and eight touchdowns for the Hoosiers.
He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and will likely be counted on for even more carries next season.
Houston came on strong at the end of last season, going over 125 yards in three of the final six games, including a 151-yard, two-touchdown performance against Northwestern.
Look for well over 1,000 yards in 2012 for Houston.
Iowa: James Morris, Linebacker
Iowa linebacker James Morris is one of the best in the Big Ten and racked up some big numbers last season for the Hawkeyes in only his sophomore campaign.
He finished the year with 105 tackles, despite missing two games, and also had an interception to go along with it.
Morris will anchor a pretty solid linebacker crew along with Christian Kirksey.
After being a freshman All-American two years ago, Morris will look to reach even higher levels in 2012.
Iowa State: A.J. Klein, Linebacker
Iowa State linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott have a chance to be the best linebacker group in the country next season.
Both are equally valuable to the Iowa State defense, as the two have combined for nearly 500 tackles over the past two seasons, but Klein may just be the more talented of the two.
Last season, he finished the year with 101 tackles and two sacks along with an interception and a touchdown.
Look for similar, if not better, numbers next season for Klein.
Kansas: Dayne Crist, Quarterback
The Notre Dame transfer will be the starting quarterback for Kansas next season, and will immediately be the best player on the team and easily the most valuable.
He showed signs of true talent in South Bend, passing for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2010, before struggling with injuries last season.
Crist will also bring some leadership to the table for a Jayhawks team that has struggled in recent years.
He knows Charlie Weis and should have an easy transition next season.
Kansas State: Collin Klein, Quarterback
Collin Klein is a dark horse Heisman candidate in 2012 after one of the best seasons any quarterback in college football had in 2011.
He finished the year with 1,918 yards passing, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. Throw in 1,141 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns, and the numbers add up to quite a season for the senior-to-be.
Klein did not see much action in his first two seasons in Manhattan, but next year will become even more of a household name and have the chance to be a Heisman finalist.
Kent State: Spencer Keith, Quarterback
Keith is a mobile quarterback who will be entering his fourth year as the starter. Even though 2011 was probably his worst season of the three, he is still the most valuable player on the Golden Flashes.
He passed for 2,147 yards as a freshman and followed that up with 2,212 as a sophomore, but only 1,682 last season.
Expect his numbers to go up next season, particularly the 11 touchdown passes.
If they do, Kent State will win more than the five games they did in 2012.
Kentucky: La'Rod King, Wide Receiver
Wide receiver La'Rod King has not put up huge numbers in the past few seasons, but he is a playmaker who could easily have a breakout year in 2012.
Last season, King caught 40 passes for 598 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2010 he had 36 receptions for 478 yards and five touchdowns.
While Kentucky struggles mightily in the SEC every year, expect King to be a bright spot on offense next season for the Wildcats.
Louisiana-Lafayette: Blaine Gautier, Quarterback
Blaine Gautier quietly had a superb season last year for a team that won nine games, including a bowl victory over San Diego State.
He passed for 2,958 yards and 23 touchdowns with only six interceptions, capping off the season with a 470-yard performance in the New Orleans Bowl.
Gautier will be entering his senior season, so even bigger things are expected from him and the Ragin' Cajuns.
Louisiana-Monroe: Brent Leonard, Wide Receiver
Brent Leonard has improved steadily each of his three seasons at Louisiana-Monroe and will look to go over 1,000 yards for the first time in 2012.
Last season he caught 69 balls for 751 yards and four touchdowns.
His biggest game of the season came in a five-point loss to Arkansas State when he had 10 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Louisiana Tech: Quinton Patton, Wide Receiver
Last season, Patton had one of the best years, production-wise, of any receiver in the country.
He caught 79 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With four games over 115 yards and eight games over 80 yards, he came to play every night.
He had 11 catches in an overtime loss to Mississippi State, proving he can do it against big-time competition.
Louisville: Hakeem Smith, Safety
Hakeem Smith is the best player on a Louisville defense that may be one of the top 15 in the country next season.
Last season he anchored a secondary that improved steadily every game, and finished the season with 84 tackles. He also had an interception and eight passes defensed.
The former Big East Rookie of the Year will be one of the best safeties in the conference next season, and perhaps one of the best in the nation.
LSU: Tyrann Mathieu, Cornerback
"The Honey Badger" is the most explosive player in college football, and was a Heisman finalist last season.
That may be tough to duplicate in 2012, but with what he does on defense and special teams, he is easily the most valuable player on a talented LSU squad.
Mathieu is the most dangerous punt returner in the nation and is also a solid cornerback.
Expect some big plays and highlight reels next season from "The Honey Badger."
Marshall: Aaron Dobson, Wide Receiver
Aaron Dobson has had pretty solid seasons the past two years, and may just have a breakthrough senior year in 2012.
He finished last season with 49 receptions for 668 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those are some pretty impressive touchdown numbers, with nearly 25 percent of his touches going to the house.
As a sophomore in 2010, he caught 44 balls for 689 yards, but only five touchdowns.
Look for more receptions, yards and possibly even touchdowns from Dobson in his senior season.
Maryland: Joe Vellano, Defensive Tackle
Joe Vellano is a large man and was one of the best defensive linemen in the entire country last season.
He was a First-Team All-ACC selection in 2011 after finishing the season with 94 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks. Those are impressive numbers from the tackle position.
Vellano is a solid pro prospect who will look to improve his draft stock in 2012.
Massachusetts: Perry McIntyre, Linebacker
Massachusetts will be the newest member of the MAC next season, as they will be entering their first year in FBS.
Last season McIntyre was a tackling machine, finishing the year with 116 stops and 6.5 sacks.
He will be entering his senior season, and is a leader on the defensive side of the ball for UMass.
Memphis: Taylor Reed, Quarterback
Taylor Reed saw some considerable playing time last season as a freshman, on a Memphis team that struggled to a two-win season.
He passed for 1,690 yards and 10 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Memphis will likely ask him to do a lot more next season, in his sophomore campaign.
Miami: Denzel Perryman, Linebacker
Denzel Perryman burst onto the scene last season for the Hurricanes as a freshman and improved steadily as the season progressed, culminating with a 14-tackle performance in the season finale against Boston College.
He finished second on the team with 69 tackles after earning the starting job and was one of the best freshmen in the conference.
The linebacker should have no problem going over 100 tackles next season.
Miami (OH): Zac Dysert, Quarterback
Zac Dysert and the Miami Redhawks are not afraid to throw the ball, and he put up some numbers last season most other quarterbacks can only dream of.
He threw for 3,513 yards and 23 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions.
As he enters his senior season, Dysert will also be beginning his fourth year as the starter.
He has had quite a career and will likely go over 12,000 yards and 75 touchdowns, if he can stay healthy.
Michigan: Denard Robinson, Quarterback
Denard Robinson is the perfect example of a dual-threat quarterback.
Last season he passed for 2,173 yards with 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also carried the ball 221 times for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Robinson is in his final year at Michigan and will be one of the best players in the Big Ten next season.
Expect some huge numbers—and if he can limit the turnovers, Michigan will likely be Big Ten champs in 2012.
Michigan State: Denicos Allen, Linebacker
This spot could just as easily go to William Gholston, but Allen gets the slight nod.
The linebacker is one of the best in the Big Ten and put up some monumental numbers last season. He finished the year with a team-leading 11 sacks and also 18.5 tackles for loss.
If he can improve slightly on his tackle numbers, he could be the next great Michigan State linebacker and a future All-American.
Middle Tennessee State: Logan Kilgore, Quarterback
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders struggled to a 2-10 year in 2011, but should be able to improve next season with the continued development of quarterback Logan Kilgore.
Last season, Kilgore passed for 2,231 yards and 18 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.
In 2012, he will be entering his second full season as the starter and should improve on those numbers.
He went over 270 yards in four of the first five games last season, but missed a few games toward the end of the year that slowed his progress.
Minnesota: Marqueis Gray, Quarterback
Marqueis Gray is a running back in a quarterback's body, and he displayed that last season.
While he did pass for 1,495 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, where he did most of his damage was on the ground.
He carried the ball 199 times for 966 yards and six touchdowns.
Next season will be his second as the starter and he will improve on those numbers from a year ago.
Mississippi: Mike Marry, Linebacker
The Ole Miss defense was bad last season, but don't tell that to Mike Marry, who totaled 81 tackles, including two sacks.
The 6'2", 248-pound junior has great size for the linebacker position, as well as a knack for the ball.
If the rest of the Rebels' defense could follow his lead, they might not find themselves at the bottom of the SEC anymore.
Mississippi State: Johnthan Banks, Cornerback
Jonthan Banks is quietly one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC and Mississippi State is certainly glad that he came back for his senior season.
Last year Banks picked off five passes and took one 27 yards to the house.
He will be even better this season and at 6'2" and 185 pounds, he is a large cornerback who is not afraid to mix it up with the bigger receivers.
Missouri: Henry Josey, Running Back
Missouri running back Henry Josey missed three games last season and still managed to rush for 1,168 yards and nine touchdowns.
The competition will likely go up a notch next season in the SEC, but the key to the Tigers' season will rest on the shoulders of Josey.
He averaged over eight yards a carry last season and will have a chance to get more touches in 2012.
Navy: Gee Gee Greene, Running Back
Navy loves to run the football and Gee Gee Greene is the man who will get the most carries next season.
Last year, Greene carried the ball 64 times for 501 yards as Navy loved to get more than a few people involved. With a 7.8 yards per carry average last season, Greene is almost certain to see a lot more touches in 2012.
Greene only had three touchdowns last season, but expect that number to go up drastically next season with the two main ball carriers in front of him having graduated.
Nebraska: Rex Burkhead, Running Back
Rex Burkhead had a huge year in 2011 running the football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He finished the season with 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns on 284 carries.
He was a workhorse for the Cornhuskers and now entering his senior season, he will be looking to improve on numbers that have risen every year.
Burkhead went over 115 yards in seven of the Cornhuskers' 13 games and could eclipse 1,500 yards next season, with 20 touchdowns not out of the question.
Nevada: Duke Williams, Safety
Nevada lost a lot of talent on defense last season, but does return their third leading tackler in Duke Williams.
Williams recorded 83 tackles a year ago for the Wolf Pack and also had an interception with six passes defensed.
He is entering his senior season and has the athleticism to cover corners, as well as the big-play ability to make the open-field tackle.
New Mexico: Dalla Bollema, Linebacker
This junior linebacker is a team leader and tackling machine on the defensive side of the ball.
He was one of the few bright spots last season on a team that only won one game. Look for Bollema to improve on the 68 tackles from a season ago and possibly help New Mexico win a few more games.
New Mexico State: Kenny Turner, Running Back
New Mexico State running back Kenny Turner showed flashes of brilliance last season, rushing for over 100 yards in six games and four games in a row during the middle of the season.
He had 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns on 219 carries for the season.
Entering his senior season, those numbers should climb up a bit or Turner, and if they do, New Mexico State may see its win total rise.
North Carolina: Giovani Bernard, Running Back
Giovani Bernard burst onto the scene last year and quickly developed into arguably the best running back in the ACC.
He rushed for 1,253 yards and 13 touchdowns on 239 carries and had seven games where he went over 100 yards.
Bernard did struggle a little down the stretch and maybe it can be blamed on fatigue.
He was held under 50 yards in three of the final five games, but still is one of the most explosive players in the conference in 2012.
North Carolina State: Mike Glennon
After a slow start in 2011, Mike Glennon quickly made Wolfpack fans forget about Russell Wilson. Well, sort of at least.
Next season will be Glennon's last and he will be looking to build on a year that featured 3,054 passing yards and 31 touchdowns with only 12 interceptions.
He had some huge games in 2011 and quickly developed into one of the top three quarterbacks in the ACC.
Glennon is clearly the most important player on the team, but David Amerson is also a player to watch out for on defense for the Wolfpack.
North Texas: Derek Thompson, Quarterback
The North Texas Mean Green only won five games last season, but have a lot to build on in 2012 with Derek Thompson back under center for his junior year
Last year he passed for 1,759 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions.
With a year under his belt, those numbers are more than likely going to go up this season, and if they do, so will the wins for the Mean Green..
Northern Illinois: Martel Moore, Wide Receiver
Northern Illinois was very good last year and Martel Moore was a solid contributor on offense. In 2012, he will be counted on to do big things for the Huskies.
He caught 48 passes for 752 yards last season and seven touchdowns, leading the team in all three categories.
With Chandler Harnish now gone, Moore will be counted on even more heavily next season to be the go to guy when the Huskies have the ball.
Northwestern: Ibraheim Campbell, Safety
Ibraheim Campbell had quite a freshman season, earning playing time for the Wildcats immediately at the beginning of the year.
He posted four games with double digit tackles and also had two interceptions on the season.
After a 100 tackle campaign, Campbell was considered one of the best freshmen safeties in the country and could be a future All-Big Ten performer as early as 2012.
Notre Dame: Manti Te'o, Linebacker
Manti Te'o seems like he has been at Notre Dame forever. He is now finally going into his senior season and is a leader for Notre Dame on defense.
While Cierre Wood is very valuable on offense, few change the game on defense like Te'o does.
Last season he totaled 120 tackles, including 14 in the bowl game loss to Florida State. He also had five sacks on the season to go along with all those tackles.
He reached double digit tackle totals in seven games and is only getting better every year.
Ohio: Tyler Tettleton, Quarterback
Tyler Tettleton had a breakout sophomore year for the Bobcats in 2011.
He passed for 3,306 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions, while completing over 64% of his passes.
Tettleton was instrumental in leading the Bobcats to a 10-4 record and a bowl game victory over Utah State.
If he can improve half as much from his sophomore to junior seasons as he did from his freshman to sophomore year, then the future looks bright for Ohio.
Ohio State: John Simon, Defensive End
While some may consider Braxton Miller to be the most important player on the Ohio State roster, many others would say it is John Simon.
Ohio State has always won games with defense and anchoring that defense will be Simon.
Last season he had seven sacks and 16 tackles for loss while leading Ohio State to a Gator Bowl despite all the offseason turmoil.
He is an All-American who will be one of the best defensive ends in the country in 2012.
Oklahoma: Landry Jones, Quarterback
Landry Jones has passed for well over 12,000 yards in his collegiate career and has a chance to put up his best numbers yet in 2012.
Even with Ryan Broyles gone, Oklahoma still has some of the best receivers in the country in Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds, so there are plenty of targets.
Last season Jones threw for 4,463 yards and 29 touchdowns with 15 interceptions.
Expect those interception numbers to go down with a more balanced attack in 2012.
Oklahoma State: Joseph Randle, Running Back
Oklahoma State lost nearly everybody from one of the best offenses in the country a year ago.
The one man who is returning is running back Joseph Randle. Last season he averaged 5.8 yards a carry while totaling 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns on 208 carries. He also had 43 receptions for 266 yards and two more touchdowns.
Randle will be a junior next season and his carries will likely go up, but it will be hard to duplicate the stats of 2011, with defenses now keying on him more.
Oregon: Kenjon Barner, Running Back
This is sort of a toss up between Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas. Both are explosive, but Barner gets the slight edge because of his experience and ability to be an every down college back.
Last season while serving as a backup to LaMichael James, Barner rushed for 939 yards on only 152 carries and had 11 touchdowns to go along with it. He also had three more receiving touchdowns and four 100-yard rushing games.
Entering his senior season, he will get more carries than anybody and could easily put up 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns next season.
Oregon State: Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver
Markus Wheaton only had one touchdown last year, but that did not stop him from hauling in 73 receptions for 986 yards and also carrying the ball 25 times for 190 yards on the ground.
He is entering his senior season and his yards as well as his catches have improved every year.
Oregon State struggled last season, finishing 3-9, including a loss to Sacramento State. Wheaton will likely go over 1,000 yards, but will need to find the end zone for the Beavers to be successful.
Penn State: Silas Redd, Running Back
Sophomore Silas Redd was one of the lone bright spots last season for the Penn State offense. He carried the ball 244 times for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns.
Without Redd, who knows how bad an already difficult to watch offense would have been last season.
Next year, expect much of the same from Redd as he will be entering his second season as the main offensive weapon for the Nittany Lions.
Pittsburgh: Ray Graham, Running Back
Ray Graham is not only the best offensive player in the Big East, but also one of the top 10 running backs in the country.
If he can come back healthy from that horrific knee injury, the Panthers will be much improved in 2012.
Last year Graham had already rushed for 958 yards and nine touchdowns in only seven games when he went down.
Look for him to go over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns next season if he can stay on the field for Pittsburgh.
Purdue: Kewann Short, Defensive Tackle
This 6'3" 310-pound space eater is also a sack master from his defensive tackle position. Last season he finished with 17.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while registering 54 tackles in all.
He not only eats up space in the middle of the field, but also has the speed and athleticism to rush the passer from the inside.
Short may be the best defensive tackle in the Big Ten, and will be a force in 2012 as a senior for the Boilermakers.
Rice: Cameron Nwosu, Linebacker
Last season as a sophomore, Chris Nwosu had three games with 12 tackles or more and finished the season with 108 tackles on a defense that was one of the worst in the country.
He will only be a junior, so there is plenty of time to grow for Nwosu.
Hopefully the Rice defense grows with him in 2012 or another four win season could be in store.
Rutgers: Khaseem Greene, Linebacker
After moving from safety to linebacker last season, Khaseem Greene went on to win co-Big East defensive player of the year honors with Derek Wolfe and also registered 140 tackles.
Not a bad year for a guy switching positions.
He broke his leg in the bowl game and if he can come back healthy, he is the best defensive player in the Big East.
With his speed and athleticism, he can do it all from the linebacker position.
San Diego State: Colin Lockett, Wide Receiver
San Diego State won eight games last season and that was due in large part to the talent of wide receiver Colin Lockett.
He caught 58 balls last season for 970 yards and eight touchdowns. He was consistent all season with at least three catches in every game and going over 100 yards three times.
With numbers like that as a sophomore, there will likely be an increase next season for Lockett.
San Jose State: Keith Smith, Linebacker
San Jose State only won five games last season, but that was no fault of linebacker Keith Smith.
Smith was the WAC freshman of the year in 2010, and improved on that season in 2010. He was double digits in tackles four times and is an anchor on defense for the Spartans.
After leading the team last season with 104 tackles, big things will be expected of the junior to be.
SMU: Zach Line, Running Back
Zach Line is a model of consistency for SMU and with one more season to go, he has a chance to go over 4,000 yards for his career.
Last season he ran the ball 208 times for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns. That followed a sophomore season that featured 1,494 yards and 10 touchdowns on 244 carries.
He did miss the final three games last season, which kept him slightly behind the numbers from the previous year.
Look for Line to go over 1,500 yards and 20 touchdowns for SMU next season.
South Alabama: C.J. Bennett, Quarterback
South Alabama is another team moving up to the big time next season as they will be beginning their first year as an FBS school.
They do have a young quarterback who will be entering his sophomore season to take them there.
C.J. Bennett passed for 1,640 yards and seven touchdowns last season and things will only get tougher next year.
Look for Bennett to be the key to a South Alabama team that is likely to struggle next season.
South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore, Running Back
Before badly injuring his knee in the seventh game last season, Marcus Lattimore was a workhorse for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
He carried the ball 163 times for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was well on his way to All-American status before the injury. He is as important to his team next season as almost anybody in the country.
Look for Lattimore to have a bounce back year and establish himself once again as one of the best running backs in college football.
South Florida: Ryne Giddins, Defensive End
South Florida has a few important players, including B.J. Daniels on offense and DeDe Lattimore on defense, but the key to the team is the pass rushing of Ryne Giddins.
Last season Giddins had 5.5 sacks and proved his ability to get to the passer, creating havoc for opposing offenses.
He also finished the season with 48 tackles and a pass defensed.
If South Florida is going to have a big season in 2012 and return to a bowl game it will need to start with Giddens on the defensive front.
Southern Mississippi: Jamie Collins, Linebacker
Jamie Collins is a big linebacker who loves to tackle. In 11 of the 12 games he played in last season, he recorded six or more tackles with single games as high as 11, while finishing the season with 98.
He also had 6.5 sacks and a 97-yard interception he took to the house.
At 6'3" and 239-pounds he is large for a linebacker and is not afraid to put a licking on anybody.
Stanford: Stepfan Taylor, Running Back
Like a few other teams, Stanford lost a lot on the offensive side of the ball, but brings back a talented running back to give the ball to 25 times a game.
Stepfan Taylor carried the load for the Cardinal last season, rushing for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 242 carries.
He will be a senior next year and should go over 1,500 yards if all goes as planned.
If he does so, it will be another successful year for Taylor and the Cardinal.
Syracuse: Alec Lemon, Wide Receiver
Syracuse did not have much to show offensively last season, but one of the few bright spots was wide receiver Alec Lemon.
Lemon caught 68 passes for 834 yards and six touchdowns. Not bad numbers for the junior.
Entering his senior season, he is the best player on offense for the Orange and they will need a big season from him in order to stay in contention in the Big East race.
TCU: Casey Pachall, Quarterback
Casey Pachall is the quarterback chosen to lead TCU into the Big 12 and he had a great sophomore season in 2011 in preparation for that.
Pachall passed for 2,921 yards and 25 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.
The competition will get a little stiffer next season in the Big 12, but as evidenced in previous years, large passing numbers can be had in this league.
Pachall has a chance to be one of the best five quarterbacks in the Big 12 next season for the Horned Frogs.
Temple: Matt Brown, Running Back
Matt Brown spent the better part of the past three seasons backing up the talented Bernard Pierce.
Now that Pierce left early for the NFL draft, Brown will get his chance to shine. He has already rushed for well over 2,000 yards in three seasons as a backup and carried the ball 155 times for 916 yards and six touchdowns last season.
He went over 100 yards five games last season and could be someone to look out for next season in the Big East.
Tennessee: Da'Rick Rogers, Wide Receiver
The most important player on Tennessee could almost just as easily be Tyler Bray or Justin Hunter, but Da'Rick Rogers is one of the best players in the conference and put up large numbers last season despite injuries to both Bray and Hunter.
He caught 67 passes for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
With Bray and Hunter back healthy, defenses will not be able to key on Rogers as much and he should explode in 2012 with a huge junior season.
Texas: Jackson Jeffcoat, Defensive End
Jackson Jeffcoat is a key cog on a young and supremely talented Texas defense.
Last year as a sophomore he had 7.5 sacks from his defensive end position and also recorded 54 total tackles.
Texas is likely to be very much improved this season and has enough young talent on defense to be a sleeper in the Big 12.
It all starts up front with Jeffcoat.
Texas A&M: Christine Michael, Running Back
Despite missing the final four games of the season in 2012, Christine Michael still managed to rush for 899 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries.
He shared the load last season with Cyrus Gray who has since graduated and now as a senior, Michael will bring his 6.0 yards per carry average from a season ago to the table.
The defenses in the SEC will be a little stronger than the Big 12, but Michael should have no trouble carrying the load for the Aggies and going well over 1,000 yards with 10 or more touchdowns next season.
Texas-Santonio: Eric Soza, Quarterback
UT-San Antonio is now entering the FBS level and they will be doing it on the back of quarterback Eric Soza.
Soza threw for 14 touchdowns this season to go along with over 2,100 yards.
He is a dual-threat who can also beat opponents with his feet and buy more time in the pocket.
The competition will get a little stiffer in the WAC however.
Texas State: Terrance Franks, Running Back
Texas State, like UT-San Antonio will be moving to FBS and joining the WAC. They only won six games last year as an independent and it might be tough sledding next season.
They do have one big time player on offense in speed burner Terrance Franks. Franks rushed for 963 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman last season and if he can withstand the rigors of the WAC, he should go over 1,000 yards and be the biggest star on offense for the Bobcats.
Texas Tech: Eric Stephens, Running Back
As a junior in 2011, Stephens only played in the first five games before losing his season to an injury. In those five games, he went over 100 yards in four of them and over 90 in all of them.
He will be looking to build on that next season. Stephens finished the year with 565 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, while averaging 5.2 yards a carry.
Expect those numbers to go up big time next season and that will give Texas Tech a chance to improve on the five-win season from a year ago as well.
Toledo: Terrance Owens, Quarterback
Terrance Owens split time last season at the quarterback position with Austin Danton, but clearly was the better of the two.
He put up some astronomical numbers last season finishing the year with 18 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Toledo did lose some firepower on offense, but Owens will be entering his junior season and is poised to break out.
Last season he threw for 2,022 yards on only 230 attempts and he can also move around to buy himself time in the pocket.
Troy: Brynden Trawick, Safety
While Corey Robinson is a leader on offense for the Trojans, safety Brynden Trawick is the man on the defensive side of the ball.
The Michigan State transfer came on strong last season, leading the Trojans with 123 tackles.
He had some huge games for a team that struggled to a 3-9 season.
Trawick had a 20-tackle performance against Western Kentucky that stands out as one of the best performances of the season for anybody.
Tulane: Trent Mackey, Linebacker
Trent Mackey was a first-team All-Conference USA selection last season after putting up some huge tackling numbers.
He never had less than seven tackles in any game and had nine or more tackles in every game but one.
The linebacker also had 4.5 sacks and an interception he took to the house against UAB.
Mackey will likely be the best linebacker in the conference next season and could get near 140 tackles as well.
Tulsa: Ja'Terian Douglas, Running Back
Last season as a sophomore, running back Ja'Terian Douglas only carried the ball 112 times, but picked up 883 yards and four touchdowns.
That was good for 7.9 yards and carry and with the departure of G.J. Kinne, the Golden Hurricanes may find themselves running the ball a little more.
With a few more carries, he could be an All-Conference status next season.
UAB: Marvin Burdette, Linebacker
UAB struggled mightily last season, but one of the bright spots was linebacker Marvin Burdette.
Burdette has totaled more than 200 tackles the past two seasons and finished with 92 a year ago. He also had a sack and an interception.
The Blazers defense however ranked 114th in the country in total defense, a number that must go up for them to improve on their three wins from a season ago and it all starts with Burdette.
UCLA: Jonathan Franklin, Running Back
After a terrific sophomore season, Franklin struggled a little bit last year, finishing the season with 976 yards and only five touchdowns.
As a sophomore he had 1,127 yards and eight touchdowns.
What did go up last season was his yards per carry which rose from 5.3 to 5.9.
Look for a 1,200 yard season and 10 touchdowns from Franklin in 2012.
UNLV: Tim Conett, Running Back
UNLV did not have much to write home about after finishing last season 2-10.
They did however have a running back duo that combined for nearly 1,300 yards.
Leading the way from that group was Tim Cornett. As a sophomore last season, he only carried the ball 119 times, but finished the year with 671 carries and seven touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards a carry.
Look for the attempts and yards to go up for Cornett in his junior season.
USC: Matt Barkley, Quarterback
When Matt Barkley decided to come back for his senior season, USC immediately became a national championship contender and Barkley a Heisman front runner.
Last season he passed for 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
Barkley will be entering his fourth season as the starter and is one of the most talented players in the country.
If he has the year he is expected to have, USC will be playing for the BCS National Championship next season.
Utah: John White, Running Back
John White was one of the best running backs in the country last season and many people do not know much about him.
He carried the ball 316 times for 1,519 yards and 15 touchdowns.
With the injury to starting quarterback Jordan Wynn at the beginning of the season, White had to carry an even bigger load.
If Wynn comes back healthy, expect White to be around 1,500 yards again, but not needing as many carries to get there.
Utah State: Maurice Alexander, Linebacker
With a lot gone on both sides of the ball, particularly linebacker, Utah State will be looking for somebody to step up next season.
That somebody is linebacker Maurice Alexander.
He will be entering his senior season and looking to improve on last years numbers that featured three sacks.
Alexander will need to pick up the slack on defense if Utah State plans on improving on the seven wins from a year ago.
UTEP: Nick Lamaison, Quarterback
After bouncing around at a few colleges including Tennessee, quarterback Nick Lamaison moved into the starting role last season and finished the year with 1,718 yards and 10 interceptions.
With some talent coming back around him, UTEP should be able to improve on a 5-7 season and Lamiason could see his touchdown to interception ratio from a year ago get a little better.
If he can, UTEP could find themselves back in a bowl game.
Vanderbilt: Zac Stacy, Running Back
Zac Stacy is one of the most underrated players in the SEC. He ran for 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns on 201 carries in helping to lead Vanderbilt to the Liberty Bowl.
Next season, Stacy will be a senior and a big factor for the Commodores.
He is one of the top five running backs in the SEC and has a chance to be an all-conference performer after finishing second in the league last year in rushing yards.
Virginia: Perry Jones, Running Back
As a junior in 2011, Perry Jones improved on all of his numbers from a season ago.
He carried the ball 184 times for 915 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging just over five yards a carry. .
In 2012, he will be counted on even more heavily and is one of the best running backs returning in the ACC.
Virginia Tech: Logan Thomas, Quarterback
With the exception of Tajh Boyd, Logan Thomas is probably the best quarterback in the ACC.
He was impressive last season, filling in for the graduated Tyrod Taylor and now entering his junior season, he is one of the top five players in the ACC.
Last year he threw for 3,013 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was a model of consistency all season after starting off the year a little slow.
Expect 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns next season from Thomas.
Wake Forest: Tanner Price, Quarterback
Tanner Price had a similar sophomore season to Logan Thomas, passing for 3,017 yards and 20 touchdowns with only six interceptions.
He threw for over 145 yards in every game last year and could be a sleeper in the ACC this season.
Many people do not know much about Price, but he led Wake Forest to a bowl game and a six win season in 2011. Expect a little of the same in 2012.
Washington: Keith Price, Quarterback
Keith Price is the third straight sophomore quarterback on the list and is one of the best quarterback in the Pac-12.
Last year he threw for 3,063 yards 33 touchdowns with only 11 interceptions.
Price has some big targets to throw the ball to and could improve enough to be the best quarterback in the conference with the exception of Matt Barkley.
Washington State: Marquess Wilson, Wide Receiver
This Cougars wide receiver was one of the best in the country last season and most people do not even know much about him.
Wilson caught 82 passes last year for 1,388 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That was a year after 55 receptions for 1,006 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman.
Wilson is not only one of the best receivers in the conference, but also the country and is an important part of the Washington State offensive attack.
West Virginia: Geno Smith, Quarterback
Geno Smith is one of the five best quarterbacks in the country and his decision to come back for his senior season makes West Virgina a contender in the Big 12 and on the national scene.
Smith passed for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns a year ago with only seven interceptions.
He has one of the best arms in all of college football and has as many playmakers around him as anybody outside of USC.
Smith could be a Heisman finalist in 2012 and the Mountaineers a national championship sleeper.
Western Kentucky: Andrew Jackson, Linebacker
Andrew Jackson was a tackling machine last season for the Hilltoppers.
He finished the year with 109 stops, ranking him third in the Sun Belt Conference. He also had 3.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.
Jackson is a stopper on the defensive side of the ball who will likely fair even better next season for Western Kentucky.
Western Michigan: Alex Carder, Quarterback
Alex Carder is the man behind the high-flying passing attack of the Western Michigan Broncos.
A season ago, he threw for 3,873 yards and 31 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
He has thrown for over 7,000 yards during his career. Expect him to break the 4,000 yard mark next season as he will be entering his senior year, and look for the Broncos to be a contender in the MAC for 2012.
Wisconsin: Montee Ball, Running Back
Montee Ball was by far the best running back in the country last season and a Heisman finalist to boot.
He tied Barry Sanders record with 39 touchdowns and also ran for 1,923 yards on 307 carries.
He averaged 6.3 yards per attempt and while it will be difficult to duplicate those numbers from a year ago, Ball will still have a big year and possibly be counted on even more heavily with the departure of Russell Wilson.
However, 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns is not out of the question next season for Ball.
Wyoming: Brett Smith, Quarterback
Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith was very impressive last season as a freshman. He threw for 2,622 yards and 20 touchdowns with 11 interceptions, while leading the Cowboys to an eight-win season.
Look for those numbers to improve next season with the interceptions likely to go down.
As long as Smith is under center for the Cowboys, they will be in good hands for the next three years.