2013 NFL Draft: Best Prospect on Every College Football Team

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIIApril 30, 2012

2013 NFL Draft: Best Prospect on Every College Football Team

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    The 2012 NFL Draft is officially over with, meaning many of the prognosticators can now look ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft.

    Yes, it is never too early to forecast which star players will shine heading into next season's NFL Draft.

    Everybody enjoys making bold predictions in terms of which team will hoist the crystal ball, but some enjoy predicting who will be the top pick in the draft and so forth.

    Without further ado, here are your top prospects on every single FBS team for the 2013 NFL Draft.

    Note: I did not include the four new teams that the NCAA has reclassified to the FBS level (UTSA, Texas State, South Alabama and Massachusetts).

    Also, remember that many schools will not have players drafted let alone even signed to a practice squad team, so I will throw in a few juniors into the mix just for the sake of listing a projected prospect on every FBS team.

Alabama: Barrett Jones

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    The best tackle in arguably the entire NFL Draft next season, Barrett Jones is quite the football player and prospect for Alabama.

    He would have been a late first round pick this season had he declared a season early, but instead he has a chance to be a top five pick next season.

    Winning the Outland Trophy last season has made Jones the obvious choice as the top offensive lineman in the country, but it speaks volumes to be the top prospect on a team that is loaded with defensive stars.

LSU: Sam Montgomery

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    We could argue for many defensive players on the Bayou Bengals, including Tyrann Mathieu, Tharold Simon, Eric Reid or KiKi Mingo.

    But Montgomery was a stalwart in the trenches (could be used as OLB at next level) and he disrupted every SEC quarterback he went up against last season.

    With a great burst ability into the backfield, this LSU pass rusher had nine sacks and 13.5 tackle for losses one season ago. Look for even better numbers in 2012 and a possible top ten pick in next year’s NFL Draft. 

Arkansas: Tyler Wilson

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    Tyler Wilson was absurd in the spring game, connecting on 31 of 41 passes for 467 yards and three touchdowns. Sure, it was just a spring game, but this quarterback is arguably the best in the country.

    He can sling it around with the best of them and he will be a hot commodity since the NFL and their quarterbacks are known as “Not For Long”, thanks to constant change and lack of production.

    Wilson is in the perfect offense for the Razorbacks, where he will make a ton of throws against the elite competition of college football. Follow him closely since we could see him in the first few picks next season.

Auburn: Corey Lemonier

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    This beast of a defensive end could do it all one season ago as a sophomore and it will be tough for him to pass up the draft next season as a junior when he becomes a first round option.

    At the moment he is a great defensive end for the Tigers, but at the next level he could be used perfectly on the edge for a 3-4 or 4-3 defense as an outside linebacker.

Mississippi State: Johnthan Banks

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    One of the premier defensive backs in the SEC usually translates into success at the next level. The Bulldogs secondary was solid one season ago and it should  be once again, thanks to Mr. Banks' tremendous ball skills that he could credit to his rangy frame (6’2”).

    Maybe he won’t be a lock for the first round in 2013, but he should be a mid-round draft pick at the very worst.

Ole Miss: Jeff Scott

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    Many NFL teams could always use a few speed burners that can take it to the house on any given play, and Jeff Scott can do just that for the Rebels.

    Listed at only 5”7”, 175-pounds, his size be a small concern for NFL teams, which is why he likely will not be selected on the first two days (if he is selected at all).

    Still, a third down waterbug of a back always has a place for an NFL team, especially when you are electric as Scott is.

Texas A&M: Ryan Swope

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    Sean Porter may become a legit NFL pick, but Ryan Swope has a bit of Kendall Wright in him in terms of becoming a tremendous slot receiving option in the NFL.

    Swope does have a new quarterback with Ryan Tannehill gone and the SEC schedule should challenge the A&M offense.

    It will be hard to find a better receiver that can run routes and can come down with it more times than not.

Georgia: Jarvis Jones

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    The former USC Trojan burst onto the national scene with Georgia last season, achieving a boatload of success at the highest level in college football.

    A freak off the edge who plays like an NFL player, Jones could become a legit first round (perhaps top ten) pick with his ability to blow up plays in the backfield.

    Pass rushing skills are not easy to come by these days either and there will be several NFL teams drooling over Jones if he performs well in his redshirt junior season.

    Note: Aaron Murray could have a sensational season and may soar up the draft boards if he were to lead UGA to a successful season (BCS, top five squad), and obviously there is that All-American safety named Bacarri Rambo who could easily become a top draft pick.

South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore

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    Had Marcus Lattimore not been injured down the stretch of the season last year, he would have been one of the Heisman frontrunners this season.

    Instead, he takes a bit of a backseat because of the injury and because the SEC has several teams that have the capability of competing with South Carolina.

    This guy is a workhorse who will go bonkers with Connor Shaw as his quarterback in 2012, though. Stephen Garcia was never the most talented quarterback and with more production from the offensive line, Lattimore should shine.

Florida: Jelani Jenkins

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    The Gators will feature a few studs on defense, but give me Mr. Jenkins at linebacker. This kid will need to put on a little more weight to be an every down linebacker in the NFL, but he has speed and range for days.

    A solid hitter with great coverage skills who put together a fabulous sophomore season, Jenkins should be an intriguing prospect as a junior next season.

Tennessee: Tyler Bray

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    Could there be a more exciting and dark horse choice for a top ten pick in next season’s draft than Tyler Bray?

    Bray has a cannon of an arm and has a long way to go to become a superstar prospect, but he has the schedule, players and conference around him to shine brightly in 2012.

Kentucky: Larry Warford

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    Larry Warford came into the 2011 season as one of the premier offensive guards in the entire country, but unfortunately his Wildcats could not muster much offense.

    Warford’s draft stock fell a bit and he made the smart decision to stay, but how much will Kentucky improve in 2012?

    The team is arguably the worst among the SEC squads but that should not take too much away from this solid draft prospect.

Vanderbilt: Zac Stacy

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    With the same body mold of a Doug Martin, Zac Stacy should become a decent NFL prospect because he has solid speed, quickness and awareness in the backfield.

    Plus, it always helps to play in the SEC with so many draft prospects on the field every single weekend. 

Missouri: Brad Madison

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    I like Brad Madison quite a bit for a defensive lineman because of his underrated speed and solid strength.

    Although there are a ton of lineman that may be selected over him, he is still a mid-tier prospect that will find a way to get drafted (at least get signed and/or practice squad).

    Moving onto the SEC may kill his stock, but it more than likely will help him out a bit if he can keep up the productivity. 

Ohio State: Johnathan Hankins

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    Arguably a top 100 player in the nation coming into the season, Hankins is a beast of a tackle that could easily become a first round draft pick if he remains productive up front for an athletic Buckeyes defense.

    Saying this guy is a beast would be an understatement considering he came into the football season one year ago at 335 pounds (some had him allegedly at 375, now around 317).

    Having since dropped some weight, the mammoth tackle has a ton of playmakers around him, which should only help his chances of becoming a legit prospect.

Wisconsin: Montee Ball

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    The Badgers running back set a NCAA record with his 39 total TD performance last season. The best back in the nation was a superstar last season and while some think his offensive line did a bunch of favors for him, Ball was simply the best.

    His ability to both catch the ball out of the backfield and run between the tackles will make Ball a hot commodity next season in the draft.

Penn State: Gerald Hodges

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    A solid sized linebacker, Gerald Hodges will have no problems getting drafted. The Nittany Lion defense was solid one season ago, and Hodges was arguably the top guy alongside Devon Still.

    Penn State is known as “Linebacker U”, but Hodges is a guy that needs to continue to improve to become a top draft pick.

Illinois: Jonathan Brown

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    Whitney Mercilus was the big name on the Illini defense, but Brown was a legit linebacker for a solid Big Ten defensive team.

    Obviously, many are still talking about that cheap shot to the groin of a Northwestern player, but the hope is he can just stick to football because he has some serious talent.

Purdue: Kawann Short

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    This Boilermaker might be the top defensive tackle heading into the 2012 season.

    There is a great chance he becomes a first or second round draft pick next season with the lack of defensive tackles.

    Short would love to take this team ahead of the Big Ten mid-tier pack and among the top five teams, and it will really be up to him to carry the defense up front.

Indiana: Adam Replogle

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    A solid defensive lineman, this Hoosier is one of the few draft prospects on his team that we will be talking about for next season.

    Replogle can harass ball carriers with a decent burst, but his knack for being around the ball gives him a puncher's chance at the next level.

Nebraska: Rex Burkhead

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    Lavonte David was one fine prospect in this past year's NFL Draft, but the Huskers current running back is a superstar.

    One of the more unheralded stars out there, Rex Burkhead is due to finally earn extra recognition. If Nebraska can appear in a BCS bowl and or remain a relevant top 10-15 squad, Burkhead’s stock will only increase.

    A complete back that can do it all (block, run, catch) will always have a place in the NFL, and it should be in the early to mid rounds.

Michigan State: William Gholston

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    William Gholston is a freak and then some, but he will have a tough decision a year from now.

    A dynamite off the edge, Gholston can harass tackles with his deadly combination of power and speed.

    However, he certainly needs to keep his cool after being suspended for his violent and inexcusable acts against Denard Robinson and Michigan last season.

Iowa: Micah Hyde

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    Starting quarterback James Vandenberg will be an intriguing prospect next season because the NFL could always use more signal-callers, but Micah Hyde is the guy to keep close tabs on.

    Often disrespected for being burned deep once in a blue moon (sometimes more than that), Hyde is a legit athlete that can flash brilliance at both corner and safety.

Northwestern: David Nwabuisi

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    This Texas product linebacker is a solid ballplayer for the Cats and he has the knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage.

    Registering 8.5 tackles for losses last season on a small but underrated Northwestern defense, Nwabuisi is a beast at 6’1”, 240-pounds.

Michigan: Kenny Demens

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    The starting middle linebacker for the Wolverines has been a hot commodity on this defense, but there is the guy named “Shoelace” who will be making headlines for the Wolverines.

    Is he a starting quarterback at the next level, can he improve in terms of threading the needle?

    Robinson should be a solid prospect because of how quick he is, but give me a Wolverines linebacker that can lay the wood and play solid gap assignment football.

    Note: Other solid prospects for juniors include Fitzgerald Toussaint and Taylor Lewan. Denard Robinson could become a specialist on special teams or in the "wildcat" if quarterback does not work out.

Minnesota: Mike Rallis

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    A big, physical linebacker, Mike Rallis has become a constant playmaker for the Golden Gophers.

    Minnesota has been lacking defensive performers, as they were 77th in total defense allowing 403 yards per game last season.

    Rallis had 5 tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks (83 total tackles), but the hope is he will strive for even greater production in 2012.

Oklahoma: Landry Jones

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    I love me some Tony Jefferson (who is moving back to safety this season), but he is not the only performer that will have a chance to shine at the next level.

    Landry Jones should have a huge season in store for him despite the loss of the all-time FBS reception leader in Ryan Broyles. This Boomer Sooner could become the second quarterback behind Matt Barkley.

    Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds, Trey Franks and Trey Mettoyer all are capable of torching the opposition this season and we know the Sooners will always be on the docket for primetime games.

    If Jones can cut down the picks and remain consistent he very well could be a top ten pick or at the very worst a late first/second rounder.

Texas: Alex Okafor

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    Okafor (6’4”, 260) had 14 tackles for a loss and seven sacks, which are solid numbers, but he is set to go bananas on all of the elite quarterbacks that the Big 12 has (Landry, Geno, Pachall, Klein, Doege). 

    Plus, playing alongside Jackson Jeffcoat will only help increase his production.

    This defense set to take the field in 2012 will be scary good and Okafor may end up being one of the elite guys (along with Jeffcoat, Dorsey, Vaccaro, and Diggs). 

West Virginia: Geno Smith

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    Geno Smith looks like a legit pocket passer that is made for the NFL. Robert Griffin III surprised us a bit since he became the second pick in the draft, but this Mountaineer has the talent to do the same.

    The West Virginia superstar is poised beyond his years, and everything about his game has really improved. Heading off to the Big 12 should be exhilarating to see, but throwing for 55 TDs and only 14 INTs in the past two seasons makes him a strong Heisman candidate.

    This is a team game, however, so will his Mountaineers be able to knock off the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU?

Oklahoma State: Joseph Randle

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    I love the Cowboys' duo of corners in Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert, but Joseph Randle had an unbelievable and ridiculous sophomore campaign.

    Although the likes of Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Montee Ball stole the spotlight, Randle accounted for 26 TDs.

    This explosive back can catch the ball out in the flats with ease and can run in between and outside of the tackles.

Kansas State: Nigel Malone

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    Tied for third in the nation in interceptions (seven), Malone should be one of the first names mentioned on your underrated squad.

    Kansas State’s squad is loaded with a bunch of unknowns due to their lack of national exposure (blitzed by OU, fell short of OK St, knocked off BU).

    Malone headlines a defense alongside linebacker Arthur Brown, but the overall speed and instincts of this cornerback should make him a better prospect.

TCU: Casey Pachall

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    This guy can make plays on defense as well as special teams. However, it should be noted that this former TCU player is just that at the moment.

    He was dismissed so a few more prospects will need to shine for the Horned Frogs..

    Casey Pachall and Josh Boyce could both declare a season early if they have monster senior seasons, although Gary Patterson’s players have not consistently left early.

Texas Tech: Seth Doege

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    One of the better pure passers in the Big 12, Doege will make a decent prospect heading into next April, but he has a long way to go if he expects to be drafted by the second or third day of the NFL Draft.

    Doege was often hot-cold and inconsistent and some of that was because the offense just struggled. With nine starters back on offense, Doege should avoid missing out on being selected by becoming a late round pick with decent value.

Baylor: Terrance Williams

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    While Terrance Williams is a legit playmaker at wide receiver, this Bear can bring back some kicks as well.

    He will be forever remembered as the one who hauled in the game-winning touchdown against Oklahoma in the back of the end zone, but he is vastly underrated.

    Williams enjoyed snagging 11 TDs with Robert Griffin III as his quarterback and Nick Florence is a guy that should be able to remain productive.

    This offense was benefited greatly by RGIII and their running game, so look for close to the same numbers for Williams now that he is the top receiver on the squad.

Iowa State: A.J. Klein

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    The co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year is one thing, but this linebacker can flat out play some football.

    Jake Knott is a beast and deserves his due as well, but Klein had 116 tackles to go along with his 7.5 tackles for losses.

    Throw in a pair of sacks, an interception, six break ups, seven pass deflections and you have yourself one of the more consistent backers in the country.

Kansas: Toben Opurum

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    This former running back turned defensive end made a nice transition last season, notching 10.5 tackles for losses and 4 sacks in the Big 12.

    An explosive, big bodied defensive end, Oporum could play outside linebacker at the next level, but the Jayhawks are not exactly loaded with NFL prospects.

Florida State: Brandon Jenkins/Xavier Rhodes

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    This superstar defensive end (Jenkins) was a sack master and notched plenty of tackles for losses. The past two seasons have been great to follow mainly because he is filled with so many studs around him.

    He can shine so brightly because he is not doubled much with Bjoern Werner beasting on the other edge.

    Look for Jenkins as a top five outside linebacker in the 2013 NFL Draft, which should mean he will become a top 20 pick.

    Also, do not forget about Xavier Rhodes at corner. He has the chance to really become a hot commodity next season if he has the All-American caliber season that many are expecting.

Clemson: Andre Ellington

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    The Clemson Tigers will feature a talented backfield, but Andre Ellington should be a stud if he can avoid showing bad signs from his offseason ankle surgery.

    Ellington is a quick, explosive back that can hit the home run ball thanks to a passing offense led by Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.

    D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy are capable backups for Ellington, but the offense is clicking on all cylinders when he is at his best. If Sammy Watkins was a redshirt sophomore, he would easily top this list. 

    Fortunately for Tiger nation, he has at least two more full seasons left with Clemson.

North Carolina State: David Amerson

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    Sure, this All-American defensive back will only be a junior next season.

    He may very well rank as the top underclassmen in the country regardless of position, though, and he has a great chance of landing in the first round.

    Whenever he decides to enter the NFL Draft, he will likely be a high pick thanks to his tremendous ball-hawking skills that very few have.

    Sure, there are a few SEC defensive backs that are right there, but this kid has all the tools to become the best of the bunch.

Boston College: Montel Harris

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    Montel Harris needs 868 yards to break the ACC record for most career rushing yards, but missing nearly the entire season will draw some concern for scouts.

    If he can remain healthy and prove that he still has that legit NFL speed, Harris can remain a mid-tier draft pick.

    The biggest question mark will be how he looks right out of the gates and how much consistency he can show throughout the season. It may not be good news for him that the BC offense was putrid last season.

Virginia Tech: Kyle Fuller

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    Yet another Hokie defensive back that has the capability of becoming an All-American, Kyle Fuller is one of many solid defenders on this squad.

    Tariq Edwards is a beast and Antone Exum is not too shabby of a defensive back either, but Fuller looks like he has the most potential. The entire front seven is back in Blacksburg which means you could pick between a bevy of stars. 

Georgia Tech: Omoregie Uzzi

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    The Yellow Jackets will have a few defensive players that should be appealing next season.

    However, this offensive lineman paves the way for Tevin Washington and the other backs that have been productive for seemingly forever under Paul Johnson.

Virginia: Perry Jones

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    A solid back that can run in between the tackles, cut it outside or even catch the ball out of the backfield, Perry Jones has shown that he can do it all.

    Jones may in fact become the top target in the passing game this season and many will expect him to be drafted by the final day.

North Carolina: Sylvester Williams

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    Quinton Coples came in as one of the better defensive lineman in all of the country last season, but Williams was able to put up some solid numbers.

    Williams is a beast up front physically and he will need to be the anchor of a Tar Heels defense that has so many starters gone.  

Duke: Conner Vernon

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    This Duke receiver may not be the fastest, most athletic or even the most gifted guy in his conference, but he should find a way to make an NFL roster in next year’s draft due to his productivity with quarterback Sean Renfree.

Miami FL: Ray-Ray Armstrong

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    Armstrong was picked by many last season to perform like an All-American and the production was never there. Some of that was because his teammates did not help out a whole lot and it did not help that he was suspended by the NCAA, either. 

    Still, yielding just one pick and half a tackle for a loss is nearly a joke for most superstars. Armstrong is considered such because he has the talent, but he only played in seven games last year and started in just one.

    Coming back for his senior season shows his character and love for the game, so enjoy his ability to fly around the secondary with the best of them while you can.

Wake Forest: Josh Harris

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    The Demon Deacons are a fantastic team to cheer for with the talent or lack thereof that Jim Grobe brings in. He has system players, but he always gets a few burners and prospects along the way.

    Josh Harris in the backfield was often nicked up last year, but he has a chance to become one of the better backs in the ACC. If he remains productive, he should be a lock to become a solid draft pick albeit he is just a junior.

Maryland: Kenny Tate

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    Coming off a tough right leg injury that cost him eight games, Kenny Tate is primed to return to his 2010 fold where he went bonkers in the ACC.

    Although he will remain as a linebacker, the then safety was lighting up kids in the ACC at a solid rate.

    The Terps need him to help avoid another 2-12 season, but he would love to once again produce like an All-ACC performer.

USC: Matt Barkley

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    As soon as Barkley held his press conference to decide that he would come back for his senior season, Trojan nation rejoiced and all prognosticators filled the quarterback in as their No. 1 choice for the Heisman and much more (All-American, best overall player, BCS title run, top draft pick, etc).

    Whether we are talking about his future game or his current game, Barkley is the biggest and best superstar in college football. Maybe he will not grade out as well as Andrew Luck, but he can accomplish so much more with the team he has coming back for the 2012 season.

    A loaded offense filled with playmakers all over the field, opposing defenses will have to pick their poison when attempting to slow down a passing offense that was 15th in the nation averaging 294 yards per game last season.

    Everybody is back at the skill positions, which means "mission impossible" in trying to defend Barkley’s potent offense. 

Oregon: Dion Jordan

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    The tall and lanky Jordan (6’7”, 241) is a mismatch for most tackles because of his ability to leap (33.5") well above offensive tackles.

    Jordan can slither his way in between linemen with ease and he often disrupts opposing backfields because he can chase down nearly anybody he goes up against.

Utah: Star Lotulelei

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    This Utes defensive tackle has breakout star written all over him, but only because it was his first season last year.

    The former junior college transfer is a wide body (6’1”, 310) that can plug up the line and take on two linemen without much effort.

    Second on the team in tackle for losses (nine), his numbers will only increase in 2012 with seven returnees back on defense.

Cal: Keenan Allen

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    Having your half-brother as the quarterback (Zach Maynard) certainly helps, but Allen would produce for any team out there.

    He is a playmaking machine, but the Bears offensive line and overall production fell off the map towards the end of the season.

    Allen had 98 receptions on the season along with six TDs, but he had only a single touchdown in Cal’s final six games.

    Allen has solid speed, but his tremendous athleticism and body control allows him to go up in traffic and come away with nearly anything thrown his way. 

    Plus, being just a junior I would still look for him to favor towards leaving one season early (half brother Zach Maynar will be a senior as well).

Stanford: Stepfan Taylor

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    Having Andrew Luck as your quarterback as well as running behind David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin surely helped Taylor, but this kid can flat-out scoot.

    Totaling 28 TDs and more than 2,800 yards (more than 460 carries!) the past two seasons is quite the load, but Taylor has proved he is a star in his own right. Look for him to have a solid NFL career if he can stay healthy, but playing in an NFL offense will only help him down the road.

Washington: Keith Price

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    “KP1“ went off in the Alamo Bowl and nearly upset the Robert Griffin III-led Baylor Bears. Price will be only a junior next season, which is a scary thought.

    Throwing for 33 TDs and more than 3,000 yards makes the sky the limit for this Huskie. The receivers should be improved and we know his tight end ranks among the best in the game.

    Price needs to stay healthy, as he was a tad dinged up a season ago, but he could be a guy who leaves early if the price is right.

    If not, count on defensive back Desmond Trufant to be a solid prospect.  

Washington State: Marquess Wilson

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    Who might be the most sought after wide receiver next season?


    Wilson may literally put up video game numbers under Mike Leach in his pass-happy offense that seemingly throws up half a hundred points a few times every season.

    Leach's team may not be as good as Texas Tech's Graham Harrell-Michael Crabtree duo, but it should have a legit chance of appearing in a bowl game.

    Wilson is just a junior and isn’t the biggest guy alive (6’4”, 183 pounds), but he has tremendous athleticism and has the mitts to go up and take any ball away from defenders.

    His speed could get a tad better, but he is a reception machine that hauls in anything thrown his way. Expect big things (100 receptions, 1,600 yards, 20 TD) from this Biletnikoff front-runner in 2012. 

Oregon State: Markus Wheaton

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    This star receiver for the Beavers only had one touchdown last season, but there were major issues at quarterback.

    Wheaton did have 986 yards on 73 catches and is talented enough to garner some attention with improved production form quarterback Sean Mannion.

Arizona State: Cameron Marshall

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    This running back has NFL size and speed, but just needs to have one more solid season to be worthy of a legit NFL prospect.

    Losing Brock Osweiler may hurt his production if opponents load up the box, but Marshall is a top 10-15 regardless.

UCLA: Jeff Locke

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    Johnathan Franklin is a solid back and may get drafted, but Jeff Locke is arguably one of the five best punters in America.

    Although just two punters were selected a season ago, only Franklin and a few defensive Bruins may even be looked at as prospects. 

Arizona: Dan Buckner

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    The former Texas Longhorn should be the top guy in the passing game for the Wildcats, but Dan Buckner is an intriguing prospect regardless.

    At 6’4”, 214-pounds he is physical enough to take a ball away from a defender as he can also go over the middle while taking a big hit. 

Colorado: Jon Major

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    A productive junior last season, Jon Major figures to become one of the best linebackers in all of the Pac-12.

    4 tackle for losses and 3 sacks for Major was not all that impressive, but he led the team in total tackles (85) and total snaps (752).

    With 6 returnees expected back on defense, the Buffs should be improved with Major leading the way.

Pittsburgh: Ray Graham

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    Coming off a knee injury from the previous season is never enjoyable to encounter during the offseason and it takes away from what you could be working on, but in the long run it only makes you stronger.

    That is the thoughts from and Ray Graham is still good enough of a burner (5.8 AVG) to make an impact with the Panthers in 2012.

    Rushing for over 2,200 yards and 21 TDs in a career is not too shabby and with a good senior season he could become a solid prospect.

South Florida: DeDe Lattimore

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    During his magnificent sophomore season, Lattimore tore up the Big East competition with 13 tackle for losses and 7 sacks.

    Both of those led the team, but he also had 94 tackles which led the team as well.

    At 6’1”, 234-pounds, this Bull is ready to shine even brighter in 2012 before perhaps making a jump to the NFL Draft.

    If he were to come back for his senior season, guys such as Jon Lejiste, Sam Barrington or Ryne Giddins (another junior) would draw some attention.

Cincinnati: Drew Frey

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    This strong safety made a bunch of plays in the secondary one season ago, but there really are not that many superstar strong safeties outside of perhaps your typical from the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 or ACC.

    Frey was second on the team in tackles, but he also plucked two passes off to go along with his 10 pass deflections and 8 break ups.

Connecticut: Sio Moore

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    One of the better linebackers remaining in the Big East, Sio Moore looked like the real deal last year for the Huskies.

    Leading the way with his 16 tackle for losses and 6.5 sacks showed his explosiveness, but managing 3 interceptions as well makes him a true impact player that the NFL will be looking at.

Rutgers: Khaseem Greene

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    This linebacker has been one of the better ones in the Big East for the last few seasons and he should be leading the Scarlet Knights into contention for a Big East crown.

    Although the Big East did lose its AQ status, Greene can reap the benefits from the NFL with a productive senior season.

Louisville: Hakeem Smith

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    Although this safety will only be a junior, his draft stock may soar with another impactful season in the Big East.

    Second on the team in tackles (84), Smith can play some center field and pick it off (2 INTs), or he can come up in the box and lay the wood (4 TFL).

    Those numbers should only double under Charlie Strong as his head coach and it will not hurt that 7 starters are back on defense.

Syracuse: Alec Lemon

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    This athletic and lanky receiver can grab the jumpball at 6’2”, but his 6 TD junior season needs to nearly double with Ryan Nassib coming back as his quarterback.

    Those numbers (stats and height) are not eye-popping by any means, but look for the Orange to finally open the offense up a bit. This could lead to better numbers and more scouts looking at this future prospect.

Temple: Justin Gildea

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    Bernard Pierce was one of three Owls to be selected in the NFL Draft, but Matt Brown may become a decent prospect in the backfield next season despite his lack of size.

    Still, Justin Gildea is your typical underrated and unknown safety that can make plays for your defense. He is not a star in the making by any means, but he can several things well (3 INTs, 3 sacks, 4.5 TFL).

Boise State: Mike Atkinson

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    I am banking on D.J. Harper to become a workhorse for the Broncos, but there will be a decent of other backs that should be ranked ahead of the medical redshirted senior.

    Mike Atkinson needs to be talked about because everybody thinks this defense is done without Shea McClellin, Chase Baker, Tyrone Crawford and Billy Winn around.

    Atkinson is a load (6’0”, 320) that can move around and bat passes down at the line of scrimmage with ease.

    He has a high motor and can suffocate ball carriers in the blink of an eye. A stellar defense like always, watch for big No. 99 in 2012.

Air Force: Alex Means

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    The Falcons may not have many (if any) players drafted into the NFL for many different reasons, but this linebacker looks legit (least for Air Force standards).

    Alex Means is a fine linebacker and he had 9.5 tackle for losses and 6 sacks (1 INT). The junior was also third on the team in tackles (77), but his senior leadership in 2012 could a long way into becoming a NFL prospect.

Colorado State: Shaqui Barrett

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    This Rams linebacker burst onto the scene last season by registering one interception, 4.5 tackle for losses and 2.5 sacks.

    He also led the team in tackles (99) and was one of the few explosive players in the Mountain West on the defensive side of the ball.

San Diego State: Gavin Escobar

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    This star tight end for the Aztecs was a stud last season with Ryan Lindley threading the needle, but he was just a sophomore.

    He came off a magnificent Freshman All-American season two years ago thanks to his solid size (6’6”, 245 pounds) and ability to draw separation form linebackers and defensive backs.

    Although he will just be a junior coming up, this program is starting to pick up some steam for NFL prospects (just lost Ronnie Hillman as a redshirt sophomore). 

Wyoming: Alvester Alexander

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    Kyle Magnuson should be a solid blocker up front for Alvester Alexander, who ran for 695 yards and six TDs.

    Not likely a draft candidate, let alone prospect, entering his senior season, Alexander could be signed as a free agent since the health of running backs these days are not great. 

New Mexico: Dallas Bollema

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    Outside of Carmen Messina, there were not many defensive producers for the Lobos.

    New Mexico has gone 1-11 for three straight seasons, which may sound mind-boggling, but they have unfortunately been consistently bad.  

UNLV: John Lotulelei

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    Another porous Mountain West defense has a long way to go to become a better team full of NFL prospects.

Houston: D.J. Hayden

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    This fierce and fast defensive back can make plays with the best of them for non-AQ schools.

    Coming out of Houston, Hayden has already made his fair share of plays, and he was the biggest reason why the pass defense was improved so much.

    While this corner may not become a mid-tier draft pick, he should have a solid chance of getting drafted if his senior season is at all productive.

    Note: Keenum, Edwards, Beall and Carrier were all not drafted

Tulsa: Shawn Jackson

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    Although this linebacker will only be a junior, his stock may be too high to pass up (in terms of him staying for senior season).

    Tulsa has not been known for their defense (117 in pass D), but Shawn Jackson sure can lay the wood at linebacker.

    Second on the team in tackles (101), he was second in tackle for losses (11) and second in sacks (4.5).

SMU: Margus Hunt

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    I really love the Mustangs' star ability of playmakers on both sides of the ball next season, and that is why they might win 10 or 11 games and threaten to put a scare into the BCS.

    Margus Hunt is an absolute NFL-sized beast off the edge (6’8”, 295). Hunt had 7.5 tackle for losses and three sacks, but those numbers should double in 2012.

    SMU also has a stud linebacker in Ja’Gared Davis that can put the hammer on running backs. There are a few guys to choose from, and this C-USA team has a few that can become special.

Rice: Vance McDonald

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    Cameron Nwosu is a solid linebacker that led the Owls in tackles (108), but wide receiver Vance McDonald is an intriguing prospect with his size (6”5”, 230).

    NFL-type receivers can become legit possession targets towards the red zone with that type of size, but he should shine in his senior season with Rice.

Tulane: Trent Mackey

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    Orleans Darkwa should become a solid prospect, but he should be coming back for his senior season in 2013. At the moment, it is their defensive star that has the best shot of getting drafted.

    Trent Mackey led the team in tackles (145, fourth in nation), and he was also a tackle for losses machine at 14 (4.5 sacks also).

UTEP: Josh Fely

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    This two-time All-Mountain Conference selection at San Diego Mesa College linebacker had a solid junior season with Miners.

    If he produces even more stud numbers in C-USA games, he may stand a punchers chance of being selected as a possible free agent.

    Fely was third on the team in tackles (61) and also was in the top five for tackle for losses (5.5) and sacks (three).

Southern Miss: Jamie Collins

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    This Golden Eagle has been a terror off the edge for opposing C-USA quarterbacks, and he has a chance to get drafted next season—only if he can remain consistent alongside the defense, though.

    Larry Fedora and several playmakers have moved on, but Collins will remain as the star to get things going for this squad.

    Collins had a remarkable 19.5 tackle for losses and 6.5 sacks, which are both staggering numbers for a so-called little non-AQ school team.

Central Florida: Troy Davis

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    Quick, who had the ninth-rated scoring and total defense?

    Yes, UCF did, and they had several unknown players outside of star corner Josh Robinson.

    Troy Davis was a beast on the defensive line with 8.5 tackles for losses and five sacks. Davis will look to anchor that Knights line since the offense was a near non-factor last season. 

    If the defense and the team can get more publicity by winning a few more games and playing in a bowl game, Davis could see himself on a practice squad roster at the very worst next season.

East Carolina: Damon Magazu

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    This solid safety will only be a junior, but he is coming off a sophomore season in which he plucked off four passes.

    The scoring defense was ranked only 97th, allowing 32 PPG, which means Magazu may need a few more turnovers to avoid those disastrous numbers. 

UAB: Marvin Burdette

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    The Blazers have not appeared in a bowl game since 2004, and they have made essentially zero impact on the NFL.

    Sure, Roddy White is arguably a top-five receiver in the NFL right now, and he was a first-rounder back in 2005, but UAB has not exactly thrown a ton of guys at the draft since.

    Marvin Burdette is a solid linebacker (5’11”, 230) that was second on the team in tackles (92), second in tackle for losses (4.5) and second in sacks (one, tied).

    If there is a player that has a chance to make a practice squad at the moment, it would be Burdette.

Marshall: Aaron Dobson

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    This acrobatic wide receiver made headlines after hauling in the top touchdown grab of the 2011 college football season.

    Outside of making highlight-reel grabs, Dobson is actually a decent looking football player as well. The large target is also a solid blocker and is getting better and running crisper routes.

Memphis: Akeem Davis

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    One of the top producing defenders on Memphis was not Dontari Poe, but rather Akeem Davis. Davis did a bit of everything with 78 tackles (second on team), eight tackles for losses (third) and three interceptions (first).

    Understanding that these Tigers have won just five games in the last three seasons combined explains how low the program is at the moment.

    They would love to have more first-round draft picks similar to Poe, but they will gladly take more victories and any sort of round so long as their players are being selected.

Nevada: Chris Barker

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    Duke Williams made Second Team All-WAC as a safety last season, and Nevada has proven they can get a player drafted on the defensive side (Isaiah Frey, Bears in sixth round).

    For linemen out of the WAC, we do not see it too often where they are even selected in the NFL draft.

    Chris Barker made First Team All-WAC one season ago, and he should only improve upon his successful junior campaign.

Fresno State: Derek Carr/ Robbie Rouse

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    It really is hard to pass on a tremendous speedster that eclipsed 1,500 yards and 13 TDs, but Fresno has a few defensive performers that could get drafted next season.

    Phillip Thomas missed all of the 2011 with a nagging leg/ankle injury, but he was regarded as one of the best defensive backs in the WAC heading into last season.

    Plus, linebacker Travis Brown put on a clinic as well with his 8.5 tackles for losses and three sacks.

    Still, at the end of the day, Robbie Rouse is the leader of the pack for the Bulldogs.

    He is just 320 yards away from becoming the school's all-time leading rusher, and he should get drafted at some point of the 2013 NFL draft (likely late).

    However, do not forget about quarterback Derek Carr.

    Ranking 25th in the country in total offense (278 YPG), Carr is not too shabby for just an incoming junior. Depending on his decision as to whether he should enter the NFL draft or come back for his senior season, we could see him in the early to mid rounds.

Hawaii: John Hardy-Tulaiu

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    Although he will only be a junior, this is Hawaii’s best prospect next season. Undersized at 5’11”, 165-pounds, Hardy-Tulaiu came away with three interceptions.

    However, he was very active in the run game, as he was third on the team in tackles with 73. If his ball-hawking skills continue to improve, he should make his way onto a roster in the near future.

Louisiana Tech: Quinton Patton

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    This wide receiver had 11 TDs and 79 receptions for 1,202 yards thanks to improved quarterback play. The Bulldogs were an impressive one season ago, and those numbers should only improve in the WAC.

    The competition is getting a tad easier for Louisiana Tech, and Patton should reap the benefits. If all goes wrong for the receiver, look for punter Ray Allen to get drafted.

    The kid did win the Ray Guy award given to the nation’s best punter, and he was fifth in yards per punt (46.12). 

Idaho: Bobby Cowan

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    Yes, a punter is the Vandals' best prospect, but only because this kid can boot it a mile. Ranking second in the country for yards per punt (46.41), Cowan fell behind only Shawn Powell for the top ranking in America.

    Idaho’s offense was below average, so we saw the junior punt it away 88 times, which was second in America behind only Memphis!

San Jose State: Travis Johnson

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    Keith Smith will be a junior, and he did lead the team in tackles, but give me defensive end Travis Johnson. This beast had 15.5 tackles for losses and 9.5 sacks!

    The Spartans were 93rd in total defense and 86th in scoring defense, but Johnson and Smith did as much as any defensive star could do in the WAC.   

Utah State: Bojay Filimoeatu

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    A mammoth of a linebacker at 6'2", 250 pounds, Bojay Filimoeatu can light a spark up for your defense. 

    Registering 11 tackle for losses and three sacks is not bad for the third top linebacker on the squad. If this Aggie can take over for a few senior, bank on even more production.

    The Aggies defense was known for getting big plays from Bobby Wagner last season (ended up fourth round to Seattle), but yet another linebacker has a chance to get drafted in 2012.

New Mexico State: Andrew Manley

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    The Aggies really do not have a single prospect in the near future after Kenny Turner left school a season early and when Taveon Rogers gradated. 

    Manley had a decent season at quarterback, where he threw for six TDs and 892 yards behind Matt Christian.

Toledo: Bernard Reedy

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    Eric Page should have stayed since he was not even drafted, but the Rockets have enough firepower on offense to keep the points coming.

    Look for Bernard Reedy to pick up where Page left off in the passing game, as he hauled in 40 passes for 758 yards and nine TDs.

    Those numbers will be improved, and who knows, maybe he will declare a year early just like Page did (not many defensive players have much of a chance to get drafted).

    Note: Dan Molls at linebacker would be next best opportunity arguably

Western Michigan: Alex Carder

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    This pocket passer was a turnover machine at times (14 interceptions, four vs. Purdue), but he did toss it around with the best of them.

    Ranking fifth in America averaging 345 yards per game is not too shabby, but he did have all-everything wideout Jordan White to throw to.

    Now that White is gone, Carder will have to work on spreading the ball around to his teammates and cutting down on eyeing down one target.

    His arm isn’t superb, and neither is his accuracy, but Carder has what it takes to at least get a look as a free agent at the next level if he improves.

Northern Illinois: Martel Moore

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    Chandler Harnish was the final pick in this year’s NFL draft, which means he was Mr. Irrelevant.

    One of Harnish’s top targets was Martel Moore, who hauled in the most receptions (47, tied), yards (747) and touchdowns (seven).

    There are few defensive players that may get a look or two, but Moore looks like he has the best chance of getting a chance to get signed to a practice squad.

Central Michigan: Ryan Radcliff

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    Another decent MAC program that could surprise some people in 2012 is shorthanded on NFL prospects.

    I love the chances for wide receiver Austin Davis (sophomore) in a few seasons, but he will need somebody to throw him the rock when Radcliff graduates.

    As for the current quarterback, cutting down on his 16 interceptions is crucial if he expects to have any chance of making a practice squad team next season.

Ball State: Travis Freeman

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    This Second Team All-MAC linebacker has a chance to lead America in tackles next season after he was ninth this past season.

    A playmaker who had six tackles for losses and four sacks should shine brightly and become a First Team All-MAC performer in 2012.

Eastern Michigan: Justin Cudworth

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    This linebacker made Third Team All-MAC a season ago thanks to leading the team in tackles (83) and tackles for losses (8.5, tied).

    The Eagles won just two games in the first two seasons under Ron English, but they came off a 6-6 (no bowl but English Coach of Year) season. The future looks brighter in Ypsilanti, and Cudworth is a guy that can lead them to their first bowl in 25 years!

Ohio: Travis Carries

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    This defensive back was selected to the Second Team All-MAC thanks to his ball-hawking skills that very few MAC corners had.

    Having 17 pass deflections and 13 breakups is quite impressive, but he also came away with four interceptions.

Miami Ohio: Dayonne Nunley

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    Arguably the best tackler in the entire conference for a corner, Nunley has tremendous ball skills and has a nose for the pigskin.

    Breaking up 13 passes is tough, but deflecting a total of 17 isn’t too shabby either. The Redhawks went form 1-11 to 10-4 a few seasons ago, but they went just 4-8 last year.

    Nunley is hopeful he can turn this team back into the postseason, which will help make his case for the next level. 

Kent State: Roosevelt Nix

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    Becoming the first ever MAC Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year, Roosevelt Nix has a chance to shine in 2012.

    He will only be a junior, but Nix has the explosiveness (6’”0, 240 pounds) to go off on the MAC this upcoming season.

    If 17 tackle for losses and four sacks is having a down season, then I sure as hell would love to know what a good season is for this Golden Flasher.

Buffalo: Khalil Mack

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    The best linebacker in the MAC last season was Khalil Mack, with a third-best 1.71 (20.5) tackle for losses per game.

    If your team cannot pick up Mack, then expect bad results since this 6’3”, 241-pound machine is ready to take your head off.

    Despite being only a junior, do not be shocked to see him burst on the national scene for NFL scouts and ultimately become a mid-tier prospect. 

Bowling Green: Dwayne Woods

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    The First Team All-MAC linebacker is back for his senior season, and he is attempting to not only make a practice squad team, but perhaps get his name called in the final few rounds of the 2012 NFL draft.

    Dwayne Woods led his team in tackles (111), but he also led the team in tackle for losses with 14. He even contributed in sacks (two) and interceptions (one).

Akron: John Griggs

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    Sadly, the Zips had the fewest amount of selections to the All-MAC squads, as they had just one player (Brian Wagner). 

    There really are not any good-looking prospects that even have much of a chance to get drafted under first-year man Terry Bowden, but that does not mean we could see a player bloom into a somewhat relevant prospect in terms of making a practice squad team.

Troy: Eric Thomas

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    Eric Thomas was just a sophomore one season ago, but he brought down 67 passes for 875 yards and nine TD.

    Thomas was the Trojans' leading receiver and should be considered their top prospect at the moment since Jonathan Massaquoi left as a junior.

FIU: Winston Fraser

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    As a junior one season ago, Winston Fraser led the team in tackles (108) and was also among the top in tackle for losses (7.5).

    Throw in four sacks and one interception, and you could call the First Team All-Sun Belt performer one of the best linebackers in the conference and easily the top prospect for the Panthers with T.Y. Hilton graduating last season.

Louisiana Monroe: Brent Leonard

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    The Second Team All-Sun Belt receiver has a shot to get some scouts watching him play, as he did lead his team in receptions (69), yards (751) and touchdowns (four).

    Obviously the Sun Belt is normally not loaded with any sort of prospects, but there is always a chance a player or two breaks out.

Middle Tennessee: Logan Kilgore/Omar McLendon

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    It could be a stretch at quarterback with Logan Kilgore only entering his junior season, but the defense did rank 103rd in total defense and 110th in scoring defense.

    So, the bottom line is there will likely be slim pickings among prospects on that side of the ball other than perhaps Omar McLendon.

    McLendon did manage to make the Second Team All- Sun Belt squad as a defensive end (6'4", 236 pounds).

Arkansas State: Ryan Aplin

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    Ryan Aplin isn't the biggest quarterback out there, but he did make First Team All-Sun Belt. He also led the Red Wolves offense to the 24th rated offense in America.

    Not saying the guy is a top-20 quarterback even, but it wouldn't be shocking to see him signed on as a free agent. He was No. 10 in total offensive yards per game (321 YPG) and is in store for another huge season.

North Texas: Zachery Orr

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    Leading the team in tackles with 72 is not exactly a high number. Seven tackles for losses and two sacks makes up for it when you realize this was done in just nine games played.

    Orr was named Second Team All-Sun Belt  in his sophomore season, which makes him a legit prospect in the near future.

Florida Atlantic: David Hinds/Randell Johnson

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    These pair of linebackers were one and two in tackles on the team, but they combined for 23 tackles for losses and seven sacks.

    Those numbers, albeit combined, are not too shabby. Johnson will be just a junior, but he was named to the Second Team All-Sun Belt, whereas Hinds is looking to achieve something as such during his upcoming senior season.

Western Kentucky: Quanterus Smith

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    Quanterus Smith was selected to the First Team All-Sun Belt, but the guy really went off as a pass-rushing specialist.

    Racking up 11 tackles for losses and 7.5 sacks makes him a legit performer regardless of competition.

    Lastly, entering his senior season, he is hopeful that alongside the reigning Sun Belt Coach of the Year (Willie Taggert) that they will not be snubbed from the postseason with a 7-5 record.

Louisiana: Javone Lawson

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    Javone Lawson looked like he was sure as hell snubbed from the All-Sun Belt Team, and he showed off his frustrations in their first bowl victory since 1943.

    Lawson hauled in nine passes for 193 yards and two TDs in the game, but he really was unstoppable and then some against San Diego State.

    For the season Lawson found his groove often and early, as he had 63 receptions for 1,092 yards and eight TDs.

    His NFL tight end, LaDarius Green, hauled in eight TDs as well, but Lawson has a chance to put up monster numbers in 2012 with a torching signal-caller in Blaine Gautier (Second Team All-Sun Belt). 

    Plus, do not forget these Ragin' Cajuns have quite the schedule on their hands, with Oklahoma State and Florida both waiting for them in their own backyards.

BYU: Cody Hoffman

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    This star receiver should go bananas for the Cougars with Riley Nelson threading the needle to him.

    Hauling in six TDs the last two bowl games is certainly impressive, but you need to keep a close eye on linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

    Although he is just a junior like Hoffman, Van Noy went off in opposing backfield’s last season. Totaling for 15 tackle for losses and seven sacks, Van Noy should start to become a household name next season.

    Note: If both come back for senior year, count on LG Braden Hanson and/or linebacker Brandon Ogletree to become the next best prospects

Army: Raymond Maples/Trent Steelman

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    The Black Knights are not featuring too many can’t-miss prospects outside of the two in their backfield. Least on paper, the duo is dynamic can could become legit in 2012.

    Raymond Maples is entering his junior season and has already ran for over 1,200 yards, but his blocking fullback deserves some credit. Jared Hassin is a solid blocker for both Maples and his starting quarterback, Trent Steelman.

    Steelman combined for 15 TDs and for just over 1,000 yards of offense. Entering his senior season, we should be expecting for him to double up those yardage numbers.

Navy: Gee Gee Greene

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    Although the Midshipmen may not have any prospects per se, Greene remains a solid football player, and nothing can take that statement away.

    Greene totaled for over 600 yards and had seven TDs in the process as well. With Alexander Teich (fullback) and Kriss Proctor (quarterback) running the show, look for the 5’8”, 180-pound back to carry most of the load. 

Notre Dame: Manti Te’o

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    Arguably the best defensive player in the entire nation for the 2012 college football season, Te’o has trimmed down some of his weight and has added even more explosiveness to his big-game ability.

    The linebacker is like a jet when chasing down skill players, but his smarts are arguably his best asset. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco allows him to do so much because he is capable of taking it all in as an incoming senior.

    Te’o has not missed a game yet, as he has started in all but two of Notre Dame’s last 38 games (22-16). Notre Dame has not been a national factor during Te'o's stay in South Bend, but he is looking to change that before he heads off to the NFL.

    The front seven of the Irish should be darn good even with the recent transfer of Aaron Lynch, but the schedule is daunting.

    Most look at it as games where the Irish should get exposed, but Te’o and the squad should look at the USC, Oklahoma, Michigan and Michigan State games as opportunities to make the doubters eat crow.

    The strength, explosion and personnel awareness should make No. 5 an easy choice as a 2012 All-American.

    Follow Dan Vasta on Twitter.


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