10 Toughest Players to Tackle in College Football

Randy ChambersAnalyst IAugust 11, 2012

10 Toughest Players to Tackle in College Football

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    There are tons of talented college football players out there. Many of these players are the reason we watch this wonderful game every Saturday.

    But then there are the players who are not only fun to watch, but frustrate defenses to no end. These are the guys who seem impossible to bring down and pick up chunks of yards even after they have already been hit by many defenders.

    These players can be tough to tackle because of their bulky builds, as they are just powerful human beings that don't go down easily. Or, they could be blessed with remarkable speed that makes them tough to down even in two-hand touch football.

    Regardless of how defenses struggle with these players, here are the 10 toughest players in college football to tackle.

10. Sammy Watkins, Clemson

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    Sammy Watkins came to Clemson as a 5-star recruit, and he did not disappoint anybody his true freshman season. He finished the year with 82 receptions for 1,219 yards and 13 total touchdowns. He had five plays that went for at least 60 yards, averaged 15 yards a reception and 25 yards on kickoff returns.

    Watkins has good size at the wide receiver position at 6'1", 200 pounds, but it is his speed that makes all of the difference in the world. There simply aren't many defensive players that can match this guy stride for stride, so many of the defenders reach, but end up with nothing but a face mask full of dirt.

    You can enjoy all of his 2011 highlights if you click here.

9. Denard Robinson, Michigan

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    I don't think there is another quarterback in the country that makes opposing fans as nervous as Denard Robinson does. He isn't exactly the greatest passer in the world, but man, can he make defenders look silly as they try and tackle him. (Just watch this video if you need an example.)

    Robinson has rushed for over 1,000 yards the last two seasons and has led the Michigan Wolverines in both passing and rushing yards the last two years. Last season, he had six rushes that went for at least 30 yards and 47 that picked up at least 10.

    He is extremely elusive in the open field and can buy himself time in the pocket better than any other quarterback. Those two things are good enough to give him somewhat of a future at the next level—even if it is not at the quarterback position.

8. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska

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    Rex Burkhead has been the workhorse for the Nebraska Cornhuskers the last two seasons, carrying the ball over 500 times in his three-year career. Last season he rushed for over 1,300 yards, averaged nearly five yards a touch and scored 17 touchdowns.

    While Burkhead is a tough-nosed runner, he also has very underrated speed and is more than capable of kicking the ball to the outside. Still, it is his physical style of running that makes him so effective and one of the more difficult runners in college football to bring down.

    Expect another productive year from the stocky 5'11", 210 pound senior.

7. Charles Sims, Houston

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    Maybe you are not familiar with Charles Sims because quarterback Case Keenum was busy taking away all of his shine last season. But on only 110 carries, Sims rushed for 821 yards—which is over seven yards a touch, for those of you at home. He scored 13 total touchdowns and also averaged over 11 yards a reception.

    Sims is 6'0", 215 pounds and has terrific speed, but can also break tackles when a defender occasionally is able to get a hand on him. He finished the 2011 season with four plays that covered at least 50 yards, and with Keenum no longer in the picture, I expect Sims to become more of a household name for the Houston Cougars.

6. Montee Ball, Wisconsin

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    Montee Ball has a solid cohabitation of speed and power, as he is the type of back who can run you over or make a defender miss in the open field. Arm tackles do not bring this guy down, he runs with great pad level and he almost always keeps those legs moving—even when contact is already made.

    Of course, Wisconsin has a terrific offensive line, but you don't rush for over 1,900 yards if you are an easy tackle. Ball is somebody who can carry the load for the offense and will likely be the workhorse for this Badgers defense, especially with the lack of a proven quarterback in Madison.

    What is scary about the whole thing is that he came back for his senior season to prove to NFL scouts that he is an even better back than you saw last season.

5. Silas Redd, USC

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    Silas Redd is one of those runners that can carry the pile for a first down. At 5'9", 210 pounds, Redd is a well-built back who does not go down very easily—which is why he was Penn State's workhorse a season ago, carrying the rock 244 times. He rushed for over 1,200 yards, averaged over five yards a touch and scored seven touchdowns.

    Now that he has transferred to USC and will be playing in the Pac-12, watch out. If Redd was able to produce those types of numbers in the bigger and stronger Big Ten, his numbers should go through the roof in the more finesse conference. The defensive lines are much smaller in the Pac-12, and they don't usually see a power back such as Redd every day.

    There is a reason the Trojans are looking to give a majority of the goal-line carries to Redd this season.

4. Knile Davis, Arkansas

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    Knile Davis did not play at all last season, but that does not mean that SEC defenses are going to overlook him in any way. This is a runner who averaged 6.5 yards in 2010, totaling 1,322 yards on the ground to be exact and scoring 14 total touchdowns.

    Davis is a bigger runner at 6'1" and 226 pounds and has very underrated speed for his size. Once he gets behind the defense, there is a good chance he is putting seven up on the board. In fact, his combination of strength and speed is something to respect. His 40-yard dash time has been clocked at 4.33, and he can bench over 400 pounds and squat over 600 pounds.

    You don't even have to see the guy play on the football field: You hear about those numbers being put up in the gym, and you get out of the running back's way.

3. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State

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    Le'Veon Bell is not only one of the toughest players in the country to tackle, he is also one of the most underrated players heading into the regular season. Everybody talks about the Michigan State defense, but can Bell get some love as well? He has averaged over five yards a carry the last two seasons and has scored 21 touchdowns in his short career.

    At 6'2", 238 pounds, Bell is one of those bulky Big Ten backs that nobody wants to actually stand in front of to try and tackle. He rarely goes down on initial contact and almost always falls forward to pick up an extra yard or two.

    Now with the lack of offensive weapons on this current Michigan State team, you can expect Bell to get the most carries he has ever had in a season—which isn't exactly great news for opposing Big Ten defenses.

2. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

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    Now that Trent Richardson is in the NFL, the title for the best back in the country should belong to Marcus Lattimore. (Even if Knile Davis may disagree.)

    In just one and a half seasons, Lattimore has rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 30 total touchdowns. At 6'0", 218 pounds, he is a power back who will simply not let arm tackles bring him down. While he is more of an aggressive runner, he is also somebody who hits the hole quickly and can break off a big chunk of yards. He has averaged five yards a carry in each of the last two seasons.

    If Lattimore is fully recovered from his ACL injury a year ago, he will not only prove he is one of the country's top backs, he may also receive an invite to New York for this season's Heisman Trophy.

1. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon

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    De'Anthony Thomas only stands at 5'9" and wouldn't weigh 200 pounds if he was soaking wet and had pockets full of change. So he is probably one of the easiest players in the country to tackle, as it would just take a gust of wind to knock him over.

    But even Mother Nature has to be on her best day to be able to catch this kid.

    Thomas averaged nearly 11 yards a carry last season, over 13 yards a reception and scored 18 total touchdowns. He scored three touchdowns that covered at least 90 yards, had 19 plays over 20 yards and shares the "Black Mamba" nickname with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

    He is in no way the biggest guy in the world, but good luck catching him. That is why he is the toughest player in the country to tackle.