10 Backups Who Would Be Starting on Another Football Team
Backing up a star player on a BCS football team is not the worst place in which to find oneself.
The 10 players on this list are all backups, but each of them has the skills to start if given the chance at another program.
For whatever reason—proximity to home, playing time or dispute with coaching staff—these guys are biding their time until they can become "the man" rather than an alternate.
Playing second fiddle to someone is never ideal—at least you wouldn't think it is—but for the time being, that's the row these players have to hoe.
Ideal or not, they have made the best of it and demonstrated a level of talent that would make them prime candidates to start elsewhere.
10. Hutson Mason, QB, Georgia
Hutson Mason has one of the easiest jobs in college football: back up Aaron Murray.
Murray is cerebral, talented and will be one of the best quarterbacks in college football this year.
Mason gets to stand on the sideline and watch greatness at work.
Being second on the depth chart behind Murray has given him only a limited time to perform, but Mason has made the most of it.
In 2011, he threw two touchdown passes in limited time on the field, and his first collegiate pass in 2010 was for a touchdown.
Murray's return for his senior season was a blow to Hutson's time on the field, but the man is talented and possesses the prototypical quarterback body at 6'3" and 202 pounds.
There are plenty of programs where Mason would win the starting job easily.
9. Blake Lueders/James Vaughters, LB, Stanford
Stanford has one of the deepest, most talented groups of linebackers in the nation.
Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and Ben Gardner are all returning in 2013.
All three of them have the potential to post All-American-caliber seasons and are holding down the starting positions for the Cardinal heading into 2013.
Blake Lueders and James Vaughters are in a battle to replace Chase Thomas at one outside linebacker position, and both of them have the talent to start—either at Stanford or another program.
Vaughters had more experience last season, and with the way David Shaw rotates linebackers, calling someone a "starter" is really just a title. Both of them are going to have playing time, and both of them will produce.
Other than a program that features All-American talent at linebacker, these guys could earn a starting position anywhere.
8. Cody Temple, NG, USC
USC's defensive line is going to be scary good in 2013.
Cody Temple, the man projected to be the second-string nose guard, could easily start elsewhere.
In the 5-2 defense that USC likes to play, the nose and inside tackle positions are key to the defensive success of the unit.
After missing last season with an ankle injury, Temple has the chance to step up and spend plenty of time in the rotation at one, or both, of those positions.
At 6'2" and weighing in at 300 pounds, Temple has the physical presence to be a force on the field.
Expect big things from him this season in the middle of a stout defensive line.
7. Brian Poole, DB, Florida
With a wealth of talent that Will Muschamp can play with and utilize to create one of the best individual units in the nation, Florida is stacked in the defensive secondary.
Poole is part of that talent pool and is currently listed on the post-spring depth chart as the backup nickel and left cornerback.
He's a talented corner with the speed to create nightmares for opposing signal-callers and the ball skills to be a solid cover corner when called upon.
With the embarrassment of riches that Florida has in the secondary, it is easy to see how he was relegated to second string. That said, a school in need of a cornerback would get a gem if Poole walked into practice.
The man can flat play.
6. Kenny Guiton, QB, Ohio State
Ohio State is stacked at the quarterback position.
Braxton Miller is one of the top five in the nation at the position, and his backup, Kenny Guiton, possesses the skills to step in when Miller is down and lead the team to victory.
He did just that last season against Purdue when Miller went down with an injury—leading OSU to a win in overtime with 77 yards and a touchdown on six completions.
There are few backups in the nation that have the poise and skill to step in for a superstar in a tough situation and pull out a win.
With Guiton's age, experience and talent, there are several programs that would count themselves fortunate to have him on the roster.
Looking at you, Michigan State and Iowa.
5. Max Browne/Cody Kessler, QB, USC
Nobody, except possibly Lane Kiffin, has any idea who will start at quarterback for USC when they open the season.
Conventional wisdom would say that Max Wittek will be the guy, as he spent some time leading the offense in 2012 when Matt Barkley went down due to injury.
But Kiffin has yet to name a starter, and the play of Cody Kessler in particular during the spring-practice session has forced this race wide open.
At this point, it is tough to predict who will be the backup to Wittek if he holds on and wins the job—with both Kessler and Max Browne competing for the position.
It is easy to see a scenario in which Wittek wins the nod, Browne redshirts and both Wittek and Kessler battle it out all season for starting duties.
Whatever happens, Kessler and Browne both possess the talent to take over a starting position just about anywhere in the nation.
If Kiffin handles his quarterback depth appropriately, the Trojans will have a solid starter for the next five or six seasons.
4. Texas A&M Running Backs Behind Ben Malena
Texas A&M is going to have one sexy offense in 2013.
From Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel to a revamped offensive line, the Aggies have the potential to be the most explosive offense in football.
That includes a group of running backs, led by Ben Malena, that is easily the deepest in college football.
Trey Williams, Brandon Williams and Tra Carson provide Kevin Sumlin's squad with a tremendous amount of depth and talent that could start at another program.
Malena is the star and will spend the most time in the backfield with Manziel.
Carson transferred from Oregon, Brandon Williams from Oklahoma, and both of them have home run ability.
Sumlin is going to have a hard time getting all of them on the field for plenty of playing time, and that's a good problem to have.
3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Wisconsin is known for its strong running game. From Ron Dayne to Montee Ball, the Badgers routinely boast at least one running back who dominates on the ground.
In 2013, much like the past decade or so, they will have at least two.
James White has been backing up Ball for the past two seasons, and while his numbers dropped off a little bit last season, he possesses the skills needed to make him an extremely effective back.
White's presumed backup, Melvin Gordon, is explosive, fast and can score from anywhere on the field.
Just ask Nebraska.
When Wisconsin destroyed the Huskers 70-31 in last season's Big Ten title game, Gordon was an explosive part of the Badgers' offense.
He ran the ball nine times against Nebraska in that game for 216 yards. That's a whopping 24 yards-per-carry average.
Over the course of the 2012 season, he averaged 10 yards per carry as the third-string back for the Badgers.
The man could start just about anywhere in the nation right now and may even win the starting job at Wisconsin by the time the season is over.
2. J. W. Walsh/Clint Chelf, QB, Oklahoma State
Now that Wes Lunt has departed to fulfill his "dream" of playing at Illinois, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf will battle it out for starting-quarterback duties.
Whichever one winds up with the starting nod from Mike Gundy come August 31 will have the best backup quarterback in football behind him.
Chelf threw for 15 touchdowns in limited time last season and gained 1,588 yards through the air, while Walsh threw for 1,564 yards, 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Together, they combined for 28 passing touchdowns and over 3,000 yards through the air, and this was after Lunt went down with injury in Week 3 of the 2012 season.
Either one, along with Lunt, has the talent and experience to start anywhere. The only thing left to determine will be which one gets the nod.
1. Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
The combination of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley at running back for Georgia was devastating in 2012.
Gurley enters 2013 as a prime candidate to win the Heisman, and Marshall has the skills to put up massive numbers—if he were RB1 on someone else's depth chart.
Marshall was able to put up excellent numbers last season—including a 6.5 yards-per-carry average, 759 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
Those numbers are solid for any running back, much less a man backing up a Heisman-caliber starter.
There are any number of programs that would jump at the chance to add Marshall to the roster. He would be able to earn the nod as a starter on at least 100 of the FBS teams.