College Football 2011: 25 Players Coming Off Injury Who'll Make an Impact in '11
Injuries are tough to deal with in every sport. With only 12 regular season games, they can be especially devastating in college football.
Sometimes the injured player leaves school for the NFL, whether it’s because he is a senior or because he leaves school early.
Take Sam Bradford, for example.
The Heisman Trophy winner injured his shoulder in the first game of the 2009 season, a year after winning the award and taking Oklahoma to the National Championship Game.
He subsequently left the Sooners following the season for the NFL.
The 2010 college football season featured its share of injuries as well. And unlike Bradford, some are returning to school.
Here are 25 players coming off of a 2010 injury who will have an impact in 2011.
25. J.T. Floyd
Floyd's 2010 season was going well before injuring his ankle before the Maize and Blue's contest against Illinois sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
The redshirt junior looks to bounce back for 2011, hoping to reclaim his starting cornerback role under new head coach Brady Hoke.
24. A.J. Greene
After winning the starting right tackle spot prior to the 2010 season, Greene's campaign was cut short due to a left ankle injury he sustained in Auburn's overtime victory over Clemson.
With Cam Newton gone in 2011, Greene needs to turn in a great season protecting the new quarterback and opening up holes for Michael Dyer to run through.
23. Rob Calabrese
Though Jeffrey Godfrey led UCF to a Conference USA championship and a Liberty Bowl victory over Georgia, Calabrese's ACL injury still left a mark.
Going into 2011, it is assumed that the starting job is Godfrey's. But if Calabrese can run the "WildKnight" package effectively this season, the Knights will be even tougher to beat.
22. Marlon Brown
Injured in practice before the Tennessee game, Brown was unable to have a big impact for Georgia in 2010.
A highly regarded recruit coming out of high school, Brown will now be called upon to a greater extent. The Dawgs recruited him to one day replace A.J. Green, and that day needs to come in 2011 for Georgia.
21. Steven Threet
Threet was having a solid 2010 season, throwing for 2,534 yards and 18 touchdowns while battling a concussion. His season was finally done in against UCLA when he suffered a shoulder injury.
If Threet can put together a similar season in 2011—with fewer mistakes—the Sun Devils will be a tough out in the new Pac-12.
20. Colin Larmond Jr.
Larmond was expected to be Boston College's top receiver in 2010, but a knee injury ended his season before it even began.
In 2011, the Eagles will once again call upon Larmond to play a large role in their offense.
19. Caleb Sturgis
Though replacement Chas Henry did well filling in for the injured Sturgis, the Gators need their starting kicker in full form in 2011.
Florida missed him the most in long field goal situations. Henry went 1-3 from 40-49 yards away, while Sturgis is 5-6 from that distance in his career.
18. Tim Smith
Mike London and the Cavaliers had big things planned for Tim Smith in 2010, but the youngster was only able to play in two games.
Virginia is looking for Smith to come back even stronger in 2011. With Smith as a weapon in the passing attack, the Cavaliers will make a push to be bowl-eligible.
17. Riley Nelson
Part of BYU's two-quarterback system, Nelson's season ended early with a shoulder injury.
Freshman Jake Heaps played well in his absence, though the Cougars had a poor year to their standards, going 7-6.
BYU may elect to use a two-quarterback system once again, utilizing Nelson's skills in both the passing and rushing game.
16. DeJuan Miller
Miller had emerged as Landry Jones' number three receiver in 2010, catching 15 passes for 199 yards. But a torn meniscus in October derailed his season.
The 6'4" receiver looks to play an even larger role in the Sooners' offense in 2011.
15. Vincent Smith
The Wolverines' top running back did not get the bulk of the carries in 2010.
This was not due to his knee injury, which came in the last game against Ohio State, but because of Rich Rodriguez's offensive scheme that revolved around Denard Robinson.
Rehabbing his knee this offseason, Smith should receive more carries in 2011 in Brady Hoke's offense.
14. Matt Patchan
Patchan, a highly recruited lineman in 2008, has proven to be injury-prone for the Florida Gators.
If he can finally get healthy this offseason, Patchan will be a key member of the Gators' offensive line in 2011.
13. Tray Allen
Allen, the son of former Cowboys great Larry Allen, is coming back to Austin for his sixth season after injuring his foot before the 2010 season.
Allen has a lot of unfulfilled potential, and a great 2011 season will not only help the Longhorns rebound from a miserable 2010 campaign, but it will also help his draft stock immensely.
12. Ross Apo
Coach Bronco Mendenhall was unable to use Apo in 2010 due to a dislocated finger.
The highly talented wide receiver from Arlington, Texas will be ready to go in 2011, taking some pressure off of fellow wide receiver Cody Hoffman.
11. Kevin Prince
Prince was only able to play in five games for the Bruins in 2010 because of a knee injury.
With Richard Brehaut proving to be ineffective as his replacement, Prince should regain the starting quarterback job in 2011 if he can rehab and work hard while Brehaut plays for the UCLA baseball team.
The Bruins are anxious to return to football relevance, and a lot of that hinges on Prince's performance in 2011.
10. Jacory Harris
A concussion forced Harris to miss three games for the Hurricanes in 2010, and could have also contributed to his ineffective play in Miami's final two games.
Miami is very close to becoming one of the nation's elite programs again. Under new coach Al Golden, Harris will need a great season in 2011, leading the offense while lighting up the scoreboard.
9. Levine Toilolo
Toilolo tore his ACL in his first game as Stanford's starting tight end.
With quarterback Andrew Luck returning in 2011, Toilolo gives him a big body to throw to down field.
Expect big things from him in 2011, as he will be one of Luck's main targets.
8. Andre Ellington
Ellington was having a great year for the Tigers before a toe injury derailed his season.
A threat on the ground and in the passing game, Ellington will be a key player for the Clemson offense in 2011.
7. Troy Woolfolk
Woolfolk was supposed to be the leader of the Michigan secondary in 2010. Instead, he had to watch from the sidelines while his teammates got picked apart in the passing game.
Giving the Wolverines secondary much needed leadership in 2011.
New defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will surely be able to utilize Woolfolk's abilities much better than former coordinator Greg Robinson.
6. Greg Childs
The Razorbacks' top wide receiver lost almost half of his season due to a patellar tendon injury.
In 2011, the senior will be called upon to be the leader of the Arkansas offense after the departure of quarterback Ryan Mallett.
5. Dan Persa
Persa was leading the Wildcats to a big year in 2010, going 7-3 as a starter. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in Northwestern's victory over Iowa.
Persa will be expected to lead the Wildcats once again in 2011, hoping to give Coach Pat Fitzgerald his first 10-win season.
4. James Rodgers
The Beavers' top wide receiver, and brother of running back Jacquizz Rodgers, had his 2010 season end in early October after suffering a concussion.
After qualifying for a medical redshirt, Rodgers will return to Corvallis in 2011, hoping to lead the Beavers to a Pac-12 title.
3. Mark Barron
After tearing his pectoral muscle in the Crimson Tide's final regular-season game against Auburn, Barron decided to stay in Tuscaloosa for his senior season instead of going pro.
Barron has come out and said that the injury was a key factor in his decision to return to Alabama in 2011.
His decision does not bode well for the SEC.
With one of their defensive leaders returning, the Tide's defense just went from great to one of the best, if not the best, in the nation.
2. Dayne Crist
Before his patellar tendon injury, Crist was having a very good season as the Irish quarterback. He threw for over 2,000 yards and recorded 15 touchdowns in just eight games.
Building on their bowl victory over Miami, the Fighting Irish are poised to have a great season in 2011. With their quarterback and leader returning in Dayne Crist, there is no reason to believe the Irish won't take another step forward in 2011.
1. Case Keenum
Heading into 2010 as a favorite to win the Heisman, Keenum tore his ACL in Houston's third game.
After applying for a sixth year of eligibility, the NCAA finally granted him an extra year in mid-January.
The Cougars will look to rebound with Keenum under center after a dreadful 5-7 year.
Individually, the Cougars' quarterback will be chasing the NCAA career passing yards record, which he will achieve barring another injury.