10 College Football Players to Watch in 2015

 

10 College Football Players to Watch in 2015

~By Burt Carey

 

Fan fervor reaches high pitch with the arrival of football season each fall as devotees root on their alma maters and favorite teams.

With opening day kickoffs set to begin in just a couple of weeks, it’s time to take a pre-season look at the players who are expected to make the biggest contributions to their teams this year. Here are 10 you’ll want to watch this year.

college football, pre-season, top ten,  Braxton Miller , Buckeyes, Georgia Tech, Ohio State

Braxton Miller vs. Michigan Nov. 2013

If you’re look for the name Braxton Miller to show up at the top of the list, Ohio State has a surprise for you: Thanks to a wealth of talented signal callers, the Buckeyes have moved the two-time Big 10 player of the year from QB to wide receiver. Something tells us this is likely to open up a few wildcat opportunities for head coach Urban Meyer and his offense.

That moves Texas Christian’s Trevone Boykin to the top of the list of QBs for the 2015 campaign. The Horned Frogs finished the 2014 season with just two losses, and with 10 returning starters TCU is securely ranked at No. 2 in pre-season polls behind Ohio State.

Second on our list of players to watch in 2015 is Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas. No one in the ACC, or in the country for that matter, will be surprised to see coach Paul Johnson’s squad running the triple option. Thomas runs the option almost to perfection.

Thomas’ inaugural season as a starter led the ACC in scoring offense and total offense, setting school records for both. Their option offense led the ACC in yards per play and ranked fourth nationally. While arm strength isn’t Thomas’ forte, Georgia Tech led the nation in third-down conversions last year. Coming off a 49-34 Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State that was decided before halftime, the Yellow Jackets are looking for great things to come from Thomas, a redshirt junior.

Clemson is another ACC team with a blue-chip starter at quarterback. Deshaun Watson proved himself as a true freshman by overcoming a torn ACL to lead the Tigers past South Carolina, its in-state rival. Head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t the only one high on this rising star, as some have tabbed Watson the pre-season favorite to win ACC player of the year.

Most of the SEC’s perennial heavyweight football teams are still looking for starting quarterbacks. Yes, even this close to opening day. The Auburn Tigers are blessed to have the strong-armed Jeremy Johnson returning under center. His playmaking abilities are sure to make their share of ESPN Top 10 moments this fall.

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is a highlight reel all to himself. Of players returning this year, he lost the sacks race to Arizona’s Scooby Wright, 13.5 to 14, but play in and play out, he’s one of the most consistent linemen in the game today. Big 10 offensive coaches expect to see No. 97 in their backfields all season long this year, forcing fumbles and causing hurried passes.

Wright, the Wildcats’ linebacker, won the Nagurski, Lombardi and Bednarik awards following the 2014 season by recording 163 tackles, 29 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, six forced fumbles and the aforementioned 14 sacks. If his freelance tactics make it as difficult for offenses to block him again this year, he’ll have another great season.

Look farther to the West and you’ll find Southern Cal linebacker Su’a Cravens terrorizing Pac 12 offenses from his outside position. While they refer to the 6-1, 225-pounder as a linebacker, Cravens is more of a safety, shifting and filling holes to stop spread offenses whether they run or pass the ball. His 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage led the Trojans’ defense in 2014, and he’s an excellent blitz option, which led to five sacks last year. Add that to seven career interceptions and 10 passes broken up, and Cravens appears to be holding the complete package.

Back among the ball handlers, running back D.J. Foster is a double threat for the Arizona State Sun Devils. While he’s rushed for more than 2,000 yards and racked up 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons on the ground, he’s also caught 163 passes for 1,874 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year the Sun Devils list Foster as a slot back, which will not only prepare him for that position in the NFL but provides their offense some creative ways to get the ball into his hands multiple times per game.

It’s true the Georgia Bulldogs are one of the SEC teams looking for a signal caller this year. At running back, however, Nick Chubb expects to see a lot of work. In fact, many of the Bulldog faithful expect the sophomore back to eclipse Herschel Walker’s school rushing record of 1,891 yards.

And finally, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott could be the class of running backs among the Big 10 this year. All he did at the end of the 2014 season was rush for 696 yards against the likes of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, making him one of the pre-season favorites for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle