Articles By Steven Lassan

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The SEC is known for its defense, so it should be no surprise that two of college football’s top four defensive backfields hail from that conference. Florida takes the top spot in Athlon’s 2013 secondary rankings, as the Gators have a stellar one-two punch at cornerback with Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson. Alabama isn’t far behind, but the Crimson Tide will be without Geno Smith for the season opener and need to find a replacement for Dee Milliner. Ohio State will miss cornerback Bradley Roby for one game due to a suspension. However, the Buckeyes have improved their depth from 2012 to 2013 and should have one of the Big Ten’s top pass defenses this year.

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2013 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference.

They’re the teams within the team — those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context. 

Whether it’s the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball — these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature. 
 
Whether or not these units function as one can make the difference between winning and losing, and a single unit can carry a team to New Year’s Day — or beyond.
 
It’s entirely fitting, then, for us to honor the best of the best at each position with our 13th annual Athlon Awards. 

 

Ranking the Top 25 Defensive Back Units for 2013

1. Florida
Safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans are gone, but Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, along with the arrival of top recruit Vernon Hargreaves III, could give Florida the nation’s top cornerback trio. Jaylen Watkins recorded 39 tackles and three picks at cornerback last year, but he will shift to safety in 2013. The Gators ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense last year and allowed only seven passing touchdowns while grabbing 20 INTs.

2. Ohio State 
The Buckeyes ranked a disappointing 76th nationally against the pass last year. However, there was improvement late in the year, and three potential All-Big Ten selections are back for 2013. Bradley Roby could be the top cornerback in the nation after breaking up 17 passes and recording two picks last year. However, Roby is suspended for the opener due to an off-the-field incident. Sophomore Armani Reeves will start in Roby’s place against Buffalo. Doran Grant and Tyvis Powell will replace Travis Howard at the other cornerback spot. C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant are experienced and dependable safeties.

3. Oregon 
Considering the offenses in the Pac-12, it’s a testament to the strength of Oregon’s secondary to finish 15th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was all over the field for the Ducks last season, recording 63 tackles and intercepting four passes. Despite not having an interception, Terrance Mitchell was just as effective on the other side. Brian Jackson, Erick Dargan and Avery Patterson are a steady trio at safety.

4. Alabama 
Even with Dee Milliner and Robert Lester departing, the Crimson Tide remain a top-five secondary for 2013. Deion Belue was solid in his first season from the junior college ranks, but sophomore Geno Smith might be Alabama’s top cornerback by season’s end. Smith will miss the season opener due to an off-the-field incident, which will force John Fulton, Bradley Sylvie and converted receiver Cyrus Jones into more action against Virginia Tech. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix impressed in his first year as a starter and has the talent to be the Crimson Tide’s next star in the secondary. Former top recruit Landon Collins will join Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri as key contributors at safety.

5. Stanford 
With one of the best front sevens in college football, Stanford’s secondary is often overlooked. However, that may change in 2013. Three starters return from a unit that ranked 25th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Ed Reynolds and Jordan Richards form one of the top safety combinations in the nation. Cornerback Alex Carter garnered honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors as a true freshman, and Usua Amanam thrives in the nickel role. Junior Wayne Lyons is expected to start opposite of Carter at cornerback, but seniors Barry Browning and Devon Carrington will see plenty of snaps.

6. Florida State
Despite the departure of Xavier Rhodes to the NFL, Florida State’s secondary is still one of the deepest in the nation. Lamarcus Joyner earned first-team All-ACC honors at safety last year but is expected to switch to cornerback for 2013. The other corner spot is currently held by sophomore P.J. Williams, but sophomore Ronald Darby will see a lot of action. Junior Nick Waisome and freshman Jalen Ramsey will provide depth. Senior Terrence Brooks and junior Tyler Hunter will start at safety, but junior Karlos Williams is a name to watch. The Noles finished first nationally in pass defense last year, and this unit should rank near the top once again.

7. TCU
With all five starters returning, TCU’s secondary will be among the nation’s best in 2013. The Horned Frogs finished 42nd nationally against the pass last year but ranked second in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. Cornerback Jason Verrett had a standout 2012 season, recording 63 tackles, six interceptions and 16 passes broken up. He is an Athlon Sports second-team preseason All-American. Kevin White made 37 tackles in 13 games last season and is slated to start at the other cornerback spot. Sam Carter earned second-team All-Big 12 honors last season and leads a deep group of safeties that includes Elisha Olabode and Chris Hackett.

8. Virginia Tech
The Hokies’ secondary will be shorthanded to start the season, as cornerback Antone Exum is sidelined with a knee injury. Exum will play at some point this year (likely October), which means Virginia Tech will have to rely on true freshman Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson more in the early part of 2013. Senior Kyle Fuller (two interceptions in 2012) will start at the other cornerback spot. Juniors Kyshoen Jarrett and Detrick Bonner are expected to start at the safety positions with Desmond Frye and Der’Woun Greene providing depth. Virginia Tech finished 14th nationally in pass efficiency defense last season.

9. Michigan State
Three starters return from a secondary that ranked ninth nationally against the pass and allowed only 10 scores through the air last year. There’s no question coordinator Pat Narduzzi will miss cornerback Johnny Adams, but senior Darqueze Dennard is a first-team All-Big Ten selection by Athlon Sports for 2013. Sophomore Trae Waynes has been impressive in limited action and should replace Adams at the other corner spot. Junior Kurtis Drummond and senior Isaiah Lewis are expected to start at safety. Sophomore RJ Williamson and freshman Demetrious Cox provide quality depth.

10. Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish had to replace both starting cornerbacks last season, yet still finished 25th nationally against the pass. In addition to the turnover in the secondary, cornerback Lo Wood (an expected starter) was lost before the opener due to an Achilles tear, and safety Jamoris Slaughter (a starter) played in only three games due to injury. Senior Bennett Jackson and sophomore KeiVarae Russell held the starting cornerback jobs for all 13 games last year and will hold onto those roles for 2013. Russell was impressive as a freshman, recording 58 tackles and two interceptions. Zeke Motta must be replaced at safety, but Matthias Farley and Elijah Shumate should be a solid duo by season’s end. Highly touted true freshman Max Redfield may not start, but he will be a valuable member of the secondary.

11. Vanderbilt
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 14th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 6th nationally

12. Texas
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 36th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 64th nationally

13. Nebraska
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 4th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 9th nationally

14. LSU
Returning Starters: 2
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 28th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 11th nationally

15. Oklahoma
Returning Starters: 2
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 29th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 12th nationally

16. Pittsburgh
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 20th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 21st nationally

17. Oregon State
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 49th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 20th nationally

18. Louisville
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 16th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 47th nationally

19. South Carolina
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 21st nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 34th nationally

20. Texas A&M
Returning Starters: 2
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 86th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 39th nationally

21. USC
Returning Starters: 2
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 52nd nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 41st nationally

22. Virginia
Returning Starters: 4
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 33rd nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 51st nationally

23. Arizona State
Returning Starters: 2
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 3rd nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank: 10th nationally

24. Ole Miss
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 80th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 78th nationally

25. Oklahoma State
Returning Starters: 3
Pass Defense Rank in 2012: 110th nationally
Pass Efficiency Defense Rank in 2012: 44th nationally

 

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
SEC Breakout Players for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

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College Football's Top 25 Defensive Back Units for 2013
Post date: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 07:15
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Less than 10 days until kickoff.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Wednesday, August 21st

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr was injured in practice but should be fine for the season opener.

Cincinnati's starting center suffered a knee injury in practice this week.

Will Trevor Knight win the quarterback battle at Oklahoma?

Alabama cornerback Geno Smith is suspended for the season opener.

Smoking Musket previews West Virginia's loaded backfield for 2013.

Arizona freshman quarterback Anu Solomon may redshirt this year.

Texas junior college recruit Desmond Harrison is back at practice after an issue over an academic issue.

Indiana lost a key offensive lineman for the year this week.

Washington should have Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper available to backup Bishop Sankey at running back.

Fitzgerald Toussaint is clearly Michigan's starter at running back. But the Wolverines will be without receiver Amara Darboh this year.

Oregon State plans to use Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion at quarterback in the season opener.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tra'Von Chapman's status with the team is still uncertain.

A handful of newcomers are expected to play for Oklahoma in 2013.

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College Football's Link Roundup: August 21
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 15:49
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UCLA has represented the South Division in the Pac-12 Championship in each of the last two seasons. But the Bruins face stiffer competition for the top spot in 2013, as USC is due to rebound, and Arizona State is a team on the rise.

The Sun Devils finished 8-5 last year and a two-point loss to UCLA was all that separated coach Todd Graham’s team from playing in the conference title game. Graham’s hire made a big difference in Tempe, as Arizona State lost two of its games by four points or less, defeated rival Arizona and crushed Navy 62-28 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

With 14 starters back and plenty of star power on both sides of the ball, Arizona State is one of college football’s top 25 teams for 2013. The offense averaged 38.4 points per game last year and should be even better this year with another offseason for quarterback Taylor Kelly to learn under coordinator Mike Norvell. The one-two punch of Marion Grice and DJ Foster at running back is one of the best in the nation. On defense, tackle Will Sutton is an All-American, and linebacker Carl Bradford is one of the Pac-12’s most underrated players.

Arizona State has a favorable schedule this year, missing Oregon in crossover play with the North Division, while Arizona and USC come to Sun Devil Stadium.

What will Arizona State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Arizona State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
Dave
Bartoo
9/5 Sacramento State
9/14 Wisconsin
9/21 at Stanford
9/28 USC
10/5 Notre Dame (Arlington)
10/12 Colorado
10/19 Washington
10/31 at Washington State
11/9 at Utah
11/16 Oregon State
11/23 at UCLA
11/30 Arizona
Final Projection9-39-39-39-36-6

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Arizona State is my pick to win the Pac-12 South this year. The Sun Devils return 14 starters and showed improvement under coach Todd Graham last season. The offense needs a new go-to receiver to emerge, but quarterback Taylor Kelly and running backs Marion Grice and DJ Foster should keep this unit performing at a high level. Arizona State ranked second in the Pac-12 in total defense and first against the pass last season, and there’s little reason to expect a drop-off. The front seven is loaded with talent, including tackle Will Sutton, linebacker Carl Bradford and sophomore nose tackle Jaxon Hood. Last year, Arizona State eliminated some of the silly mental mistakes that plagued this team in recent seasons and was one Pac-12 win away from playing for the conference title. With Oregon off the schedule and USC and Arizona visiting Sun Devil Stadium, the Pac-12 South title should run through Tempe this year.

Mark Ross
With 14 starters returning, including linchpins on offense (quarterback Taylor Kelly) and defense (tackle Will Sutton), this could be a special season in Tempe. Todd Graham appears to have all the pieces his offense needs to be explosive and the defense returns plenty of talent and experience in addition to Sutton, the conference's reigning defensive player of the year. With non-conference matchups against Wisconsin at home and Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, the Sun Devils should more than ready for the rigors of Pac-12 play. Road games at Stanford and UCLA won't be easy, but there's no Oregon on the schedule either. As long as everyone stays healthy and this team doesn't lose focus, the Pac-12 South title is there for the taking, as well as a potential Rose Bowl appearance.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
There are few teams in the Pac-12 as complete on both sides of the ball as the Sun Devils. This team has two marquee non-conference games and both are very winnable. Wisconsin should be a win at home early in the year and the fast track in Arlington will allow for Arizona State to fly around the field against Notre Dame. The Sun Devils could win both and enter BCS bowl talks by the first weekend of October. That said, the conference slate is downright nasty with road trips to Stanford and UCLA to go with home games against USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona. The good news? There is no Oregon. The bad news? If ASU can go 1-1 against the Bruins and Trojans, they should win the South, and then possibly get to play Oregon.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Arizona State will be in good shape if the Sun Devils can figure out how to win the close game. Arizona State is 4-15 in one-score games in the last five seasons. Perhaps Todd Graham helped turn the tide when the Sun Devils defeated Arizona 41-34 on the road to cap the regular season last year. Cutting the drive-killing penalties that marked the Dennis Erickson era certainly helped.  I have a few bold picks here, namely an Arizona State win over Notre Dame. That may be a defensive struggle, but the Sun Devils have the offense to break a key play or two. As for the late-season losses, Oregon State generally surges late in the season, and the Beavers are good enough to win in Tempe. UCLA was my vote to win the Pac-12 South, but that game in Pasadena could be the deciding factor.

Related College Football Content

Pac-12 Breakout Players for 2013
Pac-12 Coaches Talk Anonymously About Conference Foes for 2013

College Football's Top 25 Running Back Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
Bowl Projections for 2013
Pac-12's Pivotal Players to a Conference Championship
The Pac-12's Top Heisman Contenders for 2013

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Arizona State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 11:34
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College Football’s 2013 season has yet to start, but the SEC is already planning for 2014. On Wednesday, the conference released its 2014 slate, headlined by a Thursday night opener on Aug. 28 between Texas A&M and South Carolina.

Here are a few key takeaways from the schedule release: (Click here to check out the full schedule)

* Texas A&M at South Carolina (Aug. 28) – Excellent way to open the season, but don’t expect Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney to be playing in this one.

* Georgia at South Carolina (Sept. 13) – Another early season matchup between these two East Division rivals.

* Florida at Alabama (Sept. 20) – An early preview for the SEC Championship?

* Florida at Tennessee (Oct. 4) – A slightly later date for this game in 2013.

* Alabama at LSU (Nov. 8) – Always huge SEC West title implications when these two teams meet.

* LSU at Texas A&M (Nov. 27) – Thanksgiving night matchup between these two teams should be must-see television.

* Arkansas at Missouri (Nov. 29) – Border rivals meet for only the sixth time…and the first time as SEC opponents.

Crossover Games

East Division

Florida: at Alabama, LSU
Georgia: at Arkansas, Auburn
Kentucky: at LSU, Mississippi State
Missouri: at Texas A&M, Arkansas
South Carolina: Texas A&M, at Auburn
Tennessee: at Ole Miss, Alabama
Vanderbilt: Ole Miss, at Mississippi State

West Division

Alabama: Florida, at Tennessee
Arkansas: Georgia, at Missouri
Auburn: South Carolina, at Georgia
LSU: at Florida, Kentucky
Mississippi State: at Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Ole Miss: at Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Texas A&M: at South Carolina, Missouri
 

Teaser:
SEC Football Releases 2014 Conference Slate
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 11:14
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With the Wolverines expected to run more of a pro-style offense now that Devin Gardner is the full-time quarterback, the receiving corps was under pressure to step up in 2013. But this unit suffered a huge loss on Wednesday, as sophomore Amara Darboh was ruled out for the season.

Darboh did not record a reception last year but was expected to start and play a huge role in the receiving corps in 2013. The 6-foot-2, 212 receiver was poised for a breakout year, but his injury will force senior Drew Dileo, and freshman Jehu Chesson to step up this fall.

Michigan’s passing attack will miss Darboh, but the Wolverines shouldn’t suffer too much on offense. Senior Jeremy Gallon is a dependable No. 1 and Dileo/Chesson should be capable options. Tight end Devin Funchess is a rising star in the Big Ten to watch.

Darboh should return at full strength for 2013.
 

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Michigan WR Amara Darboh Out for 2013 Season
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 10:39
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Alabama cornerback Geno Smith was arrested over the weekend on DUI charges. As a result of his off-the-field incident, the sophomore has been suspended for the season opener against Virginia Tech in Atlanta. 

Smith was expected to be one of the key players in Alabama's secondary this year. With Dee Milliner playing in the NFL, Smith and senior Deion Belue will be counted upon to keep the Crimson Tide's pass defense among the best in the nation. 

How does Smith's suspension affect Alabama in the opener? The Crimson Tide will have to shuffle their personnel around in the secondary, but this is a very manageable loss for Nick Saban's defense. The Hokies are struggling to find the right pieces on the offensive line, and their receiving corps is inexperienced. 

Although Smith will be missed, Alabama can get by without him for the first game of the year. 

Teaser:
Alabama CB Geno Smith Suspended for Season Opener
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 10:23
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It’s a tough call for the No. 1 spot in college football’s linebacker units for 2013. Stanford and Alabama are both deserving of the top honor, but a slight edge goes to the Cardinal. Shayne Skov should be closer to full strength now that he is a full year removed from a torn ACL, and Trent Murphy is poised to be an All-American this season. The Crimson Tide is led by C.J. Mosley, with Trey DePriest, Xzavier Dickson, Adrian Hubbard and Denzel Devall all capable of being standout performers. UCLA also boasts a strong trio, led by future NFL first-round pick Anthony Barr.

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2013 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference.

They’re the teams within the team — those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context. 

Whether it’s the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball — these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature. 
 
Whether or not these units function as one can make the difference between winning and losing, and a single unit can carry a team to New Year’s Day — or beyond.
 
It’s entirely fitting, then, for us to honor the best of the best at each position with our 13th annual Athlon Awards. 

 

Ranking the Top 25 Linebacker Units for 2013

1. Stanford
The Cardinal will miss Chase Thomas, but three starters return, including seniors Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy. Skov led the Stanford defense with 81 tackles last year, while Murphy recorded 10 sacks. A.J. Tarpley joins Skov on the interior and is poised for his best season on The Farm. Senior Blake Lueders or James Vaughters will replace Thomas on the outside. Jarek Lancaster and Kevin Anderson will contribute as top reserves.

2. Alabama
If Stanford has the No. 1 linebacker unit, then Alabama is essentially 1b. C.J. Mosley is one of the top linebackers in the nation and is joined by Trey DePriest on the interior. Mosley and DePriest combined for 166 tackles last year. Adrian Hubbard and Xzavier Dickson combined for 10.5 sacks in 2012, and the coaching staff hopes this duo can provide a more consistent pass rush in 2013. Denzel Devall, Tana Patrick, Ryan Anderson and Reuben Foster are valuable reserves.

3. UCLA 
Anthony Barr was shifted from offense to defense last year, and the move paid huge dividends for the Bruins. Barr recorded 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss in 2012, and his athleticism off the edge is a matchup nightmare for offensive lines. Eric Kendricks led all Pac-12 defenders with 149 stops last season and is joined on the interior by Jordan Zumwalt. Sophomore Aaron Wallace is the frontrunner to replace Damien Holmes at the other outside spot, but true freshman Myles Jack and sophomore Kenny Orjioke could factor into the rotation.

4. Michigan State 
With three starters departing from the defensive line, the Spartans will depend on the linebackers to keep the rush defense near the top of the Big Ten. Max Bullough enters his third year as Michigan State’s middle linebacker. The senior led the team with 111 stops last season. Junior Taiwan Jones is set for a breakout season after recording 5.5 tackles for a loss and 38 tackles as a reserve last year. Strong-side linebacker Denicos Allen is a three-year starter. Senior Jairus Jones should see plenty of snaps as the unit’s top reserve in 2013.

5. LSU 
Thanks to the emergence of Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow last season, the Tigers emerged as one of the SEC’s top linebacker units. Minter left for the NFL, but Barrow is back after recording 104 stops. This position is overflowing with talent, starting with sophomore Kwon Alexander and freshman Kendell Beckwith. A broken ankle ended Alexander’s 2012 season after seven games, while Beckwith is one of the top recruits in LSU’s 2013 signing class. Junior D.J. Welter is fighting to hold onto a starting spot this fall, while Tahj Jones is expected to start on the strongside. Deion Jones, Ronnie Feist and Lamar Louis are all battling Beckwith and Alexander for snaps and spots on the two-deep.

6. Notre Dame
Manti Te’o is gone, but the Fighting Irish return two starters and plenty of talent at linebacker. Senior Danny Spond was forced to end his playing career this fall, which will likely open the door for sophomore Ben Councell to start at one of the outside spots. But Councell will be pushed for time by incoming freshman Jaylon Smith – the No. 1 linebacker in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports. Senior Prince Shembo anchors the edge after recording 7.5 sacks last year. Junior Ishaq Williams will provide depth, while Carlo Calabrese, Dan Fox and Jarrett Grace will replace Te’o’s production on the interior.

7. Florida State
The Seminoles have a new coordinator (Jeremy Pruitt) and only four returning starters on defense, but this unit should still remain one of the best in the nation. The line needs to be rebuilt, so the linebackers may need to be a little more active around the line of scrimmage. Senior Christian Jones earned second-team All-ACC honors last year and led the team with 95 tackles. Jones should push for All-American honors in 2013. Senior Telvin Smith and sophomore Terrance Smith should round out the starting trio. Telvin Smith recorded 9.5 tackles for a loss last year. There’s no shortage of talent behind the starters, but the second and third wave of linebackers lacks experience.

8. USC
With the change to a 3-4/5-2 scheme, it’s hard to classify where certain players fit in USC’s scheme this year. Dion Bailey has moved to safety, while Hayes Pullard and Lamar Dawson are back as returning starters. Dawson struggled in 2012 but should hold off Anthony Sarao for a starting spot. Pullard ranked second on the team with 107 stops last year. Seniors Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin factored into our defensive line rankings as ends in USC’s new scheme. However, we’ll factor part of their production here as well, especially since both players will be tasked with getting to the quarterback in a hybrid rush end/linebacker role.

9. Washington
What a difference a year makes. The Huskies considered the linebacking corps one of the weak links on the defense going into the 2012 season. However, the emergence of Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney, along with the arrival of coordinator Justin Wilcox, brought big improvement to the Huskies’ defense. Washington finished 2012 ranked second in the Pac-12 in pass defense and fourth in scoring defense. With Thompson poised to challenge for All-American honors, and the return of Feeney and John Timu into the starting lineup, the Huskies are in great shape at linebacker.

10. BYU
Kyle Van Noy turned down the NFL for one more year in Provo. The senior was outstanding in BYU’s 3-4 scheme last season, recording 22 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, two interceptions and six forced fumbles. Van Noy is a first-team Athlon Sports All-American for 2013. Joining Van Noy on the outside will be senior Spencer Hadley (66 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year). The interior spots will feature new starters, as Uani Unga (28 tackles) and Tyler Beck (1 tackle) step into the lineup for Uona Kaveinga and Brandon Ogletree.

11. Ole Miss
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: Denzel Nkemdiche (2nd)

12. Iowa
Returning Starters: 3
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: James Morris (2nd)

13. Cincinnati
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 American Athletic All-Conference Performers: Greg Blair (1st), Jeff Luc (3rd)

14. Wisconsin
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: Chris Borland (1st)

15. Ohio State
Returning Starters: 1
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: Ryan Shazier (1st)

16. Florida
Returning Starters: 0
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: Antonio Morrison (3rd)

17. Clemson
Returning Starters: 3
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: Spencer Shuey (3rd)

18. Baylor
Returning Starters: 3
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: Bryce Hager (1st), Eddie Lackey (2nd)

19. Oklahoma State
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: Shaun Lewis (2nd), Caleb Lavey (2nd)

20. Texas
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: Jordan Hicks (1st)

21. Tennessee
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: A.J. Johnson (1st)

22. Louisville
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 American Athletic All-Conference Performers: LB Preston Brown (1st)

23. Arizona State
Returning Starters: 3
Athlon 2013 All-Pac-12 Performers: Carl Bradford (2nd)

24. Virginia Tech
Returning Starters: 1
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: Jack Tyler (1st)

25. Michigan
Returning Starters: 2
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: James Ross III (3rd)

Related College Football Content

College Football Bowl Projections for 2013
Top 10 Darkhorses to Win the National Title
The Top 100 Players of the BCS Era
College Football's Top 25 Running Back Units for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Wide Receiver Corps for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
SEC Breakout Players for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 07:17
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
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Less than 10 days until kickoff.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, August 20th

Who is poised to step up at defensive end for LSU?

Saturday Down South ranks the stadiums in the SEC.

Will it be Trevor Knight or Blake Bell at quarterback for Oklahoma?

Lost Lettermen brings a couple of interesting stories for today: a 300-pound defensive tackle does the splits and a high school recruit catches passes while doing backflips.

Florida State receiver Rashad Greene suffered a minor finger injury in practice on Monday.

Joe Rexrode separates reality from fiction in the Michigan State quarterback battle.

Miami has decided Dyron Dye will no longer be a part of the football team.

Auburn defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Jonathan Jones will miss the season opener against Washington State.

Oklahoma safety Cortez Johnson is expected to be suspended for the season opener.

UCLA is losing quarterback T.J. Millweard to a transfer.

Texas quarterback David Ash had some interesting comments on Monday.

Matt Brown of Sports on Earth previews the ACC for 2013.

How much longer will Oregon State coach Mike Riley wait to choose his starting quarterback?

How does Alabama's defense stack up after fall practice?

With fall practice wrapping up, here's a good breakdown of Miami's depth chart.

The NCAA will allow former Marine Steven Rhodes to play for MTSU this year.

 

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College Football's Link Roundup: August 20
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 15:35
Path: /college-football/utah-state-struggles-touchdown-celebration-scrimmage
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Utah State has scored plenty of touchdowns over the last two years, but as this video shows, the Aggies may need a little work on their touchdown celebrations.

Receiver Bruce Natson catches a touchdown during a scrimmage and is ready to celebrate with his linemen. However, as Natson jumps up to celebrate, the lineman appears to drop the receiver.

Celebration fail.

 

Teaser:
Utah State Struggles With Touchdown Celebration in Scrimmage
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:17
Path: /college-football/big-12-football-breakout-players-2013
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Every year, college football fans are introduced to a handful of players that become household names by the end of the season. Predicting which players will breakout any year is never an easy task.

With a ton of turnover at the quarterback position, the Big 12 is up for grabs this season. Oklahoma State is considered the preseason favorite, but Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU are certainly in the mix. The Wildcats won the Big 12 title last year and have plenty of reasons for optimism in 2013. But coach Bill Snyder’s team has a few holes to fill, including quarterback with the departure of Collin Klein. Backup Daniel Sams played well in limited action last year, but he is locked into a tight battle with junior college recruit Jake Waters for the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

Defining what is a breakout player is nearly impossible. Everyone has a different perspective on how players are viewed around the conference and nationally. Athlon's list of breakout players for 2013 tries to take into account which names will be known nationally (not just within the conference) by the end of season. So while some of these players on this list are known to fans of a particular team, the rest of the conference or nation might not be as familiar. 

Big 12 Breakout Players for 2013

Ernst Brun, TE, Iowa State
Brun was a pleasant surprise for Iowa State late last season, catching seven of his 26 passes over the final three games. In the bowl loss to Tulsa, Brun nabbed four receptions for 102 yards and one score. The Cyclones need more from their receiving corps in 2013, especially with quarterback Sam Richardson in his first full year as the starter. Brun tied for the team lead with six touchdown catches in 2012, and the former junior college recruit should be an even bigger part of the Iowa State offense this year.

Brandon Carter, WR, TCU
With Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson playing in the NFL, the Horned Frogs need a new go-to receiver. But quarterbacks Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin won’t have to look too far down the depth chart for a No. 1 target. Carter ranked second on the team in receiving yards (590) and touchdown catches (six) last season. The Texas native has been a big-play threat over the last two years, averaging 15.3 yards per catch in 2011 and 16.4 in '12. Assuming Pachall wins the starting job, TCU’s passing attack will be stretching the field more in 2013. And that's good news for Carter, who is clearly ready to blossom into an All-Big 12 player on the outside.

Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Coach Art Briles certainly knows a thing or two about quarterbacks. After all, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman in 2011, and Nick Florence ranked second nationally in total offense last year. No pressure, Bryce Petty. The junior steps into the starting role after serving as an understudy over the last two years and hopes to continue Baylor’s recent run of successful passers. Petty has thrown only 14 passes in his career but has been impressive as the No. 1 quarterback this spring. There’s still plenty for the junior to prove in 2013, but considering Briles’ history of developing quarterbacks, the Bears have to feel good about Petty’s chances of emerging as a standout player this year.

Jeremiah George, LB, Iowa State
With Jake Knott and A.J. Klein departing, Iowa State’s linebacking corps is under renovation. But the drop-off from 2012 to '13 shouldn’t be drastic, especially with the emergence of George last year. The Florida native recorded 11 stops against West Virginia and ranked second on the team with seven tackles against Kansas. George finished the season with 87 stops and is the new leader for Iowa State’s linebacking corps. Although Iowa State fans are familiar with George, look for the rest of the Big 12 to know about this senior by season’s end.

Peter Jinkens, LB, Texas
One of the most disappointing units on Texas’ defense last season was the linebacking corps. Jordan Hicks was injured and missed most of 2012, while the rest of the unit failed to live up to expectations. Jinkens was a bright spot late in the year, recording nine stops and one interception in the bowl victory over Oregon State. He finished the year with 29 stops in 13 contests and is poised to grab one of the starting spots in 2013. If Hicks can stay healthy and Jinkens builds on a promising freshman campaign, Texas should have a much-improved run defense.

Robbie Rhodes, WR, Baylor
The Bears know what they have in senior receiver Tevin Reese, and Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood are back after combining for 57 receptions last year. But the receiving corps could use another gamebreaker to help ease the loss of Terrance Williams. Could Rhodes be that player? The true freshman has been one of the stars of fall camp, catching four passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in the team’s second scrimmage. Rhodes was rated as the No. 4 receiver in the 2013 recruiting class by Athlon Sports, and all signs point to a big season from the true freshman.

Pete Robertson, LB, Texas Tech
One of the Red Raider quarterbacks (Michael Brewer or Davis Webb) could make this list, but there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding who will start for Texas Tech in the season opener. On the other side of the ball, the Red Raiders return seven starters from a unit that led the Big 12 in pass defense and ranked second in yards allowed. New co-coordinators Mike Smith and Matt Wallerstedt are implementing a 3-4 scheme, which will force a few changes in the personnel. Robertson was a defensive end last year but slides to the bandit position in 2013. The Texas native recorded 20 tackles and two sacks in 12 contests last season. With Robertson shifting to a rush outside linebacker position, Texas Tech is counting on the sophomore to be a key cog in the pass rush.

Daniel Sams/Jake Waters, QB, Kansas State
It’s a bit of a cop out to list Sams and Waters here, but both players are capable of keeping Kansas State in the Big 12 title race. Sams is a dynamic athlete, recording 235 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 32 attempts in 2012. He only threw eight passes last year but completed six throws for 55 yards. Waters comes to Kansas State after two years at Iowa Western Community College. The Iowa native had a huge 2012 season, earning NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 scores. Although Waters isn’t as dynamic on the ground as Sams, the junior isn’t a statue in the pocket. There’s no question Collin Klein will be missed this year. However, the Wildcats’ offense shouldn't fall off much with Sams or Waters leading the way.

Cassius Sendish, CB, Kansas
Junior college prospects are very hit-or-miss. Regardless of the recruiting hype coming from the JUCO ranks, it will take some time to adjust to the talent on the FBS level. Sendish is expected to start at one of the cornerback spots for Kansas, and the secondary is a unit under pressure after finishing 114th nationally against the pass in 2012. The Maryland native ranked as the No. 59 junior college prospect in the 2013 signing class, after recording 29 tackles and 10 pass breakups at Arizona Western last year. Sendish represented Kansas at Big 12 Media Days, so the coaching staff already has confidence in his ability and expects him to be a key contributor to the pass defense.

Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Whether it’s Blake Bell or Trevor Knight replacing Landry Jones at quarterback, the Sooners will continue to have one of the Big 12’s top offenses in 2013. And both passers have plenty of weapons at their disposal, including Jalen Saunders, Trey Metoyer and rising star Sterling Shepard. Saunders, Justin Brown and Kenny Stills overshadowed Shepard’s play last year. However, as a true freshman, he caught 45 passes for 621 yards and three scores. Shepard did not have a touchdown reception over the final five games, but he caught at least three passes in each of the last six contests. Saunders is clearly Oklahoma’s No. 1 target. However, expect Shepard to be an even bigger factor in the Sooners’ attack this year.

Jeremy Smith, RB, Oklahoma State
It might be a little too obvious to list Smith in this article, but after playing behind Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter, it’s his time to shine. In his first three years in Stillwater, Smith has rushed for 1,439 yards and 25 touchdowns. Smith’s best performance in his career came against Grambling in 2009, recording 160 yards and one score on 15 attempts. However, the Tulsa native has played well in Big 12 action, rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns against Texas in 2011. With Randle playing in the NFL, this is Smith’s job to lose, and the senior should rank near the top of the Big 12 in rushing yards this year.

Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are gone, leaving a large void in West Virginia’s receiving corps. The Mountaineers aren’t short on options and talent, but coach Dana Holgorsen is still looking to solidify the starting group. White spent two years at Lackawanna College and was a big-play threat in the junior college ranks, recording 36 receptions for 535 yards and six scores in 2012. The Pennsylvania native made his presence known in the spring game, catching five passes for 72 yards and one touchdown. White seems locked into a starting role in one of West Virginia’s outside receiver spots, and the junior college product could have a huge year in the Holgorsen’s wide-open offense.

Others to Watch

Hatari Byrd, S, Oklahoma
The Sooners have a few voids to fill in the secondary. Byrd (a true freshman) is in the mix for a starting spot this fall.

Justin McCay, WR, Kansas
The Jayhawks desperately need McCay - a five-star prospect in 2010 - to live up to his recruiting hype in 2013.

Kevin Peterson, CB, Oklahoma State
Addressing the pass defense is a top priority for coordinator Glenn Spencer. As a true freshman, Peterson played well in limited action last year, recording 20 tackles and two pass breakups.

Davion Pierson, DT, TCU
Pierson had a standout freshman year in 2012, recording 36 stops and 3.5 sacks. Look for even bigger and better things from the sophomore in 2013.

Blake Slaughter, LB, Kansas State
Redshirted in 2012 with Arthur Brown entrenched at linebacker and is due to claim a starting role this year.

Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Texas
If David Ash struggles, Swoopes may get the nod over Case McCoy.

Kenny Williams, RB, Texas Tech
Coach Kliff Kingsbury will always lean on the pass, but Williams is a big part of Texas Tech’s offense. He rushed for 824 yards and five scores on 143 attempts last year.
 

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Teaser:
Big 12 Football Breakout Players for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-defensive-lines-2013
Body:

Defensive line isn’t a particularly deep position in college football this season. But at the top, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Florida and USC are all pretty solid. The Gamecocks are headlined by college football’s No. 1 player in end Jadeveon Clowney, while the Fighting Irish have two All-Americans in Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt. 

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2013 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference.

They’re the teams within the team — those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context. 

Whether it’s the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball — these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature. 
 
Whether or not these units function as one can make the difference between winning and losing, and a single unit can carry a team to New Year’s Day — or beyond.
 
It’s entirely fitting, then, for us to honor the best of the best at each position with our 13th annual Athlon Awards. 

 

Ranking the Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013

1. South Carolina
The Gamecocks lose end Devin Taylor and tackle Byron Jerideau, but there’s not much concern over this unit. End Jadeveon Clowney is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and should add to his 21 career sacks and 33.5 tackles for a loss in 2013. Chaz Sutton is due for an increased role after recording five sacks last year, while Kelcy Quarles, Gerald Dixon and J.T. Surratt round out the interior. Freshmen Kelsey Griffin and Darius English may not play much this year but are future stars for this defense. The Gamecocks allowed only seven rushing scores and registered 3.3 sacks per game in 2012.

2. Notre Dame 
Kapron Lewis-Moore must be replaced, but the Fighting Irish feature two first-team Athlon Sports preseason All-Americans in end Stephon Tuitt and tackle Louis Nix III. Tuitt had 12 sacks last year. Sheldon Day replaces Lewis-Moore at end after recording 23 tackles and two sacks in his freshman season. The Fighting Irish need Nix and Tuitt to stay healthy, as there’s not an abundance of depth. Notre Dame finished 11th nationally against the run and allowed only four rushing touchdowns last season.

3. Arizona State 
The Sun Devils need to get tougher against the run, but depth and talent aren’t an issue. Tackle Will Sutton is the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and is projected to be an NFL first-round pick in 2014. Jaxon Hood joins Sutton on the interior after a standout freshman season. Junior Onyeali and Davon Coleman give the Sun Devils two pass-rush threats in the 3-4 scheme. Junior college recruits Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry are expected to provide depth.

4. Florida 
Defense carried the Gators to an 11–2 mark last season, and even though some key pieces depart, Florida should be strong in the trenches. Sophomores Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler start on the edges with seniors Dominique Easley and Damien Jacobs anchoring the interior. Easley is an Athlon Sports first-team preseason All-SEC selection. End/linebacker Ronald Powell, a No. 1 recruit out of high school, is back after sitting out 2012 due to a knee injury. If there’s a concern for coach Will Muschamp, it’s depth on the interior. Junior college recruit Darious Cummings was brought in to help on the interior, but the Gators could use a big season from junior Leon Orr.

5. USC 
New coordinator Clancy Pendergast has plenty of talent to install his new 5-2 scheme. End Morgan Breslin tied for the Pac-12 lead in sacks last year, and the return of Devon Kennard from injury adds another potential double-digit sack threat to the line. Leonard Williams, George Uko and Antwan Woods form a talented interior, with Williams capable of earning All-America honors in 2013. Redshirt freshman Kenny Bigelow is a name to watch this fall.

6. Virginia Tech
If there was a bright spot for the Hokies last season, it was a defensive line that ranked third in the ACC against the run and averaged 2.7 sacks a game. This unit could be even better in 2013, as eight of the nine players from the final 2012 two-deep are back. Ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins should form the best duo in the ACC, and depth is plentiful with Dadi Nicolas and Tyrel Wilson returning. Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins anchor the interior, while Kris Harley, Woody Barron and Nigel Williams provide depth. With a struggling offense, Virginia Tech will need to lean on its defense to win the Coastal Division in 2013.

7. Oregon
The Ducks have a new line coach (Ron Aiken) after Jerry Azzinaro followed Chip Kelly to the NFL. Aiken spent six seasons in the NFL but worked at Iowa from 1999-2006 and has plenty of pieces to work with this year. Seniors Taylor Hart, Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi are the likely starters, but Oregon will rotate several bodies in and out of the lineup. Sophomores DeForest Buckner, Alex Balducci, Christian French and Arik Armstead give the Ducks a solid second group with plenty of upside. Armstead impressed with 26 tackles as a true freshman last year. The only question in the front seven for coordinator Nick Aliotti is which player will step up to replace Dion Jordan’s production off the edge in Oregon’s 3-4 scheme.

8. TCU
Despite the departure of All-Big 12 end Stansly Maponga, the Horned Frogs still boast the best defensive line in the Big 12. End Devonte Fields was a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a true freshman, recording 18.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks. Fields will once again anchor the pass rush, but he will miss the first two games of the year due to a suspension. Joining Fields as key contributors at end will be Jon Koontz, Josh Carraway and James McFarland. Tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter are preseason Athlon Sports All-Big 12 selections. The Horned Frogs led the Big 12 in rush defense and averaged 2.2 sacks per game last year.

9. Stanford
Defensive lines in 3-4 schemes often don’t get the credit they deserve. And that was the case with Stanford last season, as its linebacking corps often overshadowed the work done by the three players in the trenches. The Cardinal loses nose tackle Terrence Stephens, but ends Ben Gardner and Henry Anderson are back. Gardner recorded 7.5 sacks in 14 games, while Anderson chipped in 13 tackles for a loss and 51 stops. Junior David Parry started three games last year and is expected to replace Stephens at nose tackle. Stanford has accumulated solid depth up front, as sophomore Aziz Shittu and senior Josh Mauro ensure the line won’t suffer any drop-off once the top three leave the field.

10. Ohio State
Yes, all four starters are gone from last season’s unit. However, by season’s end, the Buckeyes should have the Big Ten’s top defensive line. Ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington were two of the top-10 defensive end recruits in last year’s signing class, and both players impressed in limited action. The interior will be anchored by a group of talented, but unproven players, headlined by juniors Joel Hale and Michael Bennett. Sophomores Chris Carter and Tommy Schutt are expected to backup Hale and Bennett. True freshmen Joey Bosa, Michael Hill and Billy Price won’t start, but all three could factor into the rotation this year.

11. Texas
Returning Starters: 4
Rush Defense in 2012: 88th nationally (192.2 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: DE Jackson Jeffcoat (1st)

12. Florida State
Returning Starters: 0
Rush Defense in 2012: 3rd nationally (92.3 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 36
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: DT Timmy Jernigan (1st)

13. LSU
Returning Starters: 0
Rush Defense in 2012: 9th nationally (101.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DT Anthony Johnson (1st)

14. Alabama
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 1st nationally (76.4 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 35
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DT Brandon Ivory (4th)

15. Arkansas
Returning Starters: 3
Rush Defense in 2012: 19th nationally (124.1 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 31
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE Chris Smith (1st), DT Byran Jones (2nd)

16. Clemson
Returning Starters: 3
Rush Defense in 2012: 57th nationally (155.9 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 34
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: DE Vic Beasley (3rd)

17. South Florida
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 50th nationally (149.9 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 25
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DE Aaron Lynch (1st), DE Ryne Giddins (3rd)

18. Ole Miss
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 25th nationally (129.3 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 38
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE C.J. Johnson (2nd), DT Isaac Gross (4th)

19. Penn State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 23rd nationally (128.4 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 34
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Deion Barnes (1st), DT DaQuan Jones (2nd)

20. Michigan State
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 8th nationally (98.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 20
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Marcus Rush (3rd)

21. Michigan
Returning Starters: 1
Rush Defense in 2012: 51st nationally (150.5 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 22
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: DE Frank Clark (3rd)

22. Louisville
Returning Starters: 4
Rush Defense in 2012: 48th nationally (148.0 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 22
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DT Brandon Dunn (1st), DE Marcus Smith (2nd)

23. Rutgers
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 6th nationally (97.2 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 25
Athlon 2013 American All-Conference Performers: DE Jamil Merrell (1st), DT Darius Hamilton (2nd)

24. Boise State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 46th nationally
Sacks in 2012: 38
Athlon 2013 All-Mountain West Performers: DE Demarcus Lawrence (1st), DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (2nd)

25. Mississippi State
Returning Starters: 2
Rush Defense in 2012: 67th nationally (165.6 ypg)
Sacks in 2012: 18
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: DE Denico Autry (3rd)

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Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Defensive Lines for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Exceeding expectations is nothing new for Bill Snyder and Kansas State. The Wildcats were picked sixth in the preseason Big 12 media poll last year but finished with an 11-2 record and the conference championship.

Different year, same story. Kansas State is flying under the radar once again in 2013, but there’s good reason to have concerns about Snyder’s team this year. The Wildcats must replace quarterback Collin Klein and nine new starters will step into prominent roles on defense.

Despite the new faces on both sides of the ball, don’t count out Kansas State from making noise in the Big 12 title race. Although Klein will be missed, Daniel Sams and Jake Waters are a capable duo at quarterback. And although the defense has several new faces, the linebacking corps and secondary should be solid. The schedule does feature two tricky non-conference games, as back-to-back FCS champ North Dakota State visits Kansas State on Aug. 31 and UL Lafayette comes to Manhattan on Sept. 7. In Big 12 action, the Wildcats play at Texas and Oklahoma State in the first two weeks but three out of their last five conference games are at home. 

What will Kansas State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Kansas State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
Dave
Bartoo
David
Fox
8/30 North Dakota State
9/7 UL Lafayette
9/14 UMass
9/21 at Texas
10/5 at Oklahoma State
10/12 Baylor
10/26 West Virginia
11/2 Iowa State
11/9 at Texas Tech
11/16 TCU
11/23 Oklahoma
11/30 at Kansas
Final Projection8-46-68-47-58-4

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Although Kansas State loses a handful of key players from last season’s team, I think the Wildcats will be a factor in the Big 12 title picture. Whether it’s Daniel Sams or Jake Waters under center, Kansas State’s offense should be fine. Running back John Hubert is dependable, the receiving corps is solid, and the offensive line is one of the best in the nation. The defense must rebuild its front seven, but the Wildcats always seem to find the right answers early in the year. Two key swing games – Oklahoma and TCU – come late in the season in Manhattan, which should give Kansas State plenty of time to find replacements for its departed stars on offense and defense. As long as Bill Snyder roams the sidelines, the Wildcats will be a factor in the Big 12 title race, and this team will be a tough out for the rest of the conference in 2013.

Mark Ross
I am the first person to say never bet against Bill Snyder, but from my perspective this is shaping up to be a rebuilding year for the coaching legend. No one has mastered the art of mining the junior-college ranks better than Snyder, and he will need to do the same again this season if he wants to maintain the Wildcats' recent run of success. That may be easier said than done this fall, however, as it's extremely hard to replace a player like Collin Klein, whose value to the program went well beyond his record-setting production as its starting quarterback.

Whoever ends up getting the call as Klein's replacement will have weapons to work with in running back John Hubert and wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson. However, the quarterback also will have extremely big shoes to fill and will play behind a defense that returns just two starters. That combination doesn't bode well for a schedule that opens Big 12 play on the road against Texas and Oklahoma State. The WIldcats should find a way to scratch out at least six wins and a fourth straight bowl bid. I just don't see them finishing near the top of the Big 12 standings, although it wouldn't shock me if Snyder proved me wrong yet again.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The defense is completely reworked as just two starters return to the secondary. Bill Snyder always figures out a way to patch together new pieces but replacing all seven members of a front seven on defense is nearly impossible - even for a miracle worker like him. Offensively, the running game should be outstanding as the line returns and there are plenty of athletes who can make plays. However, Collin Klein is gone too. Nearly every Big 12 game will be a "swing" contest for the Cats. With Snyder on the sideline, they are bound to pull an upset (against TCU or Oklahoma, perhaps) but could easily lose on the road against lesser teams (Texas Tech). This will be a fun team to watch all season due to its unpredictability.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
It’s going to be tough for Kansas State to maintain the level of play it’s had for the last two seasons. But we’ve said that before and been horribly wrong. The offense may be OK as the offensive line and the run game set the tone, even if it loses a key cog in Collin Klein. In our scouting reports, one coach told Athlon he thought Daniel Sams was better. We’ll see about that. I’ve picked Texas to finally solve its K-State problem and the same goes for Oklahoma. Instead, the games I struggled with the most were Kansas State’s home games against Baylor and TCU. I picked a split with Kansas State defeating TCU. Baylor, though, may be too much for a Wildcats’ defense that returns only two starters. Lastly, I’m going to put Kansas State on upset alert to start the season. North Dakota State is Athlon’s preseason No. 1 in the FCS and Louisiana-Lafayette may have a major-conference upset in its system for 2013.

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Teaser:
Kansas State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/alabama-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Alabama enters 2013 as the heavy favorite to win the national championship. The Crimson Tide has claimed back-to-back titles and has a favorable path to a third in a row.

The roster is loaded with talent, starting at quarterback with AJ McCarron, along with All-American skill players in running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper. The offensive line has a few holes to fill, but Alabama’s top-notch recruiting should ensure there’s not too much of a drop up front.

The defense returns eight starters from a unit that ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring, total, rushing and pass defense. The Crimson Tide needs to find a few replacements on the defensive line and for cornerback Dee Milliner. But the linebackers are one of the top units in the nation, and the secondary is solid with young talent ready to step into the lineup. 

The regular season schedule is favorable outside of a date at Texas A&M. Assuming the Crimson Tide beats the Aggies, Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship could be the conference title game against Georgia, South Carolina or Florida.

What will Alabama's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Alabama's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Mark
Ross
Braden
Gall
David
Fox
Josh
Ward
8/31 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)
9/14 at Texas A&M
9/21 Colorado State
9/28 Ole Miss
10/5 Georgia State
10/12 at Kentucky
10/19 Arkansas
10/26 Tennessee
11/9 LSU
11/16 at Mississippi State
11/23 Chattanooga
11/30 at Auburn
Final Projection12-012-012-012-012-0

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Sure, Alabama has a few holes to fill, but this is still the best team in college football. And the Crimson Tide’s roster is even deeper thanks to the addition of another elite recruiting class. Quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon and receiver Amari Cooper form one of the top offensive trios in the nation, and the defense will always be strong under coach Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart. The offensive line is the team’s biggest question mark, especially with the departure of Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker. On defense, cornerback Dee Milliner will be tough to replace. However, cornerback Geno Smith and safety Landon Collins are two breakout players to watch in 2013. Outside of the Sept. 14 date against Texas A&M, it’s hard to find a place for a loss on Alabama’s schedule. Finishing a regular season without a loss isn’t easy, but I’ll take Alabama to finish unbeaten and play for the championship in Pasadena in early January.

Mark Ross
There's no reason to be cute about this. Unless AJ McCarron goes down to a season-ending injury or Alabama just completely implodes, the Crimson Tide should be in the driver's seat to finish off the BCS era as a three-time national champion. The two games that figure to cause 'Bama the most trouble in the regular season are at Texas A&M and against LSU. Well, anyone who remotely follows college football is well aware of how Johnny Manziel's summer has gone, while the Tide gets the Bayou Bengals in Tuscaloosa. I'm not saying the Aggies or Tigers aren't capable of scoring the upset, it just seems Nick Saban's team is getting all the early breaks. So barring a bad break (or two) during one of these games or to one of Saban's key players, Alabama should, ahem, roll to an undefeated regular season.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Want to give yourself nightmares? That is, if you root for anyone other than the Crimson Tide? Nick Saban has won back-to-back national championships and three of the last four and 2013 will be his best team. Is that scary enough for you? This offense, despite the loss of some solid talent up front along the line, will be more complete, more dynamic and more explosive than any in Saban's coaching tenure. The linebackers are downright nasty with upwards of half-a-dozen future NFL players. He has the best safety in the nation, a defensive line loaded with overachievers and the best collection of freshmen on any campus in the country. To top it all off, Alabama misses South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in crossover play and the LSU game comes at home. The much anticipated visit to College Station following a bye week on September 14 looms large, but Alabama's schedule isn't nearly as daunting as a defending SEC champs should be. The Ole Misses and Auburns of the world won't come close to challenging Alabama's dominance. Roll. Damn. Tide.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Not that Alabama needs much help, but this is an easy schedule by SEC standards. Who is Alabama’s toughest opponent in the month of October? Tennessee? Arkansas? And both of those games are at home. And remember the 2010 season when just about every team had an off week before facing the Tide? Alabama now gets the advantage as it gets its toughest opponents, Texas A&M and LSU, after bye weeks. Alabama never has back-to-back games against top-notch teams unless Mississippi State, who plays host to Alabama the week after the LSU game, takes the next step. The Tide are already the top team in the country, but something would have to go wrong against that schedule for Alabama to go 11-1.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
It’s hard to imagine Alabama’s schedule being any more favorable. Two opponents stand out as true tests for the Crimson Tide – Texas A&M and LSU. And Alabama will have a week off before it plays each of those teams. Ole Miss played Alabama tough last year, but it’s unrealistic to expect the Crimson Tide to lose at home to the Rebels. Other teams like Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Auburn just don’t have enough talent to match up with Alabama. The Crimson Tide will return to the SEC Championship Game as long as their offensive line develops and the players stay hungry to win another title. 

 

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Teaser:
Alabama Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-august-19
Body:

Catching up from a busy weekend of news around the college football world.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Monday, August 19th

The Big Ten Network continues its tour of all 12 teams for 2013. Here's a detailed look at Nebraska.

In case you missed the news on Sunday night, Auburn has named Nick Marshall as its starting quarterback.
 
Alabama cornerback Geno Smith was arrested for a DUI on Sunday morning.

Lost Lettermen ranks the best 25 names in college football.

Saturday Down South ranks the best position groups in the SEC.

Mr. SEC ranks the programs in the SEC.

Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be back for the season opener against Boise State.

Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Rod Hall are suspended for the season opener.

Two writers make the case for Syracuse's starting quarterback. Should it be Terrel Hunt or Drew Allen?

New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen learned a valuable lesson in 2010.

TCU receiver Brandon Carter had hand surgery last week.

Auburn safety Demetruce McNeal is no longer on the team.

Texas Tech's starting quarterback for its opener against SMU remains a mystery. 

There's a new bowl game slated to start in 2014 in Montgomery, Ala.

Matt Brown of Sports on Earth previews the Pac-12 and the Mountain West.

A former TCU offensive lineman has resurfaced at BYU.

California has lost one linebacker to a transfer and one to a season-ending injury.

Notre Dame is dealing with a few injuries on defense.

Oregon State picked up a transfer from Miami. 

Utah's new football facility is open in time for the 2013 season. Check out these photos from the impressive new building.

Teaser:
College Football's Link Roundup: August 19
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 15:20
Path: /college-football/purdue-names-rob-henry-its-starting-qb
Body:

Rob Henry went into Purdue’s fall practice with a slight edge to start the season opener, and the senior was able to maintain his edge over freshmen Austin Appleby and Danny Etling.

On Sunday night, first-year Purdue coach Darrell Hazell named Henry as the Boilermakers’ starting quarterback for the season opener against Cincinnati.

Henry has experienced an interesting career during his time in West Lafayette. After a redshirt year in 2009, Henry made seven starts in 2010 and led Purdue in passing and rushing yards. However, he missed 2011 with a knee injury and was a backup to Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve last year.

Now that he is two years removed from an ACL tear, Henry should have more mobility and his game experience will help Purdue navigate a tough schedule.

Appleby and Etling are talented, and both passers could play this year, especially as Hazell and his coaching staff looks for one player to take a step forward and gain an early edge in the starting spot for 2013.

Teaser:
Purdue Names Rob Henry its Starting QB
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 12:15
Path: /college-football/gary-andersen-welcomed-wisconsin-corn-maze
Body:

New Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen was considered by most to be a home-run hire for the Badgers.

And the fans in Madison are certainly excited for the Andersen era to begin.

Need proof? Check out this corn maze carved by Don Schuster of Schuster’s Playtime Farm.

According to Madison.com, it took about seven to eight hours to complete the design.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/jared-goff-wins-california-starting-qb-job
Body:

California coach Sonny Dykes has picked his starting quarterback for the season opener and it wasn’t the passer most expected. The Golden Bears entered fall practice with three candidates vying for the top spot, with redshirt freshman Zach Kline expected by most to win the job.

However, on Friday, Dykes named true freshman Jared Goff as California’s starting quarterback. Goff was rated as the No. 25 quarterback in the 2013 signing class by Athlon Sports. The true freshman has a quick release, which should be a good fit in the Bear Raid spread attack.

Kline is expected to slide into the No. 2 spot, and the redshirt freshman is a good fallback option in case Goff struggles.

California has a difficult early schedule, which features games against Northwestern, Ohio State and Oregon in three out of the first four games.

There’s no question 2013 is a rebuilding year for California, so Goff should have a long leash from the coaching staff. But once Goff gets some experience under his belt, the Golden Bears should have a solid offense. 

Teaser:
Jared Goff Wins California Starting QB Job
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 08:45
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Syracuse Orange, News
Path: /college-football/syracuse-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

After a dreadful four-year stretch under Greg Robinson from 2005-08, Syracuse rebounded back to respectability under Doug Marrone. Under Marrone, the Orange earned two bowl appearances and had two eight-win seasons.

Marrone left for the NFL in January, and Syracuse chose to stay in house for his replacement. Scott Shafer, who served as the program’s defensive coordinator under Marrone, was promoted to head coach. Shafer has never been a head coach but has experience as a coordinator from stops at Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Stanford and Michigan.

In addition to adjusting to a new coaching staff, the Orange will have a new starting quarterback and a new conference. The ACC is a tougher overall conference than the Big East/American, and Syracuse has two difficult non-conference games against Penn State and Northwestern. 

What will Syracuse's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Syracuse's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
Mark
Ross
John
Cassillo
David
Fox
Matt
McClusky
8/31 Penn State (East Rutherford)
9/7 at Northwestern
9/14 Wagner
9/21 Tulane
10/5 Clemson
10/12 at NC State
10/19 at Georgia Tech
11/2 Wake Forest
11/9 at Maryland
11/16 at Florida State
11/23 Pittsburgh
11/30 Boston College
Final Projection4-84-84-87-55-76-6

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Syracuse finished 2012 with a 6-1 record over its final seven games, which included a victory over Sugar Bowl champion Louisville and a 38-14 blowout win over West Virginia in the Pinstripe Bowl. But the offseason brought numerous changes to the Orange. Coach Doug Marrone left for the NFL, quarterback Ryan Nassib expired his eligibility, and standout left tackle Justin Pugh left early for the draft. New coach Scott Shafer is familiar with the roster after serving as the defensive coordinator for Marrone since 2009. Although Shafer’s familiarity with help Syracuse transition to a tougher conference, the Orange has holes to fill on the defensive line, and there’s a big question mark at quarterback. After Clemson and Florida State, the ACC Atlantic is up for grabs. If Drew Allen or Terrel Hunt settles into the starting job under center, Syracuse will easily outperform my 4-8 prediction. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Orange pull an upset or two, but the transition to a new conference, coaching staff and quarterback is a lot to overcome in one offseason.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
You really want to root for new coach Scott Shafer and Syracuse entering a new league with a new quarterback. But the schedule makers didn't do the Orange any favors. Road games with NC State, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Florida State all come within a five-game window as the calendar flips to November giving this team few chances at upsets. Non-conference games with Big Ten contenders Penn State and Northwestern offer as brutal a start to the season as any "BCS" conference team in the nation. Welcome to a bigger, faster, better league, Cuse.

Mark Ross
Scott Shafer has plenty of familiarity with this team, as he served as Syracuse's defensive coordinator last season. That's why he knows better than anyone else the growing pains his offense could go through this fall. Running back Jerome Smith will certainly do his share, but with quarterback Ryan Nassib and the team's top two wide receivers gone, there's a lot of uncertainty on that side of the ball. The defense will be asked to carry the load early and often, and this unit will be tested right out of the gates with non-conference matchups against Penn State and Northwestern. There's also the transition from the Big East to the ACC, which is why I suspect the Orange will take their fair share of lumps early on, but will deliver a few of their own before the season's over.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Syracuse really lost a lot since last season. Rebuilding under a first-time coach without a veteran starting quarterback and franchise left tackle is always tough. Ryan Nassib and Justin Pugh started for both of Doug Marrone’s bowl teams at Syracuse. There may be enough pieces left — and added in the case of Oklahoma QB Drew Allen — for bowl contention, but another eight-win season is going to be tough to replicate. Syracuse must win its winnable games and then hope for feasible upsets against Penn State, Northwestern, NC State or Georgia Tech. Then again, Syracuse is good for one out-of-nowhere upset each year (ask Louisville and West Virginia). It wouldn’t shock me to see Syracuse go 7-5 and beat Clemson or Florida State.

John Cassillo, (@JohnCassillo), Atlantic Coast Convos
It's tough to really gauge Syracuse when we don't know who will be playing quarterback yet, nor do we really know what George McDonald's offense will look like. But I'm willing to bet they can pull out enough wins against the non-Clemson/Florida State Atlantic Division teams to get back to the postseason. The running game, led by Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley, should be among the best in the conference -- so long as the offensive line is up to the task, that is. If they can be as effective as they were over the second half of last season, and get slightly-above-average production from the QB spot, this is still a very competitive squad. Defensively, the linebacker corps. should guide the ship, though I have a feeling people are also severely underselling the experienced secondary, too.

Matt McClusky, (@MatthewMcClusky), NunesMagician.com
There is parity in college football! OK, so Alabama is once again the heavy favorite, looking for its third straight BCS championship. But for much of the rest of the college football world, the line between four wins and eight wins is as fine as ever. And Syracuse is a perfect example. Beat Penn State in game one and the Orange could finish the season with seven or eight wins. Lose game one and Syracuse could just as easily end up staying home come bowl season. But first, a lot of questions need some answering. The variables: A new conference (Atlantic Coast Conference) a new coach (Scott Shafer), a new defensive coordinator (Chuck Bullough) and offensive coordinator (George McDonald), and several new faces at key positions, including quarterback. So given that type of change, it would be perfectly understandable should Syracuse flop this season. But the schedule isn't too daunting (home dates with Wagner, Tulane, Wake Forest, Pitt, and Boston College are all more than winnable), and don't forget Shafer has been with the program since '09, meaning he should be more than capable of taking over the program on the fly. Bullough's defense is fairly loaded and Terrel Hunt (a sophomore who's raised some eyebrows in fall camp) or Drew Allen (an Oklahoma transfer) may not need to do much at quarterback given the incredible depth Syracuse has at running back (Jerome Smith is a rising star - and a real darkhorse in the Heisman race). Extreme transition or not, Syracuse is talented enough that it can sneak by Penn State in New Jersey and then edge the Panthers and Eagles to close the season with enough wins to find itself in its third bowl game in four years.

Related College Football Content

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College Football's Top 25 Running Back Corps for 2013
Virginia Tech Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Florida State Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013

ACC Predictions for 2013
ACC All-Conference Team for 2013

Teaser:
Syracuse Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-offensive-lines-2013
Body:

The unsung heroes of every college football team are the men in the trenches. Offensive lines are often overlooked when it comes to preseason predictions, but this position is arguably the most important unit on the team.

Stanford has churned out some of the nation’s best offensive lines in recent years, and the Cardinal take the top spot in Athlon’s rankings for 2013. Guard David Yankey is a standout performer, and Stanford will get a boost from the emergence of tackle Andrus Peat. Tennessee ranks No. 2, but Ohio State – with four starters back from last year – aren’t far behind. Despite losing left tackle Luke Joeckel and center Patrick Lewis, Texas A&M remains a top-10 line for 2013.

How did we come up with these rankings? A couple of factors were considered. Depth, overall talent, production, level of competition and projected output in 2013 all factored into the rankings for the backfield. While some teams may have experienced a down year last season, having a different quarterback or a change of scheme can make a huge difference.

They’re the teams within the team — those cohesive little units bound together by their shared responsibilities within the larger team context. 

Whether it’s the offensive linemen firing off time after time into those familiar blocking sleds, or the defensive linemen drilling repeatedly on how to shed blockers, or the defensive backs breaking on ball after ball — these teams in miniature hone their tasks on the practice field until those tasks become second nature. 
 
Whether or not these units function as one can make the difference between winning and losing, and a single unit can carry a team to New Year’s Day — or beyond.
 
It’s entirely fitting, then, for us to honor the best of the best at each position with our 13th annual Athlon Awards. 

Ranking the Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
 

1. Stanford
With four starters returning and two touted recruits stepping into key roles, the Cardinal’s physical, run-first approach isn’t going anywhere. Stanford’s line allowed only 1.4 sacks per game last year and paved the way for rushers to average 4.4 yards per carry. David Yankey could be the premier guard in college football, while Cameron Fleming and Kevin Danser should be all-conference selections. Khalil Wilkes is expected to slide to center to replace Sam Schwartzstein. Massive sophomore Andrus Peat is set to start at left tackle.

2. Tennessee 
The Volunteers’ offensive line has morphed from a weakness into one of the nation’s best in just a few seasons. Antonio Richardson — a likely first-round draft pick in 2014 — and Ja’Wuan James could be the best set of tackles in the nation. Guard Zach Fulton is back after 11 starts in 2012, and James Stone should be one of the top centers in the SEC this year. Tennessee allowed just eight sacks in 2012. 

3. Ohio State 
The Buckeyes regarded their offensive line as a weak link going into 2012, but this unit finished the year as the best in the Big Ten. Four starters are back, including All-Big Ten selections Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort. Center Corey Linsley is an Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-Big Ten pick, and guard Marcus Hall returns after starting all 12 games last year. Taylor Decker is expected to replace Reid Fragel at right tackle.

4. Oklahoma 
Despite losing left tackle Lane Johnson, the Sooners are in great shape in the trenches. Center Gabe Ikard is an Athlon Sports preseason first-team All-American, and tackle Daryl Williams and guard Adam Shead could be among the best in the Big 12 at their positions. Bronson Irwin, with 13 starts in 2012, returns at right guard, and Tyrus Thompson (five starts in 2012) steps into the lineup at right tackle. Oklahoma allowed just six sacks in Big 12 games last season.

5. Kansas State 
The Wildcats return all five starters from a unit that allowed only 14 sacks last year. B.J. Finney is one of the top returning centers in the nation, and tackle Cornelius Lucas is a preseason first-team All-Big 12 selection. Boston Stiverson and Keenan Taylor man the guard positions, while Cody Whitehair slides from left guard to right tackle.

6. Texas A&M
The Aggies’ offensive line was a big reason for the success of the offense last year. The final totals indicated this unit gave up 23 sacks but cleared the way for Texas A&M to average 5.9 yards per carry. And a mobile quarterback like Johnny Manziel can often inflate the sack totals of an offensive line, as it’s not easy for the front five to hold their blocks while the quarterback scrambles. Left tackle Luke Joeckel left for the NFL, but the Aggies plan to move Associated Press 2012 third-team All-American Jake Matthews from right tackle to the left side. And Cedric Ogbuehi will slide from guard to right tackle to replace Matthews. The guard spots will be manned by Jarvis Harrison and Germain Ifedi, while Mike Matthews – brother of left tackle Jake Matthews – will slide into the center spot. Joeckel will be missed, but Texas A&M has plenty of talent returning to keep this offensive line among the best in the nation.

7. Miami
Five starters are back from a line that allowed just 1.5 sacks a game and led the way for rushers to average 4.7 yards per carry in 2012. Guard Brandon Linder is the unit’s top performer, earning first-team All-ACC honors by Athlon Sports for 2013. Center Shane McDermott started all 12 games last season and should also be one of the best at his position in the ACC this year. Senior Seantrel Henderson finally appears ready to capitalize off his recruiting hype, and the former top recruit has the potential to dominate the right side of the line. The other two spots are up for grabs, with left tackle likely to go to Ereck Flowers or Malcolm Bunche, and Jon Feliciano still the favorite at left guard. Injuries took a toll on the depth of this line in fall practice, but Miami is clearly deeper and more talented in the trenches than it has been in recent years.

8. Alabama
Much like Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide have a few holes to plug up front before 2013. Center Barrett Jones – arguably one of the best offensive linemen of the BCS era – and 2012 first-team All-American Chance Warmack have expired their eligibility. Right tackle D.J. Fluker earned second-team All-American honors last season, and he decided to leave early for the NFL. Despite the departure of three key performers from last year, the cupboard is far from bare. Left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is primed to emerge as one of the top linemen in the nation, with senior Anthony Steen anchoring the right side at guard. The other three spots are up for grabs, with juniors Arie Kouandjio (left guard) and Austin Shepherd (right tackle) owning a slight edge for snaps going into the fall. Sophomore Ryan Kelly is expected to replace Jones at center. This unit will be under the direction of a new position coach in former FIU head coach Mario Cristobal.

9. Florida State
As long as the starting five stays healthy, Florida State should be in good shape in the trenches. The Seminoles are thin on depth on the offensive line, but there’s plenty to like about the starting unit. Left tackle Cameron Erving shined in his first season after switching from defensive tackle. Junior Bobby Hart started nine games as a true freshman in 2011 but played as a reserve in 2012. He is expected to start at right tackle this year. Florida State boats one of the nation’s top guard duos in Josue Matias and Tre’ Jackson, while center Bryan Stork enters his senior year with 27 starts. Even with the depth concerns, the Seminoles have a top-10 offensive line.

10. Georgia
With only three returning starters on defense, the Bulldogs will need their offense to carry the team through a difficult September schedule. With quarterback Aaron Murray, running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, along with receiver Malcolm Mitchell returning, the firepower is certainly there to win the SEC in 2013. However, Georgia’s offense will only go as far as its line will allow. The good news? All five starters are back, including promising sophomore left tackle John Theus. The rest of the starting five could feature three seniors with Dallas Lee, Chris Burnette and Kenarious Gates, with David Andrews anchoring the interior at center. This unit gave up 27 sacks last year – including a miserable performance in a 35-7 loss against South Carolina. Considering the talent, depth and experience returning to Athens, it would be a big surprise if the Bulldogs fail to find improvement on the offensive line in 2013.

11. Texas
Returning Starters: 5
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 16
Rushing Offense: 53rd nationally, 4.5 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Big 12 Performers: OG Trey Hopkins (1st), OG Mason Walters (2nd)

12. Cincinnati
Returning Starters: 5
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 17
Rushing Offense: 30th nationally, 5.3 ypc
Athlon 2013 American Athletic All-Conference Performers: OG Austen Bujnoch (1st), OT Eric Lefeld (1st), C Dan Sprague (3rd), OG Sam Longo (3rd)

13. Oregon
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 19
Rushing Offense: 3rd nationally, 6.0 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Pac-12 Performers: OT Jake Fisher (1st), OT Tyler Johnstone (1st), C Hroniss Grasu

14. Notre Dame
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 18
Rushing Offense: 38th nationally, 4.9 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-American Performers: OT Zack Martin (3rd)

15. Nebraska
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 35
Rushing Offense: 8th nationally, 5.4 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: OG Spencer Long (1st), OT Jeremiah Sirles (2nd)

16. LSU
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 32
Rushing Offense: 50th nationally, 4.3 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: OT La’El Collins (4th)

17. USC
Returning Starters: 5
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 17
Rushing Offense: 71st nationally, 5.0 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Pac-12 Performers: OG Max Tuerk (2nd)

18. Michigan State
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 22
Rushing Offense: 75th nationally, 4.0 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: OT Fou Fonoti (2nd), C Travis Jackson (3rd), OG Dan France (3rd)

19. Florida
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 39
Rushing Offense: 39th nationally, 4.5 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-SEC Performers: OG Jon Halapio (3rd), C Jonotthan Harrison (4th)

20. Georgia Tech
Returning Starters: 5
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 14
Rushing Offense: 4th nationally, 5.4 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: OG Shaquille Mason (2nd)

21. Clemson
Returning Starters: 4
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 31
Rushing Offense: 36th nationally, 4.2 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-ACC Performers: OT Brandon Thomas (1st)

22. Oregon State
Returning Starters: 4
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 33
Rushing Offense: 100th nationally, 3.7 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Pac-12 Performers: C Isaac Seumalo (2nd), OT Michael Philipp (2nd), OG Grant Enger (3rd)

23. Penn State
Returning Starters: 3
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 21
Rushing Offense: 83rd nationally, 3.6 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Big Ten Performers: OG John Urschel (2nd), OT Donovan Smith (3rd)

24. Utah State
Returning Starters: 5
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 18
Rushing Offense: 26th nationally, 5.6 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Mountain West Performers: C Tyler Larsen (1st), OT Eric Schultz (2nd), OG Jamie Markosian (3rd)

25. Boise State
Returning Starters: 2
Sacks Allowed in 2012: 10
Rushing Offense: 55th nationally, 4.6 ypc
Athlon 2013 All-Mountain West Performers: OT Charles Leno (1st), C Matt Paradis (2nd)

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Teaser:
College Football's Top 25 Offensive Lines for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Vanderbilt enters 2013 riding a wave of momentum. The Commodores are coming off back-to-back bowl appearances and finished 2012 on a seven-game winning streak.

Coach James Franklin has Vanderbilt positioned to take another step forward this season, as the Commodores have garnered some preseason top-25 consideration. The return of 13 starters should keep Vanderbilt in the mix for eight or nine wins, while creating an opportunity for an upset or two against one of the top teams in the SEC East.

The top three teams in the SEC East for 2013 seem clear. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are considered a step above the next tier, which features Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Missouri.

On paper, the Commodores are clearly ahead of the Volunteers and Tigers this year, but there are question marks surrounding this team. Can quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels successfully replace Jordan Rodgers at quarterback? Can Vanderbilt find a No. 2 receiver to team with Jordan Matthews at receiver? Will the defense maintain its place among the best in the SEC with three new starters on the line?

What will Vanderbilt's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Vanderbilt's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
Josh
Ward
SEC
Logo
8/29 Ole Miss
9/7 Austin Peay
9/14 at South Carolina
9/21 at UMass
9/28 UAB
10/5 Missouri
10/19 Georgia
10/26 at Texas A&M
11/9 at Florida
11/16 Kentucky
11/23 at Tennessee
11/30 Wake Forest
Final Projection8-48-48-48-46-67-5

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Coach James Franklin has raised the bar at Vanderbilt. The Commodores have made back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history, recruiting is on the upswing, and the facilities are getting an upgrade. Needless to say, momentum is on the side of Vanderbilt and Franklin. Even though the Commodores will have a new quarterback and running back Zac Stacy is gone to the NFL, this team will have a chance to win nine games. New quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels could be an upgrade in terms of talent over Jordan Rodgers, and receiver Jordan Matthews is one of the nation’s best. The offensive line has made significant progress over the last few years, and the secondary ranks near the top of the SEC. Catching Texas A&M and Ole Miss in crossover play won’t be easy, but Vanderbilt should go 4-0 in non-conference play and will be favored to beat Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. The opener against Ole Miss is a huge barometer test for both teams and should give us a good idea of how the Commodores stack up for 2013.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
James Franklin has to overcome some horrific off-season summer news off-the-field and the highest expectations in school history on it. This team has yet to pull any big upsets under Franklin as it has lost to nearly every team it has played with a winning record, so scoring some potential upsets — like, say, Georgia at home — will be critical moving forward for Vandy. Key swing games in Knoxville and against Ole Miss to start will likely determine if the Dores can land in the postseason for an unprecedented third straight year.

Mark Ross
James Franklin has already accomplished so much in his first two seasons at Vanderbilt that should the Commodores not earn a third straight bowl invite it would be considered a surprise. In fact, it's safe to say that the bar has been raised beyond just getting to six wins and becoming bowl-eligible, as Franklin has his sights set much higher. While a trip to the SEC title game this fall is probably not in the cards, this team has enough talent and experience that it should be able to match last season's win total.

The schedule probably caps the regular-season win tally at eight, but if Austyn Carta-Samuels emerges at quarterback and the defense continues to improve, this Vanderbilt team could potentially pull off an upset on the road. And at this point, a win in Columbia, S.C., or College Station, Texas, or even The Swamp down in Gainesville, Fla., probably wouldn't shock anyone. Welcome to the current state of Vanderbilt football.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
If Vanderbilt gets to another bowl game, James Franklin remains a miracle worker, whether it’s a six-win season or nine-win season. I’ve picked eight wins during the regular season, and I’d be tempted to drop it after the sexual assault scandal has cost the ‘Dores a player who is going to make a difference (No. 2 wide receiver Chris Boyd). This is a team with a new (to them) starting quarterback and no receiver other than Jordan Matthews who caught more than 12 passes last season. The non-conference schedule is manageable, but eight wins may be a ceiling.

Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
Vanderbilt has reached the postseason the last two years, which has led to higher expectations in Nashville. Can the Commodores live up to them? The opener against Ole Miss will give Vanderbilt a chance to show it’s for real. Even if the Commodores lose to Ole Miss, the season still has plenty of promise. Remember, Vanderbilt began last season with an 0-2 record before it finished the year with nine wins. There are questions to be answered. Is Austyn Carta-Samuels ready to be the No. 1 quarterback? Will wide receiver Chris Boyd return to the team? He’s an important part of Vanderbilt’s offense. The Commodores won’t sneak up on anyone this year as they try to reach their third consecutive bowl game under head coach James Franklin.

SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)

This isn't your father's SEC punching bag Vanderbilt, not while James Franklin is in town.  They are coming off back to back bowl seasons for the first time in their schools history, not to mention a 41-18 beat down of instate rival Tennessee last season.  They have by far the easiest non-conference schedule in the SEC, it's downright laughable.  Their bye week placement is setting up quite nice for a shot at knocking off a couple of SEC East contenders, week 7 before a home game vs Georgia and week 10 before a trip to Gainesville, FL.  Don't fall asleep in their defense either, last year they ranked 5th in the SEC only allowing 333.9 yards per game.  The two biggest questions, how does the recent off field issues and suspensions effect the team as a whole, and their QB situation.  Name to remember: Austyn Carta-Samuels, QB  
 

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Teaser:
Vanderbilt Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/usc-receiver-makes-crazy-catch-scrimmage
Body:

USC receiver Aaron Minor is trying to earn a spot on the team as a walk-on. And the true freshman certainly opened some eyes with a crazy catch in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Check out this crazy catch from USC’s scrimmage, with Minor catching a pass off the back of a defensive back:
 

Teaser:
USC Receiver Makes Crazy Catch in Scrimmage
Post date: Monday, August 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/comic-strip-kicks-kent-states-dri-archers-heisman-campaign
Body:

Kent State’s Dri Archer is one of college football’s top all-purpose players. In 14 games last season, he rushed for 1,429 yards and 16 scores, while catching 39 passes for 561 yards and four touchdowns. Archer also took three kickoff returns for scores.

Archer is a longshot to win the Heisman, but Kent State has kicked off a campaign to help promote its senior running back in 2013.

This comic strip is penned by Kent State alumnus Chuck Ayers and is one of the most unique Heisman campaigns from recent years. 

You can follow Dri Archer's Heisman campaign and future comic strips on twitter - @Dri4Heisman

 

Teaser:
Comic Strip Kicks off Kent State's Dri Archer's Heisman Campaign
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/james-franklin-wins-missouri-qb-battle
Body:

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel decided to end the quarterback speculation on Thursday night, picking James Franklin as the Tigers’ No. 1 passer for the season opener against Murray State.

Franklin was one of the Big 12’s top quarterbacks in 2011 but struggled in his SEC debut. The Texas native was dealing with a shoulder injury last season and was less than full strength for 2012.

Assuming Franklin is 100 percent, he should rebound with a big season in 2013.

Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk pushed Franklin for time this offseason, and the coaching staff plans on getting him into games this season to gain experience for 2014.

It wasn’t much of a surprise, but Missouri made the right call in naming Franklin the starter for 2013.<

Teaser:
James Franklin Wins Missouri QB Battle
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/mississippi-state-football-game-game-predictions-2013
Body:

Mississippi State started 2012 with seven consecutive victories, but the Bulldogs struggled in the second half of the season with a 1-5 mark over their final six contests.

With 11 starters back, Mississippi State should be back in the mix for a winning season in 2013. But the SEC isn’t going to get any easier. Auburn and Arkansas should show improvement under their new coaching staffs, and the addition of Texas A&M will only add another obstacle in the West Division for the Bulldogs.

Coach Dan Mullen has done a good job of elevating Mississippi State into a being a consistent bowl team, but the fanbase wants to compete for SEC West titles.

With a non-conference date against Oklahoma State and a road test at South Carolina in crossover play, Mississippi State will have a tough time replicating last year’s eight wins.

What will Mississippi State's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates: 

Mississippi State's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions

GameSteven
Lassan
Braden
Gall
Mark
Ross
David
Fox
SEC
Logo
8/31 Oklahoma State (Houston)
9/7 Alcorn State
9/14 at Auburn
9/21 Troy
10/5 LSU
10/12 Bowling Green
10/24 Kentucky
11/2 at South Carolina
11/9 at Texas A&M
11/16 Alabama
11/23 Arkansas (Little Rock)
11/28 Ole Miss
Final Projection6-67-56-66-65-7

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Dan Mullen’s overall record at Mississippi State is just 29-22, but the Bulldogs have made considerable progress under his watch. Mississippi State has three consecutive winning seasons for only the second time since 1960, and if the Bulldogs make a bowl, it will be first time in school history the program has made four straight postseason appearances. So while the wins haven’t been as plentiful has some may have wanted, Mississippi State is on the right track and has closed the gap with the rest of the SEC. Surpassing last year’s eight wins will be difficult, especially since the schedule is a little tougher than it was last year, and the Bulldogs must replace standout cornerback Johnthan Banks. Provided a few receivers emerge, the offense should average around 30 points a game. And promoting Geoff Collins to be the defense’s playcaller should pay dividends for Mullen. Mississippi State’s depth and talent has improved in recent years, but the SEC West isn’t getting easier. Auburn and Arkansas will be better than they were last season, and Ole Miss and Texas A&M aren’t expected to take a step back. Expect another bowl game and six or seven win season in Starkville this year.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Dan Mullen must replace some big-time names in his secondary, but I think this team is going to be sneaky good up front on that side of the ball. Offensively, the Bulldogs are one of only three SEC teams returning a 2,800-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher to the same backfield in Tyler Russell and LaDarius Perkins. If Russell can take the next step in his development, this team could be dangerous. More likely, however, is State fails to compete with the big boys and beats the teams it is supposed to. Another bowl game and another five losses for Mullen and Company in Starkville.

Mark Ross
Dan Mullen has averaged just over seven wins in his four seasons at Mississippi State and the Bulldogs have gone to three straight bowl games. Mullen has raised the bar in Starkville, but the schedule-makers did him no favors as he looks to keep the momentum going this fall. It's not that Mississippi State is or will be a bad team, it's just that a schedule that opens with Oklahoma State and also includes Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M, as well as the season-ending Egg Bowl with OIe Miss will be tough sledding.

The offense needs a big senior season from quarterback Tyler Russell and some unproven wide receivers to step up, while the front seven of the defense will need to lead the way to allow an inexperienced secondary the time to develop. Even if everything goes right for Mullen and his team, they still could finish no better than .500 during the regular season. The fact that such a showing would be considered a disappointment shows you how far Mullen has already brought this program. Remember this Bulldogs fans, especially when the calendar turns to November.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Give credit to Dan Mullen: His teams rarely lose games they’re supposed to win. They’ve just never won games they’re supposed to lose. Mississippi State is probably better than the 6-6 team I’ve picked here. With a veteran quarterback and a solid defensive line, the Bulldogs should be able to compete in the SEC. But the Bulldogs are going to have to prove they can beat the top teams in the league (or the top teams in the Big 12, for that matter). Getting an untested LSU team at home early in the season will be a good opportunity for Mississippi State to make a statement, plus an Egg Bowl that finally has a bit of appeal outside of the state.

SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
Last year Tyler Russell competed 58.6% of his passes for 2,897 yards 24 TDs / 10 INTs.  Those aren't bad numbers by any stretch, but playing this schedule, they won’t cut it this season.  State has guys who are SEC household names:  Gabe Jackson, Benardrick McKinney,  LaDarius Perkins, that’s NFL talent.  But look at this November slate: at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama, at Arkansas, Ole Miss.  Brutal... Name to remember: Chris Jones.

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Getting to Know the SEC's New Coaches for 2013
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Teaser:
Mississippi State Football: Game-by-Game Predictions for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-12s-top-50-players-2013
Body:

The Big 12 is a league in transition in 2013. With the departure of some of the conference’s top quarterbacks, the title picture is wide open, and a case could be made for six or seven teams to be picked in the top three of the final standings.

With most teams losing some of their top talent, ranking the top 50 players is a difficult task. TCU’s Casey Pachall ranks as the No. 1 quarterback, but the senior checks in at No. 21 on the top 50 players for 2013. After sitting out most of last season due to an off-the-field incident, Pachall has a lot to prove, especially since he has not played a full year in the Big 12.

Other players such as Texas’ Jordan Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat are difficult to rank after injuries limited both in 2012. Oklahoma State’s Jeremy Smith is due for a big season as the Cowboys’ No. 1 running back, but he has never carried a full season workload. Also, quarterbacks like Blake Bell and Bryce Petty have a lot of promise, but neither passer has started a game. Although we are projecting both players to have a good season, it’s hard to rank either above the top 40 players in the conference.

Compiling the top 50 players of any conference is never an easy task. However, Athlon established a criteria to help compile the rankings. 

Here are six factors that contributed to the criteria for the rankings:
1. Projection on 2013 Performance 
2. Importance to team
3. Who are the best overall players in terms of talent?
4. Positional importance
5. NFL Draft stock
6. Career performance 
 

Athlon's Top 50 Big 12 Players for 2013

RankPlayerPositionTeam
1Cyril RichardsonOGBaylor
2Devonte FieldsDETCU
3Lache SeastrunkRBBaylor
4Jackson JeffcoatDETexas
5Jason VerrettCBTCU
6Aaron ColvinCBOklahoma
7Trey MillardFBOklahoma
8Calvin BarnettDTOklahoma State
9Kerry HyderDTTexas Tech
10Gabe IkardOLOklahoma
11Cornelius LucasOTKansas State
12BJ FinneyCKansas State
13Eric WardWRTexas Tech
14Ty ZimmermanSKansas State
15Le'Raven ClarkOTTexas Tech
16Bryce HagerLBBaylor
17Shaun LewisLBOklahoma State
18Quandre DiggsCBTexas
19Josh StewartWROklahoma State
20Casey PachallQBTCU
21Jordan HicksLBTexas
22James SimsRBKansas
23Tevin ReeseWRBaylor
24Jalen SaundersWROklahoma
25Carrington ByndomCBTexas
26Dartwan BushDETexas Tech
27Sam CarterSTCU
28Trey HopkinsOGTexas
29Mike DavisWRTexas
30Tyler LockettWRKansas State
31Johnathan GrayRBTexas
32Charles SimsRBWest Virginia
33Clint ChelfQBOklahoma State
34Damien WilliamsRBOklahoma
35Chucky HunterDTTCU
36Ben HeeneyLBKansas
37Jace AmaroTETexas Tech
38Ahmad DixonSBaylor
39Jeremy SmithRBOklahoma State
40Spencer DrangoOTBaylor
41Mason WaltersOGTexas
42Karl JosephSWest Virginia
43Parker GrahamOGOklahoma State
44Daryl WilliamsOTOklahoma
45Cody WhitehairOTKansas State
46Justin GilbertCBOklahoma State
47Jeremiah GeorgeLBIowa State
48Jaxon ShipleyWRTexas
49Blake BellQBOklahoma
50Bryce PettyQBBaylor


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Teaser:
Ranking the Big 12's Top 50 Players for 2013
Post date: Friday, August 16, 2013 - 07:15

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