Goblins, zombies, witches and skeletons. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Pinhead. Pick any combination of those and you have a recipe for nightmares and sleepless nights.
While those may bother some college football players and coaches, what about the actual on-field frights? Here’s a look at 15 players that have scared players and coaching staffs this season.
15 Scariest Players in College Football
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Vitals: 6-foot-6, 256 pounds
2012 stats: 40 tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 4 QBH
No player defines the physical freak category more than Clowney. The South Carolina defensive end has all of the physical attributes to start right now in the NFL, but he will have to make do with terrorizing SEC quarterbacks instead. At 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds, Clowney has the size to be one of the nation’s elite run stuffers, while possessing the necessary speed to blow offensive tackles right off the line of scrimmage. The sophomore is a headache for offensive coordinators to gameplan around and gives opposing quarterbacks’ nightmares throughout the season. Another scary thought for quarterbacks? Clowney is just a sophomore and will be back for South Carolina in 2013.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 5 INT
There’s simply no defender playing at a higher level in college football this season. Te’o leads the Fighting Irish with 80 tackles and five interceptions and is a lock to earn first-team All-American honors at the end of the year. The senior is one of Notre Dame’s leaders and while he might be soft spoken, don’t let that fool you on the field. Te’o lets his play on the field do all of the talking and he is a player you have to account for at all times.
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Vitals: 6-foot-5, 226 pounds
2012 stats: 1,630 pass yards, 12 TDs, 634 rush yards, 16 TDs
If Klein was planning on getting a Halloween costume, his decision was made easier when he gained the nickname “Optimus Klein” earlier this year. The senior is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy after eight weeks and is the heart and soul of Kansas State’s offense. He has 28 total touchdowns and improved passing skills have made him nearly impossible to stop. Do you load up and stop the run and allow Klein and receivers to have 1-on-1 matchups on the outside? Or do you take away the pass and allow Klein to grind away yards on the ground? Good luck defensive coordinators. Best wishes trying to get to sleep with visions of No. 7 haunting your dreams.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 29 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 FF
There are few 6-foot-4, 320-pound linemen who can move like Lotulelei. The Utah native keeps plenty of Pac-12 offensive linemen up at night, as they try to keep Lotulelei from destroying their quarterback. The senior moves well for someone for his size and his quick feet allow him to blow linemen right off the ball – just ask USC.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 280 pounds
2012 stats: 18 tackles, 6 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 3 blocked kicks
Hailing from Estonia, Hunt is one of college football’s hidden gems. The senior ranked as the No. 1 athletic freak by CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman and has been a monster on defense and special teams. Hunt won gold medals in the shot put and discus throw at the 2006 World Junior Championships. Additionally, he blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three as a sophomore and four as a junior. Whether he’s on special teams on lining up across offensive linemen, Hunt is a true terror on the field and a nightmare to match up against.
Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 255 pounds
2012 stats: 27 tackles, 12.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 5 QBH
The “Germanator” has lived in opposing backfields all year and has left ACC quarterbacks running for their lives this season. Werner has been the ACC’s top defensive player so far, recording 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks. Whether it’s an offensive lineman or a quarterback, there’s no question Werner is not someone you want to see coming in your direction after the ball is snapped. And anytime a player has a nickname like the “Germanator,” you know he has to be a bad, bad man.
Jesse Williams, DL, Alabama
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2012 stats: 14 tackles, 2 PBU
Just take a look at Williams – doesn’t he look like someone who is ready to inflict pain on opposing offensive linemen? The native Australian started his career at Arizona Western College and immediately made an impact in his first season in Tuscaloosa in 2011. Williams isn’t asked to generate much in the way of stats but the 6-foot-4 lineman is a beast for any opposing offensive lineman to handle, especially after recording a 600-pound bench press in the offseason.
T.J. McDonald, S, USC
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 66 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PD
Catching a pass over the middle is not necessarily high on a receiver's wish list, especially with a safety ready to deliver a blow lurking just a few yards behind. McDonald is the eptiome of this worst-case scenario for opposing wideouts, as he is one of college football’s biggest hitters and is a well-built safety at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. With McDonald ready to lower the boom after a catch, it’s enough to make any receiver think twice about catching a slant or curl route over the middle.
John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Vitals: 6-foot-2, 263 pounds
2012 stats: 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4 sacks
At 6-foot-2 and 263 pounds, Simon isn’t necessarily the biggest defensive end in college football. However, don’t let that size fool you. Simon has been a terror off the edge throughout his career and has 16 sacks in four seasons. He is also one of college football’s biggest workout warriors and is relentless when it comes to spending time in the weight room.
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds
2012 stats: 47 rec., 657 yds., 4 TDs
A torn ACL ended Hunter’s 2011 season after three games, but the Virginia native has shown no ill effects from the injury and remains one of the best receivers in the SEC. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Hunter has the size to be an elite red zone threat, while possessing the speed to outrun opposing defensive backs. The junior has 4.4 speed and posted a mark of 26 feet, 1.5 inches in the long jump during his freshman season.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 171 pounds
2012 stats: 74 rec., 788 yards, 9 TDs; 90 rush yards, 1 kickoff return for a TD
Austin is one player you do not want to encounter in the open field. The Baltimore native has 248 career receptions for 2,912 yards and 26 scores, while also adding 478 rushing yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his production, Austin’s speed and quick-change ability is a defensive back’s worst nightmare, especially if they don’t want to be embarrassed on highlight reels for the entire college season.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Vitals: 6-foot-0, 197 pounds
2012 stats: 1,319 passing yards, 9 TDs, 946 rush yards, 6 TDs
Just like Tavon Austin, “Shoelace” is a player that opposing defenders hate to see in the open field. Robinson reportedly runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash and even though he can be inconsistent at times, the senior can also beat defenses with his arm. Anytime a defense gets ready to take the field, there’s always that thought Robinson could be ready to run by them all for a long touchdown or connect with a receiver for a big play.
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Vitals: 5-foot-9, 176 pounds
2012 stats: 499 rush yards, 7 TDs, 24 rec., 218 yards, 1 TD
Anytime a running back has a nickname like “Black Mamba,” he already has the full attention of defenses. And when defensive coordinators put on the tape to watch Oregon, Thomas is exactly the type of player they spend countless hours trying to gameplan around. The sophomore averaged 10.8 yards per carry in 2011 and scored 18 overall touchdowns. Here’s the real problem for defenders and coaches facing Oregon: Blink and Thomas will run right by you. Talk about a scary thought.
Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
Vitals: 6-foot-8, 360 pounds
2012 Stats: 27 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 QBH
McCullers is in his first season at Tennessee but his sheer size and mere presecen on the filed is enough to cause any offensive lineman or quarterback to panic. The junior checks in at a massive 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds. McCullers may not have Jadeveon Clowney’s speed, but he isn’t a statue around the line of scrimmage either. Can you imagine this beast running at you?
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
2012 stats: 32 rec., 404 yards, 1 TD, 102 rush yards, 1 TD
Watkins got off to a slow start in 2012, but as evidenced in the win over Wake Forest, it appears he's coming alive. The sophomore caught eight passes for 202 yards and one touchdown against the Demon Deacons and is on his way to regaining the form that allowed him to catch 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 scores last season. Watkins isn’t just a weapon in the passing game, as he can hurt teams on the ground and on special teams. Try being a defensive coordinator attempting to stop Watkins, quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver DeAndre Hopkins. How do you slow down, let alone stop, this offense? Whether it’s athleticism or game-changing ability, Watkins is one of the nation’s most dangerous players with the ball in his hands and is constantly striking fear in opposing defensive backs.
by Steven Lassan
(published Oct. 30, 2012)
Related College Football Content
Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 9
Post-Week 9 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big East Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 9 SEC Power Rankings
College Football Week 9 Recap