Who are the top players sidelined for 2015?
Injuries are an unfortunate part of every college football season. Whether it’s a small ailment affecting a key player for a couple of weeks or an injury keeping a player sidelined for the entire year, all injuries have an impact on the final win-loss record for all 128 teams.
2015 has especially been cruel for key players suffering major injuries. Likely All-Americans in Pittsburgh running back James Conner and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack suffered season-ending knee injuries, while two talented quarterbacks in Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire and BYU’s Taysom Hill were lost for the year after in-game injuries this season.
Considering all of the major injuries in 2015, Athlon Sports compiled the biggest and formed a team to highlight some of the top players on the sidelines. Only players that are lost for the year were considered for this list.
College Football's 2015 All-Injury Team
QB Malik Zaire, Notre Dame/Taysom Hill, BYU
Notre Dame and BYU were the teams hit the hardest by injuries to the quarterback position so far in 2015. Zaire averaged 265.5 yards per game through the first two contests and shredded Texas for 313 yards through the air in the opener. Hill missed half of 2014 due to a leg injury and suffered a season-ending foot injury against Nebraska. Tanner Mangum has stepped up at quarterback for BYU in Hill’s absence.
RB James Conner, Pittsburgh
Conner was the ACC’s player of the year last season after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 scores. The Pennsylvania native was lost for the year due to a knee injury in the opener against Youngstown State.
RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Arkansas’ rushing attack hasn’t been the same without Williams teaming with Alex Collins to lead the ground game. Williams rushed for 900 yards in 2013 and followed that up with 1,190 yards and 12 scores last season.
RB Leon Allen, WKU
Allen was one of the top running backs in the Group of 5 ranks after recording 1,542 yards and 13 scores last season. The senior suffered a significant knee injury in Week 2 this year and was ruled out for the remainder of 2015. Prior to the injury, Allen was averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Other top running backs out for the year: Thomas Tyner, Oregon, Tarean Folston, Notre Dame and Aaron Jones, UTEP.
WR Mike Dudek, Illinois
Dudek had a promising freshman season – 76 catches for 1,038 yards and six scores – but a torn ACL in spring practice is expected to sideline the sophomore for all of 2015. Dudek led all Big Ten pass catchers by averaging 89.5 receiving yards in Big Ten games last season.
WR Cameron Smith, Arizona State
Smith was Arizona State’s third-leading receiver last season (41 catches for 596 yards) and was slated for a bigger role with the departure of Jaelen Strong to the NFL. However, Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring.
AP John Ross, Washington
Ross has played on both sides of the ball during his two years with the Huskies and is a valuable weapon on special teams. He’s out for 2015 due to a knee injury.
OL Jaryd Jones-Smith, Pittsburgh
Jones-Smith was penciled in as Pittsburgh’s starting right tackle but suffered a season-ending knee injury in July.
OL Jordan Budwig, FIU
Entered 2015 with 24 consecutive starts and was picked as a first-team All-Conference USA selection in July but is sidelined due to a shoulder injury.
OL Andrew Jelks, Vanderbilt
Jelks was expected to anchor Vanderbilt’s line in 2015 at left tackle. However, a leg injury will sideline the 2013 SEC All-Freshman team selection.
OL Jeromy Irwin, Colorado
Irwin was a key cog in Colorado’s offensive line, starting all 11 games for the Buffaloes in 2014 and playing in 10 games in 2012. He suffered a torn ACL in the win over UMass.
OL Marcus Jackson, Tennessee
Jackson suffered a biceps injury in August and is expected to be sidelined for all of 2015. After a redshirt year in 2013, Jackson started 12 games in 2014 and previously started five contests in 2011.
DL Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Vanderdoes is one of the Pac-12’s top defensive linemen, but a knee injury suffered in the opener against Virginia will keep the junior on the sidelines for the rest of 2015. Vanderdoes accumulated eight tackles against the Cavaliers and recorded 50 tackles and two sacks for UCLA’s defense in 2014.
DL Harold Brantley, Missouri
Brantley was poised for a huge season after recording 54 tackles (seven for a loss) in 14 games last season. The Pennsylvania native is out for 2015 due to injuries suffered in a car crash in late June.
DL Jarron Jones, Notre Dame
Jones was expected to hold a starting spot on the interior of Notre Dame’s line, but this unit has held up relatively well in his absence, limiting opponents to 3.8 yards per carry through three games. Jones started 11 games for the Fighting Irish last season and recorded 40 tackles (7.5 for a loss).
DL James McFarland, TCU
McFarland hasn’t been officially ruled out for the year, but all signs point to the senior sitting out 2015 due to a foot injury. The Louisiana native finished 2014 with 12 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. Other top defensive linemen out for the year: Issac Gross, Ole Miss, Harrison Phillips, Stanford, and Bryan Mone, Michigan.
LB Myles Jack, UCLA
UCLA’s defense suffered a huge setback after Jack was lost for the year in practice prior to Week 4. Jack ranked second on the team with 88 stops last season and was widely considered a first-team All-American for 2015.
LB Ed Davis, Michigan State
Michigan State’s linebacking corps suffered a huge blow in August when Davis was ruled out for the year due to a knee injury. The Detroit native was an underrated cog in the front seven for the Spartans after starting 12 games and recording 58 tackles (12 for a loss) and seven sacks in 2014.
LB Nyeem Wartman-White, Penn State
Wartman-White was slated to become the leader for Penn State’s linebacking corps, as the Philadelphia native was expected to take over for Mike Hull in the middle. Wartman-White started 12 games last season and recorded 75 tackles but was lost for the season with a leg injury in the opener against Temple.
DB Fabian Moreau, UCLA
There’s no question the Bruins will miss Moreau on a secondary that has limited opponents to just two passing scores through the first three games. The Florida native had 25 career starts prior to 2015 and recorded eight stops this season. Getting Ishmael Adams back from suspension helps to soften the blow from Moreau’s season-ending foot injury.
DB Vayante Copeland, Michigan State
Copeland was considered a rising star in Michigan State’s “No Fly Zone” and recorded seven tackles and one interception through the first two games. However, the redshirt freshman suffered a neck injury in the win over Oregon and is sidelined for the rest of the year.
DB Ranthony Texada, TCU
Gary Patterson’s acumen as a defensive mastermind will be put to the test this year, as TCU’s defense has been hit hard by injuries. Texada is just one of two key defensive backs – Kenny Iloka is the other – out for the year due to injuries for the Horned Frogs. Texada was considered a rising star prior to 2015 and recorded seven tackles and two pass breakups in three games.
DB Bryon Fields, Duke
Duke’s secondary might be one of the ACC’s most underrated position groups, but this unit suffered a setback in the preseason with Fields suffering a season-ending knee injury in August. The North Carolina native has played in 27 career games with the Blue Devils and recorded 112 tackles and one pick in that span.