The Group of 5 may not have quite the star power the power conferences tend to attract, but there are more than enough big-name players to pay attention to without having to look too hard. Houston’s Ed Oliver and UCF’s McKenzie Milton will certainly be on the radar for even casual college football fans this season, but the fortunes of Group of 5 programs may be determined more by the players flying under the radar.
With graduate transfers from power conference programs looking to find playing time in their final years of eligibility and others simply looking to fill some starting roles this season, here is a look at some of the players you may get to know a little better this football season throughout the Group of 5 conferences.
American Athletic Conference
Nevelle Clarke, CB, UCF
While most of UCF’s secondary returns starting experience, it will be Clarke stepping up to fill the one vacancy left by Mike Hughes.
Khalid McGee, LB, USF
McGee turned in six tackles in the Birmingham Bowl and has shown flashes of his potential. With a spot at weak-side linebacker ready for him to take over on a full-time basis, McGee should be a key player for the Bulls.
David Moore, QB, Memphis
By now we should be used to seeing a Memphis quarterback capable of putting up big numbers, right? This year, Moore steps into the spotlight and hopes to keep the Tigers' offense firing through the air.
Malcolm Perry, QB, Navy
At Navy, it is all about the triple-option and the quarterback tends to rack up the yardage on the ground as opposed to the air. Perry emerged as a steady hand running the offense when given the opportunity last year and should be dangerous again this fall.
Terence Williams, RB, Houston
A graduate transfer from Baylor, Williams should settle in quickly to fill a need running the football for the Cougars. Two years ago, Williams was a 1,000-yard rusher for Baylor with 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Junior Diaz, C, Florida Atlantic
With the Owls in need of restocking the depth on the offensive line, Lane Kiffin will look to Diaz, a graduate transfer from Tulane, to provide some stability.
Bryce English, DL, North Texas
After missing last season due to injury, English has transferred from Kansas State to North Texas with hopes of adding some talent to the Mean Green’s defensive line.
De’Andre Johnson, QB, Florida Atlantic
Johnson has been cleared to return to football after dealing with a blood clot issue last season. That could be good news for the Owls, as Johnson still presents great potential to make some big plays happen at quarterback.
Mitchell Guadagni, QB, Toledo
Toledo has a quarterback battle to settle, but Guadagni is the only option that offers any previous playing experience. Granted, it is limited experience after backing up Logan Woodside as the third-string option.
K.J. Carta-Samuels, QB, Colorado State
The graduate transfer from Washington may be a player that can help make Colorado State a contender in the Mountain West Conference as the Rams replace Nick Stevens at the position. If Carta-Samuels fits in quickly, the Rams could be tricky in conference play.
Ronheen Bingham, DL, Arkansas State
Looking to replace one of the most productive defensive players on the team, and in the nation, last season (Ja’Von Rolland-Jones), Bingham has some big shoes to fill. Bingham earned second-team All-Sun Belt honors last season despite limited playing time, so he has the potential to provide some consistency at the position for the Red Wolves.
-- Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.
(Top photo courtesy of www.navysports.com)