View Full Version : Prospect articles (ESPN Insider)

Mat'hir Uth Gan
12-11-2005, 01:44 AM
Just saw this tonight, thought the draftniks might enjoy.....

Article 1

I know everyone's talking Heisman this time of year, but I figured I'll give the other side some play. This week's list is Best Defensive Player:

1. Elvis Dumervil, Louisville, DE: No defensive player has caused more headaches or more game-plan adjustments. NCAA-best 20 sacks, 23 TFLs and a mind-blowing 11 forced fumbles. His numbers don't include the boatload of holding and false-start penalties he drew or reflect his teammates' sack totals. The guy simply demoralized offenses all season.

2. A.J. Hawk, OSU, LB: The ringleader of the Big Ten's top-rated defense, Hawk is simply terrific at everything: He rushes the QB (7 sacks), attacks the run and is sticky in coverage, too. Hawk's great instincts are a big reason why OSU's run defense is surrendering almost 25 fewer yards per game than the Big Ten's second stingiest D (Penn State). The Buckeyes also are tops in the league in third-down D by a wide margin.

3. Mario Williams, NC State, DE: Has top-five NFL pick written all over him. Led the ACC with 13 sacks. Would be even higher up on this list if he played the first half of the season with the same intensity he displayed in the second half of the year.

4. DeMeco Ryans, Bama, LB: The heart, soul and conscience of the Tide defense.

5. Tamba Hali, Penn State, DE: The top pass-rusher in the Big Ten with 11 sacks and 17 TFLs. Hali probably deserves as much credit as anyone for State leading the conference in pass-efficiency defense.

6. Mathias Kiwanuka, BC, DE: Despite being hobbled by injuries, still notched 15 TFLs and 9 sacks.

7. Darryl Tapp, V-Tech, DE: The quintessential motor guy, he really personifies the Tech program. Was great against UVA (although not all of his damage came opposite D'Brickashaw Ferguson). Had nine sacks and drew a bunch of penalties.

8. Paul Posluszny, Penn State, LB: Ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 10.1 tackles per. Better still, he has been great in the Lions' statement games when they completely shut down Laurence Maroney and Brian Calhoun.

9. Michael Huff, Texas, SS: Would be a star at any DB position. Has 90 tackles, 9 TFLs and 13 pass breakups for the Big 12's top defense. Coach Mack Brown calls him the catalyst of his defense. "Michael's our quarterback on defense," Brown told the Austin American-Statesmen. "He's very deserving of all the awards. I can't imagine there being a better defensive back in the country than Michael Huff."

10. Brodrick Bunkley, FSU, DT: I realize the ACC is loaded with great defensive ends, but it's pretty poor that an interior lineman who makes 20 TFLs can't even get selected first-team all-league. (The All-ACC team, which is selected by the conference's writers, opted for four DEs on the first-team defense.) That's a shame. Bunkley has been terrific. "That guy is a friggin' beast," said one league coach.

Just Missed the Cut: Kyle Williams, LSU, DL; Jimmy Williams, VT, CB; Stanley McClover, Auburn, DE; Brandon Meriweather, Miami, S; Haloti Ngata, Oregon, DT; Patrick Willis, Miss, LB; D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland, LB, Greg Blue, UGA, S (He'd be No. 1 if the topic was Favorite Defensive Players to Watch); Bobby Carpenter, OSU, LB,, Nick Reid, Kansas, LB; Ko Simpson, So. Carolina, S.

Article II

Since we're about 48 hours away from the Home Depot college football award show, I figured it's a good time to make some predictions.
Bednarik Award (outstanding defensive player): A.J. Hawk, Ohio State. I still feel like Elvis Dumervil should've been a finalist, but since he's not, I think the Buckeye wins this.

Biletnikoff Award (outstanding wide receiver): Mike Hass, Oregon State. Once again has put up staggering numbers, setting a school record with 1,532 receiving yards. Had seven games with at least 150 yards receiving. The one thing that could cost him the trophy, well aside from the fact that he's on a mediocre team, is he only caught six TDs, nine less than USC's Dwayne Jarrett.

Lou Groza Award (kicker): Mason Crosby, Colorado. Say what you want about altitude, the guy is still remarkably accurate from long range, having nailed 13 of 18 from 40 and beyond.

Ray Guy Award (punter): Ryan Plackemeier, Wake. Doesn't just boom kicks (averages 47.2 yards per boot, almost 4 yards better than the No. 2 guy in the ACC), he also had 20 of 67 punts inside the 20.

Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Reggie Bush, USC. If this were MVP, I'd lean to Vince Young, but Bush is simply a once-in-a-generation talent who has bailed USC out of every tight spot they've been in.

Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Vince Young, Texas. Epitomizes cool. A true leader who has developed into a formidable passer and, as always, a lethal running threat. Has made the QB counter one of the most dangerous plays in college football. Has 2,769 passing yards and 850 rushing yards.

Outland Trophy (interior lineman): Marcus McNeill, Auburn. I think this one is pretty much a toss up, but my hunch is McNeill given Auburn's strong finish and the fact that the big OT hasn't surrendered a sack in 41 consecutive games.

Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Jimmy Williams, VT. Like a bunch of other trophies, I think this is a big reputation award and coming into the season Williams had the biggest sway of all the D-backs. He has had a good, although probably not great (by his own standards) season. I think that will be enough to get him the award.

Doak Walker Award (running back): Reggie Bush, USC. Last year I didn't vote Bush in my top three for this award because I didn't think he was used as much as a "running back" as other backs, but this year has been a different story. Bush is getting around eight more carries a game and averaging 2.5 more yards per carry.

Mat'hir Uth Gan
12-11-2005, 01:45 AM
Article III

In the spirit of a few of my friends' company's year-end award, and since it's a question I got asked on Monday, I figured this week's list might as well be reflective. So with my own loose definitions, here are my choices for college football's Sportsdude of the Year.

1. Pete Carroll, USC: Sure, it seems like anybody could coach all that talent, but keep in mind the Trojans have a chance to do something that has never been done before, win three consecutive college football titles, and I'd argue this is the hardest game to repeat in. (How many guys fail out of the Pittsburgh Steelers? Or do you think Bill Parcells ever had to sit a player for missing classes? And how many starters did John Wooden lose to separated shoulders and other such injuries?)

Moreover, Carroll lost a handful of key assistants and the Trojans haven't appeared to lose anything. He also is great at defusing ego problems, which is something success almost always brings with it. The guys are like the Smurfs practically. Carroll's run of Heisman winners will be equally unprecedented.

2. Vince Young, Texas: This season's MVP. I've said this before and I think it is worth repeating: Texas has been a program with an M.O. for melting down, but not this season. "They always spit the bit before," a coaching buddy of mine said Monday night, "but they're different this year." Lord knows they had a good chance to do that early in the season on a Saturday night at the Shoe.

That difference is Vince Young.

3. Joe Paterno, Penn State: JoePa gets the last laugh. The changes in philosophy and willingness to showcase freshmen actually were planted in Paterno's mind last year. The results are the 10-1 Big Ten champions, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better story than the 180 in State College.

4. Mike Tepper, Cal: A hulking 6-6, 320-pound freshman O-lineman, Tepper suffered a broken fibula and torn ankle ligaments in late June, a little more than a month before fall camp began after he stepped in front of a car to protect a female Cal volleyball player who was being harassed by two men in the car. The car ran over Tepper on purpose, and the two men were arrested.

"The police had put tourniquets around my calf, and when the ambulance got there, a nurse was pumping morphine into me," Tepper told the Contra Costa Times. "They all did an amazing job they saved my life. It took doctors at the hospital about an hour to stop the bleeding because it had ripped a blood vessel that leads directly to my heart."

Tepper had surgery, where he had nine screws and a plate inserted into his leg, and is practicing with the team again. The school is asking the NCAA for an extra season of eligibility. The Bears really missed Tepper since both of their starting tackles battled through injuries this season.

5. Jeff Samardzija, Notre Dame: Compare him to Ed McCaffrey or Drew Bennett or whomever you want, the Irish wideout transformed himself from little-used receiver to genuine folk hero. He might even win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He, I think, epitomizes the dramatic change in the ND culture more so than any other person. If you want to learn more about the Irish star and his pal Tom Zbikowski, Gene Wojciechowski has a fun read on the pair in the latest issue of ESPN the magazine.

6. Reggie Bush, USC: Get ready for the rush on accolades, because the next few days will be all about Reggie Bush. I won't go as far as to call him the greatest college football player ever, but he is the most exciting player I've ever seen, and right now I'm not even sure who would be second. (Maybe Deion, I guess, but considering how rarely he touched the ball, I'd say there's a pretty big gulf between the two in my eyes.)

7. Tulane football: This year's winner of the ESPN the Magazine Courage Award, the program was uprooted from its campus because of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Coach Chris Scelfo's bunch became a vagabond unit, relocating to Jackson, Miss., then Dallas and finally Ruston, La., where the team has headquartered at Louisiana Tech during the entire first semester.

The Green Wave played home games all over the state of Louisiana and one game in Alabama. Most of the players were without homes back in New Orleans and that emotional stress, particularly in regard to worrying about their families' well-being in the face of their evacuation, truly couldn't be measured. Ivan Maisel had a great look at the heart-wrenching story back in September.

8. Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern: Betcha the rest of the Big Ten wishes they had him at tailback now. All the Wildcats freshman did was finish sixth in the nation in rushing, putting up 509 rushing yards against Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State. Also had 37 receptions and 18 TDs.

9. D.J. Shockley, UGA: Most blue-chip QBs would've bolted to some I-AA program knowing they might only have one year to start after waiting most of their college careers. Not Shockley. He more than paid his dues and was terrific from start to finish, book-ending a glorious season in Athens.

10. Calvin Johnson, Ga. Tech: Never mind the Biletnikoff, this is the most gifted wideout in the country. He is worth the price of admission by himself. Just ask Miami, whose top-ranked pass defense had no answers for the sophomore this season. I think he's a bigger, faster version of Larry Fitzgerald and will be a sure-fire Pro Bowler.

Just Missed the Cut: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; Domenik Hixon, Akron; Michael Robinson, Penn State; George O'Leary, UCF, Steve Slaton, WVU, Maurice Jones-Drew, UCLA; Charlie Weis, ND; Elvis Dumervil, Louisville; Greg Schiano, Rutgers; Al Borges, Auburn; Jay Cutler, Vandy.

Mat'hir Uth Gan
12-11-2005, 01:46 AM
Article IV - Todd McShay

Who are the best players in college football?

Forget the Heisman. Forget the All-American teams. And forget the politics surrounding both.

The NFL draft is a good indicator of collegiate talent, but perceived potential and team needs play too big a role in where players are selected. Plus, the NFL draft only includes seniors, a few juniors and even fewer third-year sophomores, so it's not the perfect litmus test, either.

The only way to truly evaluate the ability of a player is to watch week in and week out to see how he plays against the best talent in the nation and how he plays in games he's supposed to excel in. I've done that.

Now, not everyone will agree with my evaluations, but I am confident that few have studied as much college football film as I have over the last three months. My inaugural All-Film team offense was unveiled last week, so here is a look at standouts on defense:

LDE: Tamba Hali, Penn State
Unlike most upper-echelon collegiate pass rushers, Hali shows the ability to beat offensive tackles with a blend of power and speed. His technique continues to improve and his motor never stops. The 6-foot-3, 267-pound Hali has recorded 62 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 11 games -- and he was most dominant down the stretch during key Big Ten competition in November.

DT: Brodrick Bunkley, Florida State
Bunkley has flown under the radar screen for much of the 2005 season. In just 10 games played so far, the 6-2, 295-pound defensive tackle has accounted for 17 tackles for loss, including 6.5 sacks. While the Seminole defense has stumbled upon some rough times recently, Bunkley's play has continued to improve on a weekly basis. Bunkley has some durability and character issues that will cause him to slide on draft day. Otherwise, he would be considered a shoe-in as a first round prospect thanks to his impressive combination of initial quickness, power and agility.

DT: Haloti Ngata, Oregon
Ngata's 59 total tackles ranks second in the Pac-10 by a defensive lineman. He also has accounted for three sacks this season. But statistics do not come close to telling the story of Ngata's impact on the Ducks' defense. The 6-4, 340-pound junior defensive tackle uses his massive frame and imposing power to consistently occupy two blockers in the middle of the Oregon defense, which is invaluable for LB Brent Haberly, Rover Patrick Chung and SS Anthony Trucks. Ngata's ability to collapse the pocket up the middle has also served as a valuable means for flushing quarterbacks out of the pocket and disrupting the timing of opposing passing attacks. Ngata will be sorely missed in Eugene if he forgoes his final season of eligibility, but there will be a lot of money waiting for him as a potential top-20 pick in the 2006 NFL draft.

RDE: Elvis Dumervil, Louisville
It could be argued that Dumervil improved his NFL draft value more than any other senior in college football this season. The 6-0, 254-pound defensive end draws many comparisons to Colts DE Dwight Freeney. Neither has great height, but both have explosive first steps and a knack for blowing up plays in the backfield. Dumervil is much more powerful than his measurables would indicate. He shows an impressive array of pass rush moves, which have helped him deal with double-and-triple team attention this season. Dumervil, who leads Division I-A in sacks (20) and forced fumbles (10) through games of Nov. 19, has emerged as a first-round NFL prospect.

SLB: DeMeco Ryans, Alabama
Ryans has played all three linebacker positions for the Crimson Tide, but he is having his best season in 2005 on the strong side. At 6-2, 236 pounds, Ryans does an outstanding job of anchoring at the point of attack against the run. He possesses the instincts to locate the ball carrier, sheds blocks quickly and pursues in a hurry. The senior SAM linebacker leads Alabama with 67 total tackles and also has emerged as a dangerous pass rusher with 3.5 sacks so far this season.

MLB: D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland
Good luck finding an individual that takes on more defensive responsibilities than Jackson does for the Terps. The 6-0, 223-pound middle linebacker makes plays from sideline-to-sideline against the run (108 total tackles tthrough Nov. 19), despite poor protection from his inexperienced and inconsistent defensive line. Jackson's versatility (8.5 sacks and five interceptions from 2003-to-present) helps mask many of Maryland's weaknesses in pass defense. When he's not making plays on the field, the intense senior is busy serving as the unit's emotional leader on the sideline. Jackson may be forced to move outside in the NFL due to his lack of ideal size, but this year he stands out as the best all-around middle linebacker in college football.

WLB: A. J. Hawk, Ohio State
If given the chance to assemble a defense from all current college football players, Hawk would be my first choice -- without any hesitation. Hawk's lack of elite athleticism may limit him a bit when he moves on to the NFL, but his overall physical skills are outstanding by collegiate standards. After all, he's a 6-2, 243-pound defender who ran a 4.52 40-yard dash for NFL scouts. But what separates Hawk from the rest are his exceptional instincts, toughness and motor. A three-year starter and four-year contributor, Hawk has amassed an unbelievable 386 total tackles, including 13 sacks and seven interceptions. When we look back on his four years in Columbus, it's safe to assume that Hawk will rank along with Tom Cousineau, Randy Gradishar, Chris Spielman and Andy Katzenmoyer as one of the Ohio State greats at the linebacker position.

CB: Charles Gordon, Kansas
Gordon set Kansas freshman receiving records as a freshman in 2003 before coach Mark Mangino moved him to the defensive side of the ball in 2004. Gordon still sees quite a bit of time on offense, ranking second among Jayhawk receivers with 26 catches this season. As a result, he is not the most polished cover corner in college football. Gordon is, however, the best natural athlete that I've seen playing the position in 2005. The 5-11, 185-pound junior can take most opponents' No. 1 receivers out of the game in man-to-man coverage and has developed into a fine all-around playmaker with 23 total tackles, two interceptions and one sack. If that's not enough, Gordon is averaging 10.6 yards per punt return with a long of 54 yards this season.

FS: LaRon Landry, LSU
Landry has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers since showing up on Baton Rouge's campus as a freshman in 2003. Two years later and with far more experience under his belt, Landry is still a game-breaking playmaker. The junior's improved recognition skills have tranlated into far fewer mistakes. Landry checks in at only 190 pounds, but he fills hard versus the run and hits like a linebacker. Landry shows as much range as any safety in college football and is a true ball-hawk with nine career interceptions.

SS: Ko Simpson, South Carolina
There were other safeties that came to mind initially, such as USC's Darnell Bing, Texas' Michael Griffin and Michael Huff, Ohio State's Donte Whitner, Arizona's Darrell Brooks, Purdue's Bernard Pollard, Syracuse's Anthony Smith and Texas Tech's Dwayne Slay. But after watching the film of Simpson and comparing it to the others, I feel more than comfortable going out on this limb. Simpson plays a versatile role in the Gamecocks defensive scheme, as he lines up as a free safety, strong safety and even outside linebacker. The third-year sophomore has impressive natural instincts for such an inexperienced player and is a true playmaker -- both in run support and in coverage. After 11 games played, Simpson leads South Carolina with 94 total tackles and also has notched nine broken up passes, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

CB: Alan Zemaitis, Penn State
Zemaitis is afforded many luxuries thanks to a ferocious front-four pass rush, but he is a tremendously gifted cover corner who is simply cashing in on the benefits. He is not overly physical, but Zemaitis does a good job of using his 6-2, 205-pound frame to smother receivers at the line of scrimmage. Zemaitis shows fluid hips for his size and above average speed to turn and run vertically. The senior cornerback has shown improved instincts in coverage this season and his ball skills are outstanding. He has a team-high five interceptions and 10 broken up passes.

PT: Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest
Plackemeier was forced into duty as a field goal kicker in 2004 and did a decent job in a dual-role. However, he has benefited by focusing solely on his punting as a senior this season, leading the nation with an average of 47.2 yards per punt. Plackemeier is a two-step punter who gets rid of the ball quickly and shows good overall hang-time and accuracy. Plackemeier could be the first Wake Forest player taken in the 2006 NFL draft.

PR: Maurice Drew, UCLA
Drew ranks among the elite running backs in the country, but he sets the standard as a punt return specialist. The explosively quick junior leads Division I-A with a rediculous average of 29.1 yards per attempt, including three returns for scores. Drew is sure-handed, decisive and elusive. He also has a rare second-gear to run away from defenders when he hits daylight.

Mat'hir Uth Gan
12-11-2005, 01:50 AM
Article V - Todd McShay

QB: Vince Young, Texas
Young has made huge strides in terms of his arm strength, accuracy and vertical passing abilities over the past year. The junior signal-caller has been one of the most explosive runners in college football the past three seasons, but his improvement as a passer is what makes him the most dangerous all-around quarterback to defend in 2005. After throwing nearly as many interceptions (11) as touchdowns in 2004, Young has thrown just eight picks this season, compared with 22 touchdowns. He is completing 63.5 percent of his passes and also leads the team with 774 rushing yards. No individual has meant more to his team this season than Young has to the No. 2 Longhorns. That's why, if the voting were today, Young would be my pick for the 2005 Heisman Trophy.

RB: Reggie Bush, USC
Bush is the most dynamic athlete in college football today. Bush might lack ideal size as an every-down load carrier, but nobody can match his combination of vision, initial burst, balance, lateral mobility and top-end speed. His versatility is what puts him in a class of his own. On top of his 1,104 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns, Bush also has chipped in 315 yards and two touchdowns as a receiver and 406 yards and one touchdown as a return specialist. Should he elect to leave school after this season, he will be the first running back selected in the 2006 class. Depending on team needs, Bush also could steal teammate Matt Leinart's thunder as the No. 1 pick overall.

RB: DeAngelo Williams, Memphis
Jerome Harrison (Washington State), Laurence Maroney (Minnesota) and Brian Calhoun (Wisconsin) were all considered, but no back in the country has done more with less than Williams has for the Tigers. Williams broke his leg in the 2004 GMAC Bowl, but he showed no signs of lingering effects early this season. He was forced to sit out last week's loss to Tennessee because of an ankle injury suffered the week before versus UAB. However, despite a new starting quarterback and four new starters along a patchwork offensive line, Williams has rushed for 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns with two games remaining. He's an absolute workhorse as a ball carrier, and he also has developed into an efficient receiver and blocker in the passing game, which is part of the reason Williams is considered a shoo-in as a first-round selection in next year's draft. Just as a side note: Williams is a leader, a hard worker and a high-character individual who is even more impressive off the field than he is on it.

WR: Santonio Holmes, Ohio State
Holmes has adequate size, explosive speed and outstanding hand-eye coordination. He does not get nearly the opportunities in Ohio State's conservative offense that some other elite receivers get in more pass-friendly systems, but don't let the numbers fool you. Holmes is averaging 18.6 yards per reception and has taken nine of his 42 catches to pay dirt. If he elects to leave Columbus after this season, Holmes should be the first wide receiver selected in the 2006 draft.

WR: Mike Hass, Oregon State
Some receivers simply know how to separate from man-coverage and where to find the soft spots versus zone coverage, and nobody in the college ranks does both better than Hass. Despite his lack of imposing size and blazing speed, Hass consistently is able to shake off double coverage and make himself available for his quarterback in a timely fashion. There were questions about Hass' ability to maintain production after QB Derek Anderson moved on to the NFL. With Hass racking up 80 catches and a nation-best 142.5 receiving yards per game, those questions no longer exist.

TE: Marcedes Lewis, UCLA
Maryland's Vernon Davis and Georgia's Leonard Pope come in a close second and third, respectively, but Lewis has separated himself as this year's best tight end. After bulking up and hitting the weights in the offseason, Lewis is an improved blocker in 2005. The 6-6, 255-pound tight end also has added a more physical nature to his already freakish receiving abilities, making him a mismatch waiting to happen. UCLA has been creative with Lewis, using him in a traditional in-line alignment as well as "flexed" out in the slot and split out wide. It's safe to say getting the senior tight end more involved was a wise decision by coach Karl Dorrell and his staff. Through 10 games, Lewis already has accounted for 711 yards and 10 touchdowns on 55 receptions.

LOT: Joe Thomas, Wisconsin
Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson has better NFL potential, but a lingering knee injury limited him a bit in the middle of this season. Thomas, on the other hand, has been dominant since the Badgers' opener versus Bowling Green in early September. The 6-8, 303-pound junior left tackle has an impressive blend of size, agility and power. Thomas stands out on film as the most dominant blocker on a Wisconsin offensive line that has paved the way for RB Calhoun's 1,274 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns through 11 games. From a human interest perspective, Thomas owns UW's indoor record in shot put with a throw of 62 feet; he also caught a 20-pound catfish this past summer.

LOG: Max Jean-Gilles, Georgia
Jean-Gilles is a 340-pound road grader. A three-year starter, Jean-Gilles actually plays the "tight guard" position on Georgia's offensive line, so he will flip-flop between the right and left sides throughout the course of a game. Jean-Gilles also saw time at tackle earlier in his career, and he projects as a possible right tackle in the NFL. Anytime I've seen the Bulldogs in a critical short-yardage situation, the play has gone to Jean-Gilles' side. Jean-Gilles also shed some pounds and improved his stamina in the offseason, which has played a big part in his pass-protection efficiency this year.

OC: Greg Eslinger, Minnesota
Eslinger excels in Minnesota's zone-blocking scheme. He lacks ideal bulk and strength, but the four-year starter more than makes up for it with unparalleled feet, intelligence, technique and athleticism at center. Eslinger makes all the line calls and has long been the anchor of an offensive line that has paved the way for RB Maroney and the nation's top-ranked rushing attack.

ROG: Josh Beekman, Boston College
At 6-2 and 320 pounds, Beekman is not the largest lineman, but he stands out on film as the most dominant member of the ACC's biggest offensive line. Beekman is only a junior, but he will be starting his 24th career game when Boston College visits Maryland on Saturday. Most offensive guards are better suited to blocking the run, but Beekman is equally adept at pass protection. He might not be a high pick in the 2007 draft, but -- in typical BC offensive lineman fashion -- Beekman should go on to be a productive starter in the NFL for many years.

ROT: Ryan O'Callaghan, Cal
Pac-10 counterpart Winston Justice (USC) gets more hype, but O'Callaghan (6-7, 340) has been the best offensive lineman in the conference and the best right tackle in the country in 2005. Over the last two seasons, Cal has been able to run the ball at a torrid pace no matter which running back (J.J. Arrington, Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett) is handling the carries. The Golden Bears also have surrendered only 20 sacks in 10 games this season, despite QB Joseph Ayoob's indecisiveness. When that's the case, it speaks volumes for the offensive line. All five starters deserve credit, but O'Callaghan's ability to clear out the right side of the line on running downs and handle speed rushers without help from a double-team has played the biggest part in the Bears' offensive successes.

PK: Mason Crosby, Colorado
As a sophomore in 2004, Crosby led the nation with six field goals of 50 yards or longer, and he already has nailed five from beyond 50 yards this season. So far as a junior, Crosby has connected on 19 of 24 field-goal attempts, including a longest of 58 yards. His combination of leg strength and accuracy is unmatched in college football today. Critics who point to altitude as the reason for Crosby's success need to go back and watch film of him smashing a 58-yard field goal at Miami this season.

KOR: Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State
TCU's Cory Rodgers leads the nation in average yards per kickoff return (31.7) and returns for touchdowns (two). However, given a choice between Rodgers and Ginn, I would gladly kick to Rodgers. Ginn slumped early as a sophomore, but that did not last long. His vision, change-of-direction skills and sensational second gear are what separate Ginn from the rest of college football's elite kickoff-return specialists.

12-11-2005, 12:14 PM
I'd like everyone to note the comment on Mario Williams being an easy top five pick in the draft. That should put the debate to rest, the dude's a supafreak...