With most college programs in camp, here are a few players that I have seen live (or whose tape I’ve seen) that could have monster seasons for their collective programs. The majority of these players are not household names but they will be before the season comes to an end in January.
Storm Johnson – RB, UCF
Johnson is from Loganville, GA and was rated one of the top ten backs in the country coming out of high school. He originally started his career at the University of Miami but decided to transfer to UCF following his freshman season in Coral Gables. He is a physical back that runs well inside but also has enough speed and quickness to make people miss in the open field. With his size of 6’0/ 215lbs and durability, he is a load to bring down and is capable of punishing defenders if need be. Johnson had 75 yards on only 12 carries against the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes last season.
Stefon Diggs – ATH, Maryland
One of my favorite players to watch on film in all of college football. His elite speed and quickness gives him the ability to score from anywhere on the field (Just watch his highlight on YouTube). Diggs was a five-star recruit out of Maryland and decided to stay home and play for the Terrapins. His freshman season was nothing short of incredible when you take in to account that Maryland used five quarterbacks last season with one of them being a linebacker. He finished with 1,896 all-purpose yards which was the second most in school history behind Torrey Smith of the Baltimore Ravens. He reminds me of young Tavon Austin who also played his high school ball in Maryland. If Maryland can stay healthy at the QB position, Diggs will have another huge season and the Terps might just surprise some teams in the ACC.
Brendan Bigelow – RB, Cal-Berkley
Brendan is the next in a line of NFL caliber RB’s to come out of Cal-Berkley. He had one of the runs of the year last season against Ohio State. The run showed in one play the talent and potential that Bigelow possesses. He is one of the fastest players in the country and will be a huge assist to Sonny Dykes first season as the head coach of the Bears. Injuries have held Bigelow back thus far in his career and he sat out spring practice because of a knee injury. When healthy he is one of the most explosive players in the country and can change a game in a blink of an eye. Cal is going to need him healthy to make a push for a bowl berth in the tough Pac 12.
Antonio Andrews – RB, Western Kentucky
Andrews has proven to be one of the most versatile players in all of college football. He is a great runner, has great hands, and is lethal in the return game. Last season he had 3,161 all-purpose yards which is the second most in NCAA history behind only Barry Sanders. After seeing him live and on tape last season I am confident he has a bright future at the next level. With Bobby Petrino taking over at WKU, the sky is the limit for Andrews in his final collegiate season.
Jonathan Dowling – S, Western Kentucky
Bowling Green, KY is a must stop this year for the NFL scouting community. Willie Taggart did a tremendous job recruiting during his tenure at WKU with the likes of Antonio Andrews, Jonathan Dowling and Andrew Jackson all potential NFL draft picks. Dowling is coming off a six interception season and is on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s top defense back. He was rated as one of the top five safeties in the country coming out of high school and decided to sign with the Florida Gators. After his freshman season he transferred to Western Kentucky and became a huge contributor after sitting out (due to transfer rules) the 2011 season. The 6’3/ 198lb safety has great ball skills and has the size and speed of an NFL safety. He had three interceptions in WKU’s huge upset win over Kentucky last season. Dowling will be one of the leaders of an experienced and aggressive defense that is looking to lead WKU to a second consecutive bowl game. If he plays up to his ability, he has the potential to be one of the best safeties in the country.