By now, the preseason hype has all settled on a select group of elite players. But what about the guys who are underrated? There are a lot of them out there, but here are some of my faves:
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Ole Miss–A water bug with excellent versatility and playmaking ability, he led Ole Miss with 655 rushing yards and also caught 44 passes for 625 yards. Especially effective in the Wild Rebel formation. Should get his due this year with Ole Miss being in the spotlight.
Chris McGaha, WR, Arizona State–His stats aren’t overwhelming–he had 35 catches for 401 yards and just one touchdown last year–but he might have the best hands in college football. Seems like he makes at least one unbelievable catch per game.
Casey Keenum, QB, Houston–Threw for 5,020 yards and 44 touchdowns as a sophomore, but then you knew that, right? Can’t wait to see what he does this year!
Jammie Kirlew, DE, Indiana–The Hoosiers might have one of the best defensive end duos in the country thanks to Kirlew, who had 74 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 19 TFL last year.
Joe Pawelek, LB, Baylor–He had 128 tackles in 2008 (313 tackles in three seasons) and added six interceptions, six TFL and seven pass breakups.
Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Kansas–As a sophomore, his numbers–92 catches, 1,407 yards, 15 TDs–were almost as good as Dez Bryant’s.
Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech–Jonathan Dwyer gets most of the accolades, but Nesbitt makes the Yellow Jacket offense go. A nifty runner with great vision.
James Rodgers, Oregon State–Little brother Jacquizz gets so much attention, you almost forget that big bro James was pretty good, too. Last year, he had 408 rushing yards (8.9 ypc) and caught 51 balls for 407 yards, plus had another 818 yards on kickoff returns.
Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP–The latest Mike Price protege passed for 3,274 yards and 33 TDs as a sophomore and should be one of the better quarterbacks in the country in 2009.
Tim Hiller, Western Michigan–Overshadowed a bit by Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour, but Hiller threw for 3,725 yards and 36 touchdowns last season and is another in a long line of great MAC quarterbacks.