Will this be the season Winston solidify a spot for himself among college football’s Mt. Rushmore of greats or will he suffer from a serious case of the “sophomore slump”?
As summer draws to a close, the anticipation of pigskin season slowly transitions in. The preseason AP polls are out and your defending national champions, the Florida State Seminoles reign supreme as they will start off their quest to a back-to-back title run as the #1 team in the nation. But this would not be no easy task as other powerhouse teams like Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Ohio State are on everyone’s radar to dethrone the Seminoles as college football’s “gridiron kings”. With every special team comes a special phenom who separates themselves from the overrated slouches. From making acrobatic SportsCenter top 10 plays to giving defensive coordinators migraines, there are 5 players you should watch for that may be hoisting the silver bronze stone statue come December.
5. Brett Hundley (UCLA)-The redshirt junior from Chandler, Arizona has NFL pro scouts in awe thanks to his size, arm strength and accuracy. Last season, he led his team to a 10-3 season that included a 42-13 whopping on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Hundley competed 67.8 pct of his passes, while scoring a pass efficiency rate of 153.7, both are excellent enough to be ranked top 25 in the nation in both categories. The Arizona flame thrower threw for over 3,000 yards with 24 TD’s while having the capabilities of keeping the defense guessing thanks to his rushing abilities as he reached the end zone 11 times by his feet. Elite pro scouts contemplated that Hundley would’ve been a top 5 pick in the NFL draft if he had decided to come out. But he has strong aspirations of leading his UCLA Bruins to Arlington, Texas…the host site of the newly implemented 2015 National College Football Playoff championship. Play on playa….play on.
4. Todd Gurley (UGA)- The running back from out of Taboro, North Carolina showed the nation that he maybe the best running back collegiate athletics has out now. Named 2nd Team All-SEC, this tailback showed plenty of highlights of greatness as he was able to rushed for 989 yards while scoring 10 TD’s. In addition, he is proven to be versatile by placing 3rd on his team in receptions (37) while scoring 6 TD’s with the pigskin heading towards his direction. With the absence of 4 year starting quarterback Aaron Murray, expect Gurley to bulldoze through the competition while carrying his bulldogs to a SEC title contention.
3. Bryce Petty (Baylor)-If you ever need to refer Bryce Petty to anything – I suggest as Mr. Light Up – because even when the sun goes down, he’ll make the scoreboard light up. The Texas born senior had an amazing 2013 campaign as he was able to lead his Baylor Bears to a school record 11 win season while capturing the Big 12 championship. Along the way, Bryce was able to set 9 single season school records while finishing 2nd in the nation in passing efficiency (174.29). During the season, Baylor averaged 52.4 ppg per game while averaging 572.23 yds a game. These impeccable numbers were great enough to have Petty and his boys land the top 2 spots in the nation in categories such as points per game and total offense. Finishing 7th in last year’s Heisman Trophy running, look out for Bryce to kill the competition while receiving the attention he deserves with his cannon. That wouldn’t be a surprise because everything’s big in Texas, even star power. Something this Baylor great is getting very familiar with.
2. Marcus Mariota (Oregon)-Already dubbed as one of the most prolific and accomplished quarterbacks in Oregon Duck history, Marcus Mariota return to school with a huge chip on his shoulder and even more to prove to his critics. The Hawaiian gun slinger continues to keep scouts drooling thanks to his mechanics, football intelligence, and leadership skills. Last season was living proof that Mariota is one bad brother everyone needs to watch out for. He completed 63.5 pct of his passes, while throwing for 31 TD passes. In addition, he rushed for 715 yds while reaching the end zone on his own 9 times. Marcus became the only player in Oregon history to eclipse over 4,000 total yds in a season while leading his Ducks to a 11-2 regular season record. The scary thing about this stat line is he’s only a redshirt Junior, in which he’s has an abundance of time to become even better than before. An Alamo Bowl MVP baller and 1st Team All Pac-12 conference stud, Mariota is everyone’s dark horse to walk out of New York City with the Heisman. With one of top QBR’s in the nation, it is very likely that he can be the reason why history will not be made en route to a potential top draft pick for next year’s NFL Draft. He can’t stop, and best believe he won’t stop.
1. Jameis Winston (Florida State)-As expected, your #1 player to watch out for during the upcoming 2014-2015 college football season is the famous one, better known as “Famous” Jameis Winston. In 2013, Winston became the second freshman ever to win the Heisman trophy. During his Heisman trophy showcase season, Winston completed 66.9 pct of his passes, while setting new NCAA single season freshman records for passing yds (4,057 yds) and touchdowns (40). Talk about putting numbers on the board! The Alabama product led his Florida State Seminoles to a perfect season and national championship victory over a tough Auburn squad. After accomplishing feats like this in one year, critics are wondering will he improve? Will he mature from the crab leg incident? Only time will tell as Jameis and his Seminoles are highly favorites to become the 1st victors of the College Football Playoff. Don’t be surprised Winston hands out work to his opponents as he attempts to make history, attempting to join Archie Griffin as the only players to win consecutive Heisman trophy awards. If we are fortunate to witness this, then we can say we seen it all!
Omari is looking forward to the upcoming college football season to see who the real ballers are. As college football season is slowly approaching, follow him on Twitter @SmooveGuyO as he gives his play by play actions and scoffs about the games best.