Every college football season brings the next wave of All-Americans into the spotlight.
With college football's fall practice in full swing around the nation, it's really the first time names made famous on recruiting websites are showing up in actual practice reports. When it comes to picking which freshmen will make an impact in their first season on campus, it's really all about who can pick up the playbook the fastest and who fits a need. The SEC featured two huge stars as freshman a year ago in South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — who might already be the best DE in the nation — and Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell.
Coaching connections, scandals, shared history make these games significant
Anyone who follows college football knows the Alabama vs. Michigan opener will be one of the most important games of the college football season, encompassing Alabama’s bid to repeat as national champion, Denard Robinson’s Heisman Trophy campaign and more.
Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins is in for a big sophomore season.
The tight end position has been lacking in recent years, but there's a good crop of players ready to emerge in 2012. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert ranks as Athlon's No. 1 tight end for this season, while Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins will only get better after a solid freshman campaign in 2011. Ohio State's Jake Stoneburner and Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz are two players who should easily surpass last year's totals, while non-BCS standouts Jack Doyle, Ryan Otten and Gavin Escobar should not be overlooked.
Denard Robinson ranks as one of the top-five quarterbacks in college football.
With the college football season right around the corner, it's time to countdown the best of the best. Athlon continues the countdown to kickoff with a look at the top quarterbacks in college football for 2012. It should be no surprise USC's Matt Barkley tops the rankings as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation. The senior is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and has the Trojans as one of the frontrunners to claim the 2012 national title.
Arkansas' Knile Davis is back after missing 2011 with an ankle injury.
Injuries are a big part of any college football season. 2011 was no different, as losing Knile Davis was a key setback to Arkansas' hopes of winning the SEC West last year, while Missouri's offensive line had to shuffle some players around after Elvis Fisher was lost for the year with a knee injury.
Although those players were missed in 2011, their return to the gridiron is an even bigger storyline for 2012.
What do opposing coaches think of Nick Saban's team at Alabama for 2012?
It's not easy getting college football coaches to honestly comment on another coach, player or team. Most coaches don't want to give opposing teams billboard material, which is why there is a lot of coach speak during the year. In order to get an accurate assessment of teams heading into 2012, Athlon asked coaches in the SEC to talk anonymously about their opponents.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney should be one of the SEC's top players.
With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, the SEC is bigger and better than ever. While the Tigers and Aggies probably won't win the conference in 2012, the addition of both teams only adds to the depth in the legaue. The last six national champions have come from the SEC and the conference should have a good chance to add No. 7 in 2012.
Simply put, there's no shortage of talent in the SEC. Athlon ranked 75 players for this list but could easily rank 100 with the amount of returning talent in the league for 2012.
Who would we watch if HBO's Hard Knocks followed college teams
College football is the world’s greatest reality show. The competition is more fierce than anything on Survivor. The glory is greater than anything on American Idol. And if you don’t think some players are prima donnas and some coaches are as downright nasty as Real Housewives, well, then you’ve never followed recruiting.