It feels like it was just yesterday that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide outlasted Dabo Swinney and his Clemson squad on a cool January night in Glendale, Arizona. If you haven’t noticed it yet, college football season is almost upon us! This upcoming year is loaded with historic Week One match-ups and should set the tone for an incredibly entertaining year. Speaking of entertaining, I’m going to highlight who I think are the most exciting players in the nation. To be clear, this is not necessarily a Heisman preview or who I think the best players are, but a rundown of the players who put on a show week in and week out.
1. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
In my opinion, McCaffrey is an obvious choice for the number one spot. He consistently lit up opposing Pac-12 defenses and was an incredibly versatile offensive threat. McCaffrey can beat you in the backfield and as a receiving option. Last year as a true sophomore, he broke NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’ record for all purpose yards in a season by 614. This year, we can expect him to continue tearing apart opposing defenses and make every game for the Cardinals a must watch.
2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
It goes without saying that Deshaun Watson was ridiculously good last year. He became the first player in College Football history to pass for 4000 yards and 1000 yards last year. Watson is a constant terror in the pocket as well as when he finds some room to run. He uses his incredible athleticism to avoid sacks, keep plays alive, and keep the defense on their toes. Deshaun Watson is the most exciting quarterback in the league and he hopes to lead Clemson to another playoff berth.
3. Leonard Fournette, LSU
At 6′ 1″ and 230 pounds of pure power, Leonard Fournette is built like a heavy duty truck. More accurately, he runs like a truck, barreling over anyone in his path as he makes his way to the end zone. Last year, Fournette became the first LSU Tiger to win the NCAA individual rushing championship with an absurd 162 yards per game. Every snap for the Tigers is a potential highlight when #7 is in the backfield. Fournette is going to have to be every bit as good as he was last year if LSU wants to secure their first Playoff spot under the new format.
4. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Jabrill Peppers is the most versatile player in the nation. He is a human Swiss Army Knife. Peppers can play every position on the field except maybe line; and I wouldn’t even put that past him. Last year, Peppers did it all. He lined up at safety primarily but also played linebacker, corner, as well as a little bit of slot receiver, tailback and to top it off he even logged a passing attempt. This year, Coach Jim Harbaugh expects him to play primarily strong side linebacker as well as being a returner and an offensive option. Peppers is a unique player that can leave his fingerprints all over a game regardless of what position on the field he lines up at.
5. Royce Freeman, Oregon
This pick might come as a surprise to some, but it shouldn’t. Royce Freeman is one of the most underrated running backs in the country and is a walking highlight reel. Freeman is two years removed from being the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and one year removed from rushing for 1,836 yards which was good for fourth in the nation. He is incredibly explosive and elusive and is one of the main cogs in the high powered Ducks offense. Amid questions at quarterback, Freeman should get lots of carries and his talent will be on full display against a conference full of tough teams.
Needless to say, I am super excited for the upcoming season and can’t wait so see these players in action.