Sunday, October 7, 2007

Have You Seen Me Lately?

It's no secret that I love college football for many reasons, but one of the biggest is the sheer number of unbelievable playmakers who dot the college football landscape.

But unless you're one super-cool guy and have multiple monitors hooked up to ESPN's College Gameplan service, chances are you've missed some of the more exciting and explosive players from all over the country.

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which games to watch on a Saturday afternoon, so here now is a list of five must-see talents to help you ease the strain of the carpal tunnel syndrome you've no doubt developed from all the channel surfing.

The Quarterback: Everyone knows the big names like Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson and Tim Tebow. But perhaps you noticed the severe beating the Missouri Tigers handed the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday night.

The architect of that beat-down was Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel who racked up a career-high 401 yards passing and tossed in 72 yards rushing for good measure. Of course gaudy offensive numbers are nothing new for the 6-foot junior from Southlake, Texas.

Now in his second year as the starting quarterback for the Tigers, Daniel is building on an outstanding 2006 campaign in which he finished with over 3,900 total yards and 32 touchdowns after taking over for uber-athlete Brad Smith.

All Daniel's done this year is complete nearly 67% of his passes including 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He's also second on the team with 188 rushing yards and tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with three.

The guy can flat do it all for an offense that demands nothing less from their signal caller. He gets another huge test next weekend as he leads the undefeated Tigers into Norman to face the Oklahoma Sooners in what could be a preview of the Big 12 Championship Game.

The Track Star: It seems nearly impossible that a guy listed at 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds could make it in the roughest conference in the nation, but not all 5-foot-5 160 pound guys can run a 10.02 in the 100 meters.

That's exactly what LSU tailback Trindon Holliday can do however and perhaps no player strikes more fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators than Holliday, who is easily the smallest guy on the field at all times.

His stats aren't big, but it's a rare talent to make 80,000 people collectively hold their breath every time you touch the football. Whether it's on a hand off, a catch or a kick return LSU's head coach Les Miles knows his guy is faster than all of your guys and he's not afraid to let him loose.

In fact Holliday was nearly overlooked completely as he received only three official offers to play college football. LSU, Southern Mississippi and Southern University were the only players in the race for Holliday's services and the diminutive speedster could not turn down the opportunity to play football and run track in the SEC.

As the ultimate x-factor for the nation's best team Holliday has turned into a star in Baton Rouge despite only touching the ball 30 times all year on offense. At his size Holliday may never get a chance to play on Sunday, but as only a sophomore college football fans will get to enjoy the nation's most explosive player for at least another year or two.

The country gets another chance to check out Holliday as he and the top-ranked LSU Tigers take on SEC upstart Kentucky on CBS.

The Go-To Guy: Let me guess, you don't have the Big Ten network either. Of course this year we're not missing much, but one thing we are missing is the brilliant play of Purdue wide receiver Dorien Bryant.

To say Purdue likes to throw the ball around is an understatement, and that's just fine with Bryant who has made a habit of making big plays to the tune of over 3,000 receiving yards since arriving on campus.

Well on his way to a third consecutive 80+ catch season, Bryant already ranks third on Purdue's all-time receptions list. At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds Bryant is not the biggest guy around, but if you like circus-quality catches then Bryant is your guy.

Watch out for Bryant at the next level as he'd be a perfect fit for a team in need of a sure-handed target with the ability to run after the catch (ahem, Vikings, ahem).

The Freshman: Florida Atlantic University is the last place you'd expect to find big time playmakers, but at 3-3 the Owls are no pushover. So for a team on the rise it's no surprise that it's a redshirt freshman who is helping to lead the way.

That freshman is Tavious Polo who leads the nation with seven interceptions through the team's first six games. Minnesota fans got an up-close look at the talented Polo as he victimized the Gophers for three INTs, including the game-clincher, in a 42-39 win.

Polo spurned the opportunity to go to Lousiville and instead stayed closer to home at FAU. Another undersized guy, Polo's instincts and ability to find the football are tremendous and he should only get better along with the rest of his Owl teammates.

The Hawk: C'mon now, you didn't really think I was going to get through a list like this without including a California Golden Bear did you?

While everyone knows about Heisman Trophy candidate DeSean Jackson, I think most people would be surprised to know it's actually senior wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins who leads the potent Bears offense with 342 receiving yards.

Cal may have the nation's best trio of receivers, and while Jackson gets the headlines for his highlight reel exploits, it's Hawkins who has become the team's most consistent performer in the passing game.

"The Hawk" as they call him, is on pace to have his best season in Berkeley and has helped lead Cal to their current ranking of #2 in the country. Hawkins originally signed with LSU out of high school, but transferred back to the West Coast where he grew up.

The Bears are happy to have him and you can check him out next Saturday as Cal takes on Oregon State on the VS. Network.

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