It’s that time of year again. After months of waiting, after an offseason full of lawsuits and coaching changes and anticipation, the 2014 campaign is finally here. So, which players will define the first year of the College Football Playoff era?
SI.com presents it 2014 Preseason All-America Team, which features plenty of familiar faces. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston headlines a group of five Florida State players on the first team, the highest total of any program in the nation. The SEC boasts the most selections of any conference with nine, while the ACC sits just behind with eight.
And keep an eye on a handful of underclassmen defensive backs. On the heels of breaking out as true freshmen last fall, Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller and Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey could be poised for even bigger things as sophomores.
For more preseason college football coverage, be sure to check out our 2014 schedule analysis, pivot-point games and television media roundtable.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner led the nation with a sparkling 184.8 quarterback rating last season.
Bulldogs back rushed for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall despite missing three games with an ankle injury.
Redshirt junior ran for 100-plus yards in six of his first seven games in 2013 and averaged 10.0 yards per carry.
After making 71 catches for 1,339 yards, Goodley will reprise his role as Bryce Petty’s favorite weapon.
Despite dipping from his 2012 statistics, Bama’s big-play wideout should shine in coordinator Lane Kiffin’s offense.
Palm Beach, Fla., native reeled in seven touchdowns last season and should be Winston’s go-to red zone target.
The latest in the Aggies’ string of dominant left tackles is already being projected as a top 2015 NFL draft pick.
Redshirt senior has started 38 games over the last three seasons and will clear paths for tailback Mike Davis.
Ducks star paved the way for a rushing attack that averaged 273.5 yards per game, ninth nationally.
Stalwart anchored an offense that led the nation and set an ACC record with 94 total touchdowns in 2013.
The 6-foot-7, 316-pounder bolsters one of the country’s top lines and has been compared to Jonathan Ogden.
Dynamic pass-rusher racked up 13 sacks last fall, the most of any returning player in the nation.
Rising junior amassed a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss last season despite dealing with a shoulder injury.
Disruptive force scored three defensive touchdowns last year, the most of any Spartans defender since 1999.
Versatile defender had 75 tackles and two picks last year to go with 267 rushing yards and seven scores.
First-team All-SEC selection led the league with 133 tackles, including 18 in a 43-38 loss to Auburn.
Volunteers’ leader has been a model of stability, tallying 100-plus tackles in each of the last two seasons.
Premier blitzer terrorized Alabama for seven tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble in the Sugar Bowl.
Lockdown corner notched 11 pass breakups last year, tied for the most by a true freshman in Gators’ history.
Rebels senior led the SEC with six interceptions, including one that sealed a 39-35 win over Vanderbilt.
Do-it-all defensive back seamlessly moved from corner to safety after Tyler Hunter was injured last October.
Breakout star had six interceptions and 58 tackles as a freshman and should be even better in 2014.
Groza Award winner set an FBS kicking record with 157 points last season and went 94-for-94 on extra points.
Strong-legged specialist led the SEC with a 47.4 punting average, including a 69-yarder in a 45-41 loss to Auburn.
Tar Heels standout returned five punts for touchdowns in his final five games as a true freshman in 2013.
Speedster rang up 1,859 all-purpose yards last fall and sits 838 receiving yards shy of the all-time school record.
QB Marcus Mariota, Jr. Oregon
RB Ameer Abdullah, Sr., Nebraska
RB Mike Davis, Jr., South Carolina
WR Nelson Agholor, Jr., USC
WR DeVante Parker, Sr. Louisville
TE O.J. Howard, So., Alabama
T Cameron Erving, Sr., Florida State
G Laken Tomlinson, Sr., Duke
C Reese Dismukes, Sr., Auburn
G Shaquille Mason, Sr., Georgia Tech
T Brandon Scherff, Sr., Iowa
DL Michael Bennett, Sr., Ohio State
DL Chris Jones, So., Mississippi State
DL Randy Gregory, Jr., Nebraska
LB Trey DePriest, Sr., Alabama
LB Jaylon Smith, So., Notre Dame
LB Denzel Perryman, Sr., Miami
LB Shaq Thompson, Jr., Washington
CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Sr., Oregon
S Landon Collins, Jr., Alabama
S Anthony Harris, Sr., Virginia
CB Tre’Davious White, So., LSU
K Andy Phillips, So., Utah
P Mike Sadler, Sr., Michigan State
R Stefon Diggs, Jr., Maryland
AP Ty Montgomery, Jr., Stanford
Two college football players to keep an eye on
Sports Illustrated's Martin Rickman and Zac Ellis predict that Alabama QB, Jacob Coker and Marshall QB, Rakeem Cato are two players that could have big seasons ahead of them.