Jim Tressel redesigned Ohio State's offense to cater to the talents of his star quarterback, who reminds many people of Vince Young. In his first full year as a starter Smith threw for 2,282 yards and 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions while running for another 611 yards and 11 TDs. He went off against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns and adding 66 yards on the ground for good measure.
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Quentin Moses, DE
When David Pollack graduated in 2004, the consensus was that Georgia's D-line would suffer. But Moses filled in admirably for Pollack. In his first year as a starter Moses led Georgia with 111/2 sacks and 201/2 tackles for loss en route to first-team All-SEC honors.
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Joe Thomas, OT
He may not boast sculpted guns or washboard abs, but the 6-foot-8, 313-pound Thomas has a frame that draws long stares from NFL scouts. He has an enviable combination of strength, agility and speed (a 4.85 in the 40) and is so versatile that his coaches played him at defensive end in the Badgers' Capital One Bowl win over Auburn. Thomas tore his ACL in that game, but he says he'll be at full strength for the start of the season.
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Mason Crosby, K
Crosby's secret? An abnormally long backswing, a violent turn of the hips before impact and a right leg made powerful from playing soccer for 13 years. His career-best field goal is a 60-yarder, and in three seasons with the Buffaloes he has made 10 of 15 attempts from 50 yards and beyond.
5 of 11Peter Read Miller/SI
Brandon Siler, LB
The only knock on Siler -- and it's a reach -- is that he wasn't the team's leading tackler in either of his first two seasons, when he averaged 701/2 tackles per year. This season the 6-foot-2 235-pounder will be roaming behind one of the top defensive lines in the SEC, if not the nation, and should far exceed that number.
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Gaines Adams, DE
Last season, his first as a starter for the Tigers, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Adams was sixth in the ACC in sacks (81/2) and was projected as a first-round NFL draft pick. But Adams, who has the quick first step of a safety, opted to return to Death Valley and anchor a defense that ranked 11th in the nation in points allowed (17.6) and has seven starters returning.
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Sidney Rice, WR
A tattoo on his left arm reads "BLESSED." And why not? The Gamecocks receiver stands 6-foot-4 and has soft hands and arms so long he can grab the bottom of a basketball net standing flat-footed. Rice is a master at positioning his body so he can rise over the defensive back, making him a nightmare to defend in the red zone. As a freshman he had 70 catches for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns.
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Dan Mozes, C
Mozes has pancaked many an opponent, but he has yet to help one off the ground. And he doesn't plan to. It's that nastiness -- and a don't-stop-until-the-whistle-blows mentality -- that has turned this overlooked Washington (Pa.) High recruit (his only other scholarship offers came from Hofstra and Wake Forest) into one of the nation's top centers.
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Garrett Wolfe, RB
Could it get any worse than being a ninth-string tailback who's only 5-foot-7 and 172 pounds? That's the hole Wolfe had to climb out of as a freshman, but four years later he has developed into one of the nation's most electrifying runners. He enters the fall as the active leader in Division I-A career rushing with 3,236 yards, plus 34 touchdowns -- not bad for a guy who has played in only 20 games.
10 of 11Peter Read Miller/SI
Rey Maualuga, LB
Maualuga, a ferocious hitter, was such a force on special teams and in part-time duty on defense that he was named to the freshman All-America team. As long as he can control his aggressiveness -- he was charged with misdemeanor battery after allegedly punching a man at a party last year and is undergoing anger-management counseling -- the Trojans will find a way to get this budding star on the field.
11 of 11Peter Read Miller/SI
Michael Griffin, SS
Aggressive. Vicious. Those words, Griffin says, have been inaccurately used to describe pit bulls. He should know -- he breeds them. But aggressive and vicious are accurate descriptions of this 6-foot, 205-pound attack dog. With cornerback speed, a lack of concern for the welfare of his body and a flair for the dramatic, Griffin "will just knock you out," coach Mack Brown says.
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