Every college football team has their star but some have more of an impact on that team's success than others. Usually the difference is the supporting cast but still it's always the star that gets the credit. Here are twelve players whose teams are counting on to have a huge impact on the field to allow team success during the season.
12 Kendall Wright, Baylor - Robert Griffin was posting a 65% completion percentage last season when he went down with a season-ending knee injury. His departure didn't stop Kendall Wright from having a solid season though. Wright led the Bears in `09 with 66 receptions for 740 yards. A healthy Griffin this season increases Baylor's run threat from their multiple formation sets which should in turn free up right to produce more catches and increase his 11.2 yards per reception average from last season.
11. Scotty McKnight, Colorado - The Buffs return all five offensive linemen from last year which should hopefully give whoever ends up playing quarterback for them in 2010 a little bit of security and stability from another year of experience. Colorado quarterbacks were sacked a combined 43 times and threw 18 interceptions. Still Scotty McKnight hauled in 76 receptions for 893 yards and 6 touchdowns. Unless there's a drastic improvement in the Buffs defense they'll need to score a lot of points to stay competitive in this year's Big 12 and in order to do that McKnight is going to have to produce as a big play threat.
10. Alexander Robinson, Iowa State - Robinson averaged 5.2 yards per carry last season while rushing for nearly 1,200 yards on 232 carries. He'll be the work horse again in 2010 and with the experience of quarterback Austen Arnaud, along with a key nucleus of offensive linemen, Robinson should be in for a big year.
9. Kale Pick, Kansas - The Jayhawks are replacing six starters on offense this year and only have one returning starter who plays a skill position. The ability of new starting quarterback Kale Pick to find success early and often is crucial to Kansas finding success on the field.
8. Daniel Thomas, Kansas State - Like wide receiver Jonathan Wilson of Kansas, Thomas is the only returning starter in a skill position for the Wildcats. He's also going to be the only offensive player with name recognition to start the season along with the guy opposing defenses are going to look to shutdown. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in `09 and will most likely see his workload increase from the 247 carries he had last season.
7. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri - Gabbert had a more than solid season in `09 as a first year starter at quarterback for the Tigers. He passed for over 3,500 yards and 24 touchdowns to just 9 picks. He has four out of five offensive linemen returning along with running back Derrick Washington helping him out. He just needs to gel with some new receivers quickly.
6. Niles Paul, Nebraska - Despite being just a second away from winning the Big 12 championship last season, Nebraska was in the bottom half of the conference in scoring offense last season. With four key losses in the defense the Huskers are going to have to get more production from the offensive side of the ball this year. The key to making that happen in Niles Paul. Not only will he be a threat in the return game but he also has size and speed to be a big play receiver for Nebraska.
5. DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma - The Sooners haven't had a go to/workhorse running back since Adrian Peterson left for the NFL. Bob Stoops says that he has renewed confidence in the offensive line and that Murray is destined to get a Peterson type workload. That means big things from Murray who was second on the team last year in both rushing attempts and receptions.
4. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State - Many O-State fans feel that Weeden should have finished the regular season and the bowl game for the Cowboys last year in place of injured starter Zac Robinson. Weeden has the arm and maturity (dude is 26-year's old) to lead the revamped OSU offense. The only question is experience.
3. Malcolm Williams, Texas - If you believe the hype around new quarterback Garrett Gilbert (30/66, 2 TDs/4 INTs in 2009), then he's ready to take the reigns as the next greatest thing to come out of Texas. However, reliable targets for him to throw to are an entirely different issue. Gone is Jordan Shipley which leaves James Kirkendoll as the team's leading receiver from last year (48/461). Williams has big play ability (averaged 14.1 yards per reception in `09) and must establish himself as a legitimate threat to give Gilbert a fighting chance.
2. Christine Michael, Texas A&M - Lost amidst all the pre-season talk around quarterback Jerrod Johnson is the fact that Michael rushed for 844 yards (5.1 YPC) and 10 touchdowns last season while sharing the load with Cyrus Gray. Michael will replace Gray this year as the starter and try to be the balance in Mike Sherman's spread attack.
1. Alex Torres, Texas Tech - The Red Raiders are still unsettled at quarterback but whoever wins the position (Taylor Potts or Steven Sheffield) is going to need Torres to build on his accomplishments last season as a freshman. In 2009 he led Texas Tech in receptions (67) while piling up 806 yards and 6 touchdowns.