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College Football Preview

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SI.com's College Football Preview:
Position-by-Position Rankings
Stewart Mandel rates the nation's best players.
Jump to a position: QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | K | P
QUARTERBACKS
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Philip Rivers N.C. State Sr.
    Enters his fourth year as starter with 8,993 yards, 75 TDs and 26-12 record.
2 Cody Pickett Washington Sr.
    Coming off the best passing season in Pac-10 history: 4,458 yards, 28 TDs.
3 David Greene Georgia Jr.
    21-5 record in his two years as a starter, including 8-0 in opposing stadiums.
4 Andrew Walter Arizona State Jr.
    Exploded onto the scene with four 400-yard passing games last season.
5 Matt Schaub Virginia Sr.
    Highly efficient short-yardage passer compiled 68.9 completion percentage.
6 Brad Smith Missouri So.
    Became just the second I-A player ever to throw for 2,000 yards, run for 1,000.
7 Ben Roethlisberger Miami of Ohio Jr.
    Coveted by the NFL, passing for over 3,000 yards each of his first two seasons.
8 Ell Roberson Kansas State Sr.
    Ever-improving passer is a dangerous runner, gaining 1,032 yards and 16 TDs.
9 Eli Manning Ole Miss Sr.
    Looking to recover from uncharacteristic 21-touchdown, 15-interception season
10 Josh Fields Oklahoma State So.
    Coming off breakout season: 3,145 yards, 31 touchdowns, 10 interceptions.
11 Bradlee Van Pelt Colorado State Sr.
    Dual threat accounted for 2,982 yards last year, 819 of them with his feet.
12 Casey Clausen Tennessee So.
    Four-year starter looks to rediscover his 2001 form after injury-plagued junior year.
13 John Navarre Michigan Sr.
    Largely unappreciated four-year guy threw 21 TDs, just seven picks as a junior.
14 Ryan Schneider UCF Sr.
    Threw for 345 yards on Penn State, 440 against Syracuse en route to 3,770.
15 Craig Krenzel Ohio State Sr.
    Brains of the Buckeyes offense made big plays, few mistakes during title run.
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RUNNING BACKS
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Maurice Clarett Ohio State So.
    When healthy, proved nearly unstoppable right from his first college game.
2 Steven Jackson Oregon State Jr.
    Both fast and powerful, he broke the school season record with 1,690 yards.
3 Frank Gore Miami So.
    Had beat out Heisman finalist Willis McGahee last spring prior to ACL tear.
4 Anthony Davis Wisconsin Sr.
    Workhorse averaged 25 carries and 126 yards per game his first two years.
5 Darren Sproles Kansas State Jr.
    His 5-7, 170-pound frame didn't keep him from averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
6 Kevin Jones Virginia Tech Jr.
    Former No. 1 recruit in the country finally gets the ball to himself this fall.
7 Michael Turner Northern Illinois Sr.
    Nation's leading returning rusher sprang for 1,915 yards, 19 touchdowns.
8 Mewelde Moore Tualne Sr.
    Compiled a combined 3,942 rushing/receiving yards the past two years.
9 Carnell Williams Auburn Jr.
    "Cadillac" possesses Porsche-quality acceleration, though injury-prone.
10 Cedric Benson Texas Jr.
    Quietly posted 1,293 yards in 2002 to follow up his 1,053 as a freshman.
11 Greg Jones Florida State Sr.
    6-1, 255-pound battering ram not yet back at full speed from knee surgery.
12 T.A. McLendon N.C. State So.
    "Touchdown Anytime" reached the end zone 18 times as a true freshman.
13 Derrick Knight Boston College Sr.
    Latest in line of great B.C. tailbacks ran for 1,432 yards and 12 touchdowns.
14 Fred Russell Iowa Sr.
    Not an every-down back last year, yet managed to gain 1,264 yards.
15 Ronnie Brown Auburn Jr.
    Averaged 138.5 yards in six games last year after Williams went down.
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WIDE RECEIVERS
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Reggie Williams Washington Jr.
    Already holds the two-year Pac-10 record with 149 catches for 2,427 yards.
2 Rashaun Woods Oklahoma St. Sr.
    Nation's leading returning receiver had 107 catches, 1,695 yards and 17 TDs.
3 Roy Williams Texas Sr.
    Amazing last five games of 2002: 39 catches, 741 yards and nine touchdowns.
4 Mike Williams USC So.
    Carson Palmer's top receiver as a freshman with 81 catches, 1,265 yards.
5 Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh So.
    Leaping touchdown in the Insight Bowl was one of the best catches of the year.
6 Michael Jenkins Ohio State Sr.
    Big-play receiver made game-saving 4th down catches against Purdue, Miami.
7 Jerricho Cotchery N.C. State Sr.
    Philip Rivers' top target burned Notre Dame for 10 catches, 127 yards in bowl.
8 John Standeford Purdue Sr.
    Broke through as a junior with seven 100-yard games, 1,307 on the season.
9 Braylon Edwards Michigan Jr.
    Will don the famed No. 1 jersey of Anthony Carter, David Terrell this fall.
10 Darius Watts Marshall Jr.
    Staggering past two seasons: 162 catches, 2,447 yards and 30 touchdowns.
11 Lee Evans Wisconsin Sr.
    Missed last season with ACL injury following 1,545-yard season in 2001.
12 Fred Gibson Georgia Jr.
    Inconsistent but extremely talented, will finally be Dogs' No. 1 guy this fall.
13 Bernard Berrian Fresno State Sr.
    Another guy who missed last season but shined the year before (1,545 yards).
14 Roscoe Parrish Miami So.
    Small (5-9, 157) but elusive playmaker should take on a much bigger role.
15 Lane Danielsen Iowa State Sr.
    Unimposing but gutsy player torched foes for 63 catches, 1,073 yards.
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OFFENSIVE LINE
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Shawn Andrews Arkansas Jr.
    Dominating 6-5, 371-pounder leads way for SEC's top rushing offense.
2 Winston Justice USC So.
    One-of-a-kind talent became Trojans' top lineman as a true freshman.
3 Justin Smiley Alabama Jr.
    Played nearly every snap in 2002, registering 177 knockdown blocks.
4 Nick Leckey Kansas State Sr.
    Top blocker for a team that gained a school-record 3,443 rushing yards.
5 Antonio Hall Kentucky Sr.
    Starter for 34 straight games also sings opera and plays a mean piano.
6 Nat Dorsey Georgia Tech Jr.
    Former true freshman starter one of game's best run-blocking tackles.
7 Robert Gallery Iowa Sr.
    6-7, 317-pound tackle the lone holdover from Hawkeyes' dominating line.
8 Brian Rimpf East Carolina Sr.
    Three-time all-conference honoree key figure in powerful running game.
9 Stephen Peterman LSU Sr.
    First team All-SEC honoree allowed only one sack his entire junior season.
10 Vince Carter Oklahoma Jr.
    Two-year starting center has been key figure in OU's improved running game.
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DEFENSIVE LINE
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 David Pollack Georgia Jr.
    All-around playmaker had 102 tackles, 14 sacks, 2 blocked kicks and 2 INTs.
2 Tommie Harris Oklahoma Jr.
    Slowed by injury in 2002 but still commanded attention from opposing lines.
3 Vince Wilfork Miami Jr.
    Mammoth 6-2, 344-pound tackle with the speed to get to the quarterback.
4 Jason Babin W. Michigan Sr.
    The nation's leading returning sack man had 14 in 12 games last season.
5 Brandon Kennedy North Texas Sr.
    Extremely powerful for his size (5-10, 315), notching 24 tackles for loss.
6 Will Smith Ohio State Sr.
    Most prominent member (12.5 tackles for loss) of the nation's top D-line.
7 Nathaniel Adibi Virginia Tech Sr.
    Notched nine sacks, 15 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles last year.
8 Claude Harriott Pittsburgh Sr.
    Made the most of his first year starting with 9.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss.
9 Kenechi Udeze USC Jr.
    Leader of USC's front had 7.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles.
10 Antwan Odom Alabama Jr.
    Lone underclassman on 'Bama's line last year led the team with 10 sacks.
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LINEBACKERS
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Rod Davis Southern Miss Sr.
    Hard to beat this stat line: 168 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss.
2 Teddy Lehman Oklahoma Sr.
    Man in the middle anchors college football's most intimidating defense.
3 Karlos Dansby Auburn Sr.
    Roves the field like a safety, stopping the run and breaking up passes.
4 Jonathan Vilma Miami Sr.
    Hard-hitter who compensates for his size (6-2, 220) with on-field smarts.
5 Derrick Johnson Texas Sr.
    Explosive, instinctive player made over 200 tackles his first two years.
6 Matt Grootegoed USC Jr.
    Most prominent member (12.5 tackles for loss) of the nation's top D-line.
7 Courtney Watson Notre Dame Sr.
    Middle backer emerged as the leader of a resurgent Irish defense in 2002.
8 Michael Boulware Florida St. Sr.
    Extremely athletic linebacker has returned fumbles for 84 and 73 yards.
9 Dontarrious Thomas Auburn Sr.
    Prolific tackler has posted 276 in three years, with 24 of them for loss.
10 Lance Mitchell Oklahoma Sr.
    Junior college transfer emerged as the Sooners' leading tackler (124).
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DEFENSIVE BACKS
Rk. Player School Yr.
1 Chris Gamble Ohio State Jr.
    Not bad for a guy who started playing defense eight games into last year.
2 Sean Taylor Miami Jr.
    At 6-3, 225, he's establishing a new, "big" prototype for free safeties.
3 Brandon Everage Oklahoma Sr.
    Covers seemingly the entire field, notching 94 tackles and six picks in '02.
4 Nathan Vasher Texas Sr.
    Has intercepted 11 passes and broken up 38 his first three seasons.
5 Marlin Jackson Michigan Jr.
    Lock-down cover corner has gotten the better of several elite receivers.
6 Stuart Schweigert Purdue Sr.
    Impact player since his freshman year, with 272 tackles and 13 picks.
7 Justin Miller Clemson So.
    Burst onto the scene with eight interceptions as a true freshman.
8 Derrick Strait Oklahoma Sr.
    One of the last holdovers from OU's 2000 national title team.
9 Jim Leonhard Wisconsin Jr.
    5-8 former walk-on led the country last year with 11 interceptions.
10 Domonique Foxworth Maryland Jr.
    Led the ACC last year with 17 pass break-ups to go with five picks.

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