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Luck, Barkley highlight top college players to watch in 2011

Kyle Terada / US Presswire
With ideal size and arm strength, and his winning ways, Stanford QB Andrew Luck has it all.


The college football season is still several months away, but it's never too early to start thinking about the next wave of talent. NFL personnel guru Gil Brandt recently compiled his Playboy All-America list, and with that, put together a look at his top 100 college players to watch in 2011.

1. Andrew Luck, Jr., QB, Stanford

Luck, who possesses ideal size and arm strength for the quarterback position, has two years of eligibility left at Stanford. His father, Oliver Luck, was the 44th overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft (second round by the Houston Oilers).

Matt Barkley is rated No. 2 because he's been solid since becoming the first USC QB to start a season opener as a true freshman.
Matt Barkley is rated No. 2 because he's been solid since becoming the first USC QB to start a season opener as a true freshman. (Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire)

2. Matt Barkley, Jr., QB, USC

In 2009, Barkley became the first true freshman to ever start a season opener at USC, helping guide the Trojans to a 56-3 win over San Jose State. Barkley, who is also a team captain, has two years of eligibility left at USC. Despite playing just two seasons, Barkley already ranks ninth overall at USC in career total offense.

3. Quinton Coples, Sr., DL, North Carolina

A first-team All-ACC selection in 2010, Coples had 10 sacks, 15.5 tackles for loss and 12 quarterback pressures.

4. Nate Potter, Sr., OL, Boise State

Potter is a home-grown prospect that has earned first-team All-WAC honors twice. With long arms and good feet, Potter is reminiscent of former Boise State lineman Ryan Clady, who is now with the Denver Broncos.

5. Justin Blackmon, Jr., WR, Oklahoma State

Blackmon, who has two years of eligibility left at OSU, was the 2010 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and Biletnikoff Award winner. He had 111 catches for 20 touchdowns, averaging 16.1 yards per reception.

6. Alshon Jeffery, Jr., WR, South Carolina

A 2010 first-team All-SEC selection, Jeffery possesses the size and speed needed at the position in the NFL. Last season, Jeffery had 88 receptions for 1,517 yards.

7. Travis Lewis, Sr., LB, Oklahoma

Lewis could be this year's version of Von Miller, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. Lewis is a three-year starter at Oklahoma and had 109 tackles in 2010 and 362 in his college career. Lewis, who was a high school running back has the speed and athletic ability to play at the next level.

8. Mike Adams, Sr., OL, Ohio State

Adams, a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2010, will miss the first five games of the 2011 season due to suspension. Adams needs to add more strength to compete in the NFL.

9. Dre Kirkpatrick, Jr., DB, Alabama

A second-team All-SEC selection in 2010 who still has two more years of eligibility left at 'Bama, Kirkpatrick has the height and speed needed to play the position. He had three interceptions last season.

10. Landry Jones, Jr., QB, Oklahoma

Named after former Dallas Cowboys coach and Hall of Famer Tom Landry, Jones has the size and arm strength teams look for in quarterbacks but is not a good runner. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions in 2010. Oklahoma does a great job of coaching quarterbacks; former Sooner Sam Bradford was the No. 1 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010.

Trent Richardson has averaged 5.7 yards per carry over two seasons at Alabama.
Trent Richardson has averaged 5.7 yards per carry over two seasons at Alabama. (Nelson Chenault/US Presswire)

11. Trent Richardson, Jr., RB, Alabama

Richardson hails from the same high school as Emmitt Smith, the Hall of Famer and the NFL's all-time career rushing leader. The versatile Richardson averaged 5.7 yards per carry over two seasons with the Crimson Tide, and also has been a very good kick returner. Richardson ran for 144 yards and a touchdown in an early season showdown against Penn State.

12. Matt Kalil, Jr., OL, USC

Father, Frank, and brother, Ryan, were also good college players. Ryan Kalil, a center, is a member of the Carolina Panthers. Matt, who has two years of eligibility left, plays left tackle for the Trojans, and possesses size and athletic ability.

13. Jared Crick, Sr., DL, Nebraska

A fifth-year player, Crick has 19 sacks over the past two seasons, plus 31 tackles for loss. In a 2009 win over Baylor, Crick had a Cornhusker-record five sacks. Crick is also very good against the run.

14. Alfonzo Dennard, Sr., DB, Nebraska

Dennard started 21 games over the past two years and had four interceptions in 2010. He's been well-coached at the position, owning good coverage ability.

15. Jerel Worthy, Jr., DL, Michigan State

A two-year starter at defensive tackle, Worthy is a big, explosive athlete who has the strength to push the pocket. A member of the freshman All-American team, Worthy has two years of eligibility left.

16. Jonathan Martin, Jr., OL, Stanford

A two-year starter at left tackle, Martin was named first-team All-Pac 10 in 2010. He is a very good pass blocker. Martin wears No. 55, which is an odd number for a tackle. He has two years of eligibility left in Palo Alto and could use that time to build more strength.

17. Michael Floyd, Jr., WR, Notre Dame

A three-year starter, Floyd is the school's all-time receiving touchdowns leader (28) and second in catches (171). He's big and fast, but he's also had off-field troubles he'll have to work out.

18. Courtney Upshaw, Sr., LB, Alabama

Upshaw is a three-year player who started for the first time in 2010. He had 10 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles in an impressive performance against Auburn last season.

19. Matt Reynolds, Sr., OL, BYU

Son of assistant coach Lance Reynolds, Matt went on a church mission before starting school. He's an older player who would most likely play guard in the NFL.

20. Ryan Broyles, Sr., WR, Oklahoma

He has the speed and quickness to be explosive, much like the Eagles' DeSean Jackson. Broyles had 131 receptions last season for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns.

21. Kelechi Osemele, Sr., OL, Iowa State

He's a left tackle for the Cyclones who will likely play guard or right tackle in the NFL. Teams will make the trip to Ames to check this kid out.

22. Chase Minnifield, Sr., DB, Virginia

His father, Frank Minnifield, played nine years and appeared in four Pro Bowls with the Cleveland Browns. Last year was Chase's first as a starter, and he was named first-team All-ACC. He has coverage skills and can return kicks.

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23. Jayron Hosley, Jr., DB, Virginia Tech

He had nine interceptions to go with 17 passes defended in 2010, on his way to being named first-team All-ACC. Hosley is a very good small cover corner.

24. Ryan Lindley, Sr., QB, San Diego State

He's a strong-armed QB who will depart as the Aztecs' all-time leading passer. Lindley has passed for 9,537 yards and 67 touchdowns.

25. Michael Egnew, Sr., TE, Missouri

A first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2010, Egnew had 90 catches and five touchdowns. He was a better receiver than blocker last year.

26. Brandon Jenkins, Jr., DL, Florida State

Jenkins will be the next big edge rusher for the Seminoles. He had 44 sacks in high school, and has speed and athletic ability to consistently pressure the quarterback.

27. Zach Brown, Jr., LB, North Carolina

He started only four games in 2010 but still led the Tar Heels in tackles. Brown is an excellent special teams player and is good in space.

28. Stephon Gilmore, Jr., CB, South Carolina

A first-team All-SEC selection in 2010, Gilmore led the team in tackles and had three interceptions. Gilmore has been a starter since he was a true freshman. He has the ability to play QB in a Wildcat formation.

29. Vontaze Burfict, Jr., LB, Arizona State

The reigning Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year led the Sun Devils with 90 tackles and contributed 8.5 sacks. Burfict is a MLB who makes plays all over the field.

30. Mike Brewster, Sr., OL, Ohio State

Brewster received some valuable playing time as a freshman in 2008 that got him on the right track. He's a smart player who will be a center in the NFL for 10-plus years.

31. Andre Branch, Sr., DE, Clemson

His very good athletic ability allows him to play with his hand in the ground or in space. Branch will be The Man on defense in 2011.

32. Janoris Jenkins, Sr., DB

Jenkins has been dismissed from Florida and reportedly will play at Division-II North Alabama next year. He was outstanding against the top receivers last season. The guy could be a first-round pick or go undrafted; it's entirely up to him if he wants to straighten out.

33. Dont'a Hightower, Jr., LB, Alabama

Hightower is coming off a season in which he had 69 tackles (3.5 for loss).

34. Nick Foles, Sr., QB, Arizona

Foles was very accurate last season, completing 67.1 percent of his pass attempts for 20 touchdowns.

Oregon RB LaMichael James was electrifying in 2010 with 24 touchdowns.
Oregon RB LaMichael James was electrifying in 2010 with 24 touchdowns. (Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire)

35. LaMichael James, Jr., RB, Oregon

Last year's Doak Walker Award winner is coming off a huge year in which he scored 24 touchdowns and averaged 5.9 yards per carry.

36. Luke Kuechly, Jr., LB, Boston College

Kuechly was a machine last year, recording 183 total tackles for a defense that ranked 13th in the country.

37. Ray-Ray Armstrong, Jr., DB, Miami (Fla.)

Even with just three starts in 2010, Armstrong was the team's third-leading tackler and had three interceptions.

38. Donte Paige-Moss, Jr., DL, North Carolina

In 11 starts last year, Paige-Moss had 5.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

39. Mark Barron, Sr., DB, Alabama

A first-team All-SEC selection in 2010, Barron has 10 career interceptions and was the team's leading tackler last season with 75.

40. Tank Carder, Sr., LB, TCU

Carder was a first-team All-Mountain West selection last season after leading the team in tackles. He was also named the most valuable player of the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.

41. Marcus Forston, Jr., DL, Miami (Fla.)

In 11 games as a starter last season, Forston recorded three sacks and nine tackles for loss.

42. Jeff Fuller, Sr., WR, Texas A&M

Fuller, the son of former 49ers WR Jeff Sr., had 72 catches and 12 touchdowns in 2010.

43. Cliff Harris, Jr., DB, Oregon

Harris is a small, quick DB who led the Ducks with five interceptions in 2010 and returned four punts for touchdowns.

44. Keenan Robinson, Sr., LB, Texas

An honorable mention All-Big 12 selection, Robinson had a team-best 113 tackles to go with two sacks and two interceptions in 2010.

45. Manti Te'o, Jr., LB, Notre Dame

Te'o, who started 10 games as a true freshman, finished last season with 133 tackles, including 9.5 for loss.

46. Juron Criner, Sr., WR, Arizona

A first-team All-Pac 10 selection, Criner had 82 receptions and 11 touchdowns in 2010.

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47. Billy Winn, Sr., DL, Boise State

Winn was a second-team All-WAC selection in 2010. He's an athletic player and good competitor.

48. Riley Reiff, Jr., OL, Iowa

Riley was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season. He is reminiscent of former Hawkeye standout Robert Gallery.

49. Ryan Tannehill, Sr., QB, Texas A&M

Tennehill played wide receiver for two years before starting at QB during the middle of 2010. He passed for 449 yards and four touchdowns in his first start.

50. Kirk Cousins, Sr., QB, Michigan State

Cousins, who will be starting for the third year, is a tough player with a good arm. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season.

51. Vinny Curry, Sr., DL, Marshall; 52. Mohamed Sanu, Jr., WR, Rutgers; 53. Greg Childs, Sr., WR, Arkansas; 54. Devin Taylor, Jr., DE, South Carolina; 55. David DeCastro, Jr., OL, Stanford; 56. Andrew Datko, Sr., OL, Florida State; 57. Cyrus Gray, Sr., RB, Texas A&M; 58. Omar Bolden*, Sr., DB, Arizona State; 59. Ryan Miller, Sr., OL, Colorado; 60. David Paulson, Sr., TE, Oregon.

61. Robert Lester, Jr., DB, Alabama; 62. Danny Trevathan, Sr., LB, Kentucky; 63. David Lavonte, Sr., LB, Nebraska; 64. Kenny Tate, Sr., LB, Maryland; 65. Barrett Jones, Jr., Alabama, OL; 66. Nigel Bradham, Sr., LB, Florida State; 67. Isaiah Pead, Sr., RB, Cincinnati; 68. Casey Hayward, Sr., DB, Vanderbilt; 69. Jerry Franklin, Sr., LB, Arkansas; 70. Terrelle Pryor, Sr., QB, Ohio State.

71. Levi Adock, Sr., OL, Oklahoma State; 72. Jaye Howard, Sr. DL, Florida; 73. George Bryan, Sr., TE, North Carolina State; 74. Brandon Boykin, Jr., CB, Georgia; 75. Chris Owusu, Sr., WR, Stanford; 76. Brandon Bolden, Sr., RB, Mississippi; 77. Cordy Glenn, Sr., OL, Georgia; 78. Ladarius Green, Sr., TE, Louisiana-Lafeyette; 79. Bruce Irvin, Sr., DL, West Virginia; 80. Delano Howell, Sr., DB, Stanford.

81. Morris Claiborne, Jr., DB, LSU; 82. Knile Davis, Jr., RB, Arkansas; 83. Shaun Prater, Sr., DB, Iowa; 84. Brandon Weeden, Sr., QB, Oklahoma State; 85. Dan Herron, Sr., RB, Ohio State; 86. Doug Martin, Sr., RB, Boise State; 87. Montel Harris, Sr., RB, Boston College; 88. Kheeston Randall, Sr., DT, Texas; 89. Tydreke Powell, Sr., DL, North Carolina; 90. Kyle Martens, Sr., P, Rice.

91. Nick Toon, Sr., WR, Wisconsin; 92. Case Keenum, Sr., QB, Houston; 93. Kendall Wright, Sr., WR, Baylor; 94. Vince Browne, Sr., DL, Northwestern; 95. Malik Jackson, Sr., DL, Tennessee; 96. Larry Warford, Jr., OL, Kentucky; 97. Tony Bergstrom, Jr., OL, Utah; 98. Taylor Thompson, Sr., DL, Southern Methodist; 99. Drew Butler, Sr., P, Georgia; 100. Jeff Demps, Sr., RB, Florida.

*Suffered an ACL injury in spring game and will likely miss entire 2011 season.

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