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Top 10 JUCO transfers for 2015 college football season

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Junior college players generally don't receive a lot of media attention during the recruiting process, but chances are good that numerous JC transfers in this recruiting cycle will make a lot of news in their college and NFL careers.

Four JC transfers eventually became No. 1 overall picks in the NFL draft: Cam Newton, Keyshawn Johnson, O.J. Simpson and Ron Yary. Numerous other former junior college stars have made their NFL mark, including Larry Allen, Cortez Kennedy, Dick "Night Train" Lane, Warren Moon, Aaron Rodgers and Roger Staubach. And while there were no former JC players taken in the first round of the 2014 draft, there were five former juco stars selected in the first round in 2013: Chicago Bears G Kyle Long, Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei, Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson, New York Jets DT Sheldon Richardson and Denver Broncos DT Sylvester Williams.

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There probably will be three former junior college stars selected in the first round this year, including Nebraska DE Randy Gregory and West Virginia WR Kevin White, who are seen as potential top-10 picks. The other likely first-rounder is Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong. Other former JC stars who almost certainly will be drafted are Auburn RB Cameron Artis-Payne, Iowa State TE E.J. Bibbs, Arizona State DE Marcus Hardison, Auburn CB Nick Marshall, Washington State WR Vince Mayle, Oregon State CB Steven Nelson, Arizona State S Damarious Randall, Kentucky DE Za'Darius Smith and Arkansas LB Martrell Spaight.

As for this year's top JC transfers, here's a look at the 10 best, from the 247Sports.com's consensus rankings. Eight of them have either signed with or committed to SEC schools.

1. RB Jovon Robinson, to Auburn

Auburn is looking for a replacement for Artis-Payne. Maybe the new starting tailback will be a former JC transfer, too. Robinson (6-foot-0, 235 pounds) enrolled this month and will go through spring practice. He originally signed with Auburn in 2012, but an issue with his high school grades -- a counselor at Memphis' Wooddale High admitted to changing some -- made him ineligible. He sat out that school year, then spent the past two years at Georgia Military College. Now he finally gets his shot with the Tigers.

2. RB Alvin Kamara, to Tennessee

Kamara (5-11, 200), who is from the Atlanta area, signed with Alabama in 2013 but had off-field problems and transferred to Hutchinson (Kan.) CC, where he starred in 2014. He already has enrolled and will go through spring drills. The Vols' leading rusher this season was freshman Jalen Hurd, and Kamara will be looking to prove during spring practice that he deserves to share carries with Hurd.

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3. DE Marquavius Lewis, to South Carolina

South Carolina returns its top five defensive ends, but Lewis (6-3, 266) already is enrolled and will have a shot at earning a starting job during spring practice because of his big-play ability. Lewis had 11 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss this season at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC and had 18.5 sacks and 39.5 tackles for loss in his two seasons there.

4. DE Devonte Fields, to Louisville (committed)

Fields is the only guy on this list who is a proven FBS player, as he starred at TCU as a freshman in 2012; he was the Big 12's defensive player of the year that season. But Fields (6-4, 250) couldn't stay out of trouble and eventually was dismissed from school in July 2014, ending up at Trinity Valley CC in Athens, Texas. He's now getting another chance from Louisville. If healthy and motivated, he is a big-time pass rusher who has the ability to make an immediate impact.

5. DT D.J. Jones, to Mississippi

Jones (6-2, 315) already has enrolled and will go through spring drills. During spring, he will be looking to get into the tackle rotation for the Rebels, who are losing two senior tackles, though neither was a starter. Jones originally was committed to Florida State before deciding on Mississippi. Jones, who went to East Mississippi CC, is expected to see time at both tackle spots -- Ole Miss also uses a nose tackle -- and is considered stout at the point of attack.

6. LB Davon Durant, to Arizona State

The Sun Devils had a number of star players this season who were JC transfers, and coaches hope Durant (6-2, 240) pans out in the same manner. He already has enrolled, and even though the Sun Devils return all four starting linebackers (ASU uses a hybrid 3-4 set), Durant will have every opportunity to earn a starting job during spring drills. Durant is a South Carolina native who originally committed to the Gamecocks before changing his mind. He and Marquavius Lewis, No. 3 on this list, played together at Greenwood (S.C.) High.

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7. CB Tony Bridges, to Mississippi

Bridges (6-2, 175) is lean but also has the skills to play safety if needed. The Rebels are losing their two best players in the secondary, CB Senquez Golson and FS Cody Prewitt, and Bridges, who already is enrolled, seems likely to get the first shot at Golson's job in spring practice. Bridges, a Mississippi native, had been committed to Auburn before switching to the Rebels.

8. WR Donald Gray, to Mississippi State

Gray (5-10, 190), from Memphis, originally signed with Mississippi State in 2013 but didn't make the academic cut. He has re-signed with the Bulldogs, already is enrolled and will go through spring practice. Mississippi State lacked difference-makers at receiver last season, and the hope is that Gray can help in that regard this fall. He also could make an impact as a return man. Gray attended Copiah-Lincoln CC in Wesson, Miss. He missed the 2013 season with an ankle injury, so he has three seasons of eligibility at Mississippi State.

9. OT Martinas Rankin, to Mississippi State

Rankin (6-4, 295) already is enrolled and is expected to contend for a starting spot on a Mississippi State offensive line that lost three starters. Left tackle is one of the open spots, and that is where Rankin, a Mississippi native, played for Gulf Coast CC in Perkinston, Miss. Depth is an issue for the Bulldogs along the offensive line, so Rankin's signing was big for coach Dan Mullen and his staff.

10. ATH Jason Smith, to Auburn

Smith also played at Gulf Coast CC in Mississippi. Auburn hit it big with JC transfer D'haquille "Duke" Williams at wide receiver in 2014. Smith, an Alabama native, played quarterback in junior college, but he probably will play wide receiver for the Tigers and could line up next to Williams. Smith is a high-level athlete who runs well, but he needs work as a passer, and his biggest upside would seem to be at receiver. He already is enrolled, and one of the more interesting storylines for Auburn's spring practice is where Smith ends up.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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