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Ohio State, TCU home to top offensive 'triplets' in college football

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Eric Gay/Associated Press
Ezekiel Elliott will form the nation's top QB-RB duo with whoever starts at quarterback for Ohio State in 2015.

» Best defensive 'triplets'


Every college coach craves "triplets" -- trios of top-tier talent capable of dominating games. Today, College Football 24/7 is looking at the top offensive triplets (the best set of players at quarterback, running back and wide receiver). Tuesday, we will look at top defensive triplets (lineman, linebacker and defensive back). We're also providing a list of the top triplets in the leagues that don't make our top 12.

15 for '15:
CFB 24/7 counts down the best of what college football has to offer in varying categories for 2015.

T-12. North Carolina

The triplets: QB Marquise Williams, RB T.J. Logan, WR Quinshad Davis
The skinny: Williams is a dangerous dual threat who led UNC with 788 rushing yards and 13 rushing TDs last season. He has a strong arm but needs to become a more consistent decision-maker. Davis is part of an extremely deep receiving corps; while he is the most talented among the group, his production hasn't always shown that. Logan seems likely to share carries; for sure, he is a nice complementary receiver.

T-12. Florida State

The triplets: QB Everett Golson, RB Dalvin Cook, WR Travis Rudolph
The skinny: While Golson is moving from a team that ran the spread, the former Notre Dame quarterback should fit nicely into FSU's pro-style attack. Golson is much better as a passer than as a runner; still, he will be learning the new offense on the fly, throws way too many interceptions and needs to be more consistent. Cook is a star on the rise. He led FSU in rushing as a true freshman last season; FSU's single-season rushing record is 1,242 yards by Warrick Dunn in 1995, and Cook would seem to have a legitimate chance to break that record this fall. Rudolph has the most upside of any FSU receiver. He had 38 receptions as a true freshman last season and should become the Seminoles' go-to guy this season.

11. Cincinnati

The triplets: QB Gunner Kiel, RB Mike Boone, WR Shaq Washington
The skinny: Kiel is one of the most talented passers in the nation; he has a strong arm and can make all the throws, though his toughness and decision-making have been questioned. Boone is part of a share-the-wealth philosophy at tailback; expect three guys to share carries. Washington is the leading returning receiver among a deep group. Mekale McKay and Chris Moore also could have been listed. What that means, of course, is that Kiel has a lot of talented playmakers on the outside, and should be expected to hit the 3,800-yard mark.

10. Pittsburgh

The triplets: QB Chad Voytik, RB James Conner, WR Tyler Boyd
The skinny: Voytik definitely is the weak link here. At his best, he is a competent college quarterback; he does have some running ability. There are no concerns with the other two, as Boyd and Conner are among the best in the nation at their positions. Conner is a 250-pound workhorse who ran for 1,765 yards and 26 TDs last season. Boyd is smooth, fast and athletic; he had 78 receptions last season, but the mind boggles at what he would do in a pass-happy attack such as Baylor's.

9. Tennessee

The triplets: QB Joshua Dobbs, RB Jalen Hurd, WR Marquez North
The skinny: Tennessee slowly is getting back to where it expects to be, and this trio will help in that regard. Dobbs is a talented dual-threat quarterback with a nice upside. He started just six games last season as the coaching staff tinkered with the offense, and he needs to make better decisions. Hurd is a big guy (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) with good speed and excellent hands as a receiver; he will share time with touted JC transfer Alvin Kamara. North is part of a solid receiving corps; he is the most talented receiver on the roster, but he needs to play with a lot more consistency and intensity this fall.


» Dynamic duos: College football's top tandems


8. Penn State

The triplets: QB Christian Hackenberg, RB Akeel Lynch, WR DaeSean Hamilton
The skinny: Hackenberg is the prototypical NFL dropback passer -- he has the size, arm strength and demeanor every team craves. But he struggled mightily last season after a strong true freshman campaign in 2013. His protection was woeful, which, in turn, led to a non-existent rushing attack, and he developed some bad habits in an effort not to get maimed on every pass attempt. But a high-level talent is there. Lynch is a speedy guy who can be a playmaker if the line gives him room to run. Hamilton led the Big Ten with 82 receptions, but he scored just two TDs and needs to show he can be a deep threat. He has good hands, for sure.

7. Oregon

The triplets: QB Vernon Adams, RB Royce Freeman, WR Byron Marshall
The skinny: The assumption here is Adams, a former star at FCS power Eastern Washington who transferred to Oregon for his final season of eligibility, wins the quarterback job. He has a strong arm, has shown he can be extremely proficient in a spread attack and also can hurt defenses with his legs. Freeman was tremendous as a true freshman last season and has a big upside; he is both physical and fast. Marshall is a converted running back who transitioned easily to receiver last season and is part of a deep group. He is especially dangerous in the slot.

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6. California

The triplets: QB Jared Goff, RB Daniel Lasco, WR Kenny Lawler
The skinny: Goff is underrated nationally. He has started every game since he stepped on campus in 2013 and has thrown for 7,461 yards, 53 TDs and 17 interceptions. A 4,000-yard season seems a given this fall. His TD-to-interception ratio was 35-to-7 last season, and that is something to watch this season. Lasco ran for 1,115 yards and 12 TDs last season. Lawler headlines a deep group of receivers (three Bears had at least 50 receptions last season, and two return, as does a guy who had 46 catches). Lawler has good size (he's 6-3) and excellent hands. There are zero concerns with Cal's offense, which was held to fewer than 31 points just twice last season; the defense is the key to the season.

5. Clemson

The triplets: QB Deshaun Watson, RB Wayne Gallman, WR Mike Williams
The skinny: Watson is coming off a torn ACL, but he should put up big numbers if he is healthy. He has a strong arm and a nice feel for the pocket. He's a running threat, too. Gallman is an OK back with speed. Williams is part of a dangerous group of receivers. He has good size (6-3, 215) and can run. As a duo, he and Artavis Scott trail only Baylor's K.D. Cannon and Corey Coleman nationally. There are two concerns: Watson's health, obviously, and also that coordinator Chad Morris left to become coach at SMU. Coach Dabo Swinney promoted from within (running back coach Tony Elliott and wide receiver coach Jeff Scott are co-coordinators), but Morris definitely had a gift for play-calling.


» Top 10 CFB QBs to watch in 2015


4. Baylor

The triplets: QB Seth Russell, RB Shock Linwood, WR Corey Coleman
The skinny: Baylor's starting quarterback has thrown for at least 3,500 yards in each of the past five seasons and at least 3,800 in each of the past four. That span encompasses three different starters, and there are high hopes for Russell, a junior who will be starting for the first time but still should flirt with the 4,000-yard mark. Linwood ran for 1,252 yards and 16 TDs last season, but remains an overlooked part of the offense. Baylor has a lot of tailbacks, but Linwood will get the bulk of the carries. Baylor's receiving corps looks as deep as anyone's, and Coleman is the standout. He has excellent speed and is coming off a 64-catch, 1,119-yard and 11-TD season. He and K.D. Cannon are the most dangerous receiving duo in the nation.

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3. Arizona

The triplets: QB Anu Solomon, RB Nick Wilson, WR Cayleb Jones
The skinny: Solomon was excellent as a redshirt freshman last season, throwing for 3,793 yards and 28 TDs and also rushing for 291 yards. While he definitely is a better passer than runner, look for his rushing total to grow a bit this fall. Wilson ran for 1,375 yards and 16 TDs as a true freshman; he has a nice blend of power and quickness that fits well in coach Rich Rodriguez's version of the spread. Jones, who began his career at Texas, emerged as Solomon's go-to guy last season, finishing with 73 receptions, 1,019 yards and nine TDs. He can get deep, but his main value is on intermediate routes, where Jones (6-3, 215) puts his physical nature to good use.

2. TCU

The triplets: QB Trevone Boykin, RB Aaron Green, WR Josh Doctson
The skinny: Boykin threw for 3,714 yards and 30 TDs and ran for 642 yards and eight more scores last season, and proved he can be a high-level college quarterback in his first season in TCU's revamped offense. Legit goals this season? How about 4,000 yards and 35 TDs through the air and 750 yards and 10 TDs on the ground. Green, a Texan who began his career at Nebraska, is going to share time, but he definitely is the top tailback. He has excellent quickness and pairs that with the ability to stop and cut quickly. He also is an OK receiver. Doctson, a Texan who began his career at Wyoming, heads a deep group of receivers. Doctson (6-3, 195) is a burner with good size, and he is a dangerous deep threat.

Check out the top 10 players from Ohio State to play in the NFL.

1. Ohio State

The triplets: QB J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Michael Thomas
The skinny: Ohio State's quarterback-tailback duo -- whether the quarterback is Barrett, Jones or even Braxton Miller -- will be the best in the nation, no question. But there are a handful of questions about the receiving corps. Barrett is dangerous as a runner and passer, and accounted for a Big Ten-record 45 TDs last season. Jones has an absolute cannon for an arm; while he is not near the rushing threat that Barrett is, Jones is a punishing runner who can pick up tough yards. Elliott rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 TDs last season. He was dominant down the stretch. Thomas led the Buckeyes in receiving last season (54 receptions) and should be the go-to guy this fall. He (and the other receivers) definitely benefit from the attention opposing defenses have to give to Ohio State's backfield.

The other leagues

Conference USA: Western Kentucky (QB Brandon Doughty, RB Leon Allen, WR Jared Dangerfield)
MAC: Western Michigan (QB Zach Terrell, RB Jarvion Franklin, WR Corey Davis)
MWC: Utah State (QB Chuckie Keeton, RB LaJuan Hunt, WR Hunter Sharp)
Sun Belt: Arkansas State (QB Fredi Knighten, RB Michael Gordon, WR J.D. McKissic)

You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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