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Top 15 redshirt sophomore prospects in college football

Jay LaPrete/AP
J.T. Barrett went 11-1 as Ohio State's starting quarterback last season.

This week, I'll unveil my rankings of the top 15 senior, junior, redshirt sophomore and true sophomore prospects in college football, continuing today with redshirt sophomores.

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

1. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

Barrett is competing against Cardale Jones to become OSU's starter. If Barrett gets the call from Urban Meyer to lead the Buckeyes' offense, and if he adds consistency to the playmaking ability he showed last season (2,834 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, 938 rushing yards, 11 scores) before suffering an injury in the regular-season finale, the Buckeyes will be getting fitted for rings again in Columbus.

2. Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

Lee came back from an injury-shortened first year to earn Freshman All-American honors in 2014 (16.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, two interceptions.) With Joey Bosa, senior Adolphus Washington and others up front doing their jobs, Lee will once again be free to use his athleticism to flow to the ball behind the line or in coverage.

3. Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

It looked as though Lawson was ready to explode on the scene as a sophomore in 2014, but surgery on a torn ACL during the spring forced him to redshirt. Coaches asked Lawson to slow down a bit as he recovered in the offseason to ensure that he would return as the same player who showed such promise in 2013. Lawson has been "unblockable" in the early stages of fall camp, per coach Gus Malzahn.

4. Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

Starting as a redshirt freshman for an NFL-cornerback-producing program like Ohio State should tell you all you need to know about Apple. His size, tackling ability, and ball skills (three interceptions, 13 passes defended in 2014) portend a strong career in Columbus.

5. Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Hodges came to Blacksburg as a highly rated quarterback, but spent his redshirt season both passing and using his size (6-foot-7, 242 pounds) and athleticism at tight end. Hodges showed that the year of hard work paid off with a Freshman All-American season in 2014 (45 receptions, 526 yards, six scores) -- and he's only going to get better.

6. Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers

Turay racked up postseason honors last season as a situational pass rusher, as he was credited with 7.5 sacks. He also blocked three kicks, showing off an amazing vertical jump to go along with the length of his 6-6, 242-pound frame.

7. Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford

Yet another excellent tight end is growing up on The Farm. Hooper was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection last year after catching 40 passes for 499 yards and two touchdowns. Look for him to stretch defenses regularly for quarterback Kevin Hogan this fall.

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8. Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

Solomon put Pac-12 defensive coordinators on notice last season with more than 4,000 combined passing and rushing yards. If he improves his ability to find a second or third target from the pocket using his intriguing combination of arm strength and a deft touch -- in addition to making plays with his feet -- he'll be an All-American candidate in 2016.

9. Brandon Facyson, CB, Virginia Tech

Facyson came out of the blocks quickly with a third-team All-ACC effort (five interceptions, eight pass breakups) as a true freshman in 2013. But a shin injury kept him out of the lineup through the fall of 2014 and a broken leg last December put him behind again. If he stays healthy, Facyson will terrorize receivers and quarterbacks in the typical Hokie fashion.

10. Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

One of the top recruits of the 2013 class, Alexander's freshman season went down the drain because of a groin injury. He secured a starting role in 2014, however, earning Freshman All-American honors with six pass breakups. He allowed just 20 catches on 57 attempts his way.

Take a look at the best photos from the 2015 college football fall camps.

11. Devonte Boyd, WR, UNLV

This Donald Driver clone grayshirted for the 2013 season to stay in his home state. The slight (6-1, 175) but elusive and strong-handed receiver was the 2014 Mountain West Freshman of the Year after an outstanding campaign (65 catches, 980 yards, four touchdowns).

12. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

The four-star recruit from Virginia missed the 2013 season with a wrist injury but went to work as a redshirt freshman, catching 82 passes for 899 yards and two scores. His second year on the field should result in more big plays.

13. Aaron Davis, CB, Georgia

Davis missed all but one game of his final two seasons of high school football due to ACL issues, and received little acclaim during his redshirt season. But he earned a starting job with his work in the spring and summer of 2014, and the 6-1, 190-pound technician isn't looking to give it up.

14. Kamari Cotton-Moya, S, Iowa State

Cotton-Moya endured a trying 2013, as he suffered a gunshot wound as an innocent bystander outside a party in May of that year, and then suffered an Achilles injury that kept him off the field in the fall. Once on the field in 2014, however, he used his intelligence and natural athleticism to win Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors (team-leading 77 tackles, eight pass breakups).

15. Shaq Wiggins, CB, Louisville

After one season at Georgia, Wiggins and head coach Mark Richt decided a separation was in order. He started eight games as a true freshman, intercepting two passes and scoring the Bulldogs' lone defensive touchdown for the year. After sitting out the 2014 season as a transfer, look for the slight (5-10, 171) but tenacious corner to excel under Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who was Wiggins' DC at Georgia.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.



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