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Top 15 true sophomore prospects in college football

David Stephenson/Associated Press
Georgia's Nick Chubb is a Heisman contender after his impressive freshman season.

This week, I've unveiled my rankings of the top 15 senior, junior, redshirt sophomore and true sophomore prospects in college football, concluding today with true sophomores. Note that true sophomores are not eligible for entry into the 2016 NFL Draft. Still, there's plenty of talent on this list that intrigues NFL evaluators.

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

1. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

The consensus Freshman All-American racked up 1,547 rushing yards and 14 scores in his first year on campus -- and that was with first-round pick Todd Gurley on the team (when Gurley wasn't suspended or injured). Chubb's elite blend of power, speed, and balance -- and an outstanding offensive line -- might get him to 2,000 yards this season.

2. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett's true freshman campaign already puts him among the top pass rushers in college football. The second-team All-SEC pick (14 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks) presents size (6-foot-5, 255 pounds) usually present in juniors or seniors, and his natural bend gives him a chance to get around any offensive tackle in a hurry.

3. Adoree' Jackson, CB/WR/KR, USC

Channeling Charles Woodson during his true freshman season, Jackson deflected 10 passes at cornerback, caught 10 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver, and scored twice on kickoff returns (29.7-yard average ranked fifth in the country). He should be even better in Year 2.

4. Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Even with all the talent the Bulldogs have in their linebacker crew, coaches couldn't keep Carter from the starting lineup in the last five games of 2014. He rewarded them with 2.5 sacks in his first start (vs. Kentucky), and finished the year by making eight stops and a sack against Louisville in the Belk Bowl. Carter's chase speed is outstanding. He presents the length to wrap up ball carriers and gain leverage against blocks as he holds his side of the line of scrimmage.

5. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Here's another "super sophomore" who lived up to his recruiting hype last season. Fournette used a special combination of tough running, breakaway speed, and change-of-direction ability to gain more than 1,000 yards and score 10 times for the Tigers. For LSU to win the SEC West this year, Fournette must pound his way through some of the toughest defenses in the country.

6. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The Tennessee native made a great first impression as a true freshman in 2014. Barnett put up the most tackles for loss of any Volunteer since 2000 (20.5) and recorded 10 sacks, displaying excellent of strength, get-off and an innate ability to get under the pads of his man to shorten the corner.

7. Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

Florida State coaches moved Cameron Erving from left tackle to center last season due to injuries, and the Seminoles' offense proved better for it because of Johnson's quick study as the new starting left tackle. It wasn't a surprise that the 6-7, 323-pound young man used his enormous wingspan and relatively light feet to effectively pass protect and block for the run.

8. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

The next excellent receiver to come through USC, Smith-Schuster worked inside and down the sideline as a true freshman, catching 54 passes for 724 yards and five scores. He already looks like a senior in his physique and route-running. His hands are excellent, too. Smith-Schuster and quarterback Cody Kessler will light up Pac-12 defenses again this season.

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9. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

Breaking the one-week-old FBS record for rushing yards in a single game with 427 against Kansas last season earned Perine national attention. He went on to receive All-American honors by totaling 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2014, using his brute strength and agility to hit the second level regularly.

10. Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

This compact back (5-11, 230) ran tough and broke off some big plays in his first year with the Ducks, becoming the first Oregon player to rush for 1,000 yards as a true freshman. This was expected after Freeman put up nearly 3,000 yards of offense as a high school senior. In a class stacked with running back talent, Freeman doesn't give much ground to any other.

11. KD Cannon, WR, Baylor

Cannon was able to get behind defenders with regularity during his inaugural season, showing off his rare speed. Though listed at just 6-0, 175 pounds, he's not just a "track guy." Cannon is willing to make the tough catch in traffic and take a hit if needed. The honorable mention All-Big 12 pick will certainly break the 1,000-yard barrier again this season, and probably top his touchdown total of eight.

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

12. Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Robinson had no problem adding his name to the list of excellent left tackles that have played for the Tide in recent years: Andre Smith, James Carpenter, Barrett Jones and Cyrus Kouandjio. He struggled at times with his balance when facing better players, but showed the potential to be an all-conference performer.

13. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

The Tigers' sophomore signal-caller has a chance to climb to the top of this list in 2015, but he needs to stay on the field to do so. He missed three games with a broken finger, and then tore his ACL on a non-contact play in his first game back last season. When healthy, he made excellent deep throws to his quick receivers (1,466 yards on just 93 completions) and regularly escaped the pocket to test man coverage.

14. Artavis Scott, WR, Clemson

Scott didn't quite break the 1,000-yard barrier in his true freshman season (965), but he was the team's leading pass-catcher with 76 receptions and scored eight times. He'll be one of the top slot receivers in the country this season, too, using his excellent hands, short-area quickness and tenacious running to be the multi-dimensional chess piece that drives defenses crazy.

15. Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

This five-star recruit did not disappoint after signing with his home-state team, leading the nation's freshmen with 123 tackles as a run-stopping machine. He also picked off three passes and broke up six others, showing the closing speed to make plays deep as well as in the box.

Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.



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