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Published: Aug. 20, 2014 at 06:23 p.m.

14 for '14: Most physical players in college football

» Complete 14 for '14 series

Linemen spring to mind when the phrase "most physical" is attached to a list of football players, and not surprisingly, nine of them populate CFB 24/7's look at 14 of the most physical players returning for the 2014 season. But room was made for a pair of hard-hitting safeties, as well as a linebacker, a tight end and a running back. Trust us, you wouldn't want to meet any of them in the hole.

14 Photos Total

  • 14. Jarvis Harrison, G, Texas A&M 14

    Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

    14. Jarvis Harrison, G, Texas A&M

    Particulars: 6-4, 325, senior
    Buzz: He might be in a pass-first, shotgun offense that calls for more pass blocking than run blocking, but Harrison plays with the edge of a guy who blocks for a Power-I scheme. With 30 career starts under his belt, he's as experienced as anyone on the Aggies' line, which will be one of the best in college football once again. Soft-spoken off the field, Harrison is all business on it.

  • 13. Luther Maddy, DL, Virginia Tech 13

    Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

    13. Luther Maddy, DL, Virginia Tech

    Particulars: 6-1, 295, senior
    Buzz: A high-intensity tackle who consistently beats offensive linemen with both quickness and power, Maddy is a big hitter who should set the 2014 tone for the Hokies' always-physical defense. He routinely gives Virginia Tech's offensive line fits in practice. He has the athleticism to make plays in space and hit like a linebacker, but still manages to hold his own in the interior when the run comes between the tackles.

  • 12. Quinton Spain, OL, West Virginia 12

    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    12. Quinton Spain, OL, West Virginia

    Particulars: 6-5, 332, senior
    Buzz: With experience at both tackle and guard, Spain gives West Virginia's offensive line a gritty, veteran presence -- he's expected to set the tone for the Mountaineers' rushing attack this fall. Spain is the Mountaineers' top NFL prospect among its senior class.

  • 11. Cedric Reed, DL, Texas 11

    AP Photo/Michael Thomas

    11. Cedric Reed, DL, Texas

    Particulars: 6-6, 260, senior
    Buzz: There aren't many stats that are an indicator of physical play, but forced fumbles is one of them, and Reed does that as well as any defender in the nation. As a junior, he forced five in 13 games and enters 2014 as one of the NCAA's best returning players in forced fumbles per game (.38).

  • 10. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State 10

    AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

    10. Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State

    Particulars: 6-2, 288, senior
    Buzz: The undisputed leader of a defensive line considered among college football's most elite, Bennett is a disruptive force for the Buckeyes. He made 11.5 tackles for loss last season with seven sacks. Playing from a four-point stance, he struck blockers with good hand technique and broke free from blocks quickly. Bennett will be one of the top defensive linemen available in the 2015 NFL Draft.

  • 9. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia 9

    AP Photo/John Raoux

    9. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

    Particulars: 6-1, 233, junior
    Buzz: Gurley is what running backs coaches like to call a "one-cut back," meaning once he sees a crease, he is headed upfield with reckless power, ready to finish the run with contact rather than making a second cut. He is nearly impossible to stop in short-yardage situations. After an ankle injury hampered his sophomore season, Gurley is ready for a Heisman Trophy run this year. If he stays healthy, he'll approach 1,500 yards and a lot of his production will come after first contact.

  • 8. Ellis McCarthy, DL, UCLA 8

    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    8. Ellis McCarthy, DL, UCLA

    Particulars: 6-5, 330, junior
    Buzz: McCarthy has been able to take on double teams with his massive frame since arriving at UCLA as a freshman. Taking on double teams and beating them are two different things, however, and this fall, McCarthy is primed to take that step. He made 31 stops last year, four for losses, with two sacks. As an interior lineman, it will be hard for him to increase his tackle total, but don't be surprised if he makes more of his plays in the backfield.

  • 7. Dillon Gordon, TE, LSU 7

    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    7. Dillon Gordon, TE, LSU

    Particulars: 6-5, 285, junior
    Buzz: Don't measure Gordon's value in catches -- he made just six all of last season -- but rather in the 1,000-yard rushing season Jeremy Hill posted. Gordon amounts to an extra offensive tackle in the Tigers' offense because he's such a powerful blocker. Left tackle La'el Collins, a strong 2015 draft prospect, raves about the holes that open on the left side when Gordon lines up beside him. This is no hybrid/slot tight end; Gordon is a traditional Y-tight end who plays with a hand in the dirt and a mean streak.

  • 6. A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama 6

    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    6. A'Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama

    Particulars: 6-4, 320, sophomore
    Buzz: He's only a year into his college career, but ask SEC coaches for a list of the most unblockable defensive linemen in the league, and Robinson's name will surface at or near the top. With a bullish, overpowering style, Robinson led Alabama in sacks (5.5), and ranked second in tackles for loss with eight. With a year of experience under his belt, he'll be even more disruptive in 2014.

  • 5. Cody Prewitt, DB, Ole Miss 5

    Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

    5. Cody Prewitt, DB, Ole Miss

    Particulars: 6-2, 212, senior
    Buzz: He led the SEC in interceptions last season with six, but don't let that fool you: Prewitt is a hitter first, and a coverage ace second. He's like an extra linebacker when it comes to run support, and patrols the middle of the field with a nasty streak on passing downs. Recall star Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews vomiting on national TV last year in the first game of the season after taking a brutal hit -- it was Prewitt on the giving end.

  • 4. Karl Joseph, DB, West Virginia 4

    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    4. Karl Joseph, DB, West Virginia

    Particulars: 5-10, 196, junior
    Buzz: His nickname is "Crazy 8", and he'll hit tight ends and running backs with the same fervor with which he attacks wide receivers. Joseph was fourth on the team in tackles last season with 68, forcing two fumbles and recovering four others. Said teammate Darwin Cook: "If I'm ever coming back (upfield), I'm gonna watch out for him. I don't want my head in my booty hole."

  • 3. Corey Robinson, OL, South Carolina 3

    South Carolina Athletics

    3. Corey Robinson, OL, South Carolina

    Particulars: 6-8, 348, senior
    Buzz: Robinson might not be the most polished pass protector in the world, but he can drive people off the line of scrimmage as well as any offensive lineman in the SEC. Count him in the next crop of NFL-caliber left tackles coming out of the league. Robinson pairs with standout left guard A.J. Cann to make up a dominant left side on the Gamecocks' offensive line, one that will open some massive holes for star running back Mike Davis.

  • 2. Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami (Fla.) 2

    AP Photo/Tom DiPace

    2. Denzel Perryman, LB, Miami (Fla.)

    Particulars: 6-0, 240, senior
    Buzz: Perryman played outside linebacker last season and made 10-plus tackles in six games. He's expected to move inside this year and might be no less productive. A huge hitter with a willingness to fill holes and take on offensive linemen, Perryman is everything a linebacker should be. He received the team's Hard Hitter Award after the season. If he didn't get teammate Gus Edwards' vote, he certainly earned it in the spring.

  • 1. Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa 1

    AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

    1. Brandon Scherff, OL, Iowa

    Particulars: 6-5, 320, senior
    Buzz: With 20 straight starts at left tackle dating back to an injury-shortened junior year, Scherff has established himself as the most dominant offensive lineman in the Big Ten conference. An outstanding drive blocker, Scherff is the man the Hawkeyes will look to run behind in short-yardage situations. Said offensive line coach Brian Ferentz: "There's not a better offensive lineman in college football, that's my opinion." Ours, too.

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