Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports
14. Cole Farrand, LB, Maryland
Particulars: 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, senior
Buzz: The Terps will look to Farrand this fall to anchor a defense that struggled in conference play last year. The team moves into Big Ten play this fall, and as the middle linebacker, Farrand will meet the challenge as teams test the new kid in the neighborhood against the run. One of the team's vocal leaders, the senior made 84 tackles to finish second on the team. Also a two-time All-ACC Academic selection, Farrand sets an example whether on the field or not.
13. Hayes Pullard, LB, USC
Particulars: 6-1, 230, senior
Buzz: Pullard will be a fourth-year starter this fall and is expected to be a team captain for the Trojans for the second year in a row. He led the team in tackles last year with 94, and broke up six passes in coverage. He won the Trojan Way Leadership Award at the end of a tough season for USC last year and is the undisputed leader of the linebacking corps. Pullard was showing leadership qualities as far back as his sophomore year, when he joined 14 other Trojans on a mission trip to Haiti.
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12. Henry Coley, LB, Virginia
Particulars: 6-2, 230, senior
Buzz: Coley was named one of UVA's team captains after spring drills and is also a member of the team's leadership council. He commands the respect of a starter who made 91 tackles, 10 for losses, for the Cavaliers last season. An excellent student as well, Coley is on the watch list for the Lott Impact Trophy, named for former San Francisco 49ers star Ronnie Lott, which combines on-field performance with character and classroom criteria.
Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports
11. Michael Doctor, LB, Oregon State
Particulars: 6-2, 225, senior
Buzz: Look for Doctor to be the Beavers' unquestioned defensive leader this fall. He missed almost all of the 2013 season after suffering an ankle fracture while making a tackle against Hawaii last September. But instead of sulking, he became something of a player-coach. "Even when he was hurt, the way he stayed involved, I've never seen anyone that was hurt or out of action for so long stay so involved even in practice," OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray said.
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press
10. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Particulars: 6-3, 230, senior
Buzz: Petty's commitment to the Bears was such that he didn't even seek feedback last winter from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, even though he might well have projected as one of the draft's top quarterbacks. He knows Baylor's complex offense inside and out, and has worked tirelessly this offseason to develop more patience in the pocket. That should lead to better ball distribution, something the supporting weapons behind star receiver Antwan Goodley will love Petty for.
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9. Sam Carter, DB, TCU
Particulars: 6-1, 215, senior
Buzz: Carter's perspective as a safety comes from his days as a quarterback in both high school and his early days at TCU, which not only gives him a better idea of how the TCU defense is being attacked, but of how to lead a unit, as well. Having come through the adversity of his family's escape from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Carter is mature beyond his years. He has plans for a youth foundation, as well.
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
8. Hroniss Grasu, C, Oregon
Particulars: 6-3, 297, senior
Buzz: The Ducks' veteran center hasn't missed a game since he became a starter as a freshman, and handles the near-impossible task of handling line calls and checks for one of the fastest-paced offenses in college football. Also a repeat winner of the Todd Doxey Award, an honor for the Oregon player with the strongest character, Grasu is as much a leader of the Ducks' offense as its quarterback.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
7. Hau'oli Kikaha, LB, Washington
Particulars: 6-3, 250, senior
Buzz: Kikaha rebounded from two torn ACLs to be the Huskies' defensive MVP last year (13 sacks). But more than that, his presence in the UW locker room can't be understated. With a 3.5 GPA and finalist recognition for the Arthur Ashe Sports Scholar Award, he also sets a classroom example that is second to none. As well, he sets the team tone in the weight room with a first-to-arrive, last-to-leave workout passion.
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press
6. D.T. Shackelford, DE, Ole Miss
Particulars: 6-1, 215, senior
Buzz: There are few stories of perseverance in college football to match that of Shackelford, who missed two straight years of football while recovering from multiple surgeries on a devastating knee injury. He returned last year to make 44 tackles -- 7.5 for losses. While not the team's best defender, he's the Rebels' emotional leader and the only two-time winner of Ole Miss' Chucky Mullins Award for courage. Shackelford's injury plight got him a rare sixth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, and he'll wear Mullins' No. 38 jersey this fall.
Eric Gay/Associated Press
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Particulars: 6-4, 215, junior
Buzz: The Ducks' quarterback has transformed himself from a leader by example to a more vocal one, never an easy thing, but a virtual requirement at the quarterback position. He organizes voluntary offseason workouts and brings a positive attitude to the Ducks' offense, which rubs off on younger players. "His leadership is definitely better and different," coach Mark Helfrich said. "Him being gregarious or whatever the right word is, he's much more comfortable in that role and has done a great job."
4. Shon Coleman, OL, Auburn
Particulars: 6-6, 310, sophomore
Buzz: After signing with Auburn as one of the nation's top offensive line recruits in 2010, Coleman's promising career was re-routed for more than two years while he underwent 30 months of chemotherapy treatment for a form of leukemia. He not only beat back cancer, he has beaten his way back up the AU depth chart and finally saw his first career action last fall. Now, he's battling to replace first-round pick Greg Robinson at Auburn's left tackle spot. Intangibles? As the biggest source of inspiration in the AU locker room, Coleman has intangibles beyond comprehension.
Scott Sewell/USA TODAY Sports
3. Ryan Mueller, LB, Kansas State
Particulars: 6-2, 245, senior
Buzz: A former walk-on, Mueller has not only emerged as one of the best defensive linemen in the nation, but among K-State's best ambassadors as well. Known for a relentless work ethic that's been required to overcome his lack of size, Mueller launched a landscaping business to help cover tuition before he earned his scholarship. He's among the most respected players on the team and is community service-minded as well.
Victor Calzada/Associated Press
2. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Particulars: 6-3, 227, junior
Buzz: The Bruins voted for the guy as team captain when he was a redshirt freshman. What more needs be said about his intangibles? Coach Jim Mora vetoed the move, but Hundley won the election a year later. Said Mora, according to SI.com: "He's earned the authority to hold people to his standard. That's when leadership really occurs. As much as people want to say the leaders are the vocal guys, the leaders are the demonstrators."
David Cleveland/Associated Press
1. Derron Smith, DB, Fresno State
Particulars: 5-11, 200, senior
Buzz: The leader of the Bulldogs' defense is a student of the game and is always looking for ways to improve. He can not only make calls for the secondary, but understands the fronts as well. Said defensive coordinator Nick Toth: "He can control the whole defense. He can make the whole thing right by himself. He can call it." Smith will enter the season as the NCAA's active leader in interceptions with 14 in his career.