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Published: March 16, 2015 at 02:18 p.m.
Updated: Feb. 2, 2016 at 12:02 p.m.

10 NCAA Tournament players who could play football

The NCAA Tournament begins Tuesday with two play-in games -- the NCAA calls them first-round games, but let's call them what they are. When you watch the tourney over the next three weeks, spend a bit of time having some fun by projecting some of those players to the football field. We're not counting Indiana forward Jordan Fuchs, who is on a football scholarship (he's a tight end) and was added to the Hoosiers' roster last month because of a spate of injuries.

Here are 10 players who have piqued our interest in a "Wow, imagine him playing football" kind of way.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

10 Photos Total

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-foot-6, 255 pounds.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> You also could put the burly and physical Alie-Cox at tight end, but outside 'backer seems a better fit. Someone with his size, quickness and demeanor (he is not an easy-going guy on the court) would strike fear in the heart of opposing quarterbacks coming off the edge. He also could do a nice job setting the edge vs. the run.</p> 10

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    VCU F Mo Alie-Cox, as an OLB

    Particulars: 6-foot-6, 255 pounds.
    Skinny: You also could put the burly and physical Alie-Cox at tight end, but outside 'backer seems a better fit. Someone with his size, quickness and demeanor (he is not an easy-going guy on the court) would strike fear in the heart of opposing quarterbacks coming off the edge. He also could do a nice job setting the edge vs. the run.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-2, 180.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> Hey, he's not nicknamed "Cat" because he's slow. He's a gifted athlete with quick hands, and he seems to almost glide on fast breaks. Letting him shadow the other teams' best receiver would seem to be a smart move.</p> 9

    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    NC State G Anthony "Cat" Barber, as a CB

    Particulars: 6-2, 180.
    Skinny: Hey, he's not nicknamed "Cat" because he's slow. He's a gifted athlete with quick hands, and he seems to almost glide on fast breaks. Letting him shadow the other teams' best receiver would seem to be a smart move.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-2, 214.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> He is tenacious, physical and quick, and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference. Let him patrol center field as a free safety, and you'd really have something.</p> 8

    John Locher/Associated Press

    Gonzaga G Gary Bell Jr., as a safety

    Particulars: 6-2, 214.
    Skinny: He is tenacious, physical and quick, and was the Defensive Player of the Year in the West Coast Conference. Let him patrol center field as a free safety, and you'd really have something.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 7-0, 240.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> Yes, it's extremely hard to imagine a 7-foot wide receiver. But Cauley-Stein actually played the position in high school in Olathe, Kan., and had 57 receptions and 14 TDs as a senior. Cauley-Stein is not a mechanical 7-footer; rather, he is sleek and mobile, and while he would not be a good blocker, can you imagine him as a red zone weapon?</p> 7

    Mike Stewart/Associated Press

    Kentucky F/C Willie Cauley-Stein, as a WR

    Particulars: 7-0, 240.
    Skinny: Yes, it's extremely hard to imagine a 7-foot wide receiver. But Cauley-Stein actually played the position in high school in Olathe, Kan., and had 57 receptions and 14 TDs as a senior. Cauley-Stein is not a mechanical 7-footer; rather, he is sleek and mobile, and while he would not be a good blocker, can you imagine him as a red zone weapon?

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-1, 175.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> He might need to bulk up a bit, but Cochran has the quickness and athleticism necessary to be a top-level cornerback. He averages almost two steals per game, showcasing his quickness and good hands.</p> 6

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Wofford G Karl Cochran, as a CB

    Particulars: 6-1, 175.
    Skinny: He might need to bulk up a bit, but Cochran has the quickness and athleticism necessary to be a top-level cornerback. He averages almost two steals per game, showcasing his quickness and good hands.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-8, 275.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> He isn't the most graceful guy on the court, but he is a physical -- and intimidating -- presence. Gathers is a big-time rebounder, especially on the offensive end, which shows off his relentless nature. Baylor already has Shawn Oakman (6-9, 280) at one defensive end spot; put Gathers on the other side and Big 12 offensive tackles would have many a sleepless night.</p> 5

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Baylor F Rico Gathers, as a DE

    Particulars: 6-8, 275.
    Skinny: He isn't the most graceful guy on the court, but he is a physical -- and intimidating -- presence. Gathers is a big-time rebounder, especially on the offensive end, which shows off his relentless nature. Baylor already has Shawn Oakman (6-9, 280) at one defensive end spot; put Gathers on the other side and Big 12 offensive tackles would have many a sleepless night.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-7, 245.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> No, he wouldn't be an effective blocker. But as a "move" tight end, able to split wide and also line up in the slot? Mercy. He is a great athlete with incredible leaping ability (just Google some of his dunks), and he would be tremendous in the red zone.</p> 4

    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Arizona F Stanley Johnson, as a TE

    Particulars: 6-7, 245.
    Skinny: No, he wouldn't be an effective blocker. But as a "move" tight end, able to split wide and also line up in the slot? Mercy. He is a great athlete with incredible leaping ability (just Google some of his dunks), and he would be tremendous in the red zone.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 5-10, 179.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> Moody is on the small side, but he is a high-level athlete who is quick and can jump out of the gym (that sounds a bit like Senquez Golson, who starred at cornerback for the Rebels last season at 5-9).</p> 3

    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Ole Miss G Stefan Moody, as a CB

    Particulars: 5-10, 179.
    Skinny: Moody is on the small side, but he is a high-level athlete who is quick and can jump out of the gym (that sounds a bit like Senquez Golson, who starred at cornerback for the Rebels last season at 5-9).

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-6, 200.<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> Tokoto isn't physical and you wouldn't want to use him over the middle, but he's gifted athletically and can really jump. Using him on out routes, go routes and red zone routes? That would be smart. He would be extremely dangerous in the red zone.</p> 2

    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    North Carolina F J.P. Tokoto, as a WR

    Particulars: 6-6, 200.
    Skinny: Tokoto isn't physical and you wouldn't want to use him over the middle, but he's gifted athletically and can really jump. Using him on out routes, go routes and red zone routes? That would be smart. He would be extremely dangerous in the red zone.

  • <b>Particulars:</b> 6-8, 235<br />
<b>Skinny:</b> A 6-8 quarterback? Hey, think Dan McGwire (then again ...). Spangler actually played quarterback at Blanchard (Okla.) Bridge Creek, throwing for 6,951 yards and 71 TDs in his high school career. He also served as the team's punter as a senior. Given what the Sooners have trotted out at quarterback the past two seasons, maybe coach Bob Stoops should see if Spangler has any inclination to return to football. Plus, who doesn't like a tattooed quarterback?</p> 1

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Oklahoma F Ryan Spangler, as a QB

    Particulars: 6-8, 235
    Skinny: A 6-8 quarterback? Hey, think Dan McGwire (then again ...). Spangler actually played quarterback at Blanchard (Okla.) Bridge Creek, throwing for 6,951 yards and 71 TDs in his high school career. He also served as the team's punter as a senior. Given what the Sooners have trotted out at quarterback the past two seasons, maybe coach Bob Stoops should see if Spangler has any inclination to return to football. Plus, who doesn't like a tattooed quarterback?