Inside the Pocket: 2014 College Football All-Underrated Team

CFB 24/7 has released its 2014 All-American Team as we start to wrap up the regular season and turn our attention toward bowl games and the 2015 NFL Draft. Before that happens, though, it's time go back and honor the unsung heroes of their teams and the folks who only receive passing mention in game stories and columns. Here is Inside the Pocket's 2014 All-Underrated Team, highlighting the guys who make plays and go unnoticed -- until now.

QB Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati

A former No. 1 recruit underrated? Perhaps so, considering Kiel was left off the All-AAC teams despite leading the Bearcats to a share of the league title and running one of the more explosive Group of Five offenses. He's dealt with injuries but still managed to put up big numbers while being a more efficient signal-caller than Nick Marshall, Jameis Winston and Trevor Boykin to name a few. Considering the youth around him and the fact that he should set a number of school passing records when all is said and done, Kiel didn't get the national attention he deserved for his 2014 season.



RB David Cobb, Minnesota

All three finalists for the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back hailed from the Big Ten, but it was Cobb who was one of the names left off the list for the prestigious trophy. He was a huge part of the Gophers' success this season in contending for the conference's West Division title and finished the regular season ninth in the nation in rushing. Cobb isn't as flashy as others, but he's still one of the best running the ball.

RB Jay Ajayi, Boise State

Ajayi was snubbed for the Doak Walker, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and a number of other honors, but don't worry, he earns a place on this list because of his terrific season in powering the Broncos to the league title and a Fiesta Bowl berth. He had a streak of seven straight games with 100-plus yards rushing and is not just a workhorse but a complete back with ability to pick up blocks and catch the ball out of the backfield. He's somewhat well-known but doesn't get the love other backs do around the country.

WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame

Irish fans are puzzled why Fuller doesn't get more attention nationally, and that's understandable, considering he's second in the country in touchdown catches (tied with the Biletnikoff Award winner, Amari Cooper). He's been a very pleasant surprise for the team's offense despite some shaky quarterback play down the stretch and is the big-play threat the team sorely needs. Just a sophomore, he should be generating a lot more buzz in 2015.

WR Leonte Caroo, Rutgers

Three Big Ten players have double-digit touchdown reception numbers, but only one of them made an All-Big Ten team (Michigan State's Tony Lippett). One of those left off was Caroo, who has carried the Scarlet Knights' offense in the absence of tailback Paul James. Caroo can create separation with the best of them and has terrific ball skills. Add in the fact that he plays for Rutgers and not a higher-profile program, and it's easy to forget about one of the best receivers in the conference.

WR Curry Sexton, Kansas State

Everybody has heard about Kansas State's Tyler Lockett, but his teammate has been just as crucial to the team's passing game this season, as the Wildcats made a run at the Big 12 title. He's not the field-stretching receiver Lockett has been, but he's super reliable and is often the go-to guy for quarterback Jake Waters when the offense needs a key first down. In a year with plenty of players to notice at wideout in the Big 12, don't forget about Sexton.



TE Gerald Christian, Louisville

The Florida transfer hasn't been as involved in Bobby Petrino's offense, but his frame and speed should make him a matchup nightmare when he moves onto the NFL. He's one of the new types of tight ends that can flex out, but what really makes Christian underrated is his blocking skills. He would have made a higher All-ACC team if the Mackey Award finalists hadn't been in his own league, which is another reason he gets overlooked so much.

C Tejan Koroma, BYU

I've known about Koroma since he was in high school, but the job he did at center for the Cougars shouldn't be overlooked by anybody. He was the only true freshman in the country to start every game at the position and played more than anybody else on the BYU offense. Despite being so young, he was arguably one of the best offensive linemen on the team and should earn strong consideration for the Rimington Trophy next season.

OG Vadal Alexander, LSU

La'el Collins had a terrific season for the Tigers, but the guy lining up next to him has played very well as a young offense started to hit its stride down the stretch in 2014.

OG Shaquille Mason, Georgia Tech

The triple option makes it easy for offensive linemen to excel, but Mason has gone above and beyond as one of the toughest interior guys in the ACC. He was one of the biggest reasons why the Yellow Jackets were able to contain their in-state rival's front seven and had another big game in the ACC Championship.

OT Tyler Marz, Wisconsin

Rob Havenstein is the mammoth Badgers offensive lineman that often gets the press, but the tackle on the left side deserves equal praise after sealing the edge for many of Melvin Gordon's big runs and generally keeping his quarterbacks upright. He's better at road-grading over opponents, but good strength and hand placement help make him an underrated left tackle.

OT Tayo Fabuluje, TCU

The Horned Frogs' left tackle has taken a circuitous route to a starting job, but he's one of the big reasons why the team put up big offensive numbers this season. He's a massive kid who is able to use his leverage and overpower opponents and move his feet to combat whatever defensive linemen throw at him. You can bet QB Trevone Boykin and the TCU tailbacks are glad he's blocking for them.



DL Hunter Dimick, Utah

Nate Orchard overshadows a lot of folks on the Utes' defense after leading the nation in sacks per game, but the guy opposite him quietly had one of the better seasons in school history.

DL Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

The Bruins weren't able to generate as much pressure on opposing offenses this year after the departure of Anthony Barr, but that's not the fault of the player everybody calls "Owa." Finally healthy this season, he's been able to show off his power, speed and quickness to the edge.

DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Texas A&M's Myles Garett is the SEC freshman who gets -- rightfully so -- a ton of attention, but Barnett has been just as deserving of praise after one of the best campaigns in school history. How many outside the SEC East know this stud defensive lineman is third in the country in tackles for loss? More should, that's for sure.

DL Adam Gotsis, Georgia Tech

The numbers won't be competitive with many top defensive linemen, but flip on a Yellow Jackets game, and you'll see opposing offenses try to scheme their way around the Australian defensive tackle, who is built like an ox and moves linemen out of the way like one.

LB Jeff Luc, Cincinnati

Maybe if Luc had stayed in the ACC he would have been noticed more than he was with the Bearcats, but either way, he had a monster year as the leader of a young defense. The senior racked up 121 tackles and flew all over the field when he was out there.

LB Zach Vigil, Utah State

Sure he was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, but who outside the conference knows about the best linebacker in the West few have seen play? He's a tackling machine who is everywhere on the field and diagnoses a play as quickly as anybody.

LB A.J. Tarpley, Stanford

Despite a number of losses to the NFL, the Cardinal's defense has remained stout thanks to the leadership and play of the fifth-year senior, who doesn't get mentioned with the best linebackers in the Pac-12 -- but should.

S Erick Dargan, Oregon

Teammate Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was the one who was up for all the trophies at the end of 2014, but it should tell you something that it was Dargan whom his fellow Ducks voted as the team's Defensive Player of the Year.

S Braylon Webb, Missouri

The Tigers have won back-to-back SEC East titles, and it's not all because of their offense. Webb is the quiet leader of the team's defense and has been a savvy veteran on the back end that helps contain a number of talented opponents.

CB D'Joun Smith, FAU

Small-school players often fly under the radar, but Smith's name has picked up steam in scouting circles even if he hasn't been noticed by the college football audience at large. He's got solid size and speed to help to corral opposing wideouts but his ability to play the ball and play press coverage earns him a spot on the list.

CB Steven Nelson, Oregon State

Nelson is known regionally after smothering a number of quality receivers this season, but he's not known nationally -- even if he was named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team. Often overshadowed by a pair of cornerbacks in the Pacific Northwest, don't sleep on this Beavers star when the draft rolls around.

Stat of the Week

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota became the first non-USC player from the West Coast to win the Heisman Trophy since Stanford's Jim Plunkett won the award back in 1970.

Sound from Saturday

Tweet of the Week

Pre-snap read

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Colorado State is a game to watch Saturday, not only because it's the best game being played, but because it pits several NFL prospects against each other. The Rams have a number of talented offensive skill players, but they're missing their head coach (Jim McElwain was hired by Florida) and will be facing one of the best defenses on the West Coast. The extra rest and bowl preparation should help the Utes' offense look better than it did late in the season, which might just be enough to grab a win to help kick off bowl season.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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