'Countdown to Kickoff' begins with start of top player countdown

Aug. 30, the first day of the 2012 season, can't get here soon enough. We're 82 days away from that blessed event.

That's a long time to go without football. But fans suffer through it every year, so it can be done.

To help you pass the time, Yahoo! Sports begins its top 100 player countdown; we'll unveil the top 100 players in groups of 10 over the next 10 Sundays. Wednesday, we begin our 1-124 team countdown.

It's a long way until Aug. 30. We'll try to make the long wait bearable.

100. DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

Particulars: 6-4/272, Jr.; Salisbury (Conn.) High
Werner is a German native who was an exchange student when he caught the eye of college recruiters. He had a solid season as a freshman reserve in 2010 before making a splash last season as a fulltime starter. Werner had seven sacks, eight quarterback hurries and eight pass breakups. He also held up nicely against the run. He also had a fumble recovery and an interception, which he returned for a TD against Clemson. He and Brandon Jenkins form one of the nation's top end duos.

99. QB Tyler Tettleton, Ohio

Particulars: 6-0/200, Jr.; Norman (Okla.) North
Tettleton is coming off a big season, his first as a starter; he threw for 3,306 yards and 28 TDs, and rushed for 666 yards and 10 scores. He was a backup as a true freshman in 2009, then redshirted in 2010 before blossoming last season. He will be one of the nation's top three or four dual-threat quarterbacks this season, and is the main reason the Bobcats will be the preseason MAC favorite. He is the son of former major-league catcher Mickey Tettleton.

98. K/P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

Particulars: 6-1/205, Sr.; Mansfield (Texas) Summit
Sharp definitely is the best double-duty kicker/punter in the nation, and he will head into the season with a good shot at winning the Ray Guy Award, which goes to the nation's best punter. He averaged 46.3 yards per punt last season (third nationally) and owns a career average of 45.8 yards. Last season was Sharp's first as the Cowboys' kicker and he was 22-of-25 on field goal attempts. In addition, Sharp led the nation with 61 touchbacks on kickoffs, 23 more than anyone else in the nation.

97. DE Michael Buchanan, Illinois

Particulars: 6-6/240, Sr.; Homewood (Ill.) Homewood-Flossmoor
Buchanan is headed into his third season as a starter and finally emerged as a big-time playmaker last season. He finished with 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, which was fourth in the Big Ten. Buchanan is an excellent athlete and puts that athleticism to good use as an edge rusher. Illinois' new defensive staff was impressed with his play this spring, and a 10-sack season is a legitimate goal as a senior. He was a second-team All-Big Ten pick in 2011.

96. RB Robbie Rouse, Fresno State

Particulars: 5-7/195, Sr.; San Diego Madison
Rouse is a little guy who has put up big numbers. He ranked seventh nationally in rushing last season with 1,549 yards; he had four games with at least 150 yards. In three games against Big Six opponents last season (Cal, Nebraska and Ole Miss), he averaged 126.0 yards per game. Rouse has 3,157 yards, which is third-most among active players. He also has 25 rushing touchdowns. Rouse has been an effective receiver, and that facet of his game likely will come more into play this season with a new coaching staff.

95. RB Zach Line, SMU

Particulars: 6-1/230, Sr.; Oxford (Mich.) High
Despite missing the last three games last season with a broken foot, Line still rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 TDs; he ranked seventh nationally in rushing at 122.4 yards per game. It was his second consecutive 1,000-yard season, and he has gained 2,718 yards and scored 27 TDs in the past two seasons. He has rushed for 259 yards in two games against TCU and has 15 100-yard games in the past two seasons. Line has 34 career rushing TDs, which is third-most among active players, behind only Montee Ball and Denard Robinson.

94. FS John Boyett, Oregon

Particulars: 5-10/202, Sr.; Napa (Calif.) High
Boyett will be a four-year starter for the Ducks. After redshirting as a freshman in 2008, he has been Oregon's leading tackler in two of the past three seasons; last season, he led the Ducks with 108. He has nine interceptions and 29 pass breakups in his career. He had a career-high 17 tackles in the Ducks' Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, and he made 14 in last season's loss to LSU. He has had double-digit tackles nine times in his career.

93. DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina

Particulars: 6-8/267, Sr.; Beaufort (S.C.) High
For a guy this big, Taylor is a freakish athlete; he won the state triple jump title with a leap of 48 feet 3 while a high school senior. He is a good edge rusher and has 15 career sacks as he heads into his third season as a starter. While known as a pass-rusher, Taylor plays well against the run, as evidenced by his career-high nine tackles last season against Navy's option-based attack. He and Jadeveon Clowney will be one of the nation's best end tandems this season.

92. DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Particulars: 6-5/240, Jr.; West Monroe (La.) High
The guy known as "KeKe" had eight sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last season despite starting just three games. He also had 11 quarterback hurries. Indeed, he has started just four games in his career but still is seen as an almost-certain NFL first-round pick because of his pass-rushing ability. He has tremendous quickness off the edge and looks to be a perfect fit as a 3-4 linebacker in the NFL. Barkevious has a brother named Hughtavious.

91. G Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

Particulars: 6-4/295, Jr.; Oklahoma City (Okla.) Bishop McGuinness
Ikard arrived on campus in 2009 as a tight end and redshirted as a true freshman. He was moved to guard and is heading into his third season as a starter. Ikard was a freshman All-America selection in 2010 and was a first-team All-Big 12 choice last season. He showed his versatility by spending half of last season at center when Ben Habern was injured. Ikard grew up a Sooners fan and attended his first OU game when he was 6.

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