Here is the final grouping in Yahoo! Sports' top 100 player countdown. We've unveiled the top players in groups of 10 each Sunday for 10 weeks.
"Top" doesn't necessarily mean the most pro potential or even the most talent. It's what the player has accomplished and how we think the player will do this season. Production does trump potential, though.
10. RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Particulars: 6-0/218, Jr.; Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes
Buzz: Lattimore played in seven games last season before suffering a torn ACL; he still rushed for 818 yards and 10 TDs. That gives Lattimore 2,015 yards and 27 TDs in his first two seasons. He has been a workhorse when healthy, with five games of 25-plus carries and 10 games of 20-plus carries in his 20-game college career. He also has scored 30 total touchdowns in those 30 games. He is an effective receiver, too, with 48 career catches. Lattimore especially loves playing against Georgia: 358 yards and three TDs in two games.
9. LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-2/255, Sr.; Honolulu Punahou School
Buzz: Te'o will be a four-year starter for the Irish and has been a tackle machine the past two seasons. He had 128 tackles last season and 133 in 2010; he has a combined 23 tackles for loss the past two seasons. Te'o has 17 games with double-digit tackles in his career. He was a five-star recruit out of high school and has lived up to the hype. Te'o, who is an Eagle Scout, went to the same high school as President Barack Obama.
8. CB Tyrann Mathieu
Particulars: 5-9/175, Jr.; New Orleans St. Augustine
Buzz: Here is the danger of doing a countdown in this manner: Mathieu is a player without a team. He was dismissed from LSU's program Friday for a violation of team rules and seems likely to play this fall for FCS program McNeese State, in Lake Charles, La., but there has been no official word. Mathieu, nicknamed "The Honey Badger," had a great 2011, finishing with 76 tackles, two interceptions, nine pass breakups, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 7.5 tackles for loss. He also returned two punts for touchdowns and took back two fumbles for scores. That production helped him be a Heisman finalist.
7. QB Denard Robinson, Michigan
Particulars: 6-0/197, Sr.; Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High
Buzz: He was a great fit in former coach Rich Rodriguez's run-heavy version of the spread, but he still put up good numbers last season in a more conventional attack under coach Brady Hoke. In his career, "Shoelace" has passed for 4,931 yards and 40 touchdowns and rushed for 3,229 yards and 35 more scores. He has a chance of becoming the NCAA's leading career rusher among quarterbacks; he is 1,252 yards away from breaking the record of 4,480 yards held by former West Virginia star Pat White. Robinson is the 10th player in NCAA history with 3,000 yards rushing and 3,000 yards passing in a career. In 2010, he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a season.
6. CB David Amerson, North Carolina State
Particulars: 6-3/194, Jr.; Greensboro (N.C.) Dudley
Buzz: He started nine games as a true freshman in 2010 but had no national profile. That changed last season, when Amerson had one of the best seasons in NCAA history: He had 13 interceptions (one off the single-season record), which was more than 77 teams. He took two of those picks back for scores. Amerson also had 55 tackles and five pass breakups. Amerson was a safety in high school but had no problem making the move to corner. His size/speed combo makes him a favorite of NFL scouts.
5. DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Particulars: 6-4/320, Sr.; Snow College (Utah), preceded by South Jordan (Utah) Bingham
Buzz: His last name is pronounced "lo-too-LEH-lay." He is a force in the middle of the line for the Utes, winning Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year honors last season, his second with Utah after transferring in from junior college. He had 44 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and two sacks in 2011. Lotulelei is quick and extremely strong, generally occupying two blockers. His real first name is Starlite, but we doubt anyone makes fun of the name. He signed with BYU out of high school, but didn't make it academically and went to junior college.
4. WR Robert Woods, USC
Particulars: 6-1/190, Jr.; Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Buzz: He has started all 25 games in his Trojans career and has 176 receptions for 2,084 yards and 21 touchdowns. He should set USC career records in receptions and receiving yards this season. Woods had four games last season with double-digit receptions and finished the season with 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 TDs. He had six games with at least two TD catches, and has eight of those in his career. He and sophomore Marqise Lee, a former high school teammate, give USC the best receiving duo in the nation.
3. LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Particulars: 6-3/241, Jr.; transfer from USC, preceded by Columbus (Ga.) Carver
Buzz: He signed with USC out of high school, but suffered a neck injury during a game in his true freshman season of 2009. USC doctors would not clear him for spring ball in 2010 and he transferred "home." (Just think: Three of the top four players in our countdown were USC signees out of high school.) After sitting out the 2010 season, he had a huge 2011, finishing with 13.5 sacks, tied for second nationally. He also had 70 tackles, seven quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. Could he be better against the run? Yes. But ask college (and NFL) coaches what they want: An elite pass-rushing linebacker or an elite run-stuffing linebacker. The answer is easy.
2. TB Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Particulars: 5-11/215, Sr.; Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland
Buzz: Ball is coming off a huge season in which he finished as the Heisman runner-up. He ran for 1,923 yards and scored 39 touchdowns, tying Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record. He has rushed for 3,310 yards and 55 TDs in his career, and also has six career TD receptions. He is 18 TDs shy of tying the NCAA record for career rushing TDs, held by former Miami (Ohio) RB Travis Prentice. Ball had 10 100-yard games last season. He has scored a TD in 20 consecutive games and has not lost a fumble in 617 career touches.
1. QB Matt Barkley, USC
Particulars: 6-2/230, Sr.; Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei
Buzz: His decision to stay in school for his senior season made USC a leading contender for the national title. Barkley also is the leading contender for the Heisman. He will be a four-year starter for the Trojans and will be the school's first-ever three-time captain. Barkley completed 69.1 percent of his passes and threw for 3,528 yards, 39 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2011. He should graduate with school career records in completions, TDs, passing yards and total offense. Six USC quarterbacks have been first-round selections in the NFL draft; Barkley is going to make it seven.
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