More top 100 players: Nos. 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100
Here is the ninth grouping in Yahoo! Sports' top 100 player countdown. We're unveiling 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.
20. WR Marqise Lee, USC
Particulars: 6-0/195, Soph.; Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra
Buzz: Even though fellow WR Robert Woods put up big numbers as well, Lee exploded on the scene for the Trojans last season. Lee had 73 receptions for 1,143 yards (an average of 15.7 yards per catch) and 11 TDs. Lee had 13 receptions that covered at least 30 yards, the most for any returning player nationally. His 11 TD catches were the second-most nationally by a freshman in 2011, and 10 of his 11 TD catches covered at least 24 yards. Lee also was dangerous as a kick returner last season.
19. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Particulars: 6-5/245, Jr.; Plano (Texas) Plano West
Buzz: Jeffcoat is a former five-star recruit who began living up to that billing last season. He has excellent speed off the edge and has gotten better against the run. Jeffcoat led Texas with 7.5 sacks last season and added 54 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and three pass breakups. He played especially well in the second half of last season, with all of his sacks coming in the final seven games. His dad, Jim, played defensive end in the NFL from 1983-97.
18. WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State
Particulars: 6-4/185, Jr.; Tulare (Calif.) Tulare Union
Buzz: This guy has put up big numbers in his first two seasons, and now gets to play in new coach Mike Leach's pass-happy offense. Wilson had 82 receptions for 1,388 yards and 12 TDs, averaging 16.9 yards per catch; in his career, he has averaged 17.5 yards on his 137 receptions, with 18 TDs. He led the nation last season with five catches covering at least 60 yards. Wilson, who was a second-team All-America selection last season, is a long strider and deceptively fast.
17. DE William Gholston, Michigan State
Particulars: 6-7/278, Jr.; Detroit Southeastern
Buzz: Gholston is a physical marvel whose production finally seems ready to match his potential. He had 70 tackles, five sacks, 16 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery last season. He was dominant in the Outback Bowl win over Georgia, finishing with seven tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks and the fumble recovery. Gholston's size and speed makes him a fearsome sight off the edge. He had an incredible 27 sacks as a high school senior.
16. QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Particulars: 6-3/220, Sr.; Greenwood (Ark.) High
Buzz: Last season, he became just the second Hogs quarterback in history to pass for 3,000 yards, finishing with 3,638 yards and 24 TDs. He also became the first Arkansas quarterback to be named first-team All-SEC. Wilson set school single-season records for completions (277) and attempts (438), and his yardage total was the second-highest in school history. He had four 300-yard games last season, including a 510-yard performance against Texas A&M, and another in which he finished with 299 yards.
15. C Barrett Jones, Alabama
Particulars: 6-5/302, Sr.; Memphis Evangelical Christian
Buzz: Jones was an All-America guard as a sophomore in 2010. He was an All-America tackle as a junior last season. Now, he goes for the hat trick, as he moved to center during spring drills. Jones won the Outland Trophy last season; it goes to the nation's best interior lineman. Jones was a center in high school, but his NFL position likely will be guard and he's considered a likely first-round pick. His dad, Rex, played basketball at Alabama under Wimp Sanderson from 1982-84.
14. QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Particulars: 6-3/214, Sr.; Miramar (Fla.) High
Buzz: Smith passed for a school-record 4,385 yards last season, with 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He adapted quickly to new coach Dana Holgorsen's pass-happy version of the spread and had eight 300-yard games; in addition, he threw for at least 400 yards four times, with a season-high 463 against LSU. He threw just two interceptions in the final six games. He has started 26 consecutive games and should leave WVU with all the key school passing records. He is a cousin of former Miami RB Melvin Bratton.
13. T Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
Particulars: 6-6/310, Jr.; Arlington (Texas) High
Buzz: He has been the starter at left tackle for the Aggies since he stepped on campus in January 2010. He earned some freshman All-America mention in 2010, then was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season. He and Jake Matthews form perhaps the nation's best tackle duo. Joeckel is seen as a sure first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, should he leave school a year early. His twin, Matt, is a 6-4, 234-pound backup quarterback for A&M.
12. DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Particulars: 6-4/245, Jr.; Greenwood (S.C.) High
Buzz: Montgomery is a freakish athlete who is one of the best pass rushers in the nation. He had nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss last season; two of his sacks came against Alabama in the Tigers' regular-season win over the Tide. Montgomery was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given annually to the nation's top defensive end. He and Barkevious Mingo form one of the nation's top defensive end duos.
11. WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Particulars: 6-1/200, Soph.; Fort Myers (Fla.) South Fort Myers
Buzz: Watkins was a five-star recruit and more than lived up to his billing as a true freshman last season. Watkins announced himself on the national stage in Games 3 and, torching Auburn and Florida State with 17 catches for 296 yards (17.4 yards per catch) and four TDs. He finished the season with 82 receptions for 1,219 yards (14.9 yards per catch) and 12 TDs. He also was effective on wide receiver sweeps and as a kick returner (25.0 yards per return, with a TD). Watkins had 17 touches that covered at least 30 yards and seven that covered at least 50 yards.
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