Here is the seventh 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.
It remains a long time until the first game on Aug. 30. We're trying to make the long wait bearable.
40. RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon
Particulars: 5-11/195, Sr.; Riverside (Calif.) Notre Dame
Buzz: Barner is a burner who will be a first-time starter this fall. He was eighth in the Pac-12 in rushing last season (939 yards, with 11 TDs) serving as a backup to LaMichael James. But James turned pro early and the starting job now belongs to Barner. He has rushed for 1,856 yards and 20 TDs in his career, and also is a capable receiver. Barner had four 100-yard games last season and has six in his career. He also is a talented kick returner, though he's unlikely to see time in that role this fall.
39. OT Chris Faulk, LSU
Particulars: 6-6/325, Jr.; Slidell (La.) Northshore
Buzz: He became a fulltime starter last season and performed admirably at left tackle for the Tigers. He had started the final two games of the 2010 season at right tackle. For a big guy, he is light on his feet, yet he also has excellent strength as a run-blocker. Faulk played every offensive snap in five games last season. He and senior RT Alex Hurst form one of the top two tackle tandems in the nation.
38. LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
Particulars: 6-3/242, Sr.; Pawling (N.Y.) Trinity-Pawling School
Buzz: Skov missed all but three games last season with a torn ACL, but should be fine this fall. He plays with a certain fierceness on the field and is a big hitter who moves well. An inside linebacker, he made 84 tackles in 2010, with 6.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss and five tackles for loss. He started as a true freshman in 2009 after a highly decorated high school career. He is from the San Francisco area, but went to a prep school in New York for his final three years of high school.
37. QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Particulars: 6-6/262, Jr..; Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville
Buzz: While he was a high school quarterback, he was recruited by most schools as a tight end (he was considered the top tight end prospect in the nation and was the No. 71 player overall). He redshirted as a true freshman in 2009, played as a reserve tight end and quarterback in 2010, then started all 13 games at quarterback last season. Despite his size, he has excellent quickness and is a threat as a runner (469 rushing yards and 11 TDs last season). But he surprised a lot of observers with his passing ability; he has a cannon arm and completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns. He did toss 10 interceptions and that number should decrease this fall as his comfort level in the offense increases.
36. QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
Particulars: 6-1/211, Jr.; Tampa Plant
Buzz: He is a little on the short side, but he still is a top-flight college quarterback. Last season, his second as the Bulldogs' starter, he threw for 3,149 yards and a school-record 35 touchdowns. Murray is mobile and also rushed for two scores. The one aspect of his game that is troubling is his penchant for throwing interceptions; he tossed 14 last season and had three games with at least two. He also had six games with at least three TD passes, including four each against rivals South Carolina, Auburn and Georgia Tech. In his career, he has thrown seven TD passes against Auburn and Georgia Tech.
35. FS Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Particulars: 5-11/212, Jr.; Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake
Buzz: Jefferson has been a highly productive player for the Sooners since the moment he stepped on campus despite not having a set position. In 2010 as a true freshman, Jefferson started as a nickelback. Last season, he started as a sort of hybrid linebacker/safety. This season, with Mike Stoops coordinating the defense and also overseeing the secondary, Jefferson will line up at free safety. He has six picks and 10 pass breakups in his career; he also has 139 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
34. G Chance Warmack, Alabama
Particulars: 6-3/320, Sr.; Atlanta Westlake
Buzz: Warmack will be a three-year starter and has started each of the past 26 games for the Tide. He was a second-team All-SEC pick last season. He is a road-grader as a run blocker and also is solid in pass protection. Warmack will play a key role for what should be one of the nation's top five offensive lines this season. He was two years behind Cam Newton at Westlake High.
33. DE John Simon, Ohio State
Particulars: 6-2/260, Sr.; Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney
Buzz: Simon is an undersized defensive lineman, but he also is absolutely relentless and a great leader (he will be just the seventh two-time captain in school history). He has excellent first-step quickness and was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree last season, when he had 53 tackles, seven sacks, 16 tackles for loss and three pass breakups while playing tackle and end. He is heading into his third season as a starter, with almost all of his time in 2010 coming at tackle.
32. FS Eric Reid, LSU
Particulars: 6-2/208, Jr.; Geismar (La.) Dutchtown
Buzz: Reid started the final three games of the 2010 season as a true freshman, then became an important component of one of the nation's best defenses last season as a sophomore. He is physical, fast and highly instinctual. He had two interceptions, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and 76 tackles last season. His dad, Eric Sr., was the NCAA champion in the 110-meter hurdles as a senior for LSU in 1987.
31. CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Particulars: 6-2/185, Sr.; Maben (Miss.) East Webster
Buzz: Banks, from a town of about 800 residents in north-central Mississippi, is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation and one of the best defensive players in the SEC. He will be a four-year starter for the Bulldogs and was a second-team all-league performer last season. Banks has 12 career interceptions, along with 19 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and 158 tackles; he has returned three picks for a TD. Banks made the varsity football team as an eighth-grader in high school and was a key player on two state title baseball teams.
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