Here is the eighth 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.
30. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Particulars: 6-1/225, Jr.; Hampton (Va.) Phoebus
Buzz: Boyd had an excellent season in 2011, his first as the starter. He is a great fit for coordinator Chad Morris' offense; Boyd threw for 3,828 yards and 33 TDs and also ran for five scores. He had four 300-yard games and seven times threw at least three TD passes in a contest. In his four 300-yard games, he threw 14 TD passes and just two interceptions. He guided Clemson to the ACC title last season and led his high school team to two state titles.
29. TB Knile Davis, Arkansas
Particulars: 6-0/226, Jr.; Missouri City (Texas) Thurgood Marshall
Buzz: Davis is returning from an ankle injury that caused him to miss the 2011 season. He burst on the scene in a big way in 2010, rushing for 1,322 yards and 13 TDs despite getting just 20 total carries in the first four games. He had six 100-yard games. Davis is a big guy with a burst, and he can both run over linebackers and run past cornerbacks. He also is a good receiver, and expect that facet of his game to be put to better use this season.
28. LB Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Particulars: 6-2/230, Sr.; Schertz (Texas) Clemens
Buzz: Porter, who didn't redshirt, is headed into his third season as a starter. He was an All-Big 12 performer for the Aggies last season after coming up with 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He had two sacks each against Oklahoma State and Arkansas. Porter has excellent speed and puts that to good use on the pass rush; he can beat most tackles around the corner.
27. QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Particulars: 6-4/218, Sr.; Artesia (N.M.) High
Buzz: He is heading into his fourth season as the Sooners' starter and already has thrown for a school-record 12,379 yards in his career. That total is fifth on the Big 12 career passing list. He also has 93 TD passes and 41 interceptions. He is first among active quarterbacks nationally in yardage, TDs and picks. He struggled down the stretch last season when WR Ryan Broyles was lost for the season with an injury, and the inexperience of the Sooners' wide receiver corps is a concern this season.
26. OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Particulars: 6-6/335, Jr.; Foley (Ala.) High
Buzz: The massive Fluker, who weighed upward of 350 as a high school senior, is heading into his third season as the Tide's starting right tackle. Befitting someone his size, he is an absolute road-grader when blocking for the run, and his pass blocking has improved. Fluker was a five-star prospect who was the No. 3 recruit nationally in the 2009 signing class. He is on the cover of one of Alabama's media guides this season; since 2008, the school annually has produced four different covers each season.
25. FS Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Particulars: 6-0/218, Sr.; Donalsonville (Ga.) Seminole County
Buzz: Rambo is heading into his third season as a starter and – not surprising, given his last name – he is a big-time hitter. He was a first-team All-America last fall, finishing with 55 tackles, eight interceptions and eight pass breakups. He has 13 picks (tied for the most nationally among active players) and 16 breakups in his career; he has returned three of his interceptions for touchdowns. He had an especially big game last season against Ole Miss, with two interceptions, a pass breakup and four tackles. His performance becomes even greater when you consider he played just two days after his unborn son died because of late-pregnancy complications. Rambo decided to play only after talking about the situation with the team chaplain. Rambo to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "I just said a little prayer every time before I went on the field. And I could hear his voice say, 'I'm watching you, Daddy. Go Daddy. Make me proud.' It just motivated me."
24. TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Particulars: 6-6/251, Jr.; Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Dwenger
Buzz: Eifert should be the nation's top tight end this fall. He has a nice all-around skill set, which includes the ability to get deep. Eifert had 63 receptions for 803 yards and five TDs last season, and had at least six catches in six games. His numbers should increase this season, as the Irish lack a proven go-to wide receiver. Eifert, who redshirted in 2009, toyed with the idea of turning pro after last season but decided to remain in school.
23. WR/RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Particulars: 5-9/173, Soph.; Los Angeles Crenshaw
Buzz: Meet the nation's most explosive player. Thomas, nicknamed "The Black Mamba," had just 140 touches last season. But he scored 18 touchdowns (one every eight times he touched the ball) and averaged 15.96 yards on each touch. A perusal of cfbstats.com shows that Thomas scored three times on plays covering at least 90 yards and that he tied for the national lead with seven touches that covered at least 70 yards. And remember that Thomas did all that as a true freshman and as a complementary option to the now-departed LaMichael James.
22. OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Particulars: 6-8/302, Jr.; Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
Buzz: Lewan redshirted as a true freshman in 2009, then moved into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman. He was a second-team All-Big Ten selection last season and looks to be the next great Wolverines lineman. He didn't play offensive tackle until he was a senior in high school; before that, he had been a defensive end. Lewan plays with a mean streak and it got him in trouble a couple of times in 2010, including being called for a personal foul after Denard Robinson scored the game-winning TD against Indiana.
21. WR Keenan Allen, California
Particulars: 6-3/210, Jr.; Greensboro (N.C.) Northern Guilford
Buzz: He is heading into his third season as a starter for the Golden Bears. Last fall, he had 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six TDs. The touchdown number needs to get into double-digits this season, and that obviously will depend on QB Zach Maynard, who is Allen's half-brother. Allen, a five-star recruit out of high school, has 144 receptions and 11 TDs in his career. He had a 90-yard touchdown catch against Washington last season, the longest in school history.
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