The best of the best. The cream of the crop. A variety of extended metaphors can be used to express these players' dominance, but one thing remains the same: They are as good as it gets in college football. While any number of hazards could throw these players off their path to stardom, their preseason talent stands out.
Preseason All-American Team First Team
Jason White (6-2, 221) Sr., Oklahoma
Tried and true, the returning Heisman winner should duplicate many of his gaudy numbers in 2004.
David Pollack (6-3, 276) Sr., Georgia
Highly disruptive force from the corner, Pollack
can take over a game by himself.
Carnell Williams (5-11, 210) Sr., Auburn
Shocked many by returning for senior year, Cadillac's high-knees running style makes him the SEC's best player.
Shaun Cody (6-4, 285) Sr., USC
Possibly the best overall defensive lineman in the country, the versatile Cody has switched between tackle and end throughout his career.
Darren Sproles (5-7, 180) Sr., Kansas State
Pint-sized speedster also packs a punch. It's often as hard to pull him down as it is to catch him in the open field.
Anttaj Hawthorne (6-3, 312) Sr., Wisconsin
A tanker with wheels, he's a future NFL star who should dominate Big Ten offensive lines like he did Ohio State's in 2003.
WR: Braylon Edwards (6-3, 206) Sr., Michigan
Fast as a drag racer without the safety chutes, if Edwards gets a step, he's gone.
Rodrique Wright (6-3, 315)
The man can clog a hole, and has surprisingly quick feet to stop rushers at the line.
Mark Clayton (5-11, 187)
While slightly less physically gifted than Edwards, Clayton is more consistent and well-rounded. Look for another big year from White's favorite target.
Derrick Johnson (6-4, 230)
The country's most dominant defensive player, Johnson has the speed and big hits to change the complexion of a game instantly.
Heath Miller (6-5, 254)
Big, strong and tough, Miller is the quintessential tight end receiver. Add a set of sticky hands to his deep routes, and you've got the nation's most complete tight end.
A.J. Hawk (6-2, 230)
Jr., Ohio State
Hawk seems to be able to soar anywhere on the field. He led the Buckeyes in tackles with 106 tackles in 2003, 13 for loss.
David Baas (6-5, 307)
Baas has great technical skill, impressive lateral movement and a mean streak a mile wide.
Will Derting (6-0, 237)
Jr., Wash. State
One of the scariest impact players in the country, Derting can control an entire game by himself.
Eric Winston (6-7, 303)
A converted tight end, Winston has used his quick reflexes to keep back speed rushers and become a star.
(6-1, 199) Sr., Michigan
The Wolverine has dominated at both safety and cornerback. This year he returns to his natural position.
Sam Mayes (6-3, 350)
Sr., Okla. State
A classic 'big fella,' Mayes knows how to open a hole. He's also a surprisingly smart guard, funneling defensive lineman to their off sides.
Corey Webster (6-0, 201)
Webster had seven interceptions and 25 pass breakups in 2003. Size, speed, physicality ... he has it all. Enough said.
Alex Barron (6-6, 308)
Has the quick feet and long limbs to keep defenders out of his backfield. When you add his impressive height to the equation, it makes him almost impassable.
Josh Bullocks (6-0, 205)
Ten interceptions are pretty hard to argue with. So is Bullocks' zone coverage and run support. Add the three together and you've got yourself an All-American safety.
Ben Wilkerson (6-4, 296)
The full package, he?s ready to become nation?s
premier snapper. Not many got past him last year, and fewer should in 2004.
(6-1, 220) Jr., Georgia
Former LB had 138 tackles last season. May be
best run support safety in the country.
Dustin Colquit (6-0, 188)
Best punter in the country has great accuracy
with a booming leg.
Jonathan Nichols (6-0, 180)
The miss against the LSU still looms large, but
was 25-29 and hit from beyond 50 in 2003.
Antonio Perkins (6-2, 196)
Three punt return touchdowns in one game? Sounds impossible, but Perkins did it against UCLA last year.
Preseason All-American Team Second Team
Matt Leinart (6-5, 220)
Won a national title in his first season running Pete Carroll's spread offense, and another year of experience will only help the strong-armed passer.
Marcus Spears (6-4, 297)
Jason White and David Greene are still having nightmares of Spears bearing down on them.
T.A. McLendon (5-11,216)
Jr., N.C. State
Beefy junior flashed as much talent as Maurice Clarett as a freshman and was explosive before injuries last year.
Justin Tuck (6-5, 246)
Jr., Notre Dame
Not quite as big as some, but is incredibly intense. Was one of few bright spots in debacle of a 2003 season for Irish.
Justin Vincent (5-10, 208)
His terrific burst through the line and readiness
to work for tough yards were big reasons the Tigers won the 2003 title.
Dusty Dvoracek (6-3, 282)
Undersized playmaker had seven sacks and 16 tackles in 2003. He'll have to hope that Tommie Harris' replacement will take some of the blocking heat off of him.
Gibson (6-4, 196)
Speedy and acrobatic, Gibson can get around defenders in
the middle after the catch, if you can catch up with him.
Haloti Ngata (6-5, 345)
Youngster is short on experience but tall on talent. He had a strong 2002 season but was lost after his first quarter last year to a knee injury.
Geoff McArthur (6-1, 200)
Terrific run-after-catch numbers helped pad quarterback Aaron Rodgers' stats.
Ahmad Brooks (6-4, 249)
He?s a freak, plain and simple. He ran Al Groh's complicated defense after three games, and drives home impressive hits in the open field.
Marcedes Lewis (6-6, 250)
Tremendous size makes him a terrific target. His hands are also some of the best in the game, and he could be on the cusp of a breakout season.
Odell Thurman (6-1, 225)
Blue-collar worker fights hard to get in on every play, and hits hard when he gets there.
Max Jean-Gilles (6-4, 340)
He's strong enough to knock over the country's best when he gets going.
DeMeco Ryans (6-2, 220)
Tide's leading tackler last season, Ryans had a school record 25 stops against Arkansas.
Jammal Brown (6-6, 313)
Most powerful member of complete returning line is out to prove he can take his run blocking to the next level.
Fabian Washington (5-11, 180)
He's started every game in a Husker uniform, and he appears ready to join Bullocks as co-leaders of a powerful blackshirt secondary.
C.J. Brooks (6-6, 318)
Maryland's turnaround under 'the Fridge' has been grounded in consistent, efficient rushing, and Brooks has been an integral part of that puzzle.
Will Blackmon (6-0, 198)
Jr., Boston College
His 64 tackles, 4 interceptions and 10 pass break-ups were impressive in 2003, especially when considering the fact that opposing offenses avoided his side of the field.
Dan Buenning (6-4, 313)
The latest in a long line of terrific Badger linemen, Buenning always has his feet pumping and stays low for great leverage.
LaRon Landry (6-2, 180)
Was a key to Tiger run-stopping last year as
a true freshman and now has improved coverage skills.
Vince Carter (6-3, 289)
Dependable three-year starter is an anchor on the line. Allowed only two sacks in 2003.
Jamaal Brimmer (6-1, 215)
Savvy senior had 11 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown in 2003 win over Wisconsin.
Tom Malone (6-0, 190)
The biggest factor holding Malone back from the Ray Guy award as best punter may have been USC's prolific offense. He averaged 49.0 yards-per punt in 2003.
Ben Jones (6-0, 215)
Intense kicker is almost automatic, going 25-30 last season, many of which were from around 50 yards.
Steve Breaston (6-1, 181)
Terrific speed and even better field vision make him hard to catch when bringing back punts. Expands role with kickoff returns in 2004.