Junior college players were able to sign with the college of their choice earlier this month, and every coach who signed a JC transfer is hoping his guy can make as big an impact as a certain quarterback at Auburn.
Cam Newton was the nation's No. 1 junior college player last season, and everyone knows how important he has been this season in becoming just the fourth JC transfer to win the Heisman.
This season, the nation's No. 1 JC player also is headed to college in Alabama; DT Jesse Williams, a native of Australia, has signed to play with the Crimson Tide. Alabama also signed the nation's No. 14 JC player in DE Quinton Dial.
But before Tide fans start getting giddy thinking about what Williams could do next season, they need to remember these three guys: James Aiono, Simi Kuli and Louis Holmes. Who are they? Each was the nation's No. 1 JC transfer (Aiono in 2009, Kuli in 2008 and Holmes in 2006).
Most JC transfers miss rather than hit. Still, there were a lot of high-caliber players in college ball this season who began as JC transfers.
Particulars: 6-6/250, Jr.; Blinn College (Texas), preceded by Atlanta Westlake
Buzz: Newton arrived as the most touted JC transfer in the nation, but no one expected this. He is just the third quarterback in FBS history with 20 rushing TDs and 20 passing TDs in the same season. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,409 yards and has thrown for 2,589 yards.
Particulars: 5-11/215, Jr.; Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, preceded by Pascagoula (Miss.) High
Buzz: Ballard helped the Bulldogs be the No. 2 rushing team in the SEC, behind only Auburn. He has rushed for 892 yards and 16 touchdowns, and has had four 100-yard games. He has scored at least one TD in nine games this season.
Particulars: 6-2/228, Sr.; Northwest Mississippi CC, preceded by Hilliard (Fla.) High
Buzz: He completed the regular season ranked ninth nationally in rushing with 1,495 yards even though defenses could virtually ignore Kansas State's lackluster passing game. He also has scored 16 touchdowns.
Particulars: 6-3/200, Jr.; East Mississippi CC, preceded by Concord (N.C.) High
Buzz: Lewis is a great fit for ECU's new pass-happy attack. He has 78 receptions for 979 yards and is tied for second in Conference USA with 13 receiving TDs.
Particulars: 6-5/219, Sr.; Los Angeles Harbor College, preceded by Los Angeles Dorsey
Buzz: Matthews is UK's other receiver (Randall Cobb is the No. 1 guy), but he has had a solid season regardless. Matthews, whose size makes him a physically tough matchup, has 57 catches for 897 yards and is tied for the SEC lead with nine TD receptions. He has had two 100-yard games (Florida and South Carolina) this season.
Particulars: 6-5/252, Sr.; College of the Canyons (Calif.), preceded by Simi Valley (Calif.) High
Buzz: He played 3 years for the Cyclones and finally was healthy as a senior. He had 54 receptions for 530 yards and three TDs. He caught at least three passes in every game but one, and had an 11-catch, 118-yard game against Colorado.
Particulars: 6-5/300, Sr.; Coffeyville CC (Kan.), preceded by Augusta (Ga.) Hephzibah
Buzz: A two-year starter for the Tide at left tackle, Carpenter has played a big role in one of the SEC's most productive ground attacks the past two seasons.
Particulars: 6-4/310, Sr.; Butte College (Calif.), preceded by Kelowna (B.C.) Mount Bouchere Secondary
Buzz: At one time, Watkins' goal was to become a firefighter; now, though, he has NFL hopes. He plays left tackle for the Bears and has helped them rank second in the Big 12 in offense at 478.5 yards per game.
Particulars: 6-4/305, Sr.; Omaha Burke
Buzz: The most physical member of Nebraska's line, Henry has helped the Huskers rank among the nation's top 10 in rushing offense. The Huskers could finish the season with three 1,000-yard rushers.
Particulars: 6-1/329, Sr.; Mt. San Antonio College (Calif.), preceded by Honolulu Damien Memorial
Buzz: Williams missed much of his junior season because of injury, but he was healthy and productive this season. A road grader in the middle of the line, Williams helped the Bruins average 178.6 rushing yards per game, which is 34th nationally.
Particulars: 6-4/303, Sr.; Butler County CC (Kan.), preceded by Hillsboro (Kan.) High
Buzz: Weibert is a 2-year starter for the Wildcats, who annually have success with junior college transfers. Weibert is a reason that Daniel Thomas has so many big holes to run through. K-State is second in the Big 12 and 20th nationally in rushing at 206.0 yards per game.
Particulars: 6-3/235, Jr.; Mt. San Antonio College (Calif.), preceded by Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
Buzz: Irvin really isn't much more than a pass rusher, but when you have his speed off the edge, it doesn't matter. Irvin has 19 tackles - and 12 of them are sacks. He ranks fourth nationally in sacks at 1.0 per game. He also has a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Irvin played wide receiver in high school, where he was a prep teammate of LSU LB Kelvin Sheppard and current New England Patriots LB Jermaine Cunningham, a former defensive end at Florida.
Particulars: 6-5/298, Jr.; Copiah-Lincoln CC (Miss.), preceded by Mobile (Ala.) Williamson
Buzz: Fairley - who has been criticized by some for being overly aggressive - has been a big-play machine for the Tigers. He has 10.5 sacks, 21 tackles for loss and an incredible 21 quarterback hurries; those are unreal numbers for a defensive tackle.
Particulars: 6-1/311, Sr.; Snow College (Utah), preceded by Los Altos (Calif.) Timpview
Buzz: He's a solid run stuffer and an effective inside pass rusher. Paea had seven sacks, 11 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.
Particulars: 6-4/285, Sr.; Itawamba CC (Miss.), preceded by Pahokee (Fla.) High
Buzz: McPhee didn't turn in as many big plays as last season, but he still was a standout performer for a solid Bulldogs defense. He has 32 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and 12 quarterback hurries.
Particulars: 6-1/210, Jr.; Fort Scott (Kan.) CC, preceded by Miami Northwestern
Buzz: He has made an enormous impact in his first season since transferring from a junior college. The speedy David leads the Big 12 with 145 total tackles and has 14 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Particulars: 6-4/245, Sr.; Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, preceded by Vancleave (Miss.) High
Buzz: White is the leading tackler for the Bulldogs, who are third in the league in rush defense. White has made 105 tackles and also leads the team with six sacks and in tackles for loss with 15.5. He also has two interceptions and five games with double-digit tackles.
Particulars: 5-11/220, Sr.; Glendale (Ariz.) CC, preceded by Oakdale (Conn.) St. Thomas More Prep
Buzz: Venable's dad, Max, was a long-time major league outfielder. Like his dad, Winston likes to hit. He plays a hybrid outside linebacker/safety position and frequently is used as a blitzer. He had 51 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks going into Wednesday night's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against Utah. Boise frequently rotates its defensive players, but Venable seems to be the field every team Boise coaches need someone to make a big play.
Particulars: 6-0/190, Sr.; Copiah-Lincoln CC (Miss.), preceded by Magee (Miss.) High
Buzz: Oklahoma State made strides in its pass defense this season, and McGee played a role in the improvement. He leads the Cowboys with five interceptions and also has six pass breakups and a forced fumble. He also has 45 tackles and had seven tackles against both Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Particulars: 6-2/197, Sr.; Tyler (Texas) JC, preceded by Carthage (Texas) High
Buzz: He is an important part of one of the nation's best defenses. TCU leads the nation in pass-efficiency defense, and Teague is the Horned Frogs' best corner. He has 33 tackles, two picks, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles.
Particulars: 6-2/205, Jr.; Mississippi Gulf Coast CC, preceded by Pineville (La.) High
Buzz: Jackson had big shoes to fill with the departure of Kendrick Lewis, but he enrolled early and departed spring drills as the starter. He finished second on the team with 68 tackles and added four pass breakups, a forced fumble and 4.5 tackles for loss.
Particulars: 6-3/217, Sr.; Snow College (Utah), preceded by Ogden (Utah) Bonneville
Buzz: Rich leads BYU in total tackles (106), solo tackles (59), assists (47), interceptions (three), forced fumbles (three), fumble recoveries (tied for the team lead with one) and pass breakups (seven). He has 6.5 tackles for loss and has recorded three interceptions in BYU's past three games.
Particulars: 5-11/192, Sr.; Snow College (Utah), preceded by Highland (Utah) Lone Peak
Buzz: Phillips is 12-of-14 on field-goal attempts, including a perfect 9-of-9 from shorter than 42 yards. He made a school-record 18 consecutive field-goal tries - a streak that began last season - before missing a 42-yarder into a headwind against Air Force.
Particulars: 6-0/200, Sr.; American River JC (Calif.), preceded by Roseville (Calif.) Woodcreek
Buzz: Langley doesn't have enough punts (he has attempted just 30) to qualify for the national rankings, but he has averaged 42.4 yards per boot and the Wolf pack rank a solid 37th nationally in net punting.
Particulars: 5-9/182, Sr.; Mississippi Gulf Coast JC, preceded by Tallassee (Ala.) High
Buzz: Washington, who also has 48 tackles and two picks as a cornerback, averages 25.0 yards per return, on 41 returns. He took one back for a touchdown in a victory at Ole Miss.
Particulars: 5-11/202, Sr.; East Los Angeles CC, preceded by Upper Marlboro (Md.) Frederick Douglass
Buzz: Smithson ranks second in the nation with an average of 19.7 yards per punt return, and has two returns for touchdowns. He scored on a 77-yard return against UNLV and a 73-yard return against New Mexico.