The beauty of college football is that just when you think you have a read on it, you realize that you have no idea. Every four or five years, we have a complete roster turnover in college football, and that gives the sport an unmatched energy. With that in mind, we’ve put together the top 100 players in college football this season. This list is equal parts production and projection, but we hope nonetheless comprehensive:
JK Scott - P - Alabama
A punter?! Well, Scott isn't just a punter — he's a weapon. He routinely hits punts of 55-plus yards with pinpoint accuracy. You don't know how valuable that is until you go against it.
Cameron Smith - LB - USC
Was on his way to an All-American caliber season, as a true freshman, before a knee injury. If he can bounce back — the sky is the limit.
Artavis Scott - WR - Clemson
Built like a running back, but with the hands and leaping ability of an elite receiver, Scott is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in the game.
Brian Hill - RB - Wyoming
Hill could line up for any team in the nation and look good. He'll probably get another 275-plus carries in 2016 and will push for 2,000 yards.
Larry Rose - RB - New Mexico State
You don't know about Larry Rose, but that's alright. The bowling-ball back has put up 2,700-plus yards as he heads into what should be a stellar senior year.
Jake Butt - TE - Michigan
Michigan didn't have much in the way of great quarterback play last year, which is also what made Butt so valuable last season. Not only did the perfectly named tight end’s 51 catches help the passing game, but he also helped open holes in the running game as well.
Nick Mullens - QB - Southern Miss
Mullens might be the most underappreciated quarterback in the nation. He finished in the Top 10 nationally in yards per game, total passing yards and touchdowns with 38. We'll find out just how good Mullens is this year, when Southern Miss opens against Kentucky in Week 1.
Lamar Jackson - QB - Louisville
Jackson's presence on this list isn't so much for what he was last year, but what he can be in 2016. Yes, he only threw for 12 touchdowns but played well late into the season, and should really develop in Year 2 in Bobby Petrino's system.
Nazair Jones - DT - North Carolina
One of the best defensive linemen that no one, outside the Triangle, seems to know about. The stats don't stack up with the best in the nation, but he's often taking on two or three offensive linemen on every play. UNC is legit and the quiet, yet spectacular, play of Jones is a big reason why.
Jeremy McNichols - RB - Boise State
Because of Boise State’s disappointing (at least by their standards) 9-4 season, McNichols’ incredible sophomore year was largely overlooked. He rushed for over 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns, and with four starters on the offensive line back, those numbers should only continue to go up.
Gabe Marks - WR - Washington State
Scheme helps, no doubt, but Marks shouldn't be hit too hard for the Air Raid. Fifteen touchdowns and 1,192 yards on 104 catches would be good in any system.
Shock Linwood - RB - Baylor
Yes, Baylor runs the ball, and yes, they're good at it. Linwood will never get the full credit he deserves, or even the full load of carries, but he's one of the nation's top backs with the ball in his hands.
Fred Ross - WR - Mississippi State
Put up 88 catches for 1,000 yards last year. He'll need to up his touchdown numbers (five last season) and prove that he can do it without Dak Prescott at QB.
Justin Jackson - RB - Northwestern
Jackson just might be the most underappreciated back in college football after a sophomore season in which he finished third in the country with 312 carries and second in the Big Ten with 1,412 yards rushing. For comparison's sake, the only players in all of college football with more carries than Jackson last year were Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey, and the only Big Ten back with more yards was Ezekiel Elliott.
Jake Browning - QB - Washington
The Pac-12 North's standout freshman quarterback, Browning was a revelation last year — if he can build on that campaign Washington has a strong chance to make the playoff … yes, seriously.
James Conner - RB - Pitt
A knee injury derailed a possible Heisman season after a 1,700-yard sophomore campaign, then cancer struck. He beat the disease and is likely going to be used all around the field for the Panthers in 2016. The easiest kid in college football to root for.
Carlos Watkins - DT - Clemson
Watkins has showed flashes of spectacular, Top-10-pick-in-the-NFL-Draft play but is aiming for more consistent performances in his senior season.
Armani Watts - SS - Texas A&M
The Aggies' leading tackler from a year ago, Watts embodies the modern defensive back — preposterously athletic and fearless in any situation.
Mason Rudolph - QB - Oklahoma State
Rudolph quietly had one of the best seasons of any quarterback in college football last year with 3,770 yards passing and 21 touchdowns. And he's quietly a Heisman dark horse in 2016 on an Oklahoma State offense that returns 10 starters.
Jarrad Davis - LB - Florida
Davis, not Antonio Morrison, was the best linebacker on the Gators last year — he's the vacuum cleaner, grabbing anything that might have slipped through the cracks. Posted 98 tackles, seven hurries and four pass breakups last year.
Josey Jewell - LB - Iowa
Offered one FBS scholarship, Jewell is making the most of it. He amassed 128 tackles last year and is the leader of an Iowa defense that deserves more national recognition.
KD Cannon - WR - Baylor
Yes, Cannon plays in a system that makes receivers look great, but don't call him a "system" receiver. Cannon was a five-star stud coming out of high school and a guy who literally could have played anywhere in the country. And with Corey Coleman now in the NFL, Cannon's numbers (50 catches, six touchdowns) should only go up as he emerges into Baylor's go-to receiver.
Josh Dobbs - QB - Tennessee
By far the most experienced quarterback in the SEC, Dobbs is an impressive 13-5 as a starter dating back to 2014. While the numbers don't jump off the page, the one that matters to Tennessee fans is this: Dobbs continues to produce wins.
Marcus Maye - FS - Florida
One of the hardest hitters in college football, Maye is another player whose impact can't be quantified by numbers on a stat sheet.
Daeshon Hall - DE - Texas A&M
The "other" defensive line star at Texas A&M, Hall finished last season with 14.5 TFL's and seven sacks. If it weren't for some guy named "Myles Garrett," Hall would get a lot more love and be higher on this list.
Ben Boulware - LB - Clemson
Boulware was the emotional leader of one of the best defenses in college football, finishing with eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. With Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson now in the NFL, Boulware will need to be even better for a young Clemson defense to match its output from last season.
Lowell Lotulelei - DT - Utah
Star's younger brother is the anchor for one of the best defensive lines in college football. Utah’s scheme doesn't allow Lotulelei to churn up big stats, but he's a space-eater that terrorizes opposing offensive lines and frees linebackers to make plays behind him.
Trey Hendrickson - DE - Florida Atlantic
Quick, which returning player had the most sacks last year? It's Hendrickson, who finished with 13 last season, finishing second only to Penn State's Carl Nassib, who is now in the NFL.
Will Likely - CB - Maryland
A lethal dual-threat corner/return man, Likely finished third in punt return yardage last year, setting a Big Ten record with 233 return yards against Richmond in Week 1. On the defensive side of the ball, he should thrive in 2016 under new head coach D.J. Durkin.
Cameron Sutton - CB - Tennessee
A three-year starter at corner, Sutton isn't just the emotional leader of the Vols defense but a key member of the return game as well. He led the nation in punt return average at nearly 19 yards per game, including two touchdown returns.
Jordan Whitehead - SS - Pitt
Strong in coverage and tremendous at the line of scrimmage, Whitehead was a prototype hybrid defender despite being a true freshman last year. He also played some offense.
Chad Kelly - QB - Ole Miss
Watch out, 31 touchdowns — Chad Kelly. In the air 4,000 yards — Chad Kelly. Swag. (Fans of Chad Kelly’s rap career will understand.)
Isaiah Ford - WR - Virginia Tech
Another late-season boomer, Ford became the first Tech WR to go over 1,000 yards in a season last year and also pulled in 11 touchdowns. In Justin Fuente's more open offense, those numbers could go even higher.
Mike Williams - WR - Clemson
Clemson's best receiver two years ago, Williams returns from a fractured neck to give the Tigers yet another dangerous offensive weapon in 2016. (Yes, he caught that ball.)
Deatrich Wise - DE - Arkansas
Burst onto the scene late last year with monster games against LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri and is looking to carry that momentum into 2016.
Da’Shawn Hand - DT - Alabama
Hand is ready to break out this year. He's one strong dude, and has been effective in spurts. On that frightening Alabama offensive line, he's going to have plenty of opportunities to show off.
Ethan Pocic - C - LSU
The linchpin of LSU's excellent offensive line, Pocic was a big reason Leonard Fournette led the NCAA in yards before contact last year.
Eddie Vanderdoes - DL - UCLA
Jim Mora can only hope that Vanderdoes returns to his 2014 form this fall, after missing all but one game last year. Two seasons ago he finished with 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks on his way to earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. There’s potential for a lot, lot more in 2016.
Shawun Lurry - CB - Northern Illinois
Why would anyone throw it his way? Last year, as a sophomore, Lurry was targeted 77 times. Those were mistakes. He broke up nine passes and picked off nine more and allowed a QB rating of 40.2 on the season.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin - LB - Tennessee
JRM quietly put up one of the best defensive campaigns of the 2015 season, doing it all for the Vols by registering 105 tackles, six sacks, eight TFLs, three hurries and four pass breakups.
Charles Walker - DL - Oklahoma
Earning All-Big 12 honors despite not starting a game is impressive. That's what six sacks and four TFLs from the middle of the line will do for you. Expect big things from the big man in 2016.
Elijah Hood - RB - North Carolina
Hood was the breakout star of North Carolina's surprise ACC Coastal title run last season, tallying over 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. With Marquise Williams gone at quarterback, Hood will likely have to replicate (or surpass) those numbers for the Tar Heels to have similar success to last season.
Travis Rudolph - WR - Florida State
Rudolph's numbers (59 catches, seven touchdowns, 916 yards) were impressive under any circumstances and staggering given the inconsistency in quarterback play at Florida State last season. We have no idea if the Seminoles' quarterbacks will be better this season, but that shouldn't stop Rudolph from being one of the premiere receivers in the conference.
Malik Jefferson - LB - Texas
Jefferson was probably asked to do a little too much as a true freshman last season and still managed to finish second on the Longhorns with 61 total tackles, despite missing a game. Those numbers should go up, as Jefferson becomes the face of a young but uber-talented Texas defense this season that added a ton of big-name pieces thanks to one of college football's best recruiting classes last February.
Patrick Mahomes - QB - Texas Tech
Led the Big 12 in passing last season and displayed an accuracy and understanding that transcended the typecasting that goes along with Air Raid quarterbacks. Could be this year's Jared Goff.
Luke Falk - QB - Washington State
Yes, Falk has the benefit of playing in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense, and no, you shouldn't hold that against him. It doesn't matter what offense you're in; 4,561 yards passing and nine-straight games with at least 300 yards passing is tremendous for anyone, regardless of the system.
Donnel Pumphrey - RB - San Diego State
Quick, which running back is the FBS's active rushing leader? The answer is Pumphrey, who has rushed for over 4,200 yards in his career, which has included at least 1,600 yards each of the last two seasons.
Tre’Davious White - CB - LSU
White surprised many when he elected to return to school this season instead of declaring for the NFL Draft, where he could have been a first-round pick. Now entering his fourth year as a starter, he will continue to be one of college football’s premiere shutdown corners.
DeMarcus Walker - DE - Florida State
Walker was a stud in 2015, leading the Seminoles with 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. What's even crazier is that he put up those numbers with fellow defensive lineman Josh Sweat less than 100 percent a year after major knee surgery in 2014. With Sweat back at full-strength it's going to make the Seminoles that much tougher to gameplan for, meaning Walker's numbers should be even better this season.
Wayne Gallman - RB - Clemson
Gallman was the breakout star of Clemson's title game run, finishing the year with over 1,500 yards on the ground. What was even more impressive was that Gallman played his best in the Tigers' biggest games, tallying at least 100 yards rushing in regular-season wins over Notre Dame and Florida State, as well as the college football semifinal against Oklahoma.
Eddie Jackson - SS - Alabama
In 2015 Jackson was moved from corner to safety and responded in a huge way, leading Alabama with six interceptions and eight pass break-ups — going on to be named the Defensive MVP of the national championship game after recording three tackles and an interception against Clemson.
Jalen Hurd - RB - Tennessee
If Hurd didn't have to split carries with Alvin Kamara, he'd be much higher on this list. Still, he broke the 1,200 yard mark, which included 550 yards in the Vols’ final three games.
Jamal Adams - SS - LSU
A do-it-all safety, Adams plays with reckless abandon. One of the most talented players in college football, consistency is the only thing holding him back from being one of the sport's super-elite players.
Charles Harris - DE - Missouri
Harris broke out in 2015, registering seven sacks, 14 QB hits and 33 hurries in less than 350 pass rushes (per PFF). It’ll be interesting to see how he'll adjust to new coaching at Mizzou — there's potential for incredible numbers in 2016.
Brad Kaaya - QB - Miami
Kaaya regressed in 2015 during a tumultuous season in which Al Golden was fired mid-campaign. With Mark Richt now firmly entrenched as the Canes’ new head coach, look for Kaaya's numbers to return to their 2014 form, when he threw for 26 touchdowns as a true freshman.
Samaje Perine - RB - Oklahoma
Broke the FBS record for rushing yards in a game as a freshman and made it look easy. Followed that up with a 1,300-yard campaign despite a mid-season offense change.
Reuben Foster - LB - Alabama
A human missile, Foster's instincts at the linebacker position are close to unmatched nationally. He plays with a fire, pop and all-around polish that makes him engrossing to watch.
Cordrea Tankersley - CB - Clemson
Big, athletic and can lock down an entire half of the field. Against Tankersley last season, QBs only posted a 44.4 rating (per PFF.)
Tim Williams - LB - Alabama
He hasn't played much, but he's made a big impact when he's on the field. Williams pressured the quarterback on a third of his 157 rushes last season. He has one job and he does it exceptionally well.
Seth Russell - QB - Baylor
Russell put up Heisman-worthy numbers last year before a neck injury sidelined him. You can't scheme-up or fake 29 touchdowns on 200 pass attempts.
Mike McGlinchey - OT - Notre Dame
The elite run blocker will move from the right to left side in 2016.
Marquis Haynes - DE - Ole Miss
While Robert Nkemdiche got all the headlines — good and bad — in Oxford last year, it was Haynes who was the team's most consistent defensive lineman. The true junior finished with team highs in tackles for loss (16.5) and sacks (10) in 2015.
Calvin Ridley - WR - Alabama
Put up tremendous numbers (89 catches, 1,045 yards) as a true freshman last season, though he did turn 21 years old in December.
Dawuane Smoot - DE - Illinois
A direct pass-rusher who never found trouble reaching the quarterback, Smoot was a bright spot on a forgettable team. Having Lovie Smith as head coach should only make him better in 2016.
Vince Biegel - LB - Wisconsin
Will have to carry a larger load this year with the absence of Joe Schobert, but it's one he can carry. Biegel has a stellar all-around game that could go to the next level in 2016.
Greg Ward - QB - Houston
Ward is playing the game at a faster pace than anyone else in the nation. His elite ability to scramble keeps every play alive for Houston, and his arm is criminally underrated. Could be the first non-P5 player to win the Heisman since 1990, but can he perform with the spotlight on him this season?
Zach Banner - OL - USC
A plus blocker against the run and pass, Banner is the best lineman on arguably the best line in the nation. Also, look at this picture. Dude is a mountain.
Zach Cunningham - LB - Vanderbilt
The leader of what is one of the best defenses in the nation (seriously), Cunningham racked up 103 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year to go with three pass breakups. He is everywhere.
Myles Gaskin - RB - Washington
Gaskin came on late last year as a true freshman and showed flashes of greatness throughout the year. Coming off a 1,300 yard year in six starts makes his sophomore campaign a must-see.
Pat Elflein - C - Ohio State
The best center in the game, Elflein grades out as the top lineman in the nation, per ProFootballFocus.
Josh Rosen - QB - UCLA
Rosen took high expectations and pushed them into the stratosphere after a tremendous true freshman season. More consistent play should have him in the Heisman conversation.
Roderick Johnson - OT - Florida State
A starter for the 2014 national championship team, Johnson has developed into the best pass-blocker in the game as he enters his junior year at FSU.
Saquon Barkley - RB - Penn State
Lost in all the Christian Hackenberg melodrama of last season was that Barkley quietly emerged as a star of the future in the Nittany Lions' backfield. His 1,076 yards rushing was a Penn State freshman record, a number that he should only improve upon this season.
Carl Lawson - DT - Auburn
Lawson just hasn't been able to get into a groove during his career, but when he's been on the field, he's been about as productive as any edge rusher in college football. The fourth-year junior was named third-team All-SEC, despite playing in only seven games last season.
Budda Baker - SS - Washington
Baker is a do-everything playmaker for arguably the most underrated defense in all of college football. Thanks in large part to Baker's play (49 tackles, two picks) and leadership, Washington led the Pac-12 in scoring defense last year, allowing just 18.8 points per game.
Jennifer BuchananUSA TODAY Sports
Devonte Fields - DE - Louisville
Fields has had a helluva second act in his career, finishing with 22.5 tackles for loss last season (the most of any returning player in college football) just a few years after getting thrown out of TCU. He's a huge reason that Louisville should be considered a dark horse to make the College Football Playoff.
Raekwon McMillan - LB - Ohio State
Speaking of All-Americans, McMillan looks the part of an All-American. The true junior was arguably the best player on a stacked Ohio State defense last year, leading the Buckeyes with 119 total tackles. Don't be surprised if he ends up as an early first-round pick next spring.
Anthony Walker - LB - Northwestern
Walker was one of the breakout stars of the 2015 college football season, finishing fourth in the country with 20.5 tackles for loss and third in the Big Ten with 120 tackles overall. After making the All-Big Ten first team last year, don't be surprised if he shows up on plenty of All-American lists by the end of 2016.
J.T. Barrett - QB - Ohio State
The drama in Columbus overwhelmed 2015, but that shouldn't take away from what Barrett did as a full-time starter back in 2014. That year, Barrett threw for 34 touchdowns, finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting and had Ohio State on the brink of a Big Ten East title when he went down with a season-ending ankle injury. In 2016 there is no QB controversy, and Barrett should pick up right where he left off two seasons ago.
Corey Davis - WR - Western Michigan
The best wide receiver most college football fans have never heard of, Davis has 235 total catches in his college career, including 90 a season ago. Incredibly, Davis needs just 400 yards to break the all-time MAC receiving record. What's even more incredible is that he should have that record by the middle of his junior season.
Malik McDowell - DT - Michigan State
With Shilique Calhoun taking his talents to the NFL, McDowell is the next, great defensive lineman to play under Mark Dantonio at Michigan State. The former five-star recruit can play anywhere on the defensive front and should greatly improve on his 13-TFL, 4.5-sack campaign.
Jonathan Allen - DE - Alabama
Whenever you lead your team in tackles for loss and sacks, you know you're a monster on the defensive line. Whenever you lead Alabama in those categories, you know you're next level. You know the "next level" aka the NFL has taken notice.
Derek Barnett - DE - Tennessee
Barnett took the college football world by storm with a 10-sack, 20.5 TFL campaign as a freshman, and didn't slow down last year when those numbers were nearly identical. He'll be an anchor of one of the best defenses in the SEC — and college football — this season.
Baker Mayfield - QB - Oklahoma
Mayfield won the starting job in fall camp, led the Sooners to a stunning fourth quarter comeback in Week 2 against Tennessee and never looked back from there. In his first full season in Norman, he threw for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns on his way to finishing fourth in Heisman voting.
Nick Chubb - RB - Georgia
When healthy, there is no one better than Chubb, who ran for 1,500 yards as a freshman and started out last year with five-straight 100-yard games before getting injured against Tennessee. The question for 2016: Is that surgically repaired knee back to 100 percent?
Adoree Jackson - CB - USC
Once a triple-threat on offense, defense and special teams, coach Clay Helton has already said that Jackson won't be playing offense this season. He’s is still one of the true shutdown corners in college football this year — a skill that will be put to the test frequently by the Trojans’ wicked schedule.
Christian Kirk - WR - Texas A&M
Kirk broke out with a 106-yard receiving, two-touchdown performance in his college debut last year against Arizona State (which included a return for a touchdown) and never really slowed down. With another year of maturity — and stability at the quarterback position — his numbers should put him in Heisman contention this year.
Royce Freeman - RB - Oregon
Freeman doesn't get the hype of some other running backs, but his numbers are equally as staggering. The true junior finished last year with over 1,800 yards rushing, for an incredible 171-yard-per-game average.
Jalen Tabor - CB - Florida
Tabor had a monster year — including four interceptions — playing alongside Vernon Hargraeves last year. The question now: Do those numbers go down, with opposing offenses afraid to throw his way?
Jourdan Lewis - CB - Michigan
The numbers don't jump off the page (two interceptions, 52 total tackles) but Lewis was a key piece to arguably the best pass defense in college football last year. The Wolverines allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 47.5 percent of their passes, the lowest mark in the country.
Desmond King - CB - Iowa
The numbers — 12 breakups and 8 interceptions — are great, but it's King's all-around game that puts him at No. 10. His instincts and tackling ability would make him a fit at linebacker or safety too.
Reese StricklandUSA TODAY Sports
Cam Robinson - OT - Alabama
A tremendously polished left tackle, Robinson is the best all-around offensive lineman in the game, and there's not really a debate.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - WR - USC
The best power-five receiver in football, JJSS is good for two or three highlight catches a game. He could go for 2,000 receiving yards in 2016.
Dalvin Cook - RB - Florida State
He rushed for nearly 1,700 yards last year and 19 touchdowns, gaining an incredible 7.4 yards per carry. Behind FSU's tremendous offensive line, Cook has a good chance to take every touch to the end zone.
Jabrill Peppers - LB - Michigan
The linchpin of Michigan's vaunted defense, Peppers' versatility allows him to move all over the field and make an impact. Played as a slot defender last season, but will move all over the field as a linebacker-safety hybrid in 2016.
Deshaun Watson - QB - Clemson
Inarguably the best quarterback in the nation, Watson is the conductor of the wonderful orchestra that is the Clemson offense. He threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for another 1,100 last season, scoring 47 touchdowns.
Derwin James - SS - Florida State
He might not be a household name, but anyone who watched Florida State last year knows how impressive James is. He covers all 57,600 square feet of the football field in ways we only see once or twice a generation.
Leonard Fournette - RB - LSU
A physically imposing back who has shown the ability to almost single-handedly win high-level games, Fournette's ability to be both a power and speed back is unmatched in college football.
Christian McCaffrey - RB - Stanford
The best all-around player in the game, McCaffrey was deserving of the Heisman Trophy last season, when he broke the FBS record for all-purpose yards in a year.
Myles Garrett - DE - Texas A&M
A dominant defensive end without a clear flaw in his game, Garrett is the best player on the field every down he plays. He could well be the first solely defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.