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Thursday, August 23

Top 30 college players for 2001

My list of the top 30 college football players going into the 2001 season is based strictly on how they have performed in college and has nothing to do with how they project as NFL draft prospects.

For example, I thought Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel was no better than an undrafted free agent in the NFL, but he would have made my list going into his senior season. Oklahoma's Josh Heupel is a good example from last season. Others in recent history include another Heisman winner, BYU quarterback Ty Detmer, former Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen and the multi-talented Gordie Lockbaum from Holy Cross.

Some players not on this list will be high draft choices in 2002, but in the meantime, here are my top 30 players for the 2001 college football season:

Roy Williams
Texas WR Roy Williams averaged 21.2 yards per catch and scored eight TDs last season.

1. Roy Williams, WR, Texas
Williams is the most feared player in college football. Texas has the best receiving corps in college football history, and it's because of Williams. He is the consummate WR in terms of size, speed and ability.

2. John Henderson, DT, Tennessee
He could be the best Tennessee defensive lineman since Reggie White.

3. Lee Suggs, RB, Virginia Tech
A touchdown-scoring machine at running back.

4. Jason Thomas, QB, UNLV
A left-handed version of Daunte Culpepper -- size, arm strength and mobility. Best QB in college football.

5. Ken Simonton, RB, Oregon State
Has rushed for over 4,000 yards and scored 51 rushing touchdowns, averaged five yards per carry and caught 41 passes out of the backfield. Without great size (5-7, 188) and speed, one of most productive all-around backs in college football.

6. Ron Johnson, WR, Minnesota
With his size and ability to adjust to a poorly thrown ball, he presents matchup problems for cornerbacks. He did a great job against first-rounder Nate Clements of Ohio State.

7. Jonathan Smith, QB, Oregon State
He will not have an NFL future as a starting quarterback, but he is like a Ty Detmer -- a great leader and an accurate passer.

8. Larry Triplett, DT, Washington
He wreaks havoc in the middle of the line and defeats the double team consistently.

9. Will Overstreet, DE, Tennessee
Mike Gottfried agrees with me that Overstreet has developed into a great college defensive end.

10. T.J. Duckett, RB, Michigan State
A Heisman candidate, he combines power with just enough quickness.

11. Mike Doss, SS, Ohio State
A Ronnie Lott-type approach and attitude. He's a killer in the secondary.

12. Julius Peppers, DE, North Carolina
The top sack artist in the country last year. He's a dominator on the Tar Heels' defense.

13. Anthony Weaver, DL, Notre Dame
He could be as good as Bryant Young was at Notre Dame. He's in the same mold. In his mold, he's quick.

14. Rocky Calmus, LB, Oklahoma
He is a tremendously productive and spirited football player. The leader of the Sooner defense and the football team.

15. Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska
He scored 20 touchdowns and had more than 1,000 yards last season. A brilliant college QB in the Nebraska system.

16. Antonio Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh
A tremendous big-play wideout for the Panthers.

17. Ben Taylor, LB, Virginia Tech
He is all over the field and without question the leading tackler on a dominant defense.

18. Josh Reed, WR, LSU
A former RB who had over 400 receiving yards after the catch last season.

19. Antwaan Randle El, WR/PR, Indiana
Was a great college quarterback and would make the list as a QB. His future is at WR in the NFL, but it will be interesting to see how much QB he will see this year.

20. Bryant McKinnie, OT, Miami (Fla.)
Size-wise, he is comparable to Jonathan Ogden -- 6-7½, 340 pounds. He may be more destructive at the point of attack.

21. Kalimba Edwards, DE/OLB, South Carolina
He is the dominator on a Gamecock defense that was strong last season. He's one of the best players in the SEC.

22. Quentin Jammer, DB, Texas
An outstanding defensive back with size (5-11½ 200), cover ability and the toughness of a safety.

23. Bryan Knight, DE, Pittsburgh
Similar to Dwight Freeney, a feared outside pass rusher.

24. Damien Anderson, RB, Northwestern
The Wildcats spread the field, and he's able to show an electrifying burst to daylight.

25. Trev Faulk, MLB, LSU
He is all over the field and has been unbelievably productive, leading the Tigers in tackles.

26. Dwight Freeney, DE, Syracuse
An undersized sack artist who had 4½ sacks against Michael Vick last season.

27. Jerramy Stevens, TE, Washington
Only a junior, but is 6-6, 255, and has receiver skills with TE size. He's better than Todd Heap.

28. George Godsey, QB, Georgia Tech
On target with his passes, he's a leader who has great timing and precision in working with his receivers.

29. Darnell Dockett, DT, Florida State
He's explosive at the point and a major force inside. He outproduced first-rounder Jamal Reynolds in some key categories, like tackles for loss and QB hurries.

30. Coy Wire, MLB, Stanford
Undersized, but plays bigger than 6-0½, 215. One of the best linebackers in the Pac-10.

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