Here a list of 15 players to watch this year. These players will consist of over looked players, players coming back from injury, players taking over for former star players, and stud players who are critical to their teams success. This list is in no order and as always feel free to comment why you agree or disagree with the list of players.
1. Andy Dalton, QB TCU. This is a huge position to watch with TCU being a top 25 team, BCS aspirations, and playing at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on week 2. This is the biggest position to watch because of the talent this team has and to put it into a Redshirt freshman is dicey, but I do not doubt Gary Patterson to make bad decisions.
2. Brian Johnson, QB Utah. The Ute quarterback is coming back from his ACL injury that occurred in game 10 of 2005. Johnson redshirted last year and the offense was not the same for Utah. If his knee is as good as he says it is look for the Utes to put up monster numbers this year.
3.Kyle Bell, RB Colorado State. Bell had the same injury as Brian Johnson, and the year before he was hurt Bell had just above 1288 yards and 10 TD's as a Sophomore. For the Rams to have a chance to get to a bowl game Bell needs to get back to form he had in 2005.
4. Max Hall, QB BYU. This guy has huge shoes to fill by taking over for John Beck who was drafted by the Dolphins. Hall is a transfer from Arizona State and sat out last year from transferring. Part of success for Hall will be how much the coaches put on him, and if they demand the same play as John Beck.
5. Karsten Sween, QB Wyoming. The legend began when Karsten almost led the Cowboys over the Orange at the Carrier Dome. For the Brown and Gold to get over the hump and go to a bowl game (even though they got hosed last year) he needs to show improvement over a great rookie campaign.
6. Tommy Blake, DE TCU. The guy who is in every preseason mag better prove it this year on the field. He is focused after dumping his cell phone to get more 'me time' and with TCU having BCS aspirations he better produce at a top flight level.
7 . Ryan Wolfe, WR UNLV. Wolfe will be a key part to help revive the floundering program known as UNLV. He was freshman of the year last season and selected as preseason first team all conference in most publications, but his success could come down to who QB's the Rebels.
8. Sean Smith DB, Utah. Sean Smith has played running back, wide receiver, and finally has finally settled in at defensive back, oh and he is taking place of Mr. Everything, Eric Weddle. Only playing DB in 2 games last year required a steep learning curve over the summer and fall practice. One good advantage that Smith has is that he is a 6'3 DB and he is critical to help this secondary that even with Weddle was average at best.
9. Aaron Brown RB, TCU. Aaron Brown is the leagues returning rusher, and like mentioned above for Tommy Blake with all the high hopes Brown needs to be a monster to help out this offense that has a redhsirt Frosh at QB and no go to wide out.
10. Andy Dalton QB, TCU. The Redshirt freshman just beat out Marcus Jackson at TCU for the starting job. Jackson played and started a few games last year and had decent production. For a team that has high hopes and to put the load of it on a player who has not played since the 2005 Texas 5A Divison II State title game which is a big deal.
11. Austin Collie WR, BYU. Collie is returning from a two year church mission, but during his first year in 2004 he was Freshman of the year and All-Conference. For BYU to get off to a good start and try to sustain what they did last year Collie needs to regain his form from 2004 and build off of that.
12. Brent Casteel WR, Utah. Casteel is a beast and this might be my Ute biased opinion, but when you catch a TD every 4 catches this guy needs more touches. I am not saying that Casteel will keep that ratio up, but he needs the ball more and is a vastly underrated player. I feel Casteel should be getting more running plays and be part of the return team as well.
13. Rocky Hinds/Travis Dixon QB, UNLV. I put both guys here just because the UNLV QB is huge for their success. Currently Dixon is starting in the opening day starter when the Rebels play Utah State. Currently Hinds is still in Los Angeles getting more treatment on his knee that has not 100% healed. For the Rebels to make any noise they need good QB play.
14. Donovan Porterie QB, New Mexico. Porterie had a very good freshman campaign while leading the Lobos to a bowl game and was named All-American honorable mention by Sporting News. Porterie does have RB Rodney Ferguson to help out the QB succeed. Porterie started 6 games and played sparingly in others throwing for 967 yards and 6 touchdowns. Those are not great numbers but for a team that wants to get better the coach needs to open it up and see what Porterie can do.
15. Matt Asiata RB, UTAH. The running back position for Utah will be huge for their success this season. The Utes grab a great player from Snow Junior College where Asiata was an All League Player and All American. Darryl Poston the 7 year wonder and Ray Stowers are still going to contribute carrying the ball, but I believe that Asiata will be the man that needs to step up and be the main back. Asiata was excellent first few days in camp, but we suffered a foot injury and should be ready for week one against Oregon State. If the Utes can get a solid running attack, something they have been missing the past 2 years, just watch out.