CBS Sports's Jeremy Fowler talked with more than 20 FBS coaches to investigate who are some of the more underrated players in the sport. After shaking some players on the list, Fowler's list was cut to 25, including four seniors and a potential Top 15 pick underclassmen.
Be sure to check the whole article out for all of the potential breakout prospects in college football this year, but here’s my senior-focused take on the players mentioned, and how they may translate to the 2014 NFL Draft.
TCU QB Casey Pachall (Senior)
Coach's Quote: "Very talented, good athlete, good thrower, helluva competitor. The competitor part, he's kind of like Collin Klein, who's not fastest in the world, not a great thrower, but a helluva competitor. Loves to play. Pachall is similar…If he's truly out of the doghouse, he's as good as anybody in our conference.”
After spending 2012 out of football for substance abuse treatment, Pachall seems to have turned his life around. He showed promise in 2011, and if he can build on his sophomore season, he'll have a chance at having him named called in May. There were questions whether or not Pachall would be able to play road games due to his probation, but they have died off. TCU's 2012 team was rumored to be one of the best in Coach Patterson's history with the team, prior to Pachall's substance issues coming into fruition. Had Pachall been available, who knows what the team's record would have been.
Iowa State RB Jeff Woody (Senior)
Coach's Quote: “He didn't play for them much. We thought he was a load. Not sure why he didn't play more. I'm not sure if he's in the doghouse or injured. Not really sure there. Good running back, though.”
An interesting pick, Woody ranked fifth at Iowa State in rushing attempts in 2012 with just 40 carries for 193 yards. Out of the four rushers ahead of him, only Jantz, Iowa State's former quarterback, graduated out of the ISU program. It should be noted that Woody had more than double his junior season rushing attempts in 2011. If a surprising year comes from the Cyclones back that only rushed for more than five carries in three games his junior year, Fowler told us first.
Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde (Senior)
Coach's Quote: “Could be a great one if he continues. Strong, powerful back with great pad level…He probably doesn't have elite speed downfield.”
After scoring 17 touchdowns in 2012, Carlos Hyde shouldn't surprise on the list. With Ohio State banned from bowls, therefor the BCS Championship, therefor the national eye, Hyde's already “broken out”, but he hasn't had the national attention he truly deserves. In total, he's going into his senior year with 315 rushing attempts, 1,677 rushing yards, and 22 rushing touchdowns under his belt.
Vanderbilt OL Wesley Johnson (Senior)
Coach's Quote: “One of the most underrated offensive linemen in the country. Technician. Great motor. Incredible competitor. Lacks the girth to be a physically dominating player which leads to a very small margin of error.”
While Johnson is still a little thin, he makes up for it with effort. Actually, he's put on more than 40 pounds since he stepped on Vanderbilt's campus, coming in at only 245. After starting at left tackle as a redshirt freshman, he moved from center, to guard, to tackle his sophomore year. Jack of all trades, master of none describes Johnson pretty well at this point in his career. He just needs to bring it all together his senior year.
Besides the seniors, Aaron Lynch, a redshirt sophomore, is the most entertaining prospect on the list.
USF DE Aaron Lynch (RS Sophomore)
Coach's Quote: "The Lynch kid is a freak. They tell me he's better than Jason Pierre-Paul when he was there. I've been around some good D-lineman. If he does what he's supposed to do, he'll be dominant.”
A former blue-chip prospect, Lynch committed to Florida State before transferring to Notre Dame, then eventually transferring to South Florida and sitting out last year. His true freshman year with the Irish, he started 12 games and had team highs in sacks (5.5) and hurries (14). He earned Freshman All-American honors that year. Lynch thought he would be able to play immediately, but was forced to sit out 2012. With a redshirt year burned and Lynch playing the role of a rolling stone, Lynch could declare after his redshirt sophomore season.