Matt Barkley, QB, USC, Sr.
He's the Golden Boy of Trojan athletics, a leader who set a tough-minded example for teammates during the tough times of NCAA probation. He returned for his senior season, postponing his NFL payday. He has 9,054 career passing yards and 80 TDs. The only thing missing is a national championship. And if that happens, he might be the most celebrated USC athlete - ever.
Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina, Jr.
If the knee is healthy, Lattimore could be the nation's best running back. He was in that class last season, leading the SEC with 818 rushing yards before suffering a year-ending injury in the seventh game. At his peak, Lattimore is a punishing, hard-nosed runner with game-breaking ability. He can carry the Gamecocks into SEC title contention.
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin, Sr.
Assuming he fully recovers from an 'unprovoked assault' by five men on Aug. 1, Ball should put up solid numbers. You'd expect nothing less after last season's emergence, which included a nation-leading 1,923 rushing yards, an NCAA record-tying 39 total TDs and a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. It's not a stretch to see him bringing home that hardware in December.
Robert Woods, WR, USC, Jr.
He set a school record with 17 receptions in USC's opening victory against Minnesota - then he kept getting better. In all, he had 111 catches for 1,292 yards and 15 TDs. Despite constant attention from opposing defenses, look for Woods to continue getting maximum opportunities because he's surrounded by offensive talent - and also because he's that good.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson, Soph.
Watkins enjoyed one of the most spectacular freshman seasons in ACC history, accumulating 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 12 TDs. He's also an electrifying threat as a return man. If the Tigers are able to repeat as conference champions, look for the ball to be coming Watkins' way early and often. The preseason ACC player of the year, however, will miss the first two games while serving a team suspension for an offseason drug-related arrest.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame, Sr.
There might be question marks with Notre Dame's offensive personnel, but not at tight end. Eifert, 6-foot-6, 251 pounds, provided stability with 63 catches for 803 yards and five TDs. He's an able blocker who can get down the field, qualities that could make him a coveted prospect for the NFL.
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M, Jr.
The Aggies are well-equipped for their SEC debut with Joeckel, who has the talent and tenacity to take on the league's array of speed-power pass-rushers. Joeckel was a standout on last season's line, which allowed a Big 12-low nine sacks in 2011.
Omoregie Uzzi, G, Georgia Tech, Sr.
Georgia Tech's run-heavy offense demands dedication and talent from its offensive linemen. Uzzi fits that bill. He's the ultimate immovable object, an aggressive player at the point of attack who can also motor and destroy while moving downfield.
Barrett Jones, C, Alabama, Sr.
It seems heresy to mention anyone's name alongside the likes of John Hannah or Dwight Stephenson. But Jones, last season's Outland Trophy winner, already has proven himself to be one of the top offensive linemen in Crimson Tide history. His versatility is ridiculous. He began at right guard. He made a name for himself at left tackle. Now he's anchoring the line at center, while replacing three-year starter William Vlachos.
Chance Warmack, G, Alabama, Sr.
It's easy to get lost among the perennially elite talent on Alabama's offensive line. But Warmack has become a standout. A 320-pound mauler with an eye for technical excellence, Warmack has started 26 consecutive games for the Crimson Tide and is among the major reasons for the program's brutally efficient offensive approach.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan, Jr.
Already, there is talk about this being Lewan's final season with the Wolverines. But for now, the NFL can wait. He has the physical skills (6-foot-8, 302 pounds) and experience (going into his third year as a starter) to become one of Michigan's best offensive linemen in recent seasons. In fact, he's probably there already.
Caleb Sturgis, K, Florida, Sr.
The Gators are still seeking a return to SEC greatness, but Sturgis already has achieved that status in his specialty. He has converted 46 of 60 career field-goal attempts. Five were good from 50 yards or longer. Historically, the best of Florida offensive football has been about TDs, not field goals, but Sturgis provides a reliable option.
Tyler Lockett, KR, Kansas State, Soph.
That's Lockett as in Rocket. As a true freshman, Lockett set a Big 12 record with a 35.2-yard average on kickoff returns while scoring two TDs. It will be interesting to track the strategy of opposing Big 12 place-kickers who will be instructed to play keep-away when dealing with Lockett's ominous presence.