There might be plenty of stars returning, but as always, some big producers gone from last season. Who are the key replacements coming into the season?
It’s a fantastic year for returning players with Leonard Fournette, Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey just a few of the superstars coming back, but there are still several key replacements for some of the top teams heading into the season. Who has the biggest shoes to fill?
Who’s going to replace …
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
Alabama has to not only replace the Heisman winner, but his running mate Kenyan Drake, too. Now it’s up to Bo Scarbrough to be the next superstar Crimson Tide back to follow in the ridiculous lineage of great college backs. It’s the position, not the man when it comes to the Heisman odds, but if you’re the starter in the Bama backfield, there’s a level of greatness expected following in the footsteps of Henry, Drake, T.J. Yeldon, Eddie Lacy, Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Just like the Alabama situation, the same goes for the Ohio State running back world with Mike Weber looking like the next big thing taking over for Elliott. There’s supposed to be a bit of a rotation, there are plenty of other options, and the passing game should take over with a quick-hitting attack, but Weber has the makings of a statistical superstar in Urban Meyer’s offense.
QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
Who’s really going to be the starting quarterback at TCU? Former Texas A&M starter Kenny Hill is still fighting for the gig, but he’s expected to be the main man early on and he needs to be the difference for an offense that might take a step back. This could’ve been the year Hill would be coming into his own as the Aggie main man, but now that’s Trevor Knight’s world under Kevin Sumlin.
The Horned Frog defense is going to be phenomenal, most of the pieces are in place offensively, and the team got used to life without Boykin at the end of last year, and now Hill – again, if he takes the job – could be ready to step in and put up mega-numbers.
QB Cody Kessler, USC
Max Browne – and possibly Sam Darnold – have some gigantic shoes to fill at USC with Kessler gone after a 3,536-yard, 29 touchdown season. The Trojans have a terrific receiving corps and a potentially great offense, but the quarterback situation has to rock right out of the gate with Alabama up first. Browne has the talent, the size, and the skills to put up a 3,000-yard year, but he’s got to hold off the mobile Darnold, who came up with a fantastic spring looking the part of a dangerous option to throw at the Crimson Tide.
QB Jared Goff, California
You don’t just replace the No. 1 pick in the draft right away, but there’s a chance Davis Webb steps right in and keeps the big-time offense rolling. Webb doesn’t have NFL franchise-maker talent, but the former Texas Tech Red Raider has the arm, the experience, and the skills to get a hard look from the next level. He threw for well over 5,000 yards in his Texas Tech career, but he’s got to keep the interceptions down.