The college football regular season is over. Just saying that makes me sad, but fret not fellow die hards, as there is always next year. One of my favorite things to do after one season is to look ahead to the next by checking out returning players. Below I took the final BCS top-25 poll (plus 5 other schools of interest to many) and charted their returning starters on offense and defense, as well as the 2-deep, something often overlooked by many. Most of the depth charts come courtesy of Rivals, but others are found on the school’s specific athletics site. I have listed each with some caveats as noted (mainly which players could jump to the NFL). After the list I’ll have some observations on specific teams. The order will be returning starters on offense, the offensive two deep, returning starters on defense and the defensive two-deep. The two deeps will be in parenthesis.
LSU: 7 (15), 7 (15) *Claiborne, Randall and Ried could leave early. I expect Claiborne to go, but the other two to stay.
Alabama: 7 (15), 6 (13) *Richardson, Jones (OT), Hightower, Kirkpatrick and Lester are potential early entrants. Richardson is almost assuredly gone, as is Kirkpatrick.
OKST: 6 (15), 8 (18) *Blackmon is almost assuredly leaving
Stanford: 6 (16), 6 (17) *Number does NOT include Luck, as he’s already stated he’s gone. Sam Schwartzstein (C) could leave as well.
Oregon: 7 (18), 6 (16) *LaMichael James is one to watch out for as far as the NFL is concerned. Ducks are loaded at RB, however.
Arkansas: 7 (17), 6, (13) *Arkansas loses all three stud WRs.
Boise State: 4 (14), 3 (12) *BSU loses Moore and 6/9 from both starting lines of scrimmage.
Kansas State: 8 (16), 6 (15) *lose 3/5 from the OL.
South Carolina: 9 (20), 7 (16) *Alshon Jeffrey is almost assuredly gone to the NFL, and Swearinger (S) could go, though that’s not expected.
Wisconsin: 5 (15), 6 (17) *Ball is a potential to leave early, and Wilson and Toon are gone, too.
Virginia Tech: 4 (14), 10 (19) *David Wilson could jump and VT loses 4/5 on the OL
Baylor: 7 (17), 8 (19) *Obviously RGIII is the key here.
Michigan: 7 (14), 8 (16) *They lose 3/4 from the DL.
Oklahoma: 9 (17), 8 (18) *Landry Jones could jump early.
Clemson: 7 (16), 6 (15) *Dwayne Allen could leave early; Clemson keeps every offensive skill guy if he stays
Georgia: 7 (16), 9 (20) *Orson Charles is most likely gone; 3/5 OL are out as well
Michigan State: 6 (13), 9 (19) *Jerel Worthy could leave early; Sparty loses every off. skill guy save for their RBs.
TCU: 7 (16), 8 (15) *lose 3/5 of the OL
Houston: 4 (13), 8 (18) *lose every starting off skill player
Nebraska: 9 (20), 7 (18) *lose their three best defensive players
Southern Miss: 6 (15), 5 (12) *lose their coach (to UNC)
Penn State: 5 (16), 5 (14) *lose entire secondary and 4/5 of OL
West Virginia: 8 (16), 6 (15)
Texas: 10 (20), 7 (17) *started 13 soph/fresh against Texas A&M
Auburn: 8 (18), 9 (20)
USC: 9 (17), 8 (17) *Barkley is the key here, but Kalil (LT) is just as good. Both are most likely gone.
Florida: 7 (16), 10 (19) *lose both the first and second string RBs
Ohio State: 6 (16), 11 (19) *lose 3/5 of the OL
Notre Dame: 7 (14), 6 (13) *lose 3/5 OL and entire starting secondary; Te’o is an NFL probability, though not a lock
Florida State: 8 (18), 9 (19) *Jenkins (DE) and Reid (DB) could jump; Jenkins most likely to do so.
Thoughts and observations:
-Texas and Auburn, both 7-5 in 2011, are primed for big 2012′s.
-On the flip side, Boise State, Houston and Southern Miss look to be in deep **** next year. Boise loses 16 senior starters from their opener in 2011. Wow!
-Alabama will either be the big winner or the big loser as far as the NFL goes. They could lose a total of 9 defensive starters should each borderline player leave. Offense could be a big issue for the Tide in 2012, too, if Barrett Jones leaves early, as expected. That would take the best two OL, their starting RB/Heisman finalist and two starting WRs off of the team.
-LSU should be loaded once again in 2011, but if Reid leaves alongside Claiborne, that puts the onus on the Honey Badger to be the No. 1 corner, something he’s never had to be.
-Look for Oregon to play for the Pac 12 title next season. Even in James leaves, they have plenty of running back help.
-Urban Meyer can win the Big 10 in his first year (assuming he doesn’t have a post season ban to deal with). Penn State and Wisconsin will take a dive in 2012.
-If Nebraska is ever going to be good on offense in the Taylor Martinez era, 2012 has to be the year. Now about that defense…
-Virginia Tech would be crushed if David Wilson leaves, but look for that defense to be salty next year.
-Speaking of good defenses, Florida might have the best one in the nation in 2012. Too bad they still won’t have a QB or RB.
-If Matt Barkley stays (doubtful) USC might be the preseason No. 1 team in the nation come August. They are loaded on offense.
-The SEC East will be between South Carolina and Georgia for the second consecutive year. Both teams bring back stacked rosters.
-If Orson Charles stays (doubtful), Georgia could be a national contender next season.
-Replace Orson Charles with Dwayne Allen, and Georgia with Clemson, and you have the same scenario.
-We’re going to find out just how good Tyler Wilson is in 2012 when he loses his top three WRs, all of whom are really, really good.
-Get ready to hear that Florida State is back. Should Jenkins and Reid stay, they could rival Florida for the nation’s best defense.
-Notre Dame looks like another 3-4 loss team on paper. If Te’o stays they should be salty on defense, however.
-If Jerel Worthy stays for his senior year, Michigan State should have the best defense in the Big 10.
-West Virginia could be an offensive juggernaut in 2012. Keep in mind, this was their first year with Holgorson calling the shots.