College Football’s 10 Most Valuable Players

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The Most Valuable Players in College Football

College Football
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

The championship picture is starting to come into focus with only a few more weeks in the college football regular season and this is the time when you need your star players to rise to the occasion.

The Heisman trophy is the single greatest individual honor a college football player can win, but the definition for what constitutes a Heisman candidate has become cloudy over the past decade.

Is the Heisman the award for the most outstanding player, the best player on the best team n the nation or the player with the best pro prospects?

And the Heisman trophy only recognizes offensive greatness with a token invite to the rare lineman like Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace or more recently Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh three years ago.

Only one player that has played defense has won the award when Charles Woodson took home the honors, but he also played a big role on special teams and was a situational wide receiver for Michigan.

It’s not fair that offensive lineman and defenders get neglected when it comes to the Heisman, so I want to take a look at all the positions in football and open up a debate as to who is the most valuable to his team’s success.

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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks

College Football
Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

Perhaps the first corner to be taken in the NFL draft this spring, Banks has taken on a bigger leadership role as a senior and has led the Mississippi State team to a 7-0 start before stumbles against Alabama and Texas A&M. In his senior year, Banks tied the school’s career mark for interceptions and has teamed up with Darius Slay to form the best cornerback tandem in the nation. Without Banks, the State defense has a large leadership void and likely would have lost the Tennessee game without him shutting down elite Vols receiver Justin Hunter.

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South Carolina DE JaDeveon Clowney

College Football
Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

The freakish Clowney potentially would be the first defensive lineman taken in the NFL draft if the sophomore were draft eligible. However, he will be terrorizing SEC quarterbacks next season before possibly becoming the top pick in the draft in 2014. Clowney gets double-teamed on nearly every passing down and as a result of his talent frees up the other Gamecock defenders in one-on-one matchups. His play was a large reason why South Carolina started out 6-0 and almost single-handedly shut down Georgia in the teams win. It’s going to be fun to watch and see how much better he can get between now and his junior season.

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Northwestern QB/WR Kain Colter

College Football
Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

No other player in college football is as versatile as Northwestern’s Colter who throws, runs, and catches the ball for the Wildcats. He entered the season as the starting quarterback, but has since taken on a role of a jack-of-all trades player that has given the offense another dimension to give defenses fits. Credit Pat Fitzgerald for recognizing Colter’s talents would be best served in this type of role and would be lost without his services.

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Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones

College Football
Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

A candidate to be the top pick in this year’s NFL draft has struggled with lingering injuries this season, but when the outside linebacker has been healthy, he has been as dominant as any player in the nation. Georgia beat Florida in large part because of the dominating performance Jones had when he finished with 13 tackles, 3 sacks, forced two fumbles—recovering both of them. One of the fumbles was when he hit Jordan Reed as he was about to go in for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

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Alabama C Barrett Jones

College Football
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Alabama would still be very good without Jones who made the switch to center after winning the Outland Trophy last year when he started every game at left tackle. A cerebral player has made all the line calls for the Crimson Tide and has anchored the best offensive line in the country while giving ample time for AJ McCarron to go through his progressions and not feel pressure in the pocket. McCarron has used that time to make smart throws and make excellent decisions and didn't throw an interception until week 11.

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Notre Dame MLB Manti Te'o

College Football
Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame’s heart and soul has vaulted into the Heisman conversation with the combination of his leadership, outstanding production, and ability to thrive in pressure-packed situations. The middle linebacker returned to school for his senior season and had he declared for the draft, Notre Dame would have at least three losses on their resume. With him in the middle of the defense, the Fighting Irish are in contention to be in the national championship game.

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Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater

College Football
Jamie Rhodes-US PRESSWIRE

The Florida native’s decision to go to Louisville instead of Miami has effectively shifted the balance of power in the Big East. Bridgewater has emerged as a Heisman candidate in his sophomore season for the Cardinals who entered week 11 undefeated before suffering a defeat to Syracuse while making the most of the talent that surrounds him. Bridgewater ranks fifth in the nation in passing efficiency and is getting better with every game.

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Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

College Football
Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

Johnny Football has captured the hearts of college football fans across the nation with his dual-threat ability at quarterback. In fact, the redshirt freshman leads the SEC in rushing yards and is a dark horse candidate for the Heisman trophy. The diminutive quarterback has really taken the team on his back and led them to a very successful first season in the SEC--including a win over No. 1 Alabama. His future is very bright operating Kevin Sumlin’s quarterback-friendly offense.

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Kansas State QB Collin Klein

College Football
Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE

The favorite to capture the Heisman trophy, Collin Klein represents all the good qualities that you want in a quarterback and a leader. He is a tough player who is also producing at a ridiculous level while making smart plays and not turning the ball over. He has just thrown two interceptions this season while accounting for 29 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The team is ranked No. 2 in the BCS with Klein and if you take him off this team, Kansas State probably isn’t even ranked in the top 25.

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Ohio State QB Braxton Miller

College Football
Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

The sophomore leads Ohio State in rushing and passing, one of four players in the country to accomplish that feat. He has led the surprising Buckeyes to a 10-0 record and has demonstrated the ability to make plays in the clutch with his feet and his arm in wins against California and Michigan State. Ohio State is in a rebuilding mode and the talent around Miller is rather suspect and the team would be staring at a 6-4 record without him. The Buckeyes are ineligible for postseason play, but that is not the fault of Miller who in any other year would have Ohio State in the championship picture and a stranglehold on the Big Ten.

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