Wondering which five-star recruits from the Class of 2012 will have the biggest impact next season?
Take a look at the skill-position players on offense.
With the 2011 season over, we decided to measure the progress of all the five-star prospects from the past four recruiting classes. The quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers generally were the biggest contributors as freshmen.
Watkins, the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com freshman of the year, helped Clemson win the ACC title and became just the third player in NCAA history to earn first-team All-America honors from The Associated Press as a true freshman.
Thomas scored 18 touchdowns - nine on receptions, seven on runs from scrimmage and two on kickoff returns - as a freshman. He closed his season by rushing for 155 yards and two touchdowns on his only two carries in Oregon's 45-38 Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
Watkins and Thomas were merely following the examples of previous five-star prospects at the skill positions.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is a five-star recruit from 2010 who rushed for 1,197 yards and led the Gamecocks to the SEC East title as a freshman. USC's Matt Barkley, a five-star prospect in 2009, kicked off his career as the Trojans' starting quarterback. Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, the nation's No. 1 prospect in 2008, rushed for 631 yards and threw for 1,311 yards as a true freshman.
Here's a rundown of how each of the five-star prospects from the past five signing classes has fared. Each player's name is linked to his Rivals.com prospect profile which includes high school video.
Recruiting class of 2011 five-star tracker
1. South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
Buzz: He wasted no time making an impact. In the second game of his college career, Clowney had two sacks and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown to spark South Carolina to a victory over Georgia. That set the tone for the rest of his season. Clowney collected eight sacks and forced five fumbles to earn Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com first-team Freshman All-America honors.
2. Ohio State LB Curtis Grant
Buzz: The highlight of Grant's season came Oct. 30, when he recovered a fumble at Wisconsin's 1 to set up a touchdown in Ohio State's 33-29 upset of the Badgers. He otherwise struggled to work his way up the depth chart and finished the season with just two tackles.
3. USC WR George Farmer
Buzz: Farmer was expected to redshirt this season, but he made his college debut Oct. 13 against California. He showed his versatility in scant playing time by rushing for 15 yards on five carries, catching four passes for 42 yards and returning three kickoffs for 59 yards.
4. Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio
Buzz: Kouandjio played in Alabama's first eight games as a reserve before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
5. Oregon ATH De'Anthony Thomas
Buzz: Thomas made an instant impact as one of the nation's most versatile big-play performers. He rushed for 595 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 10.8 yards per carry. He caught 46 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns. And he also scored on two kickoff returns and averaged 27.3 yards per attempt. He scored from 91 yards out and 64 yards away in his only two carries in Oregon's Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.
6. LSU OL La'El Collins
Buzz: Collins received little playing time this season while serving as a backup at guard. The graduation of Will Blackwell could allow Collins to compete for a starting role next season.
7. Alabama S Hasean Clinton-Dix
Buzz: Clinton-Dix made 11 tackles and broke up two passes as a reserve safety. The graduation of SS Mark Barron could allow Clinton-Dix to compete for a starting role in 2012.
8. Florida State S Karlos Williams
Buzz: Williams was a backup safety who also earned playing time on special teams this season. He made eight tackles and returned eight kickoffs for 186 yards.
9. Georgia DE Ray Drew
Buzz: Drew had eight tackles - 3.5 for loss - and one fumble recovery in a backup role this season. He also was credited with three quarterback pressures.
10. Texas RB Malcolm Brown
Buzz: Brown rushed for a team-high 707 yards and five touchdowns despite missing three games with injuries. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Brown rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma State, 119 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas and 110 yards and one score against UCLA.
11. Florida State RB James Wilder Jr.
Buzz: A true freshman led the Seminoles in rushing this season, but Wilder wasn't the guy. While former four-star prospect Devonta Freeman - the nation's No. 108 player in the 2011 class - rushed for a team-high 579 yards and eight touchdowns, Wilder rushed for 160 yards and one touchdown on 35 carries.
12. Oklahoma RB Trey Metoyer
Buzz: Metoyer was academically ineligible for the 2011 season and enrolled at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy. He is expected to be a part of Oklahoma's 2012 signing class and is rated as the nation's No. 1 prep school prospect.
13. Clemson LB Tony Steward
Buzz: After making five tackles and playing 36 snaps over the first five games of the season, Steward tore his ACL in practice and missed the rest of the season.
14. Oklahoma RB Brandon Williams
Buzz: After rushing for 219 yards and one touchdown on 46 carries during the regular season, Williams announced in December that he planned to transfer to Texas A&M. His most productive game as a Sooner came Nov. 26 when he ran for 80 yards on 11 carries against Iowa State.
15. Clemson WR Sammy Watkins
Buzz: Watkins was the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com national freshman of the year and was the third true freshman in NCAA history to get selected as a first-team All-American by The Associated Press (the others were Georgia's Herschel Walker in 1980 and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson in 2004). Watkins caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed for 231 yards on 32 carries.
16. Notre Dame DE Ishaq Williams
Buzz: Williams made six tackles as a reserve outside linebacker this season.
17. LSU DT Anthony Johnson
Buzz: Johnson didn't make any starts as a true freshman, but he played in each of LSU's 14 games and recorded 12 tackles - three for loss - and one sack. He recorded two tackles for loss and a sack in an early-season victory over Mississippi State.
18. LSU WR Jarvis Landry
Buzz: Landry made four catches for 43 yards in a backup role. Three of his catches came in the first three games of the season.
19. Alabama RB Demetrius Hart
Buzz: Hart sat out the season to recover from surgery after injuring his right knee in a summer workout.
20. Auburn LB Kris Frost
Buzz: Frost missed the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in July. He tore his labrum during a summer weightlifting session.
21. Ole Miss LB C.J. Johnson
Buzz: Johnson compiled 32 tackles - four for loss - and one sack this season. He started the last three games at defensive end.
22. Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Buzz: Tuitt delivered 30 tackles - three for loss - and two sacks as a true freshman despite sitting out four games. He recorded one sack and three quarterback pressures in a Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State.
23. Georgia RB Isaiah Crowell
Buzz: Crowell rushed for 850 yards and five touchdowns to lead Georgia in both categories this season. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and earned first-team Freshman All-America honors from Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com despite missing two games and tailing off late in the season. He exceeded 100 yards against South Carolina (118), Ole Miss (147), Mississippi State (104) and Auburn (132). But he gained just 29 yards on 15 carries in Georgia's last four games.
24. Clemson LB Stephone Anthony
Buzz: Anthony's best performance of the season came when he recorded two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and delivered a sack in Clemson's ACC championship game victory over Virginia Tech. He made three starts.
25. Clemson RB Mike Bellamy
Buzz: Bellamy rushed for 343 yards and three touchdowns on 57 carries. Bellamy ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on just three carries in a season-opening victory over Troy, but he couldn't match that total the rest of the season. He was suspended from the Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia for a violation of team rules.
26. Oregon ATH Colt Lyerla
Buzz: Lyerla caught seven passes for 147 yards and five touchdowns as a backup tight end. He scored twice against Missouri State and added one touchdown each against Nevada, Oregon State and UCLA.
Recruiting class of 2010 five-star tracker
1. Florida DE Ronald Powell
Buzz: Powell recorded a team-high six sacks to go along with 32 overall stops and nine tackles for loss this season in a hybrid end/outside linebacker position. He had made 16 tackles as a backup as a true freshman.
2. Miami OT Seantrel Henderson
Buzz: After starting at right tackle as a true freshman and earning second-team Freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com, Henderson battled injuries for much of his sophomore season. He had back surgery in August, played just eight games and made only two starts.
3. USC WR Kyle Prater
Buzz: Prater made just one catch for 6 yards in his two seasons at USC. Prater redshirted in 2010 and caught his lone pass this season against Stanford. Prater announced this week that he plans to transfer. Prater reportedly is considering Illinois, Northwestern and Wisconsin.
4. Florida DT Sharrif Floyd
Buzz: Floyd started 11 games at defensive end this season and made 46 tackles, with 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He made 23 tackles - eight for loss - and two starts as a true freshman in 2010.
5. California DB Keenan Allen
Buzz: Although he was listed as a defensive back during the recruiting process, Allen has emerged as a star receiver for Cal. He caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards and six touchdowns this season to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors. He had more than 100 receiving yards in five of Cal's first six games this season.
6. USC WR Robert Woods
Buzz: Woods has caught 176 passes for 2,084 yards and 21 touchdowns through his first two seasons at USC. He set a Pac-12 single-season record this season with 111 receptions. He also had 1,292 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches as a sophomore and was named one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award given annually to the nation's top receiver.
7. Florida DT Dominique Easley
Buzz: Easley made 37 tackles, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, as a fulltime starter in 2011 after playing six games and making just four tackles in 2010. Easley tore the ACL in his left knee during the regular-season finale against Florida State and is expected to miss spring practice.
8. UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
Buzz: After making six starts and 10 tackles - four for loss - as a true freshman, Odighizuwa started one game and made 21 tackles this season. His 21-tackle total included three stops behind the line of scrimmage.
9. Tennessee WR Da'Rick Rogers
Buzz: Rogers delivered a breakthrough performance in 2011, with 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns. Rogers was a first-team All-SEC selection by The Associated Press and a second-team pick by the league's coaches. He caught 11 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns in 2010.
10. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
Buzz: Lattimore rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010 to carry South Carolina to an SEC East title as a true freshman. He ran for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns through the first seven games of the 2011 season before an injury to his left knee knocked him out for the rest of the season.
11. Auburn RB Michael Dyer
Buzz: After rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at Auburn, Dyer has announced he will transfer. He reportedly is headed to Arkansas State. Dyer ran for 1,093 yards and five touchdowns in 2010. He rushed for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, when he was a first-team All-SEC pick by the league's coaches and The Associated Press. He was suspended from the Chick-fil-A Bowl for a violation of team rules.
12. Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat
Buzz: Jeffcoat emerged as a disruptive force as a sophomore and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors. Jeffcoat had 7.5 sacks, with all of them coming in the last seven games of the season. He had two sacks in a Holiday Bowl victory over California.
13. North Carolina State OT Robert Crisp
Buzz: Crisp has made three starts through his first two seasons. He started two games at right tackle this season, including the Belk Bowl victory over Louisville. Although he was in a backup role for most of the season, he earned ample playing time and was on the field for 298 snaps during the regular season.
14. Florida State DB Lamarcus Joyner
Buzz: After spending his freshman year as a reserve cornerback, Joyner moved to the starting lineup at safety this season and earned second-team All-ACC honors. Joyner had 54 tackles and four interceptions this season. His 77-yard kickoff return helped spark FSU's come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.
15. Miami ATH Latwan Anderson
Buzz: Anderson arrived at Miami intending to compete for the Hurricanes in football and track. But he left the football team in October 2010 because he was upset about his lack of playing time. Miami officials announced in January 2011 that Anderson had withdrawn from school the previous month.
16. Texas LB Jordan Hicks
Buzz: Hicks made 51 tackles this season after recording 23 tackles in a reserve role as a true freshman. He had 3.5 tackles for loss in the final two games of the 2011 season, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in the Holiday Bowl.
17. USC RB Dillon Baxter
Buzz: Baxter garnered plenty of attention in 2010 with a spectacular run in spring practice that made him a YouTube sensation, but he couldn't create similar highlights during the regular season. After running for 252 yards on 59 attempts in 2010, Baxter had just nine carries for 29 yards this season. He left the team in midseason and is in the process of transferring.
18. California DE Chris Martin
Buzz: Martin, an Oakland native, announced in July 2010 that he was transferring from California because he was encountering too many distractions in the Bay Area. He landed at Florida, but left the Gators in the summer of 2011 for Navarro College, a junior college in Corsicana, Texas. He then left Navarro and his whereabouts are unknown.
19. LSU ATH Spencer Ware
Buzz: After running for 175 yards and a touchdown on 24 attempts as a freshman, Ware gained 707 yards on 177 carries this season. Ware's sophomore season included a 109-yard, two-touchdown performance against Florida. He also rushed for 107 yards against Mississippi State.
20. Florida State LB Christian Jones
Buzz: Jones ranked third on his team this season with 56 total tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage. He had two tackles for loss in a 21-7 victory over Florida. Jones made 18 tackles in a reserve role as a true freshman.
21. Michigan State DE William Gholston
Buzz: Gholston made 70 tackles - 16 for loss - and five sacks for the Spartans this season after making just 13 total stops as a freshman. He was a second-team All-Big Ten pick by the league's media and coaches. Gholston had five tackles for loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery in an Outback Bowl victory over Georgia.
22. Auburn OT Shon Coleman
Buzz: Coleman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the spring of 2010 and didn't enroll in school until January 2011. He didn't play in 2011. His status for the 2012 season remains uncertain.
23. Alabama CB DeMarcus Milliner
Buzz: Milliner made 11 starts as a true freshman and recorded 55 tackles, seven pass breakups and one interception. He made six starts this season and had 27 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass breakups. He scored on a 35-yard interception return against Auburn.
24. USC WR Markeith Ambles
Buzz: Ambles made just one catch during a USC career that was beset by off-field issues. He was suspended indefinitely midway through the 2010 season. After returning to the team, Ambles was declared academically ineligible for the 2011 season. He withdrew from school last summer.
25. Florida S Matt Elam
Buzz: Elam led the Gators in tackles for loss (11) and pass breakups (seven) this season as a starting safety. He also ranked second on the team with 78 overall tackles. He made 22 tackles as a freshman while working primarily in a nickelback role.
26. Oregon RB Lache Seastrunk
Buzz: After redshirting in 2010, Seastrunk announced last summer that he was transferring to Baylor. Seastrunk sat out the 2011 season and will make his debut for the Bears next fall.
Recruiting class of 2009 five-star tracker
1. Tennessee RB Bryce Brown
Buzz: Brown rushed for 104 yards on just 11 carries against Western Kentucky in his college debut in September 2009, but things have gone downhill since. After rushing for 460 yards as a freshman, Brown - a native of Wichita, Kan. - transferred to Kansas State. He ran for 16 yards on just three carries at Kansas State this season before leaving the team in late September. There have been reports that he will apply for the NFL draft; there also are rumors that he will play FCS football in the fall.
2. LSU WR Rueben Randle
Buzz: Randle caught 11 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman, then had 33 receptions for 544 yards and three touchdowns in 2010. But his big breakthrough came this season, as he tallied 53 receptions for 917 yards and eight touchdowns. He earned first-team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches and was a second-team all-league pick by The Associated Press.
3. Alabama OT D.J. Fluker
Buzz: After making nine starts at right tackle as a true freshman, Fluker started each of Alabama's 13 games during its run to the national championship this season.
4. Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson
Buzz: Richardson finally began his college career at Missouri this season after spending two years at the College of the Sequoias (Calif.). He recorded 37 tackles - eight for loss - and two sacks for the Tigers.
5. USC QB Matt Barkley
Buzz: Barkley finished sixth in the 2011 Heisman balloting and set a Pac-12 single-season record with 39 touchdown passes. He also set a school single-season record by completing 69.1 percent of his passes. Barkley will head into his senior season as a Heisman front-runner.
6. Alabama RB Trent Richardson
Buzz: Richardson spent his first two seasons at Alabama as arguably the nation's best backup tailback. This year, he became arguably the nation's best tailback, period. He won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back and finished third in the Heisman balloting. Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries, then announced Thursday that he was turning pro.
7. LSU QB Russell Shepard
Buzz: The versatile Shepard has struggled to carve out a niche throughout his college career. He rushed for 277 yards as a freshman. In his sophomore season, he had 226 rushing yards and 254 receiving yards as a wide receiver. Shepard caught 14 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns this season, and he also ran for 52 yards on seven carries. Shepard had said be would bypass his senior year to enter the NFL draft, but Friday he announced he had changed his mind.
8. USC DE Devon Kennard
Buzz: Kennard has alternated between linebacker and end during his career. He had 72 tackles as a middle linebacker in 2010. Kennard moved to defensive end this season and delivered 29 tackles - four for loss - and two sacks.
9. Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict
Buzz: Burfict, a three-year starter, ranked second on his team in tackles (69) in 2009 and led the team in that category (90) in 2010. He made 69 tackles and five sacks as a junior this season. Burfict will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
10. Florida LB Jelani Jenkins
Buzz: After redshirting in 2009, Jenkins moved into the starting lineup in 2010 and ranked second on his team with 76 tackles. He had 75 tackles - six for loss - and broke up six passes as a starter this season.
11. Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick
Buzz: Kirkpatrick broke up nine passes this season and earned second-team All-America honors from The Associated Press. He also was a second-team All-SEC selection by the league's coaches and the AP. As a sophomore in 2010, Kirkpatrick collected 53 tackles and three interceptions as a sophomore. He announced Thursday he is turning pro.
12. Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o
Buzz: Te'o was a finalist for the Butkus Award this season. He recorded 115 tackles - 13 for loss - and earned second-team All-America honors from The Associated Press. Te'o has 311 career tackles to rank eighth on Notre Dame's career list.
13. Miami S Ray Ray Armstrong
Buzz: Armstrong earned second-team All-ACC honors and made 79 tackles in 2010, but he had a relatively disappointing junior season. Armstrong began the season on a four-game suspension and finished with only 34 tackles.
14. Texas DE Alex Okafor
Buzz: Okafor recorded 50 tackles - 12.5 for loss - and seven sacks this season to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors. Six of his sacks came during a five-game stretch midway through the season. He had two sacks against Texas Tech and forced two fumbles against Kansas.
15. Florida State DT Jacobbi McDaniel
Buzz: A dislocated ankle sidelined McDaniel for the last seven games of the 2011 season. McDaniel had 25 tackles - four for loss - as a true freshman in 2009. He followed that up with 31 overall stops and 5.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a sophomore.
16. North Carolina DE Donte Moss
Buzz: Paige-Moss had 29 tackles and two sacks this season. He also forced fumbles in back-to-back games against North Carolina State and Virginia Tech. Paige-Moss had 49 tackles - 13 for loss - and seven sacks in 2010. Paige-Moss plans to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
17. Tennessee S Janzen Jackson
Buzz: Jackson had 69 tackles and five interceptions to earn second-team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches in 2010, but he left the team last summer and transferred to FCS program McNeese State. He had 29 tackles and two interceptions in nine games for McNeese State this season.
18. Texas QB Garrett Gilbert
Buzz: After throwing for 2,744 yards with 17 interceptions and 10 touchdown passes in 2010, Gilbert went 15-of-31 for 247 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions this season before losing his starting job in September. He has since left Texas and is transferring to SMU.
19. USC ATH Patrick Hall
Buzz: Hall has struggled to make an impact thus far in an injury-riddled career. Hall missed the 2011 season after tearing knee ligaments in spring practice.
20. LSU S Craig Loston
Buzz: Loston made a couple of starts as a redshirt freshman in 2010 and worked in a reserve role this season. He recorded 14 tackles, with seven of them coming in a victory over Auburn.
21. Florida WR Andre Debose
Buzz: Debose caught 16 passes for 432 yards - a whopping 27.0 yards per reception - and four touchdowns this season. He also averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return, including a 99-yard touchdown in the Gator Bowl win over Ohio State. Debose scored on two kickoff returns in 2010.
22. Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
Buzz: Michael rushed for 899 yards and eight touchdowns this season despite missing the last four games with a torn ACL in his left knee. One year earlier, he rushed for 631 yards and four touchdowns before missing the final five games of the season with a broken right leg. He rushed for 844 yards and 10 touchdowns in a full season as a true freshman.
23. Florida DT Gary Brown
Buzz: Brown was kicked off Florida's team after being arrested and charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery in February 2010. He had 69 tackles - nine for loss - and 3.5 sacks for East Mississippi Community College in 2010. He didn't play football in 2011.
24. Arkansas CB Darius Winston
Buzz: Winston made six starts in 2010 and had 23 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He had 18 tackles and made six starts this season.
25. LSU DT Chris Davenport
Buzz: Davenport redshirted in 2009 and played two games at defensive tackle in 2010 before moving over to the other side of the ball last spring. He got more playing time this season as a reserve offensive tackle.
26. Michigan DT William Campbell
Buzz: After moving to the offensive line midway through the 2010 season, Campbell went back to defense this season. He recorded 14 tackles - 2.5 for loss - and two sacks as a reserve tackle.
27. Florida State CB Greg Reid
Buzz: Reid was the nation's leading punt returner as a true freshman and has continued making an impact. He had 65 tackles, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups in 2010. Reid had 32 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups this season.
28. Georgia CB Branden Smith
Buzz: Smith made seven starts this season and had 24 tackles and two interceptions. He started nine games as a sophomore and had 17 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions.
29. Texas OL Mason Walters
Buzz: After a stress fracture in his left foot forced him to take a redshirt in 2009, Walters made 11 starts at right tackle in 2010 and earned second-team Freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com. He remained a starter this season but moved to right guard.
30. USC S T.J. McDonald
Buzz: McDonald collected 67 tackles and three interceptions to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors this season. He was a second-team all-conference selection in 2010 with a team-high 89 tackles to go along with three interceptions.
31. Ohio State CB Corey Brown
Buzz: Brown made just four tackles in a backup role this season. A season-ending injury to his left knee in October 2010 has slowed his progress.
32. Alabama LB Nico Johnson
Buzz: Johnson made six starts at middle linebacker in 2010 before moving to outside linebacker this season. He had 33 tackles and an interception in 2010. Johnson ranked fourth on the team this season with 47 tackles, including 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He recorded three tackles for loss over Alabama's final two games.
33. Ohio State LB Dorian Bell
Buzz: Brown was suspended for the 2011 season for a violation of team rules. Bell then transferred to Duquesne, where he made 37 tackles in seven games this season. Bell made nine tackles as an Ohio State reserve in 2010 and missed three games to recover from a concussion.
Recruiting class of 2008 five-star tracker
1. Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor
Buzz: He's the ultimate good news-bad news recruit on this list. Pryor led Ohio State to back-to-back BCS victories - a Rose Bowl triumph over Oregon and a Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas - before getting involved in the NCAA investigation that resulted in the departure of Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel. Pryor threw for 6,177 yards and rushed for 2,164 yards in his three-year career. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the third round of last summer's supplemental draft.
2. Clemson DE DaQuan Bowers
Buzz: Bowers led the nation in sacks (15.5) and was second in the nation in tackles for loss (26) in 2010. He won the Nagurski Trophy given annually to the nation's top defensive player and the Ted Hendricks Award that goes to the nation's best defensive end. Bowers left school after his junior season and went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft.
3. Ohio State OT Mike Adams
Buzz: Adams earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as the Buckeyes' starting left tackle in 2011. He was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for his role in the scandal that ended up costing former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel his job.
4. Alabama WR Julio Jones
Buzz: Jones caught 179 passes for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns in his three-year career. He had 78 receptions for 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010 to earn second-team All-America honors from The Associated Press. Jones turned pro after his junior season and went to the Atlanta Falcons with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
5. LSU CB Patrick Peterson (formerly Patrick Johnson)
Buzz: Peterson won the 2010 Bednarik Award given to the nation's top defensive player and the Jim Thorpe Award that goes to the nation's most outstanding defensive back. Peterson picked off four passes and scored on two punt returns that season. He turned pro after his junior season and went to the Arizona Cardinals with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
6. Colorado RB Darrell Scott
Buzz: Scott rushed for a total of 438 yards in two seasons at Colorado before transferring to USF. He rushed for a team-high 814 yards and five touchdowns on 153 carries this season in his lone year with the Bulls. Scott has chosen to bypass his final year of eligibility to turn pro.
7. Miami DT Marcus Forston
Buzz: Forston earned freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com in 2008. After a shoulder injury limited him to three games in 2009, Forston had 12 tackles for loss in 2010. He played just three games this season before a knee injury knocked him out for the rest of the year. Although he had one year of eligibility remaining, Forston has chosen to enter the 2012 draft.
8. Nebraska OL Baker Steinkuhler
Buzz: Steinkuhler redshirted his first season on campus and eventually moved to defensive tackle. He made 46 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2010. Steinkuhler followed that up by compiling 40 tackles and two sacks this season.
9. Georgia WR A.J. Green
Buzz: Green caught 166 passes for 2,619 yards and 23 touchdowns in his three-year college career. Although he was suspended for the first four games of the 2011 season, he still managed to catch 57 passes for 848 yards and nine touchdowns that year. Green turned pro after his junior season and went to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
10. Florida ATH Will Hill
Buzz: Hill made a combined 15 starts at safety for the Gators in the 2009 and '10 seasons. He recorded 144 tackles and four interceptions during his college career. Hill turned pro after the 2010 season, but he wasn't drafted.
11. USC OT Matt Kalil
Buzz: Kalil moved into USC's starting lineup in 2010 and blossomed into one of the nation's best offensive linemen this season. Kalil earned first-team All-America honors from The Associated Press and Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com among others. He anchored a line that allowed only eight sacks all season. Kalil will bypass his final year of eligibility to enter the 2012 draft, and he's projected to be the first offensive lineman selected.
12. Ohio State C Michael Brewster
Buzz: Brewster earned Freshman All-America honors from Rivals.com in 2008 and was a finalist for the 2010 Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's best center. Brewster also earned first-team all-Big Ten honors in 2010. He was a second-team All-Big Ten pick by the league's coaches this season.
13. Oklahoma DE R.J. Washington
Buzz: Washington collected five sacks and broke up five passes in a backup role as a redshirt junior this season. He closed the season by delivering two sacks in an Insight Bowl victory over Iowa.
14. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
Buzz: Gabbert threw for 6,822 career yards with 40 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions in his college career. The two-year starter had three 400-yard passing games at Missouri. He left school after his junior season and went to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
15. USC OT Tyron Smith
Buzz: Smith won the 2010 Morris Trophy as the Pac-10's top offensive linemen; the winner is decided by a vote of the conference's defensive linemen. Smith left school after his junior season and was taken by the Dallas Cowboys as the ninth overall pick - and first offensive lineman - in the 2011 draft.
16. Florida State LB Nigel Bradham
Buzz: Bradham led the Seminoles in tackles in each of the past three seasons. He made 93 tackles in 2009, 98 in '10 and 86 as a senior in '11. Bradham also picked off two passes and recovered a fumble this season.
17. Florida DT Omar Hunter
Buzz: After starting a combined 17 games in the 2009 and '10 seasons, Hunter made his lone start of the '11 campaign in the Gator Bowl. He made 31 tackles - 2.5 for loss - this season. Since he redshirted in 2008, Hunter has one year of eligibility remaining.
18. Florida OT Matt Patchan
Buzz: Patchan began his career on an injury-depleted defensive line before moving back to offense. A knee injury limited him to four games in 2009, and a wrist injury knocked him out for the 2010 season. Patchan made two starts at left tackle and five at right tackle this season, though a back injury prevented him from playing in the Gator Bowl.
19. Oklahoma RB Jermie Calhoun
Buzz: After rushing for 220 yards on 45 carries as a redshirt freshman in 2009, Calhoun ran just 11 times for 22 yards in four games in 2010 before a torn ACL knocked him out for the rest of the season. Calhoun announced in mid-September that he was transferring. He reportedly will play next season for Division II program Angelo State in Texas.
20. Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph
Buzz: Rudolph missed a combined nine games in the 2009 and '10 seasons because of shoulder and hamstring injuries, but he still caught a total of 61 passes for 692 yards and six touchdowns during that two-year stretch. He turned pro after his junior season and went to the Minnesota Vikings in the second round of the 2011 draft.
21. Ohio State WR Devier Posey
Buzz: Posey finished his college career with 136 catches for 1,955 yards and 18 touchdowns. He caught 60 passes for 828 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009. He followed that up with 53 catches for 848 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010. Posey played only three games in 2011 because of his role in the scandal that rocked Ohio State's program, and he caught 12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
22. Southern Miss WR DeAndre Brown
Buzz: Brown caught a combined 114 passes for 1,902 yards and 21 touchdowns his first two seasons at Southern Miss before injuries limited his production. He broke his left leg in the New Orleans Bowl as a sophomore and later injured his right leg as well. He caught 20 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns as a junior in 2010. Brown left school after his junior season, but he wasn't drafted.
23. Miami LB Arthur Brown
Buzz: Brown made a total of 17 tackles in two seasons at Miami before transferring to Kansas State. He had much more success at his new school. Brown recorded a team-high 101 tackles and made 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage this season to earn first-team All-Big 12 honors. He also was named the Big 12 defensive newcomer of the year.
24. Georgia ATH Richard Samuel
Buzz: Samuel's career thus far has been marked by injuries and position switches. He started his career at running back, moved to linebacker, then went back to running back. He rushed for 240 yards and one touchdown on 82 carries this season. Samuel still has one year of eligibility remaining.
25. Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist
Buzz: Crist made eight starts in 2010 and threw for 2,033 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2010 before a ruptured patellar tendon knocked him out for the rest of the season. He headed into the 2011 season as Notre Dame's starting quarterback, but he was benched at halftime of a season-opening loss to USF and never regained the job. As a graduate transfer, Crist will play next season at Kansas in a move that will reunite him with former Irish coach Charlie Weis.
26. Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin
Buzz: Baldwin caught 57 passes for 1,111 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore and had 53 receptions for 822 yards and five touchdowns as a junior in 2010. He turned pro after the '10 season and went to the Kansas City Chiefs with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
27. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
Buzz: Floyd set virtually every major Notre Dame receiving record during his four-year career. He is Notre Dame's career leader in catches (271), receiving yards (3,686), touchdown catches (37), receiving yards per game (86.6) and 100-yard receiving games (17).
28. Alabama ATH Burton Scott
Buzz: Scott moved from wide receiver to defensive back while at Alabama, but he could never move up the Crimson Tide's depth chart before transferring to FCS program South Alabama. He made 48 tackles and broke up four passes for South Alabama this season.
29. Oklahoma G Stephen Good
Buzz: Good made seven starts in 2009 and two starts in 2010. He closed his career this season by making two more starts as a senior.
30. Alabama OT Tyler Love
Buzz: After earning a medical redshirt in 2008, Love has spent the past three seasons as a reserve offensive tackle. He still has one year of eligibility remaining.
Recruiting class of 2007 five-star tracker
1. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen
Buzz: Clausen turned pro a year early, after the 2009 season. He finished his career with 8,148 yards, 60 TDs and 27 interceptions, and started all but three games of his career. He was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft.
2. USC RB Joe McKnight
Buzz: While he didn't quite live up to the Reggie Bush comparisons that accompanied his arrival at USC, McKnight still enjoyed a productive three-year career before choosing to enter the 2010 NFL draft. McKnight rushed for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 94 carries as a freshman and gained 659 yards and two touchdowns on 89 carries in 2008. He rushed for 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns on 164 carries in '09. McKnight also caught at least 20 passes in each of his three seasons. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft.
3. Tennessee SS Eric Berry
Buzz: Berry capped an outstanding three-year career at Tennessee by winning the 2009 Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. Berry picked off 14 passes at Tennessee and ranks second in NCAA history with 494 interception return yards. His most productive season came in 2008, when he picked off seven passes and scored on two interception returns. He was a first-round pick in the 2010 draft.
4. Michigan QB Ryan Mallett
Buzz: Mallett played one season at Michigan before transferring to Arkansas. He threw for 3,869 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 picks, this past season, then decided to turn pro. He made three starts as a freshman at Michigan and went 61-of-141 for 892 yards, with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. He went 225-of-403 for 3,624 yards with 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions at Arkansas in 2009, and finished his career with 8,385 yards and 69 TDs. He was a third-round pick, by New England, in the 2011 draft.
5. Florida DE Carlos Dunlap
Buzz: After playing extensively as a reserve in his first two seasons at Florida, Dunlap became a starter as a junior and finished with 39 tackles, nine sacks and six pass breakups. He announced that he was turning pro after the 2009 season and finished his career with 84 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hurries, four blocked kicks, and eight pass breakups. He was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft.
6. USC DE Everson Griffen
Buzz: Griffen was an important reserve in his first two seasons with the Trojans before becoming a starter as a junior in 2009. He had 45 tackles and eight sacks, then decided to bypass his senior season and turn pro. He finished his career with 18 sacks and 84 tackles. He was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft.
7. North Carolina DT Marvin Austin
Buzz: Austin was ruled ineligible in 2010 by the NCAA for receiving illegal benefits, and he turned pro. After starting three times as a true freshman, Austin was a full-time starter for the Tar Heels as a sophomore and junior. He had 106 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 13 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a blocked kick in his career. He was a second-round pick of the New York Giants in the 2011 draft.
8. USC WR Ronald Johnson
Buzz: Johnson finished up his Trojans career in 2010 with 64 receptions for 692 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished his career with 138 receptions for 1,750 yards and 20 TDs. San Francisco took him in the sixth round of the 2011 draft.
9. Florida DT Torrey Davis
Buzz: Davis was a backup for FCS member Jacksonville State in 2009, finishing with 16 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery, before deciding to turn pro. He wasn't drafted. He played in 19 games in two seasons at Florida, making 14 tackles as a reserve, before leaving the program in spring 2009.
10. Wisconsin OT Josh Oglesby
Buzz: After an injury-plagued career, Oglesby blossomed as a fifth-year senior in 2011, starting 13 games and earning All-Big Ten honors. Oglesby redshirted as a true freshman, started three times at left tackle in 2008, started 10 times at right tackle in 2009 and was limited to five games in '10 by a knee injury.
11. USC LB Chris Galippo
Buzz: Galippo started eight times as a fifth-year senior in 2011, finishing with 47 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He redshirted as a true freshman because of a back injury, then made 12 tackles as a backup in 2008. He was a starter in 2009 and a part-time starter in 2010.
12. Florida G James Wilson
Buzz: Wilson had an injury-plagued career with the Gators and started just once - in the Gator Bowl against Ohio State in the final game of his career. He redshirted in 2007, played in all 14 games as a backup guard in 2009, played in 10 games as a backup guard in '08 and played in just two games in '09.
13. LSU WR Terrance Toliver
Buzz: Toliver led the Tigers with 41 receptions in 2010, good for 579 yards and five TDs. He started twice as a true freshman and twice as a sophomore before blossoming into a full-time starter as a junior in 2009. His junior season was his best, as he had 53 catches for 735 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, he had 126 catches - including 12 TD receptions - for 1,820 yards. He was not drafted.
14. LSU FS Chad Jones
Buzz: Jones, who doubled as a hard-throwing reliever for LSU's baseball team, was a two-year starter for the Tigers after serving as a reserve as a true freshman. He announced he was turning pro a year early after a solid junior season in 2009 in which he had 73 tackles, three interceptions, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. He finished his career with 187 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 15 pass breakups, four forced fumbles and one punt-return touchdown. He was severely injured in a car wreck in June 2010; he had been a third-round pick of the New York Giants in the 2010 draft.
15. West Virginia RB Noel Devine
Buzz: Devine had a disappointing senior season in 2010, rushing for 936 yards and six TDs. He ran for 1,465 yards and 13 TDs as a junior and for 1,289 as a sophomore. He finished his career with 4,317 yards and 29 TDs. He was not drafted.
16. Texas OL Tray Allen
Buzz: Allen made six starts in his career, with all six coming this season at left tackle. He missed the 2010 season with a broken bone in his left foot after an impressive spring practice. He was a reserve guard in 2009 after playing tackle in his first two seasons.
17. USC RB Marc Tyler
Buzz: Tyler led the Trojans in rushing with 913 yards and also had nine rushing TDs in 2010, but he was a backup this season, finishing with 568 yards and four TDs. He played in just one game in '09 because of an injured toe that required surgery. He redshirted as a true freshman, then ran for 198 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries as a redshirt freshman in 2008.
18. Tennessee LB Chris Donald
Buzz: Donald redshirted as a true freshman, then played in nine games in two seasons without registering a tackle before deciding to transfer to FCS member Chattanooga after the 2009 season. He moved to defensive end for the Mocs and had 48 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He gave up football earlier in 2010 because of wrist problems.
19. South Carolina FS Chris Culliver
Buzz: Culliver was lost for the season with an injury in the eighth game in 2010. He was a two-year starter at free safety for the Gamecocks before moving to cornerback as a senior. He played sparingly as a wide receiver as a true freshman but made his mark as a kick returner that season, earning SEC all-freshman honors in that role. He finished his career with 156 tackles, three picks, 14 pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He was drafted in the third round by San Francisco in 2011.
20. Tennessee DE Ben Martin
Buzz: Martin missed the 2010 season because of an Achilles injury, then tore it again in the spring of 2011. But his rehab went extremely well and he started eight games and played in all 12 for the Vols this season. He finished the season with 18 tackles. After playing sparingly as a reserve in his first two seasons, Martin emerged as a key lineman for the Vols in 2009. He had 38 tackles, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
21. Texas CB Curtis Brown
Buzz: Brown had a mildly disappointing senior season in 2010, finishing with just 23 tackles, one interception and four pass breakups. He was a part-time starter as a sophomore in 2008 before emerging as a key component of a solid Texas secondary in 2009. He finished the '09 season with 47 tackles, one interception - which he returned for a touchdown against Oklahoma State - seven pass breakups and a blocked kick. He finished his career with 108 tackles, two picks and 17 pass breakups. He was a third-round pick, by Pittsburgh, in the 2011 draft.
22. North Carolina WR Dwight Jones
Buzz: Jones was one of the best receivers in the ACC as a junior in 2010 and a senior in 2011. He had 79 receptions for 1,119 yards and 11 TDs this season to earn All-ACC honors. As a junior in 2010, he led the Tar Heels with 62 receptions for 946 yards and four TDs. He made five catches in his first two seasons with the Heels. Jones didn't qualify academically out of high school and went to Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy for a year.
23. Colorado OL Ryan Miller
Buzz: Miller started 44 games for the Buffs in his career, including all 13 at guard this season as a fifth-year senior. He missed just one offensive snap for the Buffs this season. He started all 12 games for the Buffs in 2010 at guard. In 2009, he started all 12 games as well - seven at guard and five at right tackle. He started seven games at right tackle as a true freshman in '07, then missed the 2008 season with a broken leg.
24. Illinois WR Arrelious Benn
Buzz: He turned pro after his junior season in 2009 and was a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. He was the freshman of the year in the Big Ten and a freshman All-America selection in 2007, and that may have been the best season of his Illini career. The '09 season definitely was his worst; he finished with 38 catches for 490 yards and just two touchdowns. For his career, Benn had 159 catches for 2,221 yards and seven touchdowns.
25. Michigan CB Donovan Warren
Buzz: Warren was a three-year starter for the Wolverines who turned pro after his junior season in 2009; he went undrafted. Warren was a freshman All-America in 2007 and a first-team All-Big Ten selection in '09, when he had four interceptions, seven pass breakups and 66 tackles. He finished his career with six picks, 22 pass breakups, 170 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and three fumble recoveries.
26. Illinois DE Martez Wilson
Buzz: Wilson was moved to outside linebacker upon his arrival at Illinois, then moved to middle linebacker after the 2008 season. He had a solid season in 2010, leading the Illini with 112 tackles. He added 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, an interception, four pass breakups and three forced fumbles. Wilson decided to turn pro after the season and was taken in the third round by New Orleans in the 2011 draft.
27. Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor
Buzz: Taylor threw for 2,743 yards, with 24 TDs and five interceptions as a senior in 2010. He added another 659 yards and five TDs on the ground. He finished his career with 7,017 passing yards and 40 TDs; he also rushed for 2,196 yards and 23 scores. Baltimore drafted him in the sixth round in the 2011 draft.
28. Florida QB Cameron Newton
Buzz: He won the Heisman and led Auburn to the national title in 2010 after transferring in from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. He decided to turn pro after the season and was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, by Carolina. He played in five games as Florida's backup quarterback in 2007, then redshirted in 2008. He transferred to Blinn in January 2009 and led Blinn to the national junior college title that fall.
29. USC C Kristofer O'Dowd
Buzz: O'Dowd started every game at center as a Trojans senior in 2010. He was a part-time starter as a true freshman, then was a full-time starter as a sophomore in 2008, earning all-conference honors. He went into the 2009 season as the starter, but knee and shoulder injuries slowed him and he started six games and played in just seven. He wasn't drafted.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.