Kirk Herbstreit

Bowls 2001-02
Message Board

ESPN Auctions
Thursday, August 8
Updated: August 13, 12:36 PM ET
The best of the best for 2002

By Kirk Herbstreit
Special to

Editor's Note: ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit gives his top picks in several categories heading into the 2002 college football season. Remember, this is his list. Not everyone will agree, but his lists should spark some decent water-cooler conversation. Kirk tried to keep each category to a top five, but ...

Rex Grossman
Rex Grossman finished second in Heisman voting last year.

Next Stop: NFL
Best upcoming crop of potential NFL QBs
1. Rex Grossman, Florida
2. Byron Leftwich, Marshall
3. Ken Dorsey, Miami (Fla.)
4. Chris Simms, Texas
5. Casey Clausen, Tennessee
6. Dave Ragone, Louisville

Double Trouble
Best run/pass threat
1. Chris Rix, Florida State
2. Seneca Wallace, Iowa State
3. Craig Ochs, Colorado
4. Brian St. Pierre, Boston College
5. Asad Abdul-Khaliq, Minnesota

Time Will Tell
Most underrated quarterbacks
1. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
2. Jeff Smoker, Michigan State
3. Philip Rivers, N.C. State
4. Jason Gesser, Washington State
5. Cody Pickett, Washington
6. Ben Roethlisberger, Miami (Ohio)

Difference Makers
The best WR class in recent years
1. Charles Rogers, Michigan State
2. Roy Williams, Texas
3. Reggie Williams, Washington
4. Andre Johnson, Miami (Fla.)
5. Darius Watts, Marshall
6. Kelley Washington, Tennessee
7. Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State
8. Mike Bush, Washington State

Game Breakers
Best running backs
1. Cedric Benson, Texas
2. Onterrio Smith, Oregon
3. Kevin Jones/Lee Suggs, Virginia Tech
4. Dahrran Diedrick, Nebraska
5. Earnest Graham, Florida
6. Anthony Davis, Wisconsin

Dynamic Duos
Best QB/WR tandem
Too close to call ... let the games begin!

Ken Dorsey/Andre Johnson, Miami (Fla.)
Chris Simms/Roy Williams, Texas
Casey Clausen/Kelley Washington, Tennessee
Rex Grossman/Taylor Jacobs, Florida
Jeff Smoker/Charles Rogers, Michigan State
Byron Leftwich/Darius Watts, Marshall
Cody Pickett/Reggie Williams, Washington
Jason Gesser/Mike Bush, Washington State
Chris Rix/Talman Gardner, Florida State

Best offensive linemen
1. Brett Williams, Florida State
2. Ben Johnson, Wisconsin
3. Vince Manuwai, Hawaii
4. Ben Wilkerson, LSU
5. Al Johnson, Wisconsin

Best defensive ends
1. Dewayne White, Louisville
2. Cory Redding, Texas
3. Jerome McDougle, Miami (Fla.)
4. Jimmy Wilkerson, Oklahoma
5. Will Smith, Ohio State

Best inside linebackers
1. E.J. Henderson, Maryland
2. Terry Pierce, Kansas State
3. Gerald Hayes, Pittsburgh
4. Daryl Smith, Georgia Tech
5. Bradie James, LSU
6. Clifton Smith, Syracuse
7. Richard Siegler, Oregon State

Livin' On The Edge
Best outside linebackers
1. Derrick Johnson, Texas
2. Kendyll Pope/Michael Boulware, Florida State
3. Kevin Burnett, Tennessee
4. Boss Bailey, Georgia
5. Eddie Strong, Mississippi

New category because these DTs are THAT good
1. William Joseph, Miami (FL)
2. Tommie Harris, Oklahoma
3. Darnell Dockett, Florida State
4. Jimmy Kennedy, Penn State
5. Jarret Johnson, Alabama

Best strong safeties
1. Mike Doss, Ohio State
2. Troy Polamalu, USC
3. Terrence Kiel, Texas A&M
4. Bob Sanders, Iowa
5. Jerome Carter, Florida State
6. Curry Burns, Louisville

Center Fielders
Best free safeties
1. Matt Ware, UCLA
2. Anthony Floyd, Louisville
3. Brandon Everage, Oklahoma
4. Stuart Schweigert, Purdue
5. Willie Pile, Virginia Tech
6. Jeremy Muyres, Georgia Tech

Best corners
1. Nathan Vasher, Texas
2. Andre Woolfolk, Oklahoma
3. Dennis Weathersby, Oregon State
4. Terence Newman, Kansas State
5. Sammy Davis, Texas A&M
6. Marcus Hudson, North Carolina State

New Kids On The Block
Best newcomers: freshman, juco and players who've waited their turn
1. James Taylor, WR, Louisville
2. Roscoe Parrish, WR, Miami (Fla.)
3. Jason Fife, QB, Oregon
4. Maurice Clarett, RB, Ohio State
5. Jermaine Green, RB, Washington State
6. Lance Mitchell, LB, Oklahoma
7. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pittsburgh
8. Chris Gamble, WR, Ohio State
9. Steven Jackson, RB, Oregon State
10. Michael Johnson, RB, Virginia

Welcome Back
Players who should have big years after missing 2001 with injuries
1. Anquan Boldin/Robert Morgan, WRs, Florida State
2. Lee Suggs, RB, Virginia Tech
3. Bethel Johnson, WR, Texas A&M
4. Michael Thompson, S, Oklahoma
5. Willie Miles, CB, Tennessee

Imported Goods
Best transfers
1. Devard Darling, WR, Washington State (from Florida State)
2. Justin Fargas, RB, USC (from Michigan)
3. A.J. Suggs, QB, Georgia Tech (from Tennessee)
4. Horace Dodd, RB, Boston College (from Penn State)

Most underrated coaches
1. Mike Bellotti, Oregon
2. Houston Nutt, Arkansas
3. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
4. Tom O'Brien, Boston College
5. Ron Turner, Illinois

Tyrone Willingham
Tyrone Willingham is installing a complex pro-style offense at Notre Dame.

Right Men For The Job
Coaches trying to build a winner
1. Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame
2. Al Groh, Virginia
3. Jeff Tedford, Cal
4. Tom O'Brien, Boston College
5. Ron Turner, Illinois

From The Fringe
Guys who haven't played much, but should be marquee names by October
1. Willis McGahee, RB, Miami (Fla.)
2. Larry Johnson, RB, Penn State
3. Greg Jones, RB, Florida State
4. Musa Smith, RB, Georgia (has to stay healthy)
5. Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State
6. Jason White, QB, Oklahoma
7. Josh Buhl, LB, Kansas State

Moving On Up
Teams ready to take it to the next level
1. Washington State
2. Marshall
3. Louisville
4. Boston College
5. Kansas State

All-Uni Team
Guys who look the coolest when suited up
1. Mike Doss, SS, Ohio State
2. Terry Pierce, LB, Kansas State
3. Nathan Vasher, CB, Texas
4. Charles Rogers, WR, Michigan State
5. Roy Williams, WR, Texas
6. Keiwan Ratliff, CB, Florida
7. Kevin Jones, RB, Virginia Tech
8. Troy Polamalu, SS, USC
9. Cory Redding, DL, Texas
10. Andre Johnson, WR, Miami
11. Kendyll Pope, LB, Florida State
12. Kelley Washington, WR, Tennessee

Imposing Edifice
Best stadiums
1. Tennessee
2. Ohio State
3. Texas
4. LSU
5. Florida
6. Washington

Ready To Rock
Best stadium atmospheres
1. Texas A&M
2. Tennessee
3. LSU (at night)
4. Florida
5. Oregon
6. Washington
7. Virginia Tech (at night)

On The Road Again
Best GameDay locations
1a. Texas A&M
(I'm still impressed with 30,000 people at a Friday night Yell practice)
1b. South Carolina
(Last season's blackout vs. Florida: When Gamecocks went up 7-0, I've never heard a louder stadium. Final Score: Florida 54, South Carolina 17 ... Ooops!)
2. Any SEC location
(It's like splitting hairs)
3. Oregon
(I was happy to find out there are some Pac-10 fans who are passionate about college football)
4. Virginia Tech
(Hokie fans are as loyal as you'll find anywhere in the country)
5. Kansas State
(But can we please find an airport closer to "Aggieville," Manhattan, Kan.?)

Boogie Base
Best bands
1. Ohio State (No contest ... The Best Damn Band In The Land)
2. Wisconsin
3. Texas A&M
4. Florida A&M
5. Texas
*My favorite fight song, besides my alma mater, is "Rocky Top" live in Knoxville

Conference Winners & Sleepers
East champion: Tennessee
West champion: Arkansas
Conference champion: Tennessee
Sleepers: South Carolina (East); Ole Miss (West)
Champion: Florida State
Sleeper: Georgia Tech
Big East
Champion: Miami (Fla.)
Sleeper: Boston College
Big Ten
Champion: Ohio State
Sleeper: Michigan State
Big 12
North champion: Kansas State
South champion: Oklahoma
Conference champion: Oklahoma
Sleepers: Kansas State (North); Texas A&M (South)
Champion: Oregon
Sleeper: Oregon State
*I love Washington State, but too many people are on my bandwagon from a year ago.

 More from ESPN...
Kirk Herbstreit Archive

 ESPN Tools
Email story
Most sent
Print story