Year after year, elite college football playmakers leave their universities and embark on what most would consider a life-long dream into the NFL. Whether the jump to the show is spawned by graduation, or a high draft grade, coaches are left looking for answers as to who can fill that 1500 yard rusher and that All-American, four year starting linebacker.

It can be quite a tough task replacing those players. Well, unless you’re Nick Saban or Urban Meyer and 5-stars are rolling into your program at a pace similar to the folks rushing into a Best Buy on Black Friday. Regardless, it’s something that coaches as well as fans have a tough time getting used to.

It has been, and always will be, a next man up condition. Whether the next man in line is a blue chip prospect who, thanks to his Boflex he received for his seventh birthday, has been born and bred to be a superstar, or a former walk-on who has rode the metal bench for over two years and is awaiting the chance to prove that he doesn’t need that business degree to be successful, the process remains the same.

Well whatever the case, it’s the same for 2016. Some of the game’s biggest names have already found new homes and signed their first professional contract, and their replacements are experiencing the dog days of summer and preparing for kick-off, which happens to be a short 108 days away.

There is a field of suitable successors up and down college rosters, but who are the young bucks who will be thrown into the shoes of the stars who controlled their position thrown before them? Who is the next man up who replaces a four year starter? Or a first round pick?

I wanted to see who had the biggest performances to follow up, so what better way to do that than create a whole team of possible replacements? A squad of rising starters, from running backs to punter, who’s predecessors were tagged as some of the best in the nation.

Now, these group of guys aren’t just some rag tag nobodies that coaches are pulling off the streets. But the players who they are replacing left some pretty big cleats to fill. Let’s check out the replacements.

Quarterback: Cal QB Zach Kline/ Forrest West

Who are they replacing? Jared Goff:

  • 37 starts under center
  • 12,200 pass yards, 96 touchdowns
  • Broke 26 Cal records
  • Drafted 1st overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Running Back: Ohio State RB Curtis Samuel, Alabama RB Bo Scarborough

Who is Samuel replacing? Ezekiel Elliot:

  • 3961 rush yards, 43 touchdowns
  • 22 career 100+ yard rushing games
  • Second most career rushing yards in Ohio State history
  • 2014 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 4th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Scarborough replacing? Derrick Henry:

  • 3591 rush yards, 42 touchdowns
  • 2015 Heisman, Doak Walker, Walter Camp, Maxwell Trophy winner
  • Broke SEC single season rushing and touchdown record
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Wide Receiver: Baylor WR KD Cannon, TCU WR KaVontae Turpin

Who is Cannon replacing? Corey Coleman

  • 3009 receiving yards, 33 touchdowns
  • 2015 Biletnikoff Award winner
  • Holds Baylor’s all-time receiving touchdown record (33)
  • 2014-2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 15th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Turpin replacing? Josh Doctson

  • 2785 receiving yards, 29 touchdowns
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Holds 6 TCU receiving records
  • Drafted 22nd overall in 2016 NFL Draft

 

Tight End: Arkansas TE Jeremy Sprinkle

Who is Sprinkle replacing? Hunter Henry:

  • 116 receptions, 1661 receiving yards
  • 2015 Mackey Award winner
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft

Offensive Line: Notre Dame OT Alex Bars, Michigan State OT Dennis Finley Jr., Alabama C J.C. Hassenauer, Stanford OG Brandon Fanaika, Baylor OL Blake Blackmar

Who is Bars replacing? Ronnie Stanley:

  • 36 starts
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 6th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Finley Jr. replacing? Jack Conklin:

  • 38 starts
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 8th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Hassenauer replacing? Ryan Kelly:

  • 38 starts
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2015 Remington Award winner
  • Drafted 18th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Fanaika replacing? Joshua Garnett:

  • 55 games played
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2015 Outland Trophy winner
  • Drafted 28th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Blackmar replacing? Spencer Drango:

  • 48 starts
  • 2014-2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in 5th round of 2016 NFL Draft

Defensive Line: Clemson DL Austin Bryant, Ohio State DL Sam Hubbard, Penn State DL Torrance Brown, Alabama DL Da’Shawn Hand

Who is Bryant replacing? Shaq Lawson:

  • 20 career sacks, 45.5 tackles for loss
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 19th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Hubbard replacing? Joey Bosa:

  • 26 career sacks, 51 tackles for loss
  • 2014-2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2014 Nagurski Award Winner
  • Drafted 3rd overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Brown replacing? Carl Nassib:

  • 17.5 career sacks, 24 tackles for loss
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2015 Lombardi Award winner
  • Drafted in the 3rd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Hand replacing? A’Shawn Robinson:

  • 9 career sacks, 22 tackles for loss, 5 pass swats
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in the 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Linebackers: Oklahoma LB Ogbonnia Okorokwo, Notre Dame LB Te’Von Coney, Temple LB Mike DeFrensesco

Who is Okorokwo replacing? Eric Striker:

  • 39 starts
  • 191 total tackles, 23 sacks, 46.5 tackles for loss
  • 2015 Consensus All-American

Who is Coney replacing? Jaylon Smith:

  • 284 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2015 Butkus Award winner
  • Drafted in the 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Who is DeFrensecso replacing? Tyler Matekevich

  • 493 total tackles, 7 sacks, 40.5 tackles for loss, 7 interceptions
  • 2015 Nagurski, Bednarik Award winner
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft

Secondary: Florida DB Jalen Tabor, Florida State DB Tavarrus McFadden, Ole Miss DB Zedrick Woods, Ohio State DB Malik Hooker

Who is Tabor replacing? Vernon Hargreaves:

  • 10 interceptions, 27 passes defended
  • 2014-2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 11th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is McFadden replacing? Jalen Ramsey?

  • 181 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 22 passes defended
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted 5th overall in 2016 NFL Draft

Who is Woods replacing? Trae Elson:

  • 35 starts, 252 tackles, 5 interceptions, 23 passes defended
  • 2015 Consensus All-American

Who is Hooker replacing? Von Bell:

  • 175 tackles, 9 interceptions, 15 passes defended
  • 2015 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in the 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Kicker: Florida State Kicker Ricky Aguayo

  • 69/78, 88.5 field goals, 405 career points
  • 2013 Lou Groza Award winner
  • 2013-2014 Consensus All-American
  • Drafted in the 2nd round of 2016 NFL Draft

Punter: Utah Punter Mitch Wishnowsky

Who is Wishnowsky replacing? Tom Hackett:

  • 45.2 yard average
  • 2014-2015 Consensus All-American
  • 2014-2015 Ray Guy Award winner

 


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