Temple senior RB Jahad Thomas was named to the 2016 Watch List for the Paul Hornung Award.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder rushed for 1,262 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn first team All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2015. In addition, Thomas chipped in 216 receiving yards and two more scores, including a school-record 100-yard kickoff return touchdown. He'll be the focal point of the offense once again this fall.
Iowa State redshirt sophomore RB Mike Warren's "track speed and stride length give him opportunities to hit big plays once he finds daylight," according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder, however, "could use more muscle in his lower half and needs to learn to run through contact," per Zierlein. In 2015, Warren broke out for 1,339 yards (5.9 YPC) and five touchdowns to earn first-team freshman All-American honors and win the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year award.
Pro Football Focus asserts that Arizona redshirt junior QB Anu Solomon, currently battling for the starting gig, was "clearly Arizona’s best player last year."
Solomon boasts the ninth-best returning passing grade in the FBS, including No. 1 in the Pac-12. Despite a perception of great struggle, Solomon went 36-of-57 for nine touchdowns and just one interception on throws between 11-20 yards downfield last year. Sophomore Brandon Dawkins has shown more promise on the ground, averaging 10.3 yards per carry last year compared to Solomon's 5.3, but Solomon, to PFF, "is clearly one of the better passers in the country and there are very few teams on which he would not start." This situation will resolve itself, but not until late next month.
Louisiana Tech junior WR Carlos Henderson was named to the 2016 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List.
Henderson posted 1,291 all-purpose yards as a wide receiver and kick returner for Louisiana Tech in 2015. Included in that was 774 yards on 36 receptions for five touchdowns as well as a team-high 21 kick returns for 463 yards. Teammate Trent Taylor was also a Biletnikoff watch lister.
Colorado senior CB Chidobe Awuzie is Pro Football Focus' fourth-highest graded returning corner.
Awuzie earned PFF's second-highest pass rush grade and fifth-best run stop percentage of returning corners. The 6-foot, 190-pound Awuzie collected two interceptions and five passes defended last season. "[He] should be able to exceed those numbers this year and remain one of the top CBs in all of college football," wrote Josh Liskiewitz.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein believes that LSU sophomore RB Derrius Guice's "interior running style might be more NFL-friendly than even [Leonard] Fournette's."
"Guice has juice, plain and simple," Zierlein wrote. "With a combination of size, burst and power, Guice was able to churn out an incredible 8.5 yards per carry." Guice was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team last year after rushing for 436 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 51 attempts. That's an incredible 8.5 yards per carry. The 5-foot-11, 216-pounder also returned 20 kickoffs for 472 yards.
Cincinnati junior RB Mike Boone was named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award.
Teammate QB Gunner Kiel was also listed on the Maxwell list. The award goes to the national college football Player of the Year. Boone appeared in 10 games last season as a sophomore, tallying 717 yards on 96 carries for a sensational 7.5 yards per carry as part of a three-back rotation. He also converted 14 kick returns for 231 yards. All that was good for sixth in the American Athletic Conference with 105.5 all-purpose yards per game. Now that last year's leading rusher Hosey Williams is gone, Boone is expected to take over as starter with senior Tion Green also figuring in.
Ole Miss redshirt senior QB Chad Kelly boasts "effortless velocity to fire strikes to every level of the field," notes CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.
Brugler praised Kelly's "NFL arm strength," with a "follow-through motion to add extra RPMs on throws and fit the football into tight windows." The analyst noted that while Kelly has average height, he is well put together and athletic, leading his team with 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015. "Although he has the arm strength to get away with snap throws without setting his base, his accuracy tends to suffer due to his inconsistent mechanics and release technique," Brugler wrote. Brugler added that Kelly has "several background issues" that have caused the NFL to question his "maturity and coachability, issues that will be fully vetted between now and next spring." Brugler predicts that Kelly will be a "hotly debated prospect for the 2017 class."