College Football Preview 2014: Big Play Makers

college football playmakers

A game can turn on a single moment, and these three explosive stars can be momentum changers for their teams on the road to the national title.


college football playmakers nick marshall auburnNICK MARSHALL
Senior, Auburn quarterback
6′ 1″, 210 pounds

Last year, Auburn ran to the BCS national championship game behind the nation's top rushing offense. But Marshall provided the season's most memorable highlights. He tossed a game-winning 73-yard Hail Mary to beat Georgia, and two weeks later he threw a 39-yard TD with 32 seconds left to tie Alabama in a game Auburn ultimately won. This season — with last year's leading rusher, Tre Mason, gone to the NFL — Marshall will throw more, giving him the chance to improve on his 1,976 passing yards. And he'll continue to help on the ground: Last year he became just the fourth quarterback in SEC history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season (he finished with 1,068). With those legs and what his coach, Gus Malzahn, describes as an "NFL arm," Marshall is sure to be a dual-threat playmaker and Heisman candidate for the Tigers.


college football playmakers rashad greene florida stateRASHAD GREENE
Senior, Florida State wide receiver
6′ 0″, 178 pounds

After leading FSU's receivers in yards and receptions in each of his first three seasons and logging the second-most receptions ever by a Florida State player in 2013, Greene thrilled Seminole Nation by returning to school for his senior season. The favorite target of Heisman winner Jameis Winston, Greene had 147 receiving yards in the BCS title game — including a 49-yard reception with just over a minute left that set up the winning touchdown. He is the Seminoles' only returning starter at his position and will play the role of mentor this season while continuing to be Winston's go-to wideout.



college football playmakers amari cooper alabamaAMARI COOPER
Junior, Alabama wide receiver
6′ 1″, 204 pounds

Alabama will head into 2014 with a new offensive coordinator in Lane Kiffin (formerly USC's head coach), a new starting quarterback (AJ McCarron was drafted by the Bengals), and, perhaps most importantly, a good-as-new Cooper. As a freshman, his dynamic play helped him earn All-America and SEC All-Freshman honors, but a foot injury last year became a problem, limiting him to 736 yards receiving. Still, Cooper was responsible for big-time plays in crucial games (see: his 99-yard TD against Auburn). The Crimson Tide will need Cooper to return to his dominant self in order to rule the SEC once again.


For more on the upcoming season, check out SI Kids' 2014 College Football Preview!


Photos: DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MARSHALL), ROBERT BECK/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GREENE), KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES (COOPER) 

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