There were several players during the 2014 college football season that became household names by its end. Fans surely recognize names like Mariota and Winston, but what about those who had outstanding years but did not gain the kind of notoriety they deserved? Well, here are the five most underrated players of the 2014 college football season.
Tevin Coleman, RB Indiana
At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, Coleman is a sprinter in a running back’s body. Blessed with great speed and the opportunity to play in the up-tempo spread offense of head coach Kevin Wilson at Indiana, Coleman set a school record when he rushed for 2,036 yards this season. He averaged 7.5 yards a carry and scored 15 touchdowns for a Hoosier team that went just 5-7. For his efforts, Coleman was selected as a unanimous All-American and was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, which went to fellow Big Ten running back Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin.
Alvin Dupree, DE Kentucky
Easily one of the best college football players that no one has heard of, Dupree is a likely first round draft pick in the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft. At 6-4, 267, Dupree possesses all the tools of a great pass-rushing defensive end. While Kentucky is more known for its basketball squad, Dupree did his best to help the Wildcats turn the corner in the SEC. He finished the season with 7.5 sacks and 74 total tackles. He was the lone bright spot in an otherwise poor defense that was one of the reasons why Kentucky lost its last six games in a row.
Taylor Kelly, QB Arizona State
Playing in the Pac-12, Kelly gets overshadowed by the likes of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley of UCLA. Even though he missed three games due to injury, Kelly was one of the keys to a brilliant Sun Devils season. Kelly finished the year with a 145.7 quarterback rating after throwing for 2,114 yards and 22 TDs. He threw just five interceptions in the 10 games that he played and was masterful in the Sun Devils’ thrashing of Notre Dame. Kelly completed 17-of-28 passes for 224 yards and three TDs as Arizona State beat the Irish, 55-31.
Cody Kessler, QB USC
If you think Kelly get overshadowed, try being Cody Kessler. Who? Exactly. The USC quarterback had a remarkable junior season completing 315-of-452 passes for 3,826 yards and 39 touchdowns. The Trojans finished 8-4 with three of the four losses to teams ranked 19th or higher. Kessler led USC to wins over then No. 10 Arizona, then No. 13 Stanford, and a 49-14 drubbing of rival Notre Dame. In the Irish victory, Kessler threw for 372 yards and six touchdowns. He will return for his senior season along with some of the best young talent in the nation making the Trojans one of the teams to watch in 2015.
Drew Hare, QB Northern Illinois
Hare is another in a long line of Northern Illinois dual-threat quarterbacks. After Chandler Harnish and Jordan Lynch ran the show for the better part of a decade, Hare emerged as the starter this, his sophomore, season. He showed flashes of what is to come the next two years throwing for 2,322 yards and 18 touchdowns. Hare also was the team’s second-leading rusher with 900 yards on the ground and another eight TDs. He guided the Huskies to yet another MAC championship and an 11-3 overall record.