Here is an early – mighty early – preseason top 25 for the 2009 season.
This poll is under the assumption that all underclassmen who have not already declared for the draft will remain in school. That, obviously, will not be the case, so we will have another preseason poll after the Jan. 15 deadline to declare.
Rivals.com 2009 Preseason Top 25
1. Florida The Buzz: The potential exists for all 11 defensive starters – and each of their backups – to be back in 2009. And with QB Tim Tebow returning, the Gators will be prohibitive favorites to repeat.
2. Texas The Buzz: QB Colt McCoy's decision to return means the offense again will put up a ton of points – and the running game should be better in 2009. The secondary could be a strength, but the front seven needs some tweaking.
3. USC The Buzz: The defense will undergo an overhaul, from the coordinator down to the players. But the offense could be truly explosive.
7. Virginia Tech The Buzz: The Hokies look as if they will be the class of the ACC. The defense always will be good, and if QB Tyrod Taylor becomes a better passer, the offense actually could be dangerous.
8. Alabama The Buzz: The offensive line could have some questions and there will be a new quarterback, but depth should be better and there are some talented skill-position players on hand.
9. Boise State The Buzz: QB Kellen Moore can become a star. If the Broncos can get their front four on defense settled, an undefeated season is within their grasp.
11. Georgia Tech The Buzz: The Yellow Jackets were surprisingly good in coach Paul Johnson's first season, and Year Two in the triple-option offense could lead to big numbers. The defense should be fine.
12. California The Buzz:Jahvid Best may go into the 2009 season as the nation's best running back. Coach Jeff Tedford needs to settle on a quarterback and the linebacking corps must be rebuilt.
13. Penn State The Buzz: QB Daryll Clark and TB Evan Royster return, though there are questions about the offensive line, the receiving corps and the secondary. The front seven on defense could be outstanding.
14. Ole Miss The Buzz: Coach Houston Nutt changed the culture around the program, and if Tim Tebow goes pro, Jevan Snead will be the best quarterback in the SEC. There is a lot of skill-position talent around him, too.
15. Oregon The Buzz: The Ducks will need to settle on a quarterback and do some tweaking in the secondary. But the rushing attack again should be the team strength.
16. Florida State The Buzz: The defense has a lot of potential, if the coaches can find some safeties. The offensive line actually could be a strength. But the passing attack must improve.
17. Utah The Buzz: The passing game will be a huge question. But the defense returns a lot of key players in the front seven, and the Utes will be able to run the ball.
18. Georgia The Buzz:Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno are gone. But it's not as if the Bulldogs' roster is bereft of talent. The offensive line should be much better, as should the defense.
19. Kansas The Buzz: On paper, at least, the Jayhawks look to be the class of the Big 12 North. The return of QB Todd Reesing means the offense should be one of the most productive in the nation. But the defense must replace three starting linebackers.