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CFB #3: Williams, Calhoun, Hargreaves III & Johnson

I'm back with my weekly feature on college players to watch this season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So we are into week three and we’ve already crossed off some pretty big names. Well here are four more to add to the list and this week we are concentrating almost exclusively on the defensive side of the football. As always, give me your thoughts and opinions and if you have a guy you think I should be watching this year, post it in the comments below.

Leonard Williams, Defensive Line, USC

Can Williams stay healthy for a full season? Where does he do the most damage? What will happen if he finds his spot and stays at 100%. I love Williams as a player, he is a disruptive force, either from the DT position or the DE position. He recorded 5 sacks last year and 12.5 tackles for a loss, and according to a lot of reports in California, he was playing at around 75% fitness for the majority of the season.  Unfortunately Williams is already missing time this pre-season with a left shoulder injury, which is the opposite shoulder to the one he had surgery on. His injuries worry me, but if he can stay healthy, I think he’ll have a massive season, starting with the game against Fresno State on the 30th of August.

Shilique Calhoun, Defensive End, Michigan State

Probably the finest pass rusher coming off the edge in college football. Superb athleticism and reach and react instincts. Last season he notched 7.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss, and this year he could be even better.  Did I mention that last year was his first full year as a starter? Well he is destined for great things. He’s not a massive man, but he plays with a raw physicality that I know Jets fans will appreciate. He is at his best coming downfield rushing the passer, but he is also accomplished playing the run. I thought he would capitalize on his first starting year performance and jump to the NFL, but I give him credit for staying in school for academic purposes and taking the time to refine his game.

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida

I remember the recruitment of Vernon, I was praying he would land in South Bend, unfortunately he opted for the Gators. Last season he was just superb as a true freshman, three interceptions, 11 pass break-ups and he is as close to a shutdown corner as I could find last year. He’ll be starring for Florida for a few more years yet, but get in early on Vernon and watch as much as you can, then pray the Jets land him when he does elect to leave college. I’ve never seen a Freshman corner show so much technical ability as Vernon and if he keeps improving as you would expect, he’ll be a first round selection in no time at all. He is possibly my favourite college football player at the moment.

A.J Johnson, LB, Tennessee

Finally I’m going to put a backer in the selection. If you want an instinctive linebacker in your team, you won’t find better than A.J Johnson. He’s strong, fast and instinctive. 106 tackles last season and most expected him to jump to the NFL. I am a little concerned that his production will take a hit because the majority of Tennessee’s front seven will be different. However he is a leader, a true throw-back linebacker who will punish anyone for going over the middle. He needs to work a little more on his coverage but he’s close to being a complete linebacker.