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August 10, 2007
The best players you've never seen
» OFFENSE: Quarterback
| Running back
| Tight end
| Wide receiver
| Offensive line
Most college football fans couldn't find Boise State running back Ian Johnson for much of last season.
Then they couldn't avoid him.
Johnson toiled in virtual anonymity in 2006. He led the nation in scoring, but he rarely played on national television. That all changed on Jan. 1, 2007.
After running into the end zone for a two-point conversion to give the Broncos a dramatic 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma, Johnson got down on one knee and proposed to Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics on national television. The happy couple appeared on various morning news shows the rest of the week, briefly making Johnson one of the nation's most ubiquitous athletes.
While Johnson now is forever linked with that postgame proposal, we remember the guy who had thrived as one of the nation's most underrated players before earning that instant celebrity status.
And that's why we've decided to put together an entire team of outstanding players who rarely get the opportunity to perform on a big stage. They're the star performers for off-Broadway programs.
We didn't include Johnson because his status as one of the nation's most unnoticed players disappeared as soon as the Fiesta Bowl ended. We also didn't include anyone from Wake Forest – last season's other big Cinderella story – because the Demon Deacons played on national television quite a bit during their surprising run to the Atlantic Coast conference title.
This team instead focuses on players that most fans didn't get to see last season.
Maybe they're the best players on a BCS team that typically stays home for the holidays. Perhaps they're starring in a non-BCS conference that doesn't have a lucrative television contract. Or else they're at a program like South Florida that just recently began playing major college football.
Whatever the reason, these players rarely get the chance to enter the spotlight. But on the rare occasions that they do appear on national television, these guys are definitely worth watching.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.