Some of the best players to watch in 2010 are from the non-automatic qualifying conferences.
TCU quarterback Andy Dalton, SMU quarterback Kyle Padron, Houston receiver James Cleveland and Boise State running back Jeremy Avery will be among nine returning players to receive the Touchdown Club of Columbus' Award of Distinction during their awards banquet on Feb. 6.
Dalton led the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 season and the school’s first-ever BCS bowl berth. Padron, a true freshman who stepped into the starting role in the middle of the season, helped the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984 and threw for a school-record 460 yards and two touchdowns in the Hawaii Bowl. Cleveland, Houston’s top receiver, ranked third in the country in receptions per game and eighth in yards per game. He finished with 104 catches for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season in the FBS. Avery was the Broncos leading rusher with 209 carries for 1,150 yards and six rushing touchdowns. It was his first 1,000-yard season in his first full year as the starter.
The Touchdown Club of Columbus was spot-on with its awards of distinction a year ago, naming both Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and Houston quarterback Case Keenum among the players to watch. Both had out standing seasons and finished in the Heisman voting. Ball State running back MiQuale Lewis, who also received the award last year, was one of the bright spots on a losing team with 871 yards and five touchdowns.