NCF Nation: 2011-conference-replace-poll

It's never an easy to replace departing talent, but the SEC has a way of avoiding the rebuilding phase and simply reloading.

This season could be a little more difficult, considering the 10 first-round draft picks the conference supplied the NFL this spring.

At Georgia, the Bulldogs draw the tough assignment of trying to replace A.J. Green at wide receiver. Green was suspended by the NCAA for the first four games of the season, but still managed to lead all Georgia receivers in receptions (57), yards (848) and touchdowns (9).

Combining the uncanny ability to make plays in double coverage and tremendous speed, Green was one of the top receivers in the SEC during each of his three seasons in Athens.

But replacing a Heisman Trophy winner and a national champion like Cam Newton won't be easy, either. The former Auburn quarterback led the SEC in passing (2,854) and rushing (1,473) last season and had 50 total touchdowns. He was the heart and soul of the Tigers' national championship season.

However, you can't forget defensive players. LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson was one of the most exciting players to watch and he somehow made it look easy to take away one side of the field. He was also tremendous in the return game.

Using our poll, tell me who you think will be the toughest player to replace this fall.
The reality of college football is that all players eventually leave and the best players often leave sooner -- for the NFL draft -- than fans and coaches would want.

So while many view a count of returning starters as a great measure of what things might look like in the future, filling voids is really what spring practices are all about.

Many key conference players are off to the NFL. But which leaves behind the biggest hole?

For four years, Jake Locker was the face of Washington. While his numbers weren't good in 2010, he was the Huskies unquestioned leader, not to mention being good enough to go eighth overall in the NFL draft.

Just like Locker, Jacquizz Rodgers was the face of Oregon State, starting with his thrilling debut in the 2008 upset of USC. Speaking of difficult to replace, what about one player who was two players? That was Stanford's Owen Marecic in 2010, who was the Cardinal's starting fullback and linebacker.

Oregon is replacing three starters on its defensive line, but none was as productive over the past two seasons as end Kenny Rowe, who produced 20 sacks and 31.5 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons.
There are a number of good non-AQ players who have to replaced headed into 2011, so we pose the question to you: Who is going to be the most difficult to replace?

I narrowed the field down to five candidates. There are many, many more who are worthy of being on this list, from Greg Salas at Hawaii to Chad Spann at Northern Illinois to Dontay Moch at Nevada. But I felt these were the five biggest names, and five biggest impact players on their respective teams.

For me, the vote comes down to TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Dalton won a school-record 42 games at TCU, led two straight undefeated regular seasons and won a Rose Bowl. He helped TCU become one of the top non-AQ teams in the nation, and that led to an invitation from the Big East. So he has had an impact both on and off the field. His leadership was unquestioned.

But Kaepernick led the type of magical season never seen before at Nevada. He, too, has his name all over the school record books, and he too was the unquestioned leader of his team. The key difference for me is this -- TCU has become a national program and will continue to be a national program even without Dalton. We cannot definitively say the same of Nevada without Kaepernick. Just look at the preseason rankings. TCU is there. Nevada is not.

So ultimately, I think it will be more difficult to replace Kaepernick because the players that follow are going to have to maintain what he started. That might be possible in the Mountain West, but it is hard to know at this point.
Over the next couple of days, I'll be asking you to give your opinion on a variety of burning questions in the Big East.

You'll get a chance to vote in a poll right here and let your voice be heard. We'll tally up the results and react to your decision once the vote it over.

To start off, I want your opinion on who will be the hardest players to replace in the Big East this season. I highlighted many of the candidates in my spring shoes to fill series. Here's a quick look at what I feel like are the top five nominees:
  • Jordan Todman, RB, Connecticut: Todman ranked second nationally in rushing last year and was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2010.
  • Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville: Not many Big East backs have Powell's combination of strength, speed, vision and fearlessness.
  • Chris Neild, DT, West Virginia: A bull in the middle of the Mountaineers' defensive line, Neild often occupied two blockers at a time.
  • Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh: Sheard used his nonstop motor to fight off double-teams and pressure quarterbacks on his way to winning defensive player of the year honors in 2010.
  • Armon Binns, WR, Cincinnati: Led all Big East receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns last year and provided a great red zone target.

So there are your nominees. Now it's time to cast your vote.
The "spring shoes to fill" series looked at the most difficult player to replace in each program. Five of them were quarterbacks, four linemen, two receivers and one linebacker.

Boston College: Anthony Castonzo
Clemson: Da'Quan Bowers
Duke: Abraham Kromah
Florida State: Rodney Hudson
Georgia Tech: Joshua Nesbitt
Maryland: Torrey Smith
Miami: Leonard Hankerson
North Carolina: T.J. Yates
NC State: Russell Wilson
Virginia: Marc Verica
Virginia Tech: Tyrod Taylor
Wake Forest: Russell Nenon

Hudson was the most decorated offensive lineman in ACC history. Taylor was the winningest quarterback in school history. Nesbitt was the most prolific rushing quarterback in league history. Bowers was honored as the nation's top defensive player. Almost all of them were record-setters. The ACC lost some tremendous talent from 2010 rosters.

Of these 12 players, I took the liberty of narrowing the list down to five choices for the most difficult player to replace in the ACC.
At long last, polls have arrived for the Big Ten blog. Here's your chance to weigh in on the big questions around the conference, so please take advantage.

Let's kick things off with a look at the most difficult Big Ten player to replace in 2011. Every team loses some key seniors, and seven Big Ten underclassmen declared for the NFL draft. The league had six players selected in the first round of the draft, each of whom could be categorized as irreplaceable.

Then again, while Wisconsin will have a tough time filling in for All-American defensive end J.J. Watt, the No. 11 overall pick in the draft, quarterback Scott Tolzien, who was undrafted, might be tougher to replace. Several Big Ten defenders leave major voids, including All-American Ryan Kerrigan from Purdue and Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget.

The league's toughest player to replace might see the field this season. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be eligible to play Oct. 8 against Nebraska, but his presence certainly will be missed during a five-game suspension to begin the fall.

Some teams are in better shape to replace their stars than others, but there are a handful of Big Ten players who definitely will be missed. It's your turn to weigh in.
We'll kick off our polls with a look at which players across the league leave behind the biggest voids. Lots of big names stuck around for 2011, but others will take their talents to the NFL next season.

Von Miller is the only defensive player on the list, but can Texas A&M find a way to replace his one-of-a-kind combination of size and speed?

Kendall Hunter was a constant for the Cowboys last year, running for 100 yards nine times in 2010. Can Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle fill in?

Blaine Gabbert left early, and his younger brother transferred earlier this week. Is James Franklin the answer?

DeMarco Murray scored more touchdowns than any player in Oklahoma history. Will the Sooners' committee approach to replacing him be enough to prevent a drop-off?

Despite having a struggling passing game, Daniel Thomas led the Big 12 in carries and rushing yards the last two seasons. Can Bill Snyder's team get back to a bowl game behind Bryce Brown and John Hubert?

Which player will be the toughest to replace?

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