Rice, a junior, has played a huge part in raising the Rutgers program from the bottom of college football. Rice helped Rutgers to its first winning season in 14 years as a freshman, rushing for 1,120 yards and five touchdowns. He kicked it up a notch last year.
Rice rushed for 1,794 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights won a school record-tying 11 games and finished ranked 12th in the country. Rutgers is expected to be as good, if not, better than last year.
2. Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech: He isn't Ray Rice, but he's pretty close. Choice ended last season as one of the hottest running backs in the country.
3. Matt Forte, Tulane: Forte likely won't get much national attention, but it's what he's done against Army that gets him a spot on this list.
4. Riley Skinner, Wake Forest: Finally, a quarterback makes the list. Skinner came out of nowhere to lead Wake Forest to a 10-2 regular-season record last season.
5. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, Navy: The quarterback has to be on the list because of the magnitude of the Army-Navy game and because he's damn talented.
Others to watch
Matt Ryan, Boston College: He led the ACC in passing last season and new BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski is expected to open up the Eagles' offense this season.
Adam Ballard, Navy: The hard-charging fullback left last year's game after the first series with a broken ankle. He ran for 192 yards against Army in 2005.
Shaun Carney, Air Force: The quarterback is expected to flourish in Troy Calhoun's spread offense.
Reggie Campbell, Navy: A big threat slot back that can run the ball and make the big catch.
Mike Teel, Rutgers: It wasn't always pretty, but Teel usually found a way to get the job done at quarterback.
Micah Andrews, Wake Forest: The running back was named to the 2004 ACC All-Freshman team. After a productive sophomore season (621 yards), Andrews' was expected to have a break-out junior season. But he tore his ACL in his left knee three games into last season. Andrews is expected to be 100 percent by the fall.