It's one thing to be the best player on your respective team, but it's completely different to be the most indispensible player to your team.
The truth is, the two don't always go hand-in-hand. In today's college football world, most starters have a bevy of quality talent filling out the depth chart behind them. But not in all cases.
This one is a no-brainer. Tajh Boyd is easily one of the top-five quarterbacks in the country and is a sure-fire Heisman contender if the dominos fall Clemson's way in 2013. Boyd has been a monumental part of the culture change that has taken place under head coach Dabo Swinney.
In just two seasons as the starter, Boyd has made the Clemson offense into one of the best in all of college football. Sure he can beat you with his feet, but he's also shown to be equally as dangerous in the pocket. By no means does he have the strongest arm, but Boyd can certainly make all the throws on the field. Entering his senior season, Boyd has thrown for 8,053 yards, 73 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions. He needs just 1,612 yards to become the all-time passing leader in Clemson history, which would be his 40th school record. Additionally, Boyd's mastering the zone-read and ability to operate out of the pistol have some NFL teams drooling. If being the best quarterback in school history isn't enough, the depth chart behind Boyd easily makes him Clemson's most indispensable player. Junior quarterback Cole Stoudt has just 71 snaps in his career and behind him are two freshmen.
Boston College: WR Alex Amidon
Most of the attention paid to Boston College this offseason centers around the offense and how it will look under new head coach Steve Addazio. While quarterback Chase Rettig has to improve if the Eagles offense is going to get any better, wide receiver Alex Amidon is the only reliable playmaker he has. An injury to Amidon would put the Eagles in an even deeper hole.
The first team All-ACC receiver reeled in 78 receptions for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012, setting a single-season school record. Amidon finished 11th in the country for receiving yards per game.
Amidon isn't quite the size you would like your primary target to be. At 5'11, he has to be creative and find ways to get himself open rather than relying his natural ability. However, Amidon fits the mold of the Bill Belichick slot receiver perfectly. He has the uncanny ability to find space and sit down and also has great hands. Don't be completely shocked if you see him catching passes in a Patriots uniform in a few short years.
Everywhere Addazio has gone as a head coach he has improved the offense almost instantly. Expect the Eagles to take some steps forward this year as well, assuming Amidon can stay healthy and continue to find open space.
Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs didn't exactly turn heads during his freshman season, but he did show flashes of the player he can be. He is easily the most talented player on the team, and the personnel behind him is bleak. Having chemistry with your quarterback is a big key to having success as a receiver. So, to be fair, Diggs got the short end of the stick in that category.
Diggs never knew who was going to be throwing him passes. The Terrapins went through three scholarship quarterbacks, a converted wide receiver, and a freshman reserve linebacker-turned-quarterback in 2012. As long as Diggs can get comfortable with someone for more than one week, I expect him to have a productive season and at least somewhat live up to the hype that followed him to College Park.
NC State: CB Dontae Johnson
NC State is another team that has undergone some major changes across the board; a new coaching staff, new quarterback, and an entirely new secondary. Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson is the only returning starter in the Wolfpack' secondary and will be relied upon to be a leader and signal-caller in 2013.
Johnson has 39 games under his belt, which is more than double the number of games played by the rest of the secondary. In 2012 he registered 80 tackles, 4 1/2 tackles for a loss, and one sack. Johnson is not only being counted on by the staff to produce again this season, but also be a leader and coach on the field for the inexperience surrounding him.
Quarterback is another position where NC State has very little depth and experience. Jacoby Brissett, who transferred from Florida, will sit out the 2013 season, leaving few options at the most important position on the field. The battle is between Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas, who has two years starting experience, and sophomore Manny Stocker. The two have very different skill sets, and ultimately it will come down to who best can learn Dave Doeren's offense and be most comfortable with it's fast-paced style.
Pittsburgh wide receiver Devin Street opted to pass on the NFL Draft this offseason and stay in school for his senior year. By doing so, the Panthers get their number one playmaker back for its first season in the ACC. With Tino Sunseri departing from school, the Panthers will be inserting a new quarterback in to the mix.
It will make things that much easier on that first-time starter to have a go-to receiver like Street at his disposal. With the loss of last year's leading rusher Ray Graham, Street is the lone veteran at the Panther's skill positions. His leadership will be vital to the unit's success.
The All-Big East selection is looking to improve on a productive 2012 season where he caught 73 passes for 975 yards and five touchdowns. The Biletnikoff Award candidate needs just 28 receptions to become the leading pass-catcher in school history, putting him ahead of guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Doug Baldwin.