10 most valuable college football players from Florida teams

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
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Miami Hurricanes linebacker Shaq Quarterman celebrates his interception against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the first half of their game, Nov. 17, 2018 at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Virginia.

These 10 Sunshine State players are likely to have the most impact on the fate of their teams this season.

Tamorrion Terry, WR, FSU, sophomore

AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser

There weren't a lot of stars for the Seminoles in 2018, but Tamorrion Terry was an exception. He led Florida State in receiving with 744 yards (breaking the school's freshman record) and eight touchdowns, including the game-winning 74-yard catch in a 22-21 upset against No. 22 Boston College. His 21.3 yards per reception last season ranked fifth in the country and second among freshmen. The 6-foot-4 receiver's size makes him one of the nation's best deep threats in 2019.

Cam Akers, RB, FSU, junior

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Florida State running back Cam Akers broke Dalvin Cook's school freshman rushing mark with 1,025 yards, but the crown jewel of Jimbo Fisher's 2017 recruiting class had a sophomore slump in 2018 under first-year head coach Willie Taggart. That said, he still led the Seminoles in rushing with 706 yards and six touchdowns. He also had 866 all-purpose yards and caught two touchdowns.

Jabari Zuniga, DE, Florida, senior

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Jabari Zuniga will anchor the defensive line for the Gators in 2019. The redshirt senior started all 13 games last season, recording 45 tackles and finishing second on the team with 11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Zuniga has started 22 games in his career, making him one of the more experienced members of the Florida defense.

CJ Henderson, CB, Florida, junior

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Miami native CJ Henderson is projected to be a first-round NFL draft pick next year. Henderson became the first true freshman in school history to return interceptions for touchdowns in back-to-back games during the 2017 season. Although he had half as many interceptions in 2018 as he did as a freshman, Henderson made the most of his opportunities. His pick against South Carolina late in the fourth quarter last year sealed the win for Florida. He'll be counted on for more explosive plays in 2019.

Shaq Quarterman, LB, Miami, senior

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Shaq Quarterman has started every game since arriving at Miami in 2016. The first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference linebacker had a career-best 14 tackles for loss and six sacks to go along with his 82 total tackles last season. In three seasons with the Hurricanes, Quarterman has recorded 31 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He has racked up 249 tackles in 39 consecutive starts.

Michael Pinckney, LB, Miami, senior

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Two of the top three leaders from the No. 2 overall defense in 2018 return for the Hurricanes. Michael Pinckney is one of them. Pinckney ranked third on the team with 74 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season. His lone interception of 2018 came against rival Florida State, helping the Hurricanes rally from a 27-7 deficit in the third quarter to win 28-27.

James Morgan, QB, FIU, senior

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James Morgan led Florida International to a school-record nine wins in 2018. The graduate transfer from Bowling Green set a single-season record with 26 touchdown passes and threw for 2,727 yards, the second-most in school history. He was only intercepted seven times in 326 pass attempts and had a completion rate of 65.3 %. Basically, the success of the Panthers in 2019 will depend on Morgan.

Harrison Bryant, TE, FAU, senior

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Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant is back for his senior season after earning all-conference honors in 2018. Bryant had 45 receptions for 662 yards and four touchdowns last season. He's amassed 1,133 yards and nine touchdowns in his career. The co-offensive MVP of the spring game will have to take on more of a starring role in 2019 with the departure of record-setting running back Devin Singletary, who left school early for the NFL.

Blake Barnett, QB, USF, senior

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Blake Barnett had a solid debut at South Florida in 2018. The journeyman by way of Alabama and Arizona State was 7-3 as a starter, passing for 2,710 yards. But after a 7-0 start, the Bulls lost six straight. Barnett threw one less interception (11) than he did touchdown (12) last season. This year he'll have a new offensive coordinator in former Florida quarterback Kerwin Bell, whose Valdosta State team averaged 52 points and 523.9 yards last season en route to the Division II national championship.

Richie Grant, S, UCF, junior

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Richie Grant started all 13 games for the Knights in 2018 and led Central Florida with 109 total tackles and six interceptions. His six picks were also third-most in the nation. The redshirt junior is the anchor of a five-man secondary that returns three starters from a defense that tied for third nationally in turnovers.

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