Breakout spring players for each top 25 team

Raekwon Davis could be Alabama's next great defensive lineman. Andrew Hancock for ESPN

Who are the players who were the most pleasant surprises this spring? Here's a look at the breakout player for each team in our Way-Too-Early Top 25.

1. Alabama: DT Raekwon Davis

It's not that losing Da'Ron Payne to the draft didn't hurt, but when you have another 300-plus-pound defensive tackle with freakish athleticism behind him, the pain is minimized. Enter Davis, a former four-star prospect, whose ability to dominate was on display at A-Day, when he had eight tackles and two sacks. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Clemson: CB Trayvon Mullen

The Tigers are thin in the secondary, so the emergence of Mullen this spring brings welcome news for defensive coordinator Brent Venables. Mullen, a former ESPN 300 prospect, seemed to hit his stride and earned praise from the coaching staff. In the spring game, he had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. -- Andrea Adelson

3. Ohio State: RB Demario McCall

Urban Meyer is always looking for an explosive H-back, and McCall could be the answer after a strong spring capped by 165 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. ESPN's No. 2 running back and No. 38 overall player in the 2016 class has been limited so far in his career, but his wait should end this fall. The Buckeyes are deep at H-back but want the next Curtis Samuel type to step forward. -- Adam Rittenberg

4. Georgia: LB Monty Rice

All eyes were on inside linebacker this spring with Roquan Smith having moved on to the NFL, and it appears that a strong candidate to replace him has emerged. Rice, a sophomore and former four-star prospect, shined at G-Day by leading all players with 14 tackles. -- Scarborough

5. Oklahoma: DB Brendan Radley-Hiles

The true freshman known as Bookie worked his way into a starting role in the Sooners' secondary in just one spring on campus. The ESPN 300 early enrollee owns the versatility to play corner, nickelback or safety. And he should bring a playmaking element that has been sorely missing from the Oklahoma defensive backfield in recent years. -- Jake Trotter

6. Washington: CB Keith Taylor

Taylor has measurables and natural talent to be a star for the Huskies. After a solid spring, in which he was second on the team with five interceptions, he's projected to be a starter. He'll have to fend off a few people during fall camp, but Taylor's mix of physical and mental growth went a long way toward really impressing his coaches this spring. -- Edward Aschoff

7. Wisconsin: WR Aron Cruickshank

At just 5-foot-9 and 152 pounds, Cruickshank is easy to miss, but he makes defenders miss, too. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook said he hasn't seen a faster player at Wisconsin, and while the Badgers have their best receiver depth in years, Cruickshank should be part of the rotation. "He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's tough," offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. "He shows a difference from his speed and his ability to compete for the football in the air." -- Rittenberg

8. Miami: DT Gerald Willis III

Willis has been a bit of an unknown since he transferred to the Hurricanes. After sitting out 2015 because of transfer rules, he missed last season for personal reasons. But Willis seems to have turned a corner, as coaches mentioned how far he has grown both on the field and off. He was virtually unblockable this spring. -- Adelson

9. Michigan State: DBs Kalon Gervin and Xavier Henderson

The Spartans return four solid starters in the secondary, but Gervin and Henderson, both early enrollees, stood out throughout the spring. Gervin, Michigan State's lone ESPN 300 recruit in the 2018 class, was one of the top in-state prospects. Henderson worked some at nickelback late in the spring and should be involved in the nickel and dime packages. -- Rittenberg

10. Michigan: DT Michael Dwumfour

Wolverines coaches couldn't stop talking about the 300-pound junior from New Jersey this spring. Dwumfour played sparingly last season, but the rest of his game appears to be catching up to the lightning-fast initial burst that has helped him earn comparisons to 2017 All-American Mo Hurst. He'll get a shot to fill Hurst's inside role on a deep and talented defensive line. -- Dan Murphy

11. West Virginia: RB Alec Sinkfield

Sinkfield was the star of the spring for the Mountaineers after redshirting as a freshman last season. Sinkfield gives West Virginia's already potent offense a big-play back alongside zone runner Kennedy McKoy and power back Martell Pettaway. -- Trotter

12. Notre Dame: OT Liam Eichenberg

His play this spring might be the biggest reason why Notre Dame's coaches aren't panicking about losing two linemen who became top-10 picks in April's NFL draft. ESPN's No. 6 tackle and No. 67 overall player in the 2016 class not only showed he's ready to start but claimed the all-important left tackle job, previously held by Mike McGlinchey. "He's finally just turning it loose and playing hard all the time," offensive coordinator Chip Long said. -- Rittenberg

13. Penn State: WR KJ Hamler

Where will Penn State's offense turn for a big play in 2018? The Nittany Lions have options, but Hamler is a name to remember. The redshirt freshman showed next-level speed in the slot during his second spring in Happy Valley. Teammates say he has learned how best to take advantage of his natural talent and could join DeAndre Thompkins, Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk in the receiver rotation. -- Murphy

14. Stanford: QB Jack Richardson

Without question the breakout star of the spring was Richardson. Because of injuries to K.J. Costello and Davis Mills, Richardson was the Cardinal's only available quarterback. He was more than serviceable, as he impressed his coaches enough to go from walk-on to earning a scholarship at the end of spring. -- Aschoff

15. Virginia Tech: DE Emmanuel Belmar

The Hokies need to build up their depth along the defensive line, so coordinator Bud Foster was beyond pleased he saw progress among several players. Chief among them was Belmar, still learning the nuances at defensive end after making the move from outside linebacker. Belmar recorded a safety in the spring game and might have done enough to establish himself in the rotation. -- Adelson

16. Mississippi State: RB Kylin Hill

Aeris Williams is a given to produce at running back after rushing for 1,827 yards and 10 touchdowns the past two seasons. But he might have a solid sidekick this season in the form of Hill, who lived up to coaches' high expectations with 55 yards and three touchdown in the spring game. -- Scarborough

17. USC: WR Velus Jones Jr.

The Trojans are in need of more consistency and playmaking at receiver, and redshirt sophomore Jones certainly brought some highlight plays to spring practice. This was kind of the story last offseason for Jones, too, but the hope is that he's becoming a better student of the game as well. He was used more out of the backfield last season, but the Trojans are hoping he's as big of a deep threat this fall as he was this spring. -- Aschoff

18. UCF: WR Tristan Payton

Payton played defensive back last season but switched back to receiver under new coach Josh Heupel and impressed everyone with his performance throughout the spring. Payton made some head-turning plays in the spring game, including a 43-yard touchdown reception, but he also proved he can make an impact in the return game. -- Adelson

19. Auburn: DL Nick Coe

The Tigers' D-line didn't need any help with the likes of Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown and Dontavius Russell all back. Then Coe, a former SEC All-Freshman player, took over A-Day with an MVP performance, providing another weapon on what could be the best line in the conference. -- Scarborough

20. TCU: RB Sewo Olonilua

After getting only 64 carries last season, junior Olonilua seems primed for a much bigger role in 2018. Olonilua was a force in TCU's spring game, both running and catching the ball. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he should be the perfect power complement to speedy starter Darius Anderson out of the TCU backfield. -- Trotter

21. Boise State: WR Octavius Evans

With wideout Cedrick Wilson now on the Dallas Cowboys, the Broncos came into the spring looking for new primary weapons for QB Brett Rypien. One of those could be the sophomore Evans, who had 124 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Boise State's spring game. -- Trotter

22. Texas: WR Lil'Jordan Humphrey

The Longhorns have desperately longed for a big-play receiver in recent years, and Humphrey showed this spring he's capable of being just that. Whether catching passes on the outside, hauling them in down the seam or taking the ball out of the backfield, Humphrey was making plays everywhere in the spring game. His versatility could be a huge component for the Texas offense in the fall. -- Trotter

23. Texas A&M: DT Daylon Mack

Mack is a familiar name to SEC observers, but beyond a few eye-popping YouTube highlights, the former five-star prospect hasn't delivered on high expectations as an Aggie. This spring, though, the defensive tackle showed up in better condition, and that was clear during the spring game, in which he had a sack on his first play of the game. -- Scarborough

24. Oregon: WR Jaylon Redd

Redd is only 5-foot-8, 171 pounds, but he was electrifying at times this spring. The coaches found ways to get the ball to the quick-twitch slot receiver in space, on reverses and with quick passes. He was a big part of the offense this spring and will be used a few different ways when the Ducks have the ball this fall. -- Aschoff

25. South Carolina: OL Sadarius Hutcherson

With Jake Bentley at quarterback and Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards at receiver, the Gamecocks' passing game has a chance to be special. But it needs protection, and it might have found a key in that respect in former defensive line recruit and current offensive tackle standout Hutcherson, who was one of two offensive players of the spring. -- Scarborough