Brandon Scherff is nation's best player

Brandon Scherff will help an Iowa offensive line, after he decided to return for a fifth season. Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

As we count down 50 days until the start of the 2014 college football season, ESPN Insider Travis Haney is answering at least one big question a day until South Carolina and Texas A&M’s kickoff on Aug. 28.

Heisman contenders, breakout freshmen, conference winners -- it will all be covered as part of Insider’s Ultimate Season Preview.

Today’s question: Who is the best player in college football, regardless of position?

What if the Heisman Trophy were given to the individual for whom it was designed, the best player in college football?

That’s not to say Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel were not deserving winners -- they very much were, and I had no hesitation with my vote -- but we all know there are only so many positions being considered for such awards. Good luck if you aren't a quarterback or running back.

That’s why I'm willing to think outside the wired-in parameters to answer this question. I might already have responded with Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff, but talking Thursday with longtime Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz nailed it down for me.

I'd never heard a lineman mentioned in the same breath as a once-in-a-generation quarterback. Ferentz said that, to him, Scherff's decision to return for his fifth season was akin to Andrew Luck coming back for his senior year at Stanford.

"It had the same impact on our team when he made that decision," Ferentz said.

Scherff was the No. 23 overall player on ESPN.com's #CFBRank of the top 100 players. But those skill players get all the love, so now it’s Scherff’s turn.