Big-ticket items: The CFB stars who are worth the price of admission

Free of any QB controversy within the Buckeyes, will J.T. Barrett be celebrating more this season? Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

During the college football offseason, we have ranked everything from the weakest position groups to Hail Mary grabbers.

This week, using the ESPN College Football Power Rankings as our guide, we answer this question: Who's the player on each top 25 team that is single-handedly worth the price of admission?

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Tim Williams

When Williams puts his hand in the dirt and pins his ears back on third down, watch out. Alabama's senior outside linebacker is a ferocious pass-rusher. Just ask Michigan right tackle Kodi Kieler, who was spun out of shoes and knocked down by Williams in the Cotton Bowl. -- Alex Scarborough

2. Clemson Tigers

Deshaun Watson

There are plenty of big-time playmakers on Clemson's roster, but the star of the show is clearly Watson. The junior is arguably the best player in the country, and he's a whiz as both a passer and a runner. Few QBs execute the deep ball as well as Watson, but he's just as likely to create a big gain with his legs as he is with his arm. Last season, he became the first quarterback in college football history to throw for 4,000 yards and run for 1,000. -- David M. Hale

3. Oklahoma Sooners

Baker Mayfield

Don't overthink it. Sure, the Sooners' backfield includes Samaje Perine, who ran for an NCAA-record 427 yards two years ago against Kansas. Undoubtedly, though, he plays second fiddle to the guy who leads OU on offense. Mayfield is a Heisman candidate because of his uncanny ability to create havoc at any moment, with his right arm or his legs. Mayfield is a highlight machine, as evidenced by his 4,105 yards of total offense last year to go with 43 touchdowns. He's efficient and exciting -- and you never know what you might see him do. Even better, you've got two seasons left to watch Mayfield at this level. -- Mitch Sherman

4. Florida State Seminoles

Dalvin Cook

No Power 5 running back had more carries of more than 20, 30, 50, 60 or 70 yards than Cook. Once he makes it through the defense's first wave, there is no player better at breaking off long runs. -- Jared Shanker

5. LSU Tigers

Leonard Fournette

There's only one proper answer here, and it's Fournette. The Tigers might have a roster full of blue-chippers, but Fournette is a rare talent. One of the most intriguing SEC storylines this season will be whether the junior running back can duplicate his 2015 production, as he led the FBS with an average of 162.8 rushing YPG. -- David Ching

6. Ohio State Buckeyes

J.T. Barrett

Barrett put together an incredible freshman season in 2014, breaking 19 school and Big Ten records and finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. This team belongs to him again, now that Cardale Jones is off to the NFL, so expect him to fluster defenses while contending for several national awards. -- Jesse Temple

7. Stanford Cardinal

Christian McCaffrey

What hasn't been said about McCaffrey? The good news is we're about to stop talking -- and reading -- about McCaffrey and watch the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up do his thing. And that is make spectacular plays as a runner, receiver and return man. We haven't seen anyone like him since Reggie Bush. -- Ted Miller

8. Michigan Wolverines

Jabrill Peppers

The buzz surrounding Peppers is warranted, and we could finally see him demonstrate his full potential as a three-way player this season. He's a hybrid linebacker and safety, a wide receiver, a potential Wildcat quarterback and a return man on special teams. Let's hope Jim Harbaugh allows him to roam free. -- Temple

9. Tennessee Volunteers

Derek Barnett

When Barnett is on, he's one of the best defenders in the SEC. In two seasons, he has racked up 20 sacks (only player in school history to do that) and 33 tackles for loss. He's an absolute monster to monitor off the edge, with his rare combination of strength and speed. Eyes are usually focused on Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd on offense, but one of the most electrifying players in the SEC resides at defensive end for the Vols. -- Edward Aschoff

10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Go to Notre Dame, enjoy all of the sights and sounds ... and keep an eye on the offensive line. Specifically, the left side. Tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson are monsters. Their position coach, Harry Hiestand, is as good as it gets. The group deserves more appreciation, and it'll get it on this roster. -- Matt Fortuna

11. Ole Miss Rebels

Chad Kelly

Kelly was one of the SEC's most exciting players to watch in 2015. He set the single-season school record for total offensive yards (4,542) and touchdowns (41) last season. The nimble runner with the huge arm is so much fun to watch because he can make so many plays on the move. Kelly led all Power 5 quarterbacks by completing 65 percent of his passes on throws outside the numbers. He completed 64 passes for 20-plus yards (second nationally) and completed 55 percent of his passes thrown at least 10 yards, which was nearly 10 percent higher than the national average. -- Aschoff

12. Houston Cougars

Greg Ward Jr.

No doubt, it's Ward. In 2015, he was one of only two quarterbacks in the nation to throw for at least 2,500 yards and rush for at least 1,000 yards (Clemson's Deshaun Watson was the other). Ward's ability to befuddle defenses with both his passing ability and his running prowess makes every offensive play intriguing. -- Sam Khan Jr.

13. Michigan State Spartans

Malik McDowell

Defensive tackles rarely garner praise as a "worth the price of admission" player, but McDowell is that good. He recorded 13 tackles for loss last season and is expected to be an All-American by season's end. If you like a good offense stuffer in the trenches, McDowell is your man. -- Temple

14. Washington Huskies

Myles Gaskin

In a conference loaded with great running backs, Gaskin ends up on the periphery of the radar. That might not last, seeing that the Huskies look like a rising Pac-12 power, in large part because Gaskin rolled up 1,300 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns last year as a true freshman. With just about everyone back on offense, including what should be a much improved offensive line, Gaskin might end up the most productive runner in the conference. -- Miller

15. TCU Horned Frogs

KaVontae Turpin

Gary Patterson has said you can't have too many guys like Turpin on your team because games are still won by bigger, more physical players. But who wouldn't want more matchup-wrecking speedsters just like him? Whenever Turpin gets the ball as a receiver, rusher or returner, get your popcorn ready. He produced 1,675 all-purpose yards and nine TDs as a true freshman last year because, at 5-foot-9 and 153 pounds, he's a hard dude to catch and an even harder one to chase. -- Max Olson

16. USC Trojans

JuJu Smith-Schuster

This much is certain: If USC is going to upset Alabama in the season opener, Smith-Schuster needs to come up big against a talented Crimson Tide secondary. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver is a powerhouse with hands and speed and perhaps the best all-around receiver in the nation. -- Miller

17. UCLA Bruins

Josh Rosen

Rosen exceeded his substantial recruiting hype as a true freshman last year, and more than a few NFL folks have already pegged him as the top pick in the 2018 draft. Rosen has it all, including an arm that matches strength and accuracy like no one else in college football. Now, can he deliver the ball in the season opener before Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett gets his hands on him? That is the question. -- Miller

18. Georgia Bulldogs

Nick Chubb

Bulldogs fans certainly want to know how much (or if) future superstar Jacob Eason will play in the opener against North Carolina, but Georgia's meal ticket is still Chubb. If the junior running back is operating at full strength following a 2015 knee injury, he will rank among the nation's top running backs. -- Ching

19. Louisville Cardinals

Lamar Jackson

The only acceptable answer is Jackson, who made a name for himself with only one performance: a monster game against Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl. He became only the third quarterback in bowl history to rush and pass for more than 200 yards. Unfortunately for future opponents, that was only the beginning. -- Andrea Adelson

20. Oregon Ducks

Royce Freeman

Although the Ducks are known for up-tempo flash on offense, Freeman is a 230-pound semi who barrels over defenders and grinds out tough yards. He piled up 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns last season and averaged 6.5 yards per carry as a sophomore. Although the shadow cast by Stanford's Christian McCaffrey is large, Freeman is big enough to escape it. -- Miller

21. Oklahoma State Cowboys

James Washington

There might not be a wideout in college football who delivers more thrilling acrobatic catches than Washington. The Big 12's lone returning 1,000-yard receiver, Washington is a legitimate candidate for the Biletnikoff Award. As a threat to haul in a dazzling touchdown grab at any moment, he is definitely worth the price of admission. -- Jake Trotter

22. Baylor Bears

Seth Russell

Only one player in college football was responsible for five touchdowns a game last season, and his name is Seth Russell. He was playing at a ridiculous level before his season-ending neck injury -- don't forget his 540 total yards (380 passing, 160 rushing) and six TDs against a veteran West Virginia defense. Russell's ability to hit the deep throws and bust big runs with ease makes him a constant home run threat and a fan favorite. -- Max Olson

23. Iowa Hawkeyes

Desmond King

Any time King is in the secondary, the potential for a game-changing interception exists. He picked off eight passes last season and won the Thorpe Award for the nation's best defensive back. Teams might be afraid to throw his way, but you can be sure he'll be ready when they do. -- Temple

24. North Carolina Tar Heels

Ryan Switzer

Larry Fedora's up-tempo, big-play offense is usually worth the ticket price, regardless of who's making the highlight-reel plays, but the one player who stands out is Switzer. It's one thing that Switzer is among the best slot receivers in the country, but his lightning-quick speed also makes him among the most dangerous return men in ACC history. He tied a college football record with five punt-return TDs in his freshman season. He added two more last season and now stands just one shy of tying the NCAA record for career punt-return touchdowns. -- Hale

25. San Diego State Aztecs

Donnel Pumphrey

The defending Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, Pumphrey has rushed for 4,272 yards in his career -- second only to Marshall Faulk. Last year, he rushed for 1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns. San Diego State is 21-7 all time when he scores at least one rushing touchdown. -- Kevin Gemmell