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College football rankings: Key player for each top-25 team with spring practices underway ahead of 2024 season

These players will have a huge impact on how the 2024 college football season plays out

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USATSI

As the weather starts to warm, college football teams are hitting the field for the first slate of practices ahead of the 2024 season. Though there’s still one transfer window left, which means rosters aren’t entirely solidified, the next month or so will give coaches a good idea of what their programs will look like moving into the fall. 

The changing calendar also meant CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd released his latest round of top 25 rankings following January’s way-too-early peak at how things stand for 2024. Dodd took a stab at identifying the teams that will dominate a season defined by a wave of realignment and a shifting landscape. 

The SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 are all welcoming new members to the fold while the Pac-12 has been whittled down to Oregon State and Washington State. The College Football Playoff is expanding to 12 teams for the first time since its inception a decade ago, with five automatic bids now up for grabs among the nation’s five highest-rated conference champions. 

Those top teams, poised to take advantage of a larger playoff field, each have one or two players that could define their success. There are a lot of factors that determine a player’s importance: their impact at a position of need, their ability to change a game or their relative experience compared to the rest of the roster. 

Whatever the case may be, every team has a player it can rely on to lead the way for success. With that in mind, here’s the most important player — before spring practices conclude, of course — for each team in Dodd’s latest top 25. 

Key players for top-25 teams

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