Players across the country have to step up for a variety of reasons.
Some must rebound from disappointing seasons to improve their draft stocks, others need to take on larger roles to keep their programs in the title discussion, and certain stars will have opportunities to make a lot of money.
Here are five college football players with the most to prove in 2020, starting with a trio of quarterbacks.
Many college football fans forget that Costello was part of some pretty good Stanford teams. He helped the Cardinal reach the Pac-12 title game in 2017 and recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons.
However, last year was a dud, as Costello played in only five games due to injury while compiling six touchdowns and three interceptions. The 6-foot-5 senior could still be a highly coveted draft choice next April, but that will depend on his final year in Mississippi.
Costello will put up plenty of stats in Mike Leach's offense, but can he correct his decision-making and mechanics? Those improvements could take Costello from being a Day 3 flier to a late Day 1 selection.
Mond is the second SEC quarterback to make the list, and I'd argue he has even more to prove than Costello does. The Texas A&M quarterback has been feast or famine throughout his career - there are times when he takes over games, and there are others when the offense implodes.
After Trevor Lawrence, the second tier of signal-callers in the 2021 class is up for grabs. Mond could be a highly sought-after asset next spring. But there's a lot of volatility with the Aggies senior, and being drafted anywhere from Round 1 to 5 feels like it's on the table.
It took less than a full season for Trask to put both himself and the Florida Gators back on the map. After Feleipe Franks went down with a season-ending injury in 2019, Trask stepped in for 10 starts, throwing for roughly 3,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven picks.
This year, Florida's been given the sixth-best odds to win the title, while Trask has the ninth-shortest odds to earn the Heisman. At 6-foot-5 and more than 230 pounds, there's a lot to like about Trask as a pro prospect. He just has to show that last season wasn't lightning in a bottle.
Jackson isn't a cog for a title contender and he certainly isn't a Heisman candidate, but he was one of the best receivers you didn't know about last season. After coming into 2019 with just 670 yards and six touchdowns over his first two seasons combined, Jackson hauled in 77 catches for 1,119 yards and eight scores despite starting quarterback Collin Hill getting hurt early in the year.
Now, Jackson will have a full season before the draft to play with QB Patrick O'Brien, who helped his wide receiver register at least 84 yards in each of his nine starts last year. The 2021 wide receiver class is stacked, but Jackson could make a ton of noise if he puts up another 1,000-yard season.
Last year, Ohio State relied on a high-profile transfer at quarterback with Justin Fields to power the offense. The Buckeyes are using that method again this year at running back with Sermon, the former Oklahoma standout, jumping aboard.
Sermon ran for 385 yards last year on a gaudy 7.1 yards per carry before suffering a season-ending leg injury. His skill set is exactly what Ohio State needs after JK Dobbins left for the NFL and presumptive starter Master Teague injured his Achilles during spring workouts. Ryan Day's offense proved to be very friendly to running backs in 2019, as Dobbins broke Eddie George's single-season rushing record. If Sermon can step in and produce, a spot in the NFL could beckon in 2021.