When the American Athletic Conference readied to launch its inaugural season -- almost exactly a year ago -- few people noticed. It was college football's Island of Misfit Toys, a temporary safe haven for those programs that survived the shipwreck of the Big East.
By season's end, the American was at the forefront of the football world's consciousness, if indirectly. Two of the top quarterback prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft were from the American: Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and UCF's Blake Bortles. Turned out, the new league wasn't an afterthought after all.
It's sophomore season, however, likely will be a different story. Yes, the new College Football Playoff claims to be open to everybody equally, regardless of conference affiliation. But there isn't a marquee program in the American that will capture America's attention (especially since Louisville left the AAC for the ACC). And there isn't a prospect who will generate near the buzz that Bridgewater and Bortles did.
That said, there are at least a half-dozen intriguing prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, a handful of whom could be off the board in the first couple rounds.