LOS ANGELES -- There are enormous cleats to fill around the country at the quarterback position and, in Austin, Texas, one gigantic 10-gallon hat.
Three of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football history -- Tim Tebow (Florida), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and Colt McCoy (Texas) -- have passed on (in a good way) to the NFL. Oregon, the defending Pacific 10 Conference champion, sent Jeremiah Masoli packing (he ended up walking on at Mississippi), while Notre Dame breaks in a new coach (Brian Kelly) and quarterback (Dayne Crist).
Here is a glance at the players who must step up if their schools are going to continue to compete for big prizes.
Incoming: John Brantley
Imagine Brian Wilson leaving the Beach Boys and the group asking his replacement to write some catchy tunes like "Good Vibrations." Good luck. Tebow left Florida with two national titles, a Heisman Trophy, a postgame speech that has been immortalized and an eye-black legacy that will be difficult to match. Brantley, though, is a highly touted and talented junior who has been waiting years for his shot. Think of Mark Sanchez at USC. Brantley is more of a pure passer than a bull-like runner, but Tebow left behind plenty of track star speed -- Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey -- to think this transition won't be mission impossible.
Incoming: Landry Jones
Bradford posted incredible numbers in Norman, won the Heisman Trophy and left as the No.1 pick in the NFL draft. The good news for Jones is that he got a head start in legacy replacement last year during Bradford's injury-marred season. Jones was shaky at times but ended with a 418-yard performance in the Sun Bowl. He inherits a bitterly disappointing 8-5 Sooner team but there's good reason to believe he can be the leader of the bounce-back year.
Incoming: Garrett Gilbert
We'll never know what might have happened in last year's championship game against Alabama had McCoy not been injured in the opening minutes, but the saving grace for Longhorns fans was watching Texas' next quarterback grow up on national television. Gilbert, a freshman, went from tripping over his shoe laces to almost leading Texas to one of the most improbable comebacks in college football history. With the 6-foot-4 Gilbert more of a true pocket passer, Texas has junked the spread offense it ran with Vince Young and McCoy for a more conventional attack.
Also of note: Oregon would have been a strong preseason contender for the national title had Masoli's departure for off-field problems not left the Ducks hoping two quarterbacks, Nate Costa and Darron Thomas, can keep the spread offense flowing. And while Jimmy Clausen left a mediocre win-loss record at Notre Dame, he was a prolific passer and point producer and leaves the Irish praying that Crist can get the ball to star receiver Michael Floyd.