For many of the notable college football players who faced their darkest times in 2016, the dawn is fast approaching.
As with death and taxes, injuries are a certainty in football, and sometimes it's the nation's best that suffer. But that doesn't cancel out the possibility of a big return.
Here are five players poised to have big bounce-back campaigns and raise their teams' stocks in 2017:
Josh Rosen - QB, UCLA
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Josh Rosen was considered a Heisman-caliber talent prior to going down halfway through last season with a shoulder injury, and he deserves that consideration again with a clean bill of health.
UCLA was competitive in every game prior to Rosen's injury, and the junior should have the motivation to prove he can bring his team back to that level yet again after the Bruins finished 2016 on a 1-5 slide without him.
Derwin James - S, Florida State
Many experts have Derwin James pegged as a top-five player in the nation, and that's after almost his entire 2016 season was lost to injury.
Florida State is poised to be a significant national championship threat this season, and James' return will add another layer to that narrative. James is a difference-maker, plain and simple, and, aside from further injury, there's no reason why he won't be able to build off his impressive freshman season and terrorize opposing quarterbacks week in and week out.
Royce Freeman - RB, Oregon
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Royce Freeman's regression could be considered the biggest of last season for a player who didn't miss more than a single game, but a number of factors should have him primed for an emphatic return to the national spotlight.
Oregon is flush with change after Willie Taggart was hired as head coach, and Freeman will likely see a lot of touches early to complement sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert. Southern Utah, Nebraska, and Wyoming don't exactly have stingy defensive units, so Freeman should have the opportunity he needs to elevate his game yet again in the Ducks' first three matchups heading into conference play.
Darren Carrington II - WR, Utah
Utah's newest wide receiver may not be trying to recover from a subpar season by most people's standards, but Darren Carrington II is most certainly looking to make a comeback from some off-field issues.
The former Oregon wideout was suspended and dismissed by new Ducks head coach Willie Taggart on July 14 following his arrest for DUII, and the Utes saw fit to grant him a second chance as a graduate transfer. Carrington will be one of the primary options with his new program, and could be leaned on heavily in his last season as a college football player.
Chris Warren III - RB, Texas
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Warren showed great promise before a season-ending knee injury in Week 4, rushing for 106 yards in the first half alone against Oklahoma State. A concussion in practice this offseason wasn't enough to sideline him, as he made his return to full participation just a few days later. Now, he's expected to lead the run game under new head coach Tom Herman.
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