Fall camp storylines for top college football prospects

Fall camps around college football open on Aug. 1, and by Aug. 8 every fall camp will be underway. With roughly four weeks to prepare for the start of the season, a lot of question marks will need relatively quick answers. College Football 24/7 takes a look at nine fall camp storylines involving some of the top pro prospects in the country. It's important to note that not all of the prospects will be available in the 2017 NFL Draft.

1. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh

Who could ask for a more inspiring comeback story than that of Pitt's star running back, who overcame Hodgkin lymphoma to set up a triumphant return to the Panthers backfield this fall? After missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury, Conner received his cancer diagnosis in December. Eight months later, he'll look to regain the form that made him the 2014 ACC Player of the Year. He'll be monitored in fall camp with a GPS device to make sure he's pacing his return well, but coach Pat Narduzzi said Conner is otherwise ready to go.

2. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The UCLA quarterback has a big preseason task in building game-ready chemistry with a new set of receiving weapons. The skill talent around him was gutted by the loss of star rusher Paul Perkins and four of his top five receiving targets. Wide receiver Darren Andrews will need to provide veteran leadership. Beyond that, there is little experience but one encouraging sign: Coach Jim Mora has suggested wide receiver Kenneth Walker could be one of the biggest surprises in the college game. Rosen could certainly use it.

3. Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan

Peppers will transition to yet another role for the Wolverines, moving to an outside linebacker position so that he can be more active against the run. New Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown is notorious for aggressive blitzing, so you can bet he'll have fun in fall camp creating ways to get Peppers a clear path to opposing quarterbacks. Although spring practice gave Peppers a taste of the move, he'll have to sharpen up on the adjustment in fall camp. If Jim Harbaugh is as secretive about preseason practice this year as he was last year, it could be Week 1 when Peppers takes the field against Hawaii before anyone can be sure how well the transition went.

4. Tim Williams, LB, Alabama

The star pass rusher came back for his senior year to prove he can be more than just a third-down substitution player. Word is he's added significant size in the offseason to help him hold his own on the early downs against the run. Fall camp will determine whether he'll maintain his more familiar role as a sub-package player, or emerge as more of an every-down player this fall. If the latter scenario unfolds, scouts will view him in completely different terms as a prospect.

5. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

The good news is that Chubb -- coming off a knee injury that included torn ligaments -- will be ready for fall practice. New coach Kirby Smart has said Chubb initially won't be subjected to live tackling, which opens questions about whether he'll be involved in preseason scrimmages. Few players in the college game returning from injuries will be watched as closely for progress in fall camp as the Bulldogs' star junior.

6. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (Fla.)

The Hurricanes junior is experienced, but fall camp will still be something new for him. That's because the pro-style offense new coach Mark Richt is installing will bring with it some growing pains for Kaaya, something he acknowledged at the ACC Football Kickoff last week. A quality running game was always a staple of Richt's offenses at Georgia, and always a big help to his quarterbacks. UM ran the ball for a paltry 118 yards per game last year (117th in FBS). For Kaaya's sake, that needs to be turned around in camp, as well.

7. O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

If this is finally the year Alabama makes Howard a featured element in its offense, camp is where the transformation must begin. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's history is to feed his best receiver as much as possible (see Marqise Lee at USC, Amari Cooper at Alabama, etc.), and that won't change in Calvin Ridley's sophomore year. Still, Howard's MVP performance against Clemson in the national title game beckons for more attention in the Tide's 2016 passing attack. It likely won't happen without a directive in camp.

8. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The best thing that could happen to Fournette in fall camp would be for the LSU passing attack to make some big strides. Defenses, as they did a year ago, are going to stack the box to stop Fournette this fall. It will be up to quarterback Brandon Harris to make them pay much more of a price for that this year. And Fournette would greatly benefit if he can. Beyond Harris' development, LSU is replacing a pair of outstanding offensive tackles in Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander. With defenses daring LSU to pass, Fournette will need capable offensive line replacements to develop in the preseason.

9. J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State

A year after finding himself embroiled in the hottest quarterback controversy in college football, Barrett enters camp as the Buckeyes' undisputed answer at the position. But even without Cardale Jones around to compete for a job with, the challenges for Barrett are everywhere. A new receiving corps and a new left tackle to protect his blind side, to name two. All the new faces around Barrett create a situation not unlike the aforementioned Josh Rosen faces at UCLA.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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