College football’s top 100 players of 2022

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The 2022 college football season was a beautiful mix of knowns and unknowns. Georgia and Ohio State made the College Football Playoff for the third and fifth times, respectively, and Michigan made it for the second straight year. Known playmakers like C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Anderson Jr. and Bijan Robinson looked the part frequently. What we thought we’d get, we got.

We also got TCU in the national title game. Max Duggan starting the year on the bench, then finishing second in the Heisman. Jalin Hyatt playing like the best receiver in college football for weeks at a time. Purdue reaching the Big Ten Championship!

After this year of plot twists and delights, it is once again time to rank players. We have followed the same process we follow in the preseason. — Bill Connelly

Methodology: Voters were presented with a series of one-on-one votes. For example, “Who was better in 2022: Jalin Hyatt or Caleb Williams?” Think of it as an Oklahoma Drill of statistical reasoning. More than 10,000 votes later, these were the results.

Check out how these rankings compare to our preseason list.

Jump to: 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50
51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100

QB, USC, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 52 TDs (42 pass, 10 rush), 4,537 yards
Preseason ranking: 10

The face of USC’s resurgence, Williams won the Heisman Trophy after throwing for 4,075 yards with 37 touchdowns to just four interceptions in the regular season after transferring from Oklahoma. A dual-threat quarterback, Williams added 372 yards rushing, including 10 touchdowns as USC reached the Pac-12 title game and rose as high as No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings. With another year before he can declare for the NFL draft, Williams’ brilliant sophomore season, which ended with a five-touchdown performance in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, could end up as a precursor to the Trojans legitimately contending for the national title next season.


DT, Georgia, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 3 sacks, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: 6

He’s the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the country, a 300-pound force who earned first-team AP All-America honors. Carter ranks second on the team with 29 quarterback hurries to go along with three sacks, seven tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He had two forced fumbles and a sack in Georgia’s signature regular-season win over then-No. 1 Tennessee. Carter is projected as a top-3 pick in the 2023 NFL draft.


QB, Ohio State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 41 TDs, 3,688 yards
Preseason ranking: 3

For the second straight year, Stroud was a Heisman Trophy finalist and the winner of the Big Ten’s Graham-George Offensive Player of the Year, helping his team average 492.7 yards and 44.5 points a game and reach the College Football Playoff. He threw for 3,688 yards with 41 touchdowns and six interceptions. Stroud tossed at least four touchdowns in six games in 2022, highlighted by a six-touchdown effort in a 49-20 victory at Michigan State on Oct. 8. He’s No. 7 overall on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board.


QB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 32 TDs, 3,328 yards
Preseason ranking: 2

Winning back-to-back Heisman Trophies wasn’t in the cards. Not when the offense took such a big step back at receiver after losing Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. And not when Young injured his shoulder, missing one game and feeling its effects long after. But the junior impressed in other ways, putting a less talented team on his shoulders to the tune of 3,328 yards and 32 passing touchdowns, and 185 yards and four touchdowns rushing.


RB, Texas, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,580 yards, 20 total TDs
Preseason ranking: 5

Robinson became the first Texas player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Vince Young in 2004-2005, and won the Doak Walker award this year as the best running back in college football. He led the nation in combined rushing and receiving yards with 1,894 (1,580 rushing, 314 receiving), was second with 20 total touchdowns and led the Big 12 with 131.7 rushing yards and 157.83 all-purpose yards per game.


WR, Tennessee, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,267 yards, 15 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

The junior from Irmo, South Carolina, wasn’t on a lot of peoples’ radars at the start of the season. A year ago, he started only one game and caught 21 passes. But he wasted no time making his presence felt this year, taking Tennessee’s first offensive play of the season 23 yards for a touchdown. He ended up leading the SEC in receiving yards (1,267) and broke the school record for single-season touchdown receptions (15).


QB, TCU, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 32 TDs, 3,546 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

Duggan became a cult hero in 2022 as TCU became a team of destiny, winning five games when they trailed by double digits in the second half. After starting the season as a backup, Duggan led the Big 12 in passing yards (3,321) and passing TDs (30) for the regular season, and earned a trip to New York, where he was runner-up for the Heisman behind Caleb Williams.


OLB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 10 sacks, 51 pressures
Preseason ranking: 1

Alabama has produced a lot of All-Americans through the years, but Anderson is the first two-time unanimous All-American for a reason. After getting snubbed by Heisman voters last season, he came back and led the SEC in sacks (10) and tackles for loss (19.5), and he led the country in pressures (51).


WR, Ohio State, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,263 yards, 14 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Harrison, a unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist, won the Big Ten’s Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year after sustaining his momentum from Ohio State’s win over Utah in the 2022 Rose Bowl Game. Harrison picked up the slack for Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was limited to three games due to injury, with 77 receptions for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. Harrison recorded six 100-yard games, paced by 185 yards in a 44-31 victory at Penn State on Oct. 29.


RB, Michigan, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 18 TDs, 1,463 rush yards
Preseason ranking: 79

Corum, a unanimous All-American, first-team All-Big Ten and the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football winner, won the Big Ten’s Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year. Corum spearheaded a Michigan running game that averaged 238.9 yards, which was fifth in the FBS, and his career-high 243 yards in a 34-27 win over Maryland on Sept. 24 began a stretch of eight consecutive 100-yard games. His 1,463 rushing yards were third in the Big Ten while his 18 touchdowns were second in the league to Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim.


TE, Notre Dame, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 809 yards, 9 TDs
Preseason ranking: 16

There is no disputing how good Mayer has been for the Irish. Just look on the program’s website, which called him “The Best tight end in Notre Dame History.” Mayer is exactly what you want in a tight end: a ferocious blocker who presents a huge matchup advantage for the Irish because he is an elite pass-catcher. Mayer led all FBS tight ends in touchdown receptions in 2022 with nine, leading his team with 67 receptions for 809 yards. He has caught at least one pass in all 36 games in which he has played.


QB, Tennessee, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 3,135 yards, 27 TDs, 89.4 Total QBR
Preseason ranking: 49

Before a late-season injury sidelined him, Hooker was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy after a magical season in which he completed 70% of his throws, tossed 27 touchdowns and threw just two picks, knocking off LSU and Alabama in the process. Hooker’s Total QBR of 89.4 was second nationally during the regular season.

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Hendon Hooker throws 45 yards to Jalin Hyatt to put Tennessee up 20-0 over LSU.


OT, Northwestern, Junior
Notable 2022 stat: 9 pressures on 457 pass-blocking snaps
Preseason ranking: 46

Skoronski sits at sixth overall on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board and is the top offensive tackle available. The Wildcats’ left tackle was a unanimous All-American, first-team All-Big Ten and won the conference’s Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year. The Northwestern offense averaged 125.1 rushing yards a game.


TE, Georgia, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 790 rec yards, 9 total TDs
Preseason ranking: 8

An impossible matchup for opposing defenses, Bowers earned the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end. He’s Georgia’s leading wide receiver for the second straight year, collecting 56 receptions for 790 yards and six touchdowns. Bowers earned AP All-America honors for the second straight season and has four or more receptions in nine games.


CB, Utah, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 6 INT, 6 PD, 1 sack
Preseason ranking: NR

A unanimous All-American, Phillips III ranked tied for third in the country (first among Power 5 players) with six interceptions — half of which came against Oregon State in one of the best defensive performances in college football this season. Phillips III was the AP Defensive Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. He is ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s No. 6-ranked draft-eligible cornerback.


OT, Ohio State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: allowed 2 sacks and 10 pressures
Preseason ranking: 36

Johnson, a consensus first-team All-American, Lombardi Award finalist and Outland Trophy semifinalist, earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this season as he moved back to left tackle. He helped the Ohio State offense average 492.7 total yards and 44.5 points a game. The Buckeyes churned out 198.5 rushing yards — third in the Big Ten — as Miyan Williams ran for 817 yards and 13 touchdowns (third in Big Ten). He’s 14th overall on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board.


QB, Washington, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 31 TDs, 4,641 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

Penix Jr. transferred from Indiana to reunite with former offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, and the result was one of the best seasons by a Pac-12 quarterback since the conference expanded in 2011. A year after the Huskies won just four games, they finished 11-2 — capped by a win against Texas in the Alamo Bowl — as Penix Jr. threw for 4,641 yards with 31 touchdown passes. Despite the standout season, he will return to Seattle to run it back in 2023.


QB, North Carolina, Freshman
Notable 2022 stats: 38 TDs, 4,321 passing yards
Preseason ranking: NR

Nobody had any idea what to expect out of Maye when he won the starting job during preseason camp. Then he threw for five touchdowns in his college debut and took off from there in a truly outstanding season for the redshirt freshman. Maye won ACC Player of the Year honors after going 324-for-482 with 4,115 yards, 35 TDs and seven INTs in the regular season. By early November, he was in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy. While he did not make it to New York this year, expect him to be a popular preseason pick for 2023.


OL, Notre Dame, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1 sack allowed, 3 pressures allowed
Preseason ranking: NR

Alt was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded offensive tackle during the regular season, when he allowed just five pressures and no sacks. He was the veteran anchor on one of the nation’s top O-lines, which allowed just 19 sacks all year.


RB, Kansas State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,558 yards, 9 TDs
Preseason ranking: 12

The 5-foot-6, 176-pound Vaughn plays big, and his dependability and versatility powered Kansas State to a Big 12 championship, including rushing for 130 yards in the title game win over TCU. Vaughn, a consensus two-time All-American, ran for 1,558 yards yards and nine touchdowns this season while catching 42 passes for 378 yards.

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Deuce Vaughn breaks free and outruns the Crimson Tide’s defense for an electric 88-yard touchdown run.


DL, Pitt, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 7 sacks, 14.5 TFL
Preseason ranking: NR

Kancey emerged as an unstoppable force in the middle of the stout Pitt defensive line, earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year and unanimous All-America honors. He is the first Pitt player to become a unanimous All-American since Aaron Donald in 2013. Coach Pat Narduzzi has had nothing but praise for Kancey, saying, “He’s athletic, he knows how to wrestle inside. He’s the best D-Tackle I’ve ever coached.” In 11 games played, Kancey led the nation’s interior defenders with 14.5 tackles for loss.


TE, Utah, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 8 TDs, 890 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

After Brant Kuithe‘s season-ending injury, Kincaid quickly emerged as one of the best tight ends in the country, leading FBS tight ends in receiving yards (890). He also led the Utes in receptions (70) and receiving touchdowns (8) as they reached the Rose Bowl for the second straight season.


OL, Florida, Junior
Notable 2022 stat: Pro Football Focus 91.7 run block grade
Preseason ranking: 97

Billy Napier’s first season as head coach at Florida was rocky. But no one is questioning his decision to bring Torrence with him from Louisiana during the offseason. The junior wound up anchoring a better-than-expected offensive line and played his way into being a high-level NFL draft pick.


RB, Illinois, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,643 yards, 10 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Brown, Illinois’ first Doak Walker Award finalist, had a fantastic season for the Fighting Illini. He rushed for 1,643 yards, finishing the regular season third in the FBS and first in the Power 5, and 10 touchdowns. He earned second-team All-Big Ten recognition. He set an Illinois single-season record with 11 100-yard games this year and his season high (199 yards) came in a 23-20 loss at Indiana on Sept. 2.


C, Minnesota, Senior
Notable 2022 stat: PFF 92.6 run block grade
Preseason ranking: 73

Michael Schmitz was a constant presence in the middle of Minnesota’s offensive line. The Golden Gophers’ center was an AP first-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten selection as the team averaged 218.4 rushing yards a game, which was second in the Big Ten. Spurred by Schmitz and the rest of the offensive line, Mohamed Ibrahim was second in the Big Ten in rushing (1,594 yards) and led the conference with 19 touchdowns.


OL, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2022 stat: didn’t allow a sack
Preseason ranking: NR

Oluwatimi’s transition from Virginia to Michigan was seamless this season as the graduate transfer center served as the linchpin for the Wolverines’ strong offensive line. Oluwatimi won both the Rimington Trophy (third in Michigan history) and Outland Trophy (first in Michigan history) this season as Jim Harbaugh’s team averaged 243 rushing yards a game — fifth in the FBS.


WR, Purdue, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,361 yards, 12 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Jones left Iowa to come to Purdue and made a significant impact inside former coach Jeff Brohm’s offense. Jones, a first-team All-Big Ten selection, caught 110 passes for 1,361 yards and 12 touchdowns this season for the Boilermakers, garnering him the equivalent of the Big Ten’s receiving Triple Crown. His 110 receptions were tops in the FBS and his 1,361 receiving yards were second only to Houston’s Nathaniel Dell.


RB, Texas A&M, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,102 yards, 8 TDs
Preseason ranking: 58

The Aggies might have floundered in 2022, but it was no fault of Achane. The speedy junior from Missouri City, Texas, not only eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark, he also caught 36 passes for 196 yards. And he returned 11 kickoffs for 312 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown. His 161.0 all-purpose yards per game were the most in the SEC and the third-most nationally.


QB, Florida State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 32 total TDs (24 pass, 7 rush, 1 rec)
Preseason ranking: NR

In his first year as the full-time starting quarterback, Travis showed he is more than just a runner, becoming the fourth player in school history to gain 3,000 total yards and 32 total touchdowns in a season. He finished as a second-team All-ACC performer and proved time and again he has the ability to win games with both his arm and his legs. Against Florida, he became the second player in school history to score a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown.


CB, Penn State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 26 tackles, 11 pass breakups
Preseason ranking: 75

Porter was a first-team All-Big Ten honoree this season for Penn State. Porter, the 17th-best prospect on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board, recorded 26 tackles (21 solo) in 10 games for the Nittany Lions. He broke up 11 passes, including a season-high six in a 35-31 win at Purdue on Sept. 1. The six passes defended against the Boilermakers were tied for the second-most in a FBS game this season.


OL, Georgia, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: didn’t allow a sack
Preseason ranking: NR

After emerging as Georgia’s starting left tackle late last season, Jones was a mainstay through the 2022 campaign. He protected quarterback Stetson Bennett’s blind side, helping Georgia rank No. 4 nationally in fewest sacks allowed. The 6-4, 310-pound Jones earned first-team All-SEC honors. ESPN rates him as the No. 3 draft-eligible offensive tackle.


WR, Ohio State, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,151 yards, 10 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Egbuka was a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, awarded to the country’s most versatile player, and garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors for Ohio State. He caught 74 passes for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns. Egbuka recorded six 100-yard receiving games this season for the Buckeyes, including three straight 100-yard games from Sept. 10-24. His season-high of 143 yards came in a 49-20 win at Michigan State on Oct. 8.


DE, Clemson, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 6.5 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 18

Murphy quietly racked up 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss on the Clemson defense in 2022, but opposing coaches were quick to insist there was nothing quiet about his game. A likely first-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Murphy racked up double-digit TFLs in each of his three seasons with the Tigers.


QB, Georgia, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 3,823 yards, 23 TDs
Preseason ranking: 44

He cemented an already remarkable legacy by guiding the defending champions to the SEC championship and back to the national title game. Bennett’s passing numbers improved in his second season as Georgia’s starter, as he completed more than 68% of his passes for 3,823 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist and earned the Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s top player who began his career as a walk-on.


DE, Notre Dame, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 11 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 31

Foskey was the best player on the Irish defense all season, earning Consensus All-America honors. He had 11 sacks (tied for fourth nationally), and broke the Notre Dame career sack record (26.5). In addition, Foskey led the Irish with 14 tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries. He played two of his best games against North Carolina (5 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and USC (5 tackles, 1.5 sacks).


DB, Illinois, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 3 INT, 14 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

Witherspoon became the first Illini player as a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which is given to the nation’s best defensive back. He also became the first Illini defensive back named a consensus All-American in program history. This past season, Witherspoon had 42 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups in a very good Illinois defense.


RB, Pitt, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,431 yards, 20 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Before the season, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi insisted his offense was going to be more run-heavy after losing Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett. He wasn’t lying. Pitt made Abanikanda the centerpiece of its offense, and he delivered huge dividends, leading the nation with 20 rushing touchdowns while racking up nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage.

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Israel Abanikanda rushes in for 11-yard touchdown


LB, Iowa, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 INT
Preseason ranking: 71

Campbell led an excellent Iowa defense in tackles with 118. He had 3.5 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and two interceptions. He has been an integral part of the Hawkeyes defense the past few seasons and was a leader and captain on the team this season. Over his career, he has 295 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions.


DB, Georgia, Freshman
Notable 2022 stats: 2 INT, 7 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

ESPN’s No. 12 overall recruit in the 2022 class lived up to the billing in his freshman year. He led Georgia with seven pass breakups and had two interceptions to go along with 67 tackles, which ranked second on the team. The 6-1, 205-pound Starks was a finalist for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award. He broke up a pass in five straight games and had a season-high 10 tackles in Georgia’s win over Tennessee.


RB, Clemson, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,182 yards, 15 TDs
Preseason ranking: 55

It is no surprise Shipley had a breakout season for the Tigers, becoming the first player in ACC history to earn first-team all-conference honors at three different positions: running back, all-purpose and specialist. Shipley rushed for 1,182 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, while adding 38 catches for 242 yards out of the backfield and 261 yards as a kickoff returner. His hurdle over a Louisville player on the way to a 25-yard touchdown this season was a highlight for the ages.


QB, UCLA, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 39 total TDs (27 pass, 12 rush)
Preseason ranking: NR

Thompson-Robinson’s fifth season in his prolific UCLA career was, by far, his best. He threw for 3,154 yards — the first time he cracked the 3,000-yard mark — with 27 touchdown passes, along with 646 yards and another 12 touchdowns on the ground. He finishes his career with 10,695 yards passing — just 13 yards shy of the school record.


CB, TCU, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 3 INT, 1 FF, 14 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

Hodges-Tomlinson won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back this season and had 40 tackles, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups and forced a fumble. A shutdown corner, he allowed just a 38.9 passer rating in passes thrown in his direction, best in the Big 12, according to Pro Football Focus.


S, Georgia, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 3 INT, 40 solo tackles, 5 PD
Preseason ranking: 62

Along with Jalen Carter, Smith was Georgia’s only other AP first-team All-America selection. A finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award, Smith leads Georgia with three interceptions and ranks fourth in tackles with 58. He has started every game for the Bulldogs and helped the defense sustain its trajectory despite losing five first-round draft picks from the 2021 team. Smith shined in the SEC championship game win over LSU, returning a blocked field goal 96 yards for a touchdown, recording an interception and deflecting a pass that resulted in another interception.


WR, USC, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 8 TDs, 875 yards
Preseason ranking: 9

After winning the Biletnikoff Award at Pitt, Addison transferred to USC and was named first-team All-Pac-12 despite being slowed by injuries. Six of his eight touchdown receptions came in the first four games of the season, but his best performance of the year came in a pivotal, 48-45, win against rival UCLA, when he caught 11 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown.


WR, TCU, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 6 TDs, 1,066 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

The 6-4, 215-pound Johnston was a big target for TCU QB Max Duggan and had career highs with 53 catches for 903 yards while adding five touchdown catches. A big-play threat, he had a catch of at least 30 yards in each of the season’s final seven games, including four games with one 50 yards or more despite dealing with a nagging ankle injury.

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TCU QB Max Duggan passes to Quentin Johnston, who stutter-steps by a defender and speeds 76 yards to the house.


QB, Oregon, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 29 pass TDs, 14 rush TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Nix was a revelation in Eugene, where after three seasons at Auburn he blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He led all quarterbacks with 14 rushing touchdowns, ranked No. 2 in raw QBR (86.1), No. 12 in passing yards (3,594) and was sacked just five times. Oregon figures to be a preseason top-10 team in 2023 with Nix opting to return for another season


DL, USC, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 13.5 sacks, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

Tuipulotu was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year after leading the nation with 13.5 sacks during the regular season. His 21 tackles for loss ranked No. 2 nationally and contributed to him being named a finalist for several national awards. Tuipulotu is the No. 4-ranked draft-eligible defensive tackle according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.


RB, Minnesota, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 20 TDs, 1,665 yards
Preseason ranking: 28

Ibrahim became Minnesota’s all-time leading rusher against Syracuse in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl with 4,668 yards over his career. Ibrahim passed Darrell Thompson, who had 4,654 yards, and Ibrahim also broke Minnesota’s single season rushing record, which was held by David Cobb, who had 1,626 yards in a season. He has been a playmaker for the Minnesota offense and a little underrated nationally for the career he has had.


G, USC, Senior
Notable 2022 stat: allowed 1 sack on more than 400 pass block attempts
Preseason ranking: 81

A first-team All-Pac-12 selection in his fifth season starting for the Trojans, Vorhees played a major role in USC’s return to prominence (and his absence was greatly felt in the loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game). He finishes his career having suited up 56 times for USC.


RB, Ole Miss, Freshman
Notable 2022 stats: 16 TDs, 1,567 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

TCU transfer Zach Evans was supposed to be Ole Miss’ feature back on paper. But Judkins, the freshman from Alabama, had other plans. He rushed for the sixth-most yards in the FBS (1,567). But what was truly impressive was the way he ran. He was one of the most physical backs in the country, averaging 3.26 yards after contact and breaking an SEC-best 38 tackles.


RB, UCLA, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 14 TDs, 1,359 yards
Preseason ranking: 67

Charbonnet was named first-team All-Pac-12 after leading the conference with 1,359 yards rushing. It marked the second straight season he cracked the 1,000-yard mark for the Bruins as they won nine games for the first time since 2014 and briefly appeared in the AP top 10.


WR, North Carolina, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 11 TDs, 1,029 yards
Preseason ranking: 26

Downs missed two of North Carolina’s first three games and skipped the bowl, yet he still posted his second-straight 1,000-yard season and did so in emphatic fashion. Downs had six 100-yard games, scored 11 times and led the country with 76 catches from the slot.


QB, Utah, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 26 TDs, 3,034 yards
Preseason ranking: 48

Rising will go down as an all-time great Ute after guiding Utah to back-to-back Rose Bowls. He was at his best in a pair of wins against USC — including a rout in the Pac-12 title game — throwing for 725 yards with five touchdowns in those games with three rushing touchdowns. After being named first-team All-Pac-12 last season, he was an honorable mention choice in 2022.


LB, LSU, Freshman
Notable 2022 stats: 8.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

No defensive player in the country had quite the coming out party that Perkins threw for himself late in the season. The freshman outside linebacker took his game to another level during the second half of the schedule, notching eight tackles for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles over the Tigers’ final five regular-season games.


LB, Cincinnati, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 23.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

The Miami (Ohio) transfer immediately became an anchor for the Bearcats’ defense — and one of the best players in college football — in 2022. He ranks sixth nationally with 136 tackles, first with 28 run stops, second with 23.5 tackles for loss and 10th with 10 sacks. He was a one-man havoc machine for a defense that allowed just 4.6 yards per play, seventh in the country.


DL, Florida State, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 9 sacks, 22 solo tackles
Preseason ranking: NR

In just one year as an FBS player, Verse has lived up to the advance hype, emerging as an All-ACC first-team defensive end after leading Florida State 9 sacks — despite missing time with a leg injury during the season. When Verse decided to transfer to the Seminoles after beginning his career at Albany, his new coaches not only saw an athletic, physical pass rusher, they saw a player determined to put in the hard work to become elite. Verse called his decision to come to Florida State the best one he has ever made. That decision not only paid off for him, it paid off for the Seminoles, too.


QB, UTSA, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 32 TDs, 4,059 yards
Preseason ranking: NR

Harris will return for one more season after leading his Roadrunners to an 11-win season and a second straight Conference USA title. He ranked 18th in Total QBR — best among QBs from a Group of Five conference — by combining 4,059 passing yards with 600 rushing yards. He completed 70% of his passes with 32 touchdowns to nine interceptions, and he’s now thrown for at least 300 yards 10 times in his career and rushed for at least 100 yards four times.


OLB, LSU, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 5 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 43

Ojulari emerged as LSU’s top veteran defensive playmaker this season. He tied for the team lead with 13 quarterback hurries and finished second in both sacks (five) and tackles for loss (8.5). He earned first-team All-SEC honors while wearing LSU’s famed No. 18 jersey, consistently contributing on the edge for defensive coordinator Matt House. Ojulari recorded 16 sacks in his three seasons at LSU.


QB, Wake Forest, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 38 TDs, 3,701 yards
Preseason ranking: 21

After throwing for 280 yards and three touchdowns in a bowl win over Missouri, Hartman ended his Wake Forest career as the ACC’s all-time leader in career touchdown passes. He ranks among the top three in league history in passing yards, total yards and total touchdowns, too. For the season, he threw 38 touchdown passes, making him the only ACC QB ever with back-to-back seasons of at least 38 passing TDs.


LB, Wisconsin, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 15.5 TFL, 11 sacks, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: 92

The Badgers have become known for their defense, and Herbig has been an important playmaker of that defense at linebacker. This season was no different as Herbig had 47 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. He led the team in sacks and also had two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and two pass breakups.


WR, Boston College, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 12 TDs, 1,077 yards
Preseason ranking: 98

In the offseason, Flowers made headlines for turning down offers to transfer elsewhere to stay at Boston College. Though the Eagles did not have a great season, Flowers was outstanding every single week — and made play after play despite the best efforts from opposing defenses. Flowers finished as a first-team All-ACC receiver with 78 catches for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns with five 100-yard receiving games.


DB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 2 INT, 7 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

A second-team AP All-America selection, Branch continued his development as a productive contributor for Alabama. He doubled his tackles for loss total from 2021 to 10, finishing second on the team, and ranked third overall in total stops with 78. His best performance came in a key road win at Ole Miss, as he recorded two tackles for loss and a pass breakup to seal a win. ESPN ranks Branch as the No. 16 overall prospect for the NFL draft.


RB, TCU, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,399 yards, 17 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

The 6-0, 220-pound Miller became the only player in Big 12 history to record a rushing touchdown in 13 different games in a season. His 17 rushing touchdowns in the regular season were fourth-most in a year in TCU history and the most since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2000. He ran for 1,399 yards, averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and his 75-yard TD against Texas in a key game helped keep TCU on the path to the CFP.


DB, Alabama, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1 INT, 15 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

The man with the unforgettable name earned first-team All-SEC honors and All-America recognition at both cornerback and punt returner this season. He averaged 15.8 yards per return, which led the SEC and ranked No. 2 nationally. McKinstry led Alabama with 13 pass breakups and also contributed with an interception, a sack and 29 solo tackles. The true sophomore will enter 2023 as a candidate for national defensive player of the year honors.


LB, Arkansas, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 9.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

The Alabama transfer had a blistering start to the season for Arkansas, recording 7.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles in his first five games as a Hog. Sanders continued to produce and led Arkansas in total tackles (103), sacks (9.5), tackles for loss (13.5) and forced fumbles (3). He became the first Arkansas linebacker to earn first-team AP All-America honors since Ronnie Caveness in 1964.


RB, Ball State, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,556 yards, 14 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Ball State limped to a 5-7 season, but you couldn’t blame the sophomore from Greenwood, Indiana — he did literally everything he could. He led the nation with 1,109 yards after contact on his way to 1,556 total yards (seventh in the FBS), 70 first downs (11th) and 14 touchdowns (16th). He topped 100 yards in nine of his last 11 games and is transferring to UCLA.


WR, Iowa State, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,171 yards, 6 TDs
Preseason ranking: 77

A first-team All-American, the 6-3, 205-pound Hutchinson ranked second nationally with 107 catches, a school record, and his 8.9 catches per game was tops in the FBS. He finished with 1,171 yards and six touchdowns. His 254 catches over three years is also a school record, and the most ever for a Big 12 player in a three-year span.


WR, Wake Forest, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,096 yards, 11 TDs
Preseason ranking: 29

With 1,096 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns, Perry became the first ACC player with multiple seasons of 1,000 yards and 10 TDs since Sammy Watkins in 2011, and he’s just the ninth Power 5 player to do that in back-to-back years in the playoff era.


LB, Texas Tech, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 7 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

A massive outside linebacker (6-6, 275 pounds) from east Texas, Wilson thrived on the other end of the state. He missed the last three games of the season but still finished 16th in total pressures (37) and 25th in tackles for loss (15). He recorded multiple TFLs in five different games. He also sacked the QB seven times and logged 15 run stops.


WR, SMU, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,355 yards, 10 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

A second-team All-American and Biletnikof Award semifinalist, Rice was targeted nearly three times as much as any SMU receiver, and while opponents knew the ball was going to the senior, they couldn’t do much about it. He caught 96 passes (fifth in the nation) for 1,355 yards (third), 54 first downs (sixth) and 10 touchdowns (13th). He topped 100 yards in six games.


LB, Ohio State, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 2.5 sacks, 1 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Eichenberg probably didn’t get the attention nationally that he deserved after this season. The Buckeyes defense is still trying to work things out with a new defensive coordinator, but Eichenberg was a bright spot all season. He led the team with 120 total tackles, almost double the next highest tackler, Steele Chambers, who had 77 tackles. Eichenberg had 2.5 sacks, three pass breakups and five quarterback hurries this season. He was all over the field and seemed to be in on almost every play defensively.


CB, Iowa, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 2 FF, 1 INT
Preseason ranking: 52

Moss has been a big playmaker on Iowa’s defense for the past few seasons and is a leader on the team. He had 46 total tackles this season, one interception and 10 pass breakups with two forced fumbles. Moss was a first-team All-American in 2021 and has 157 total tackles in his career. He has 11 interceptions throughout his time at Iowa along with three defensive touchdowns. He was a ballhawking defensive back that had a knack for always being in position.


RB, Air Force, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,728 yards, 17 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

You expect rushing yards from Air Force, but Roberts’ production was still jaw-dropping: 345 carries (first in the FBS) for 1,728 yards (first), 83 first downs (third) and 17 touchdowns (eighth). He broke 25 tackles (30th), too. Air Force was 0-2 when he didn’t top 100 yards and 10-1 when he did.


WR, Houston, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,398 yards, 17 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

He lined up on the right and left, he lined up in the slot and wide, and his last catch of 2022 was a bowl-winner — a 12-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left in the Independence Bowl. The junior from Daytona Beach, Florida, finished the season with a nation’s-best 1,398 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, helping his Cougars recover from a poor start to finish with eight wins.

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Nathaniel Dell makes impressive 26-yard catch


CB, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1 INT, 10 PD
Preseason ranking: 86

Turner was an All-Big Ten selection this season and won defensive player of the week multiple times for his play in the secondary. Turner had 36 total tackles this season with one interception and 10 pass breakups. He was a leader in the secondary and a part of a Michigan defense that suffocated opponents in the second half all season.


LB, Georgia, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 4 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

The sophomore shined in his first full season as a starter, earning second-team AP All-America honors and forming an elite linebacker tandem with Smael Mondon Jr. Dumas-Johnson ranks third on the team in quarterback hurries with 24. Dumas-Johnson leads Georgia with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. He had a sack in Georgia’s CFP semifinal win over Ohio State.


LB, NC State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 50 solo, 7.5 sacks
Preseason ranking: 82

The leader of one of the best linebacker groups in the country, Thomas played with a grit and toughness that translated to the rest of his teammates. As a second-team All-ACC selection, he led the Wolfpack with 101 tackles, including 14 in a win over Florida State and 10 in a win over rival North Carolina. Against the Tar Heels, he also had two tackles for loss, a sack and four quarterback hurries.


RB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 926 yards, 7 TDs
Preseason ranking: 20

Remove Bryce Young from the equation and for much of the year Gibbs was a one-man show on offense. The former Georgia Tech transfer not only led the team in rushing during the regular season (850 yards), he also had the most receptions (42). All told, he had 10 total touchdowns.


CB, Mississippi State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 6 INT, 11 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

He’s one of the nation’s most electric players with the ball in his hands, which happened a lot during his Mississippi State career. Forbes had three pick-sixes this season to set the FBS career record with six. He finished the regular season with six interceptions this fall, which ranked third nationally, and led the nation with 174 interception return yards. Forbes earned both first- and second-team All-America honors, including second-team from the AP. He finished his three-year college career with 14 interceptions and 34 passes defended.


WR, Arizona, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,034 yards 7 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Cowing arrived at Arizona with high expectations after three brilliant seasons at UTEP, and he lived up to them this season. He led the Pac-12 with 85 receptions, ranked fourth in receiving yards (1,034) and extended his streak with a catch to 44 games. He paired with Dorian Singer to make up one of the most productive duos in the country.


DE, Clemson, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 3.5 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

Henry’s baseline stats didn’t do justice to just how good he was. He finished the regular season with 3.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss, but he also added 13 QB hurries, six pass breakups and 49 tackles, along with the ACC’s second-highest pressure rate (12.5%).


DL, Tennessee, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 7 sacks, 22 solo tackles
Preseason ranking: NR

Young’s story is incredible. After finishing high school, he was working at a Dollar General store in Columbus, Georgia when he saw a flyer for a tryout at Georgia Military College, where he developed into a top-flight pass-rushing prospect. At Tennessee, the 6-3, 245-pound Young was the Vols’ finisher off the edge and led the team in tackles for loss (10), sacks (7) and quarterback hurries (14). Young was tied for sixth in the SEC with 36 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.


RB, Syracuse, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,060 yards, 11 TDs
Preseason ranking: 15

Though Tucker saw a dip in his production, he was still among the best running backs in the ACC this season, rushing for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 254 yards receiving and two more scores. He became the first Syracuse player to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons since Delone Carter (2009-10), and the first player to rush for 1,000 yards and gain 250 yards receiving in consecutive seasons in program history.


RB, Arkansas, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 1,443 yards, 10 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

A true sophomore, the 6-2, 227-pound Sanders emerged this season as one of the most productive and consistent running backs in the country. He was second in the SEC with 1,443 rushing yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry, which ranked third nationally among those players carrying the ball 200 or more times. His nickname is “Rocket,” and he displayed that explosiveness with seven rushing plays of 30 yards or longer. Sanders had seven 100-yard rushing games and also caught 28 passes.


DB, USC, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1 FF, 3 INT, 13 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

After transferring from Colorado, Blackmon made an immediate impact for the Trojans, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a redshirt senior. He led the conference in passes defended (13) and finished tied for fourth with three interceptions.


LB, UCLA, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 10.5 sacks, 3 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

A transfer from Washington, Latu was one of the surprise players in the Pac-12 this season, leading UCLA with 11 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. His 0.79 sacks per game ranked No. 11 nationally and helped land him first-time All-Pac-12 honors.


LB, NC State, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 40 solo, 3 sacks
Preseason ranking: NR

If his teammates in NC State’s linebacking corps — Drake Thomas and Payton Wilson — got more acclaim, no one was more respected within the Wolfpack’s locker room. Moore was the foundation for a defense that didn’t allow more than 30 points all season (something only Georgia and Michigan did, too), while chipping in with 13.5 tackles for loss and six QB hurries.


OL, Tennessee, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: didn’t allow a sack
Preseason ranking: NR

One of the most underrated parts of Tennessee’s record-setting offense was its offensive line, as the Vols led the country in scoring (47.3 points per game). Wright, a 6-6, 335-pound senior, anchored that line from his right tackle position. He was one of just 14 Power Five offensive linemen with more than 825 snaps played this season and no sacks allowed. Going back to his junior season, when he played left tackle, Wright has not allowed a sack in 18 straight games.


DE, Kansas State, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 8.5 sacks, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

The 6-4, 255-pound junior defensive end from Kansas City, Missouri, was named Big 12 defensive player of the year and was the league’s defensive lineman of the year for the second straight season. Anudike-Uzomah is one of the most disruptive edge rushers in the country, leading the Wildcats with 8.5 sacks, often while being the focus of opposing teams’ protection and double teams.


QB, Western Kentucky, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 48 total TDs, 4,744 yards (most in FBS)
Preseason ranking: NR

After winning a Division II national title as a freshman with West Florida in 2019, Reed took his talents to the FBS season and thrived immediately. He won a triple crown of sorts for passers, leading the nation in completions (389), passing yards (4,744) and touchdowns (40), and he recently announced that he’ll return for an encore next fall in Bowling Green.


C, TCU, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: didn’t allow a sack
Preseason ranking: NR

After starting 11 games last year at center, the 6-4, 330-pound fifth-year senior moved to left guard this year and didn’t allow a sack, becoming a consensus All-American in the process. He helped power a TCU offense that led the Big 12 in scoring (40.3 points per game), yards per game (473) and yards per attempt (8.8), while Kendre Miller rushed for more than 1,300 yards with 17 touchdowns.


OL, BYU, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: allowed 1 sack in more than 400 pass block attempts
Preseason ranking: NR

It was an injury-plagued season for the Cougars, but Barrington, a junior left guard from Spokane, Washington, was a constant. He was one of just three players to start in all 13 games, and he allowed only three pass pressures (with one sack), blew three run blocks and committed two total penalties all season. He was a constant for a team that desperately needed one.


S, Miami, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 6 INT, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

Kinchens put together a sensational sophomore season, emerging as one of the best safeties in the entire country. He tied for the national lead with six interceptions, ranking third on the school’s single-season history list. In addition, he led the team with 59 tackles, and had a forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a first-team All-ACC pick. Against Georgia Tech, he had three interceptions, including one he returned 99 yards for a touchdown.


S, Alabama, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 30 solo, 1 INT, 2 PD
Preseason ranking: 23

Battle was one of the more versatile safeties in the country with his ability to cover and make big hits in the running game. The 6-1, 206-pound senior was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide and earned AFCA second-team All-America honors each of the past two seasons. Battle was fourth on Alabama’s team in tackles this season with 71. One of the team leaders, Battle elected to return to school for his senior season and is rated by ESPN’s Todd McShay as the third-best safety prospect for the 2023 NFL draft.


WR, UTSA, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,137 yards yards, 15 TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

“Throw it to Franklin as quickly as possible” was one of UTSA’s base plays this year, and it worked most of the time. Franklin caught 93 passes (seventh in the FBS) for 1,137 yards (11th), 58 first downs (fourth) and 15 touchdowns (second). He did a lot of his damage on horizontal or short passes, providing the sort of risk-free explosiveness that every offensive coordinator dreams of.


WR, Oklahoma, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,083 yards, 6 TDs
Preseason ranking: 64

The All-Big 12 receiver led the Sooners with 54 catches and 1,083 receiving yards, averaging more than 20 yards per reception, with six TDs. He was second in the conference in receiving yards per game (83.8) in the regular season and is always a home-run threat, like in the Sooners’ 51-48 OT loss to Texas Tech in the regular-season finale, where he caught five passes for 162 yards and 2 TDs, including a 77-yarder.


QB, LSU, Junior
Notable 2022 stats: 885 rush yards, 11 rush TDs
Preseason ranking: NR

Daniels made the most of his transfer from Arizona State and had a huge season at LSU, where he was second nationally among quarterbacks with 885 rushing yards. Daniels, a 6-3, 200-pound junior, was the only quarterback nationally to throw for more than 2,900 yards and rush for more than 800 yards. He passed for 17 touchdowns and rushed for 11 touchdowns and routinely turned broken plays into explosive plays. He also improved his accuracy as a passer (68.6%) and threw just three interceptions. That’s after throwing 10 his final season at Arizona State.


OL, Penn State, Sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: didn’t allow 1 sack in 8 games started
Preseason ranking: NR

Despite being a redshirt sophomore this season, Fashanu was an anchor of the Penn State offensive line and a big part of the success on the ground this season for the Nittany Lions when he was on the field. Unfortunately, he dealt with an injury that sidelined him for part of the season. Fashanu started in eight games this season.


LB, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 7 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

Prior to the season, there were questions about where Michigan would get a pass rush after losing Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo to the NFL. Morris answered those questions quickly and became a defensive force up front all season. He led the team with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss with four quarterback hurries in 11 games. Injury kept him out of a few games this season, but he still proved he was one of the best defenders in the Big Ten.


S, Penn State, Senior
Notable 2022 stats: 2 FF, 4 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Brown started 12 games at safety this season for Penn State and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection. He led the team in total tackles with 74 and led the team in interceptions with four. He had three pass breakups, five quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles this season. He did a little bit of everything for the Nittany Lions and was a problem for opposing offenses all season.

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