It’s that time of the year again: The takes are hot, the shade is cold, and flags are being planted.
At the heart of most debates, prospect-wise, is plenty of talk about “metrics” such as speed, strength, height, and weight. All are important pieces to the complete profile of a player. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most athletic players in college.
Although athletic testing is only one small part of the puzzle, it’s never a bad idea to bet on elite athleticism in your devy leagues.
Wide Reciever (Georgia)
Class of 2020 (6-0, 185)
Smith might be college football’s fastest player, and that’s not an exaggeration. Although he has yet to log a verified 40-yard Dash time, the 6-0, 185-pound receiver has showcased his blazing speed every step of the way. Smith is currently part of a foursome that holds the U-20 world record in the 4x100m relay. He won a state title in the 200m sprint and finished first in the 100m at the 2019 Nike Elite Prefontaine Classic.
Need more proof?
How about his blazing, 10.38-second 100m dash time? For context, ex-Georgia and current Kansas City Chiefs reciever Mecole Hardman, who is similar from a build standpoint, ran a 10.68-second 100m dash in high school. He later ran a laser-timed 4.33 40-yard Dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Arian was also rated as ESPN’s No. 1 overall athlete (ATH) for the 2020 cycle, spending time at quarterback, defensive back, wideout and running back in his senior season.
Chris Tyree, who ran a laser-timed 4.38 40-yard Dash, ended up in the final race against Smith at the annual Under Armour All-American game’s “fastest man competition.” Arian won.
All of this leads me to one conclusion: Smith is fast. Like, 4.3–something fast. Arian came into Athens on the raw side, and a preseason injury led him to make only two appearances in the final four games. But with this type of speed, Smith should see the field early and often in his career.
Wide Receiver (Tennessee)
Class of 2020 (6-4, 200)
From the football field to running track to winning dunk competitions, Malachi Wideman’s athleticism left an impression everywhere he went in 2019.
As if standing at an intimidating 6-4, 200-pounds wasn’t enough, the four-star wideout and 247sports’ No. 20 overall receiever in the 2020 recruiting class took home the 2019 City of Palms Dunk Contest championship, scoring a perfect 60/60 on his attempt. His effortless leaping ability has become somewhat of a trademark, and even earned praise from NBA stars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. All of this might lead you to believe his future was in basketball, until you see how it translated to the gridiron.
Wideman became the focal point of the offense in his senior year of high school. Opposing teams would often attempt to double and triple team him, only to watch him outrun, outjump, and embarrass defenders on his way to putting up over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Recruitment interest grew for the 2020 Sports Illustrated All-American, as did his love for the pigskin, ending in a commitment to play football at Tennessee.
Unfortunately, Wideman doesn’t have many verified metrics, but it’s not hard to draw our own conclussions here, either. He is said to be able to run a 4.50 40-yard Dash and jump over 40 inches. In a strange, pandemic-filled year, Wideman wasn’t able to make much of a freshman year impact with only one reception for 24 yards, but he drew strong reviews in camp – including a four-touchdown scrimmage performance – and should battle his way into a starting wide receiver for the Volunteers.
DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum
Running Back (Arizona State)
Class of 2020 (5-11, 230)
While he may not run the fastest or jump the highest, DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum is among the smartest and most versatile running backs in college. Rocked up at a solid 5-11, 230-pounds, Trayanum displays solid overall athleticism at his size. He finished with the highest SPARQ score of any athlete (ATH) in the 2020 recruiting class, seamlessly transitioning to play both sides of the ball in high school.
Trayanum ran for 1,313 yards and 26 touchdowns on 106 carries in his junior year. On top of that, he was selected as a Division II First-Team All-American at running back and linebacker. He finished with 60 tackles, 10 pass breakups, eight sacks, and five forced fumbles. In the state championship, he switched to corner mid-game and was asked to cover the opposing team’s best wideout. He locked up his man, helping lead his team to its third title in four years.
With Trayanum adamant about playing running back, an Eno Benjamin-less Arizona State presented an early opportunity. Although they only played four games, he racked up almost 300 yards at a 5.9 per carry average in his first year, including four touchdowns. He enters 2021 with a strong chance to start for the Sun Devils.
Running Back (Texas Christian)
Class of 2020 (5-11, 195)
Although Zach Evans had a bit of an up-and-down recruitment period, it wasn’t due to his elite athleticism. The five-star running back stands at 5-11, 200 pounds and can make you miss inside of a phone booth.
At a regional event called “The Opening,” Evans ran a 4.51 40-yard Dash and registered a 37-inch vertical jump. Pretty impressive numbers for a running back coming out of high school, but it was the 3.84-second 20-yard shuttle time he ran that was elite. To put that kind of time into context, no running back has hit that mark at the NFL Scouting Combine. In fact, if his numbers were to carry over, it would be the fourth-fastest shuttle time at the Combine since they started keeping record in 2006.
Even if Evans may not care for the sport of football, it seems to come naturally to him. He finished with 416 yards in a shortened nine-game freshman season for the Horned Frogs. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry and eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice, all while barely receiving eight touches a game. With a starting job in sight and a rocky recruitment in the rearview mirror, Evans is ready to fly up devy boards with another strong season.
Tight End (California, Los Angeles)
Class of 2019 (6-5, 268)
When describing Mike Martinez to others, using the word “big” doesn’t do him justice. Standing at 6-6, 262-pounds, the UCLA tight end hopes to be next in a long line of productive tight ends for Chip Kelly. And boy, does he have tools to play with.
Martinez may not be the fastest tight end to ever grace the field, but he might be one the biggest. Reports of his official wingspan imply a mark upwards of 86-inches. He has to wear a pair of 4XL football gloves in order to cover his MASSIVE 12.5-inch hands. Even with limited production, Martinez made enough of an impression on The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman to list him on his annual top-50 college “Freaks” list.
“(His) freakiest attribute: Everything from his fingertips to shoulders.” Feldman wrote, “Martinez’s arms are so long that it seems like he could tie his shoes while standing up. The 6’6, 262-pound sophomore’s actual arm length is 36 inches, and his wingspan is 86 inches.”
Although pure speed will never be his game (he did run a 5.0 40-yard Dash out of high school), his verified 4.54-second 20-yard shuttle exhibits quickness for his size. With only six catches, 70 yards, and one touchdown through two seasons, he hasn’t been able to make a huge impact at the college level yet, spending most of his time as a blocking tight end and buried on the depth chart, but his size and skillset should raise some eyebrows.