WE MEET AGAIN…
November has come and gone, and we’re back with Volume 3 of the “Next-up” series, highlighting top freshman performers this year. If you’re in a devy and/or Campus-To-Canton (C2C) type league, these installments are for you. Dynasty players, too, for that matter. It doesn’t hurt to be one, two, or three steps ahead of your league.
QUARTERBACKS, Vol. 1
Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
Rattler’s Sooners have continued their dominance through the month of November. Since the publication of Vol. 2, they are 3-0. The month was highlighted by a 41-13 blowout win over then-14th ranked Oklahoma State. In this game, Rattler completed 17-of-24 passes for 301 yards while adding another 14 yards on the ground. He totaled 5 touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing) and threw zero (0) interceptions. It was an admirable performance for QB1, and he’s having a very good season thus far. Rattler is still easily locked-in as a top-3 QB for me in 2022.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played (started all 9), team record as the starter: 7-2; 178-for-260 (68.5%), 2,512 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions; 67 carries, 103 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns.
Jeff Sims, Georgia Tech
In their last two games, Georgia Tech has had some ups and downs, beating Duke by 23 points and losing to North Carolina State by double-digits. Sims wasn’t bad in either game, but wasn’t a standout, either. Since Vol. 2, his highlight performance was in the big win over Duke, passing for 146 yards, 3 touchdowns (adding 1 interception) on 13-for-23 passing. He added 108 rushing yards on 12 carries. It’s a lost season for the Yellow Jackets, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Sims progresses in the offseason moving into next year.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played (started all 9), team record as the starter: 3-6; 124-for-226 (54.9%), 1,643 passing yards, 11 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions; 110 carries, 478 yards, 5 rushing touchdowns.
Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina
Grayson McCall and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers have put the College Football Playoff Committee on notice, sitting at 10-0 after a 5-point victory over 13th ranked Brigham Young. Despite a quiet performance in this game from McCall (only 85 passing yards, 0 touchdowns), he didn’t throw an interception and added 68 rushing yards. McCall was overshadowed by running back CJ Marable and the Coastal Carolina defense, but he showed he could lead his team to victory over tough opponents. I’m very excited for McCall moving forward – he’s one of my favorite quarterbacks in the 2023 class.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played (started all 9), team record as the starter: 9-0; 127-for-189 (67.2%), 1,832 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 86 carries, 433 yards, 5 rushing touchdowns.
QUARTERBACKS, Vol. 2
DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson
“DJU” is back to the bench after Trevor Lawrence’s return from COVID-19, but he showed major flashes while leading the offense in starts against Boston College and Notre Dame, and in relief against Pittsburgh. Uiagalelei is likely going to be the man next year, unless Lawrence decides to come back, and I’m ecstatic to see what he can do in a full-time role.
SEASON STATS: 8 games played (started 2), team record as the starter: 1-1; 78-for-116 (67.2%), 914 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 28 carries, 60 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns.
Graham Mertz, Wisconsin
Since his amazing debut against Illinois, Mertz has faded a bit:
The Badgers have lost two straight to top-20 opponents and in this two-game stretch, Mertz has thrown 1 passing touchdown and 4 interceptions. I’d really like to see Wisconsin add some weapons in the passing game to surround their young quarterback with options. Their top weapon coming in next year is 3-star wide receiver Markus Allen, but three huge offensive linemen (one 5-star, two 4-star) arriving in Madison after this season should definitely help. I still love Mertz’s talent and, for now, I see these struggles as a “wake-up call” more than anything. Stay the course.
SEASON STATS: 4 games played (started all 4), team record as the starter: 2-2; 75-for-118 (63.6%), 807 passing yards, 8 passing touchdowns, 4 interceptions; 23 carries, 34 rushing yards.
Running Backs, Vol. 1
Seth McGowan, Oklahoma
With the emergence of Rhamondre Stevenson, Seth McGowan’s value in devy has taken a nosedive. He hasn’t played one snap since the Sooners’ November 7th victory over Kansas. Yes, he missed the Baylor game due to COVID-19, but he was active against Oklahoma State and didn’t see the field once. I’m worried about McGowan a bit, especially with Oklahoma in the running for 5-star recruit Camar Wheaton in the incoming class. Either way, McGowan isn’t done for, but I’m definitely concerned.
SEASON STATS: 6 games played; 57 carries, 297 yards rushing, 3 rushing touchdowns; 10 receptions, 131 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown.
Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State
Deuce Vaughn has bounced back in a big way these last two weeks: In losses to Baylor and Texas, he’s totaled 29 carries for 227 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns. As you know by now, Vaughn is a true threat in the receiving game, having added 7 catches for 64 yards and 1 touchdown through the air in this two-game stretch. It’s great to see Kansas State using him more on the ground and I still see Vaughn having a role at the next level. Yes, he’s only 5-5, and maybe not quite 170, but he’s explosive and could fill a position as a third-down back somewhere on Sunday’s.
SEASON STATS: 10 games played; 123 carries, 642 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns; 25 receptions, 434 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns,
Ulysses Bentley IV, Southern Methodist
Ulysses Bentley is still balling out, logging four games of 100-plus rushing yards. In one of those games, he topped 200-yards, and in another he had 104-yards on 6 carries. He recently surpassed the coveted 20 reception total for the season and if SMU plays another game this year, he should go over 1,000 rushing yards as well. Overall, I think Bentley is a nice sleeper in C2C leagues, where you can use his production in college while possibly getting decent usage at the next level as well.
SEASON STATS: 10 games played; 170 carries, 913 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns; 21 receptions, 174 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown.
Running Backs, Vol. 2
Jahmyr Gibbs, Georgia Tech
Despite Georgia Tech’s struggles, Gibbs has continued to produce. In his only game since Vol. 2, he had 10 touches (6 carries, 4 catches) for 139 yards (91 rushing, 48 receiving) and 2 rushing touchdowns. He’s a bell-cow back at the next-level; Gibbs has maintained his top-3 running back status in the 2023 class.
SEASON STATS: 7 games played; 89 carries, 460 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns; 24 receptions, 303 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns.
Tank Bigsby, Auburn
Now, I’m not a big “film guy” but I do watch football, and Tank Bigsby is legit.
He hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet much in his last three games, but he looks like the real deal anyways. He struggled against Alabama in the Iron Bowl, nursing a lower body injury, but bounced back in a loss to Texas A&M averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Bigsby is still a top-2 running back in 2023 for me.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played; 112 carries, 642 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns; 11 receptions, 84 receiving yards.
PASS-CATCHERS (WR, TE), Vol. 1
Jordan Addison (WR), Pittsburgh
Jordan Addison is leading all FBS freshmen in both receptions and receiving yards (all positions, including redshirt freshman) despite missing the Panthers’ game against Virginia Tech, where Pitt won in blowout fashion.
Addison had a spectacular touchdown catch in the loss at Clemson and has shown dependability, versatility, and athleticism in every game this season. In full-PPR scoring, he has only one game below 12 fantasy points. Breakout Age is a huge predictor of future success, and Addison’s will end up being sub-19 years old, as he doesn’t turn 19 until January 2021. He’s still my WR1 in 2023.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played; 57 receptions, 652 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns; 8 carries, 55 rushing yards.
Marvin Mims (WR), Oklahoma
Aside from his dud against Baylor, Mims has been great. He’s having a solid overall season and is emerging as one of Rattler’s top targets. I think Mims can emerge even more next year with some more experience, and as the rapport with Rattler only continues to grow.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played; 29 receptions, 482 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns; 1 carry, 17 rushing yards.
Taylor Morin (WR), Wake Forest
Morin bounced back a bit in Wake Forest’s loss at North Carolina, catching 4 passes for 47 yards and rushing twice for 5 yards but I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more production considering the game total was 112 points. Morin is a name to keep an eye on moving forward, but he’s not a priority in C2C or devy leagues.
SEASON STATS: 7 games played; 25 receptions, 291 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns; 2 carries, 5 rushing yards.
Arik Gilbert (TE), Louisiana State
Arik Gilbert is my devy TE1. Enough said. Believe the hype.
SEASON STATS: 8 games played; 35 receptions, 368 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns.
PASS-CATCHERS (WR, TE), Vol. 2
Rakim Jarrett (WR), Maryland
After a huge performance in Maryland’s victory over the Nittany Lions, Jarrett didn’t play in their loss to Indiana. He’s only played in three games and has produced well in two of them. I’m not worried about Jarrett at all long-term, but I’d like to see him continue to produce on a consistent basis. Either way, he’s a top-end NFL prospect.
SEASON STATS: 3 games played; 12 receptions, 213 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns.
Bru McCoy (WR), Southern California
Since his solid outing against Arizona State, McCoy has continued to have a role in the Trojans’ offense. He only had one catch in a win over Washington State, but has been pretty consistent otherwise. McCoy has the size and athleticism to be a monster in the Pac-12 and at the next level.
SEASON STATS: 4 games played; 14 receptions, 150 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown.
The New Guys:
Quarterbacks, Vol. 3
ISAIAH WILLIAMS, ILLINOIS
I did a breakdown of redshirt freshman Isaiah Williams in a recent DEVY DIAMONDS article a couple weeks ago, but I wanted to take another look at him. He was a 4-star recruit with a 0.9479 composite rating from 247Sports, and cleary has my attention.
In his first start, he went 7-for-18 for 104 passing yards and zero interceptions, while adding 192 yards and a rushing touchdown on a whopping 31 carries. He’s a true dual-threat quarterback and set the school record for single game quarterback rushing yards — in his first start. Despite this crazy performance, Brandon Peters started the following week at Nebraska and led the Fighting Illini to a 41-23 win. However, Peters was pulled for Williams this past weekend in a loss to a top-20 ranked Iowa.
In relief, Williams went 7-for-16 for 83 passing yards and his first career passing touchdown. He didn’t throw an interception and added 38 rushing yards on 6 carries. He played well, but it was too little too late for the Illini. Moving forward, I’ll be very frustrated if Lovie Smith doesn’t start Williams. Peters isn’t taking this team anywhere and “Lil Uno” not only has major upside, but also gives Illinois the best chance of winning games.
SEASON STATS: 4 games played (started 1), team record as the starter: 1-0; 14-for-37 (37.8%), 187 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception; 41 carries, 249 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown.
MICHAEL PRATT, TULANE
Michael Pratt is a 6-2, 200-pound true freshman quarterback for the Tulane Green Wave. He was a 3-star recruit with a 0.8417 composite rating from 247Sports. It’s safe to assume he’s a pretty smart guy, as he had offers from Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, and others. He wasn’t the day-one starter for the Green Wave, though, as senior signal-caller Keon Howard held that tile for the first couple games of the year.
Since taking over as the starter, Pratt has played well. In Tulane’s most recent game, a 35-21 win over Memphis, the true freshman completed 21-of-33 pass attempts for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s also a sneaky threat on the ground, as he scored 2 rushing touchdowns and finished the game with 24 rushing yards. With some development, Pratt could become a nice small school prospect in 2023.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played (started 8), team record as the starter: 4-4; 128-for-229, 1,638 passing yards, 18 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions; 97 carries, 204 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Jayden de Laura (Washington State), KJ Jefferson (Arkansas)
The New Guys:
Running Backs, Vol. 3
BIJAN ROBINSON, TEXAS
Spoiler alert: Bijan Robinson is my number 1 running back (RB1) in the 2023 class.
Yes, he’s overtaken [Tank] Bigsby for me. Robinson was ranked as the number 1 running back and the 15th overall player in the 2020 high school class by 247Sports. He’s a true freshman 5-star recruit with a 0.9928 composite rating and a player comparison of Alvin Kamara. He has feature back size at 6-0, 222, and has shown that he can not only carry the workload but also be super-efficient doing so.
In a win against Kansas State this past weekend, Robinson only had 12 total touches (9 carries, 3 receptions) and still totaled 223 yards (172 rushing, 51 receiving) and 3 rushing touchdowns. He showed great long-speed on a 75-yard touchdown and looked explosive all-around. I’m excited to see what Robinson can do in the Big-12. Try to get him as early as possible in your C2C and devy leagues.
SEASON STATS: 8 games played; 76 carries, 520 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns; 13 receptions, 159 receiving yards.
DEAMONTE TRAYANUM, ARIZONA STATE
DeaMonte Trayanum was on the honorable mentions list in Vol. 2, and I believe he’s done enough to earn a feature spot in Vol. 3.
Trayanum was a 4-star recruit with a 0.9017 composite rating from 247Sports and was recruited as both a running back and a linebacker. He had 16 offers from schools such as Ohio State, Notre Dame, Louisiana State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and many more.
Trayanum is a big back, standing at 5-11, 230 pounds. He looks the part. The true freshman has only played two games but has looked very good in Pac-12 action against USC and UCLA. I believe he’s going to continue to emerge as the season goes on and will truly breakout next year.
SEASON STATS: 2 games played; 27 carries, 192 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns; 1 reception, 5 receiving yards.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: TERION STEWART (BOWLING GREEN), TY JORDAN (UTAH)
The New Guys:
Pass-Catchers (WR, TE), Vol. 3
TAHJ WASHINGTON (WR), MEMPHIS
I was hesitant to put Tahj Washington on my Vol. 2 list because of low volume that I didn’t think was sustainable (2 catches for 104 yards and 1 touchdown against Cincinnati for example), but he’s given me no choice at this point.
Coming out of high school, he was a 3-star recruit with a 0.8248 composite rating from 247Sports. He’s a 5-11, 175-pound redshirt freshman, and is he ex-plo-sive. He has multiple catches over 40-yards this year and is currently averaging 18.5 yards per reception. I’m really hoping he can continue his production after stat-stuffing quarterback Brady White is gone, because he’s really fun to watch. I think Washington could definitely have a role at the next-level given the right opportunity.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played; 32 receptions, 592 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns; 3 carries, 13 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown.
ISAAC REX (TE), BRIGHAM YOUNG
Isaac Rex is only the second tight end featured on my Next-up series here, but he’s well-deserving given his production thus far. Rex was a 3-star recruit with a 0.8187 composite rating from 247Sports and he’s huge, standing at 6-6, 247.
After a season-ending injury to incumbent BYU tight end Matt Bushman, Rex has been the go-to red zone target for Zach Wilson. Rex has been consistent and reliable this season. I’m interested to see how he produces after Wilson is gone and how he eventually tests at the Combine.
SEASON STATS: 9 games played; 27 receptions, 286 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: PARKER WASHINGTON (WR, PENNSYLVANIA STATE), CHASE LANE (WR, TEXAS A&M)
We’re not done yet
See you soon…
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! I’ll be back with the fourth and final volume of the Next-up series after the NCAA season is over.
In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @LaneMitchell96 for more dynasty, devy, C2C, and sports card collecting content!