CFB Player Rank: Top 100 players of the 2023 season

The best player in college football is always an arbitrary choice. Is it the guy who won the Heisman Trophy? Jayden Daniels is surely deserving. Is it the player who has carried his team to the highest point? Michael Penix Jr.’s performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl was legendary. Or is it the player who’ll likely go first in the NFL draft? Caleb Williams was awesome in 2023 — even if his defense was not. The answer is always up for debate, but ESPN’s staff of college football writers weighed in to come up with not just the nation’s best player but a ranking of the top 100 players of the 2023 season. It’s a list guaranteed to have you nodding in agreement with each flawless pick. –David Hale

Methodology: Voters were presented with a series of one-on-one votes. For example, “Who should be ranked higher following the 2023 season: Jayden Daniels or Michael Penix Jr.?” Think of it as an Oklahoma drill of statistical reasoning. More than 10,000 votes later, these are the results.

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

QB, LSU, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 3,812 yards, 40 TD, 4 INT, 10 rushing TD
Preseason ranking: 15

On his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, Daniels led the country with 4,946 yards in total offense (nearly 600 yards more than the next-closest player when the regular season ended) and accounted for 50 touchdowns (40 passing and 10 rushing). Daniels joined Johnny Manziel as the only two players in SEC history to pass for 3,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

QB, Washington, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 4,648 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT
Preseason ranking: 6

In his second year with Washington, Penix had one of the greatest seasons in program history, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting and leading the Huskies to a 13-0 record and the Pac-12 title, and he also won the Maxwell Award, presented to the best player in college football.

WR, Ohio State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 67 rec, 1,211 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: 3

Harrison, the Biletnikoff Award winner, became the first receiver in Ohio State history to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He caught 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Big Ten’s best offense (425.0 total YPG). Harrison is No. 2 on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board.

Illustration by ESPN

QB, Oregon, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 4,508 yards, 45 TD, 3 INT
Preseason ranking: 14

Nix was sensational for the Ducks, especially in Pac-12 play, as he earned first-team All-Pac-12 and was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. The Auburn transfer ranked second in QBR (91.2) behind only Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels and threw 45 touchdown passes to just three interceptions while being sacked just five times.

TE, Georgia, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 56 rec, 714 yards, 6 TD
Preseason ranking: 2

The first two-time winner of the Mackey Award as the sport’s best tight end, Bowers proved this past season that he not only runs faster and blocks better than others — he also heals faster. After TightRope surgery to repair a high ankle sprain, Bowers returned to action 26 days later. He had 56 catches for 714 yards with six touchdowns in 10 games.

WR, LSU, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 89 rec, 1,569 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: 37

Nabers, who became LSU’s career leader in receptions, tied for third this season among Power 5 players with 89 catches. He led the country with an average of 120.7 receiving yards per game and tied for third with 14 touchdown catches while finishing second to Marvin Harrison Jr. for the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football.

WR, Washington, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,553 yards, 13 TD
Preseason ranking: 20

The Washington wideout didn’t win the Biletnikoff Award, but he had a season worthy of such recognition. Odunze was arguably the best player for the Huskies all season, tallying 1,553 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging more than 17 yards a catch through the CFP semifinal. Whenever quarterback Michael Penix Jr. needed to make a key throw in a crucial moment, you could bet the ball was going to be headed Odunze’s way.

OLB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 10 sacks, 28 solo tackles
Preseason ranking: 28

Turner was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league’s coaches. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound junior leads Alabama with 14.5 tackles for loss and recorded 10 sacks. Turner became the 41st player under Nick Saban at Alabama to earn consensus All-America honors.

OL, Notre Dame, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: allowed 3 pressures, 1 sack, missed 3 run blocks
Preseason ranking: 11

A year ago, Alt was Pro Football Focus’ top-graded offensive tackle. So, what did he do for a follow-up in 2023? He was, once again, the top-graded offensive tackle. Alt helped protect Sam Hartman and open run lanes for Audric Estime, and for the season, Alt allowed just three pressures and one sack and missed three run blocks total.

QB, USC, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 3,633 yards, 30 TD, 5 INT
Preseason ranking: 1

It was disappointing season overall for the Trojans, but that came despite another standout year for Williams, who remains the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Williams threw for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdown passes to just five interceptions. He added 11 rushing touchdowns.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

RB, Oklahoma State, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 285 car, 1,732 yards, 21 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Gordon broke out this year, becoming a unanimous All-American, the Doak Walker Award winner and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after running for 1,732 yards and 21 TDs in the season. He had more than 250 scrimmage yards against Kansas, West Virginia and Cincinnati, the only FBS player in the past 10 years to do so in three straight games.

QB, Florida State, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 2,756 yards, 20 TD, 2 INT
Preseason ranking: 8

The numbers tell a convincing story of Travis’ 2023 season: 27 total touchdowns, just shy of 3,000 yards and only two turnovers all season on an undefeated team. But much as FSU fans might hate it, the ultimate compliment came from the CFP committee, which essentially said Travis was irreplaceable. It wasn’t wrong. No player had more of an impact on dragging FSU from the brink of the abyss in 2020 to the brink of perfection in 2023 than Travis.

LB, NC State, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 6 sacks, 3 INT, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 81

Wilson was, quite possibly, the best all-around defender in college football in 2023. He finished the regular season with 138 tackles (tops in the ACC, second in Power 5), six sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, 10 QB hurries, 6 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions (including one returned for a TD). Basically if there’s a category on the defensive stat sheet, Wilson filled it this season.

DL, UCLA, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 13 sacks, 2 FF, 2 INT
Preseason ranking: 49

Latu won the Lombardi Award after leading the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.8) and ranked third with 13 sacks. He was part of a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in scoring defense (18.4) and No. 12 in total defense (301.5 yards per game) in the regular season.

WR, Missouri, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 86 rec, 1,212 yards, 9 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

The former five-star prospect blossomed as a sophomore and put together the best season for a Mizzou receiver since 2009: 83 catches, 1,197 yards and 9 touchdowns. His five straight 100-yard receiving games drove Mizzou’s early unbeaten start, and he was instrumental in the Tigers’ first major bowl bid since 2013.

RB, Missouri, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 276 car, 1,627 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Schrader walked on at Mizzou after rushing for 2,000 yards at Division II’s Truman State, and after a solid 2022 campaign, he became one of the nation’s best backs in 2023. He rushed for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged 196.4 yards from scrimmage over Mizzou’s final five regular-season games.

DL, Texas, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 45 total tackles, 2 sacks
Preseason ranking: NR

The 6-4, 362-pound intimidator brought home the first Outland Trophy for Texas in 46 seasons, leading a defense that allowed just 80.9 rushing yards per game, fourth-best nationally. Despite facing double-teams all year, Sweat did it all, finishing with 45 tackles and two sacks. He also blocked a kick and caught a TD pass in the Big 12 championship game.

T’Vondre Sweat had an electric season for Texas. Aaron E. Martinez-USA TODAY Sports

QB, Alabama, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 2,834 yards, 23 TD, 6 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

One of the most improved players in the country, Milroe threw for 23 touchdowns, ran for another 12 and turned the ball over just six times this season as he led the Tide to a 27-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game. Milroe ended the year with an 80.3 QBR.

CB, Iowa, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 26 solo tackles, 2 INT, 5 PD
Preseason ranking: 46

A vital piece of an Iowa defense that does a lot of things right, DeJean, No. 13 on Kiper’s Big Board, was the linchpin. DeJean, a unanimous All-American, recorded 41 tackles (26 solo), 2 interceptions and 5 passes defended for the country’s fifth-best defense (274.8 YPG).

OL, Penn State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: No sacks allowed in 382 pass-block snaps
Preseason ranking: 16

Fashanu bypassed a chance to be a potential first-round selection in 2023 to come back to Penn State for one more season. Led by Fashanu, eighth overall on Kiper’s Big Board, the Nittany Lions’ offensive line helped the team average 186.7 rushing yards — tops in the Big Ten.

DB, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 2 FF, 5 INT, 6 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

Sainristil made the transition from wide receiver to defensive back look easy for one of the best defenses in the country. He was first-team All-Big Ten after recording 36 tackles (20 solo) with 4 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions and 6 passes defended.

QB, Georgia, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 3,941 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Beck had the unenviable position of replacing former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national titles in 2021 and 2022. All Beck did in his first season was complete 72.4% of his passes for 3,941 yards with 24 touchdowns and six picks. Georgia went 13-1 after a 63-3 win in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

ILB, Texas A&M, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 8 sacks, 2 FF, 83 total tackles
Preseason ranking: NR

One of the few bright spots in another disappointing Texas A&M season, Cooper was Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated FBS linebacker with a 91.7 grade. He was the only linebacker to grade higher than 85 in run defense, coverage and rushing the quarterback. He had 83 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

CB, Alabama, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 24 solo tackles, 7 PD
Preseason ranking: 12

McKinstry has been an integral part of Alabama’s secondary since his freshman season. One of the top coverage cornerbacks in the country, the 6-1, 195-pound junior recorded 24 solo tackles this season and broke up seven passes. He’s No. 22 on Kiper’s Big Board.

S, Notre Dame, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 30 solo tackles, 1 FF, 7 INT, 4 PD
Preseason ranking: NR

Sometimes interceptions don’t tell an accurate story of a defender’s impact, but in Watts’ case, his FBS-best seven picks only underscores just how exceptional he was throughout 2023. He recorded 52 total tackles (30 solo) and had four passes defended.

WR, Oregon, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 81 rec, 1,383 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

The explosive receiver ranked third in FBS with 14 touchdown receptions during a season in which he finished with 81 catches for 1,383 yards (No. 6 in the country in total yards). He was particularly good in Pac-12 play, with six 100-yard receiving games in six conference games. He had at least four catches in all but one game this season, with the exception being a two-catch game in USC with 147 yards.

Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images

DL, Illinois, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 26 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 35

Newton, the 2023 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 52 tackles (26 solo) with 8.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks for Illinois this season. Newton, who was a Nagurski Trophy finalist, is 16th overall on Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board for 2024.

QB, Oklahoma, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 3,660 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT
Preseason ranking: 60

Gabriel has already moved on to Oregon, but he cemented his place as an Oklahoma legend when he became the first OU QB with at least 250 passing yards and 100 rushing yards against Texas, driving the Sooners 75 yards in 1:02 and throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Nic Anderson with 15 seconds left in a 34-30 win. He passed for 3,660 yards, 30 TDs and 6 INTs and ran for 373 yards and 12 touchdowns.

DE, Florida State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 23 solo tackles, 9 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 9

Verse’s two years at FSU were remarkable by any measure, but it was his final two games after the Jordan Travis injury that solidified his status as a Noles legend. Against Florida and Louisville, he had 58 pass rushes, 13 pressures, 4.5 sacks, 20 tackles (11 at/behind the line), 3 QB hurries and 1 forced fumble, while opponents averaged just 2.7 yards per play (1.7 on the ground) when Verse was on the field.

WR, LSU, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,177 yards, 17 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Thomas and Malik Nabers teamed up to form one of the most prolific pass-catching tandems in the country. Thomas’ 17 touchdown catches led all FBS players, and he averaged 17.3 yards per catch. Thomas also had eight catches of 40 yards or longer.

QB, Arizona, Freshman
Notable 2023 stats: 2,869 yards, 25 TD, 6 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Had Fifita begun the season as the Wildcats’ starter, he might have wound up as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate. That’s how good he was over the final two months of the season, leading Arizona to wins in its final six games of the year. He finished the year with 25 touchdowns and recorded an 83.7 QBR, placing him in the top 10 in the country in that stat.

CB, Alabama, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 40 solo tackles, 1 FF, 5 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Arnold was one of Alabama’s most versatile defenders this season and lined up at a couple of different spots in the secondary when other players were injured. He leads the Crimson Tide with five interceptions and had 6.5 tackles for loss to lead all Alabama defensive backs.

Michigan QB, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 2,851 yards, 22 TD, 4 INT
Preseason ranking: 39

McCarthy, a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, was the point person for a Michigan offense that helped the team return to the College Football Playoff. McCarthy has thrown for 2,851 yards, 22 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and has a QBR of 89.5.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

QB, North Carolina, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 3,608 yards, 24 TD, 9 INT
Preseason ranking: 5

Despite a new offensive coordinator and playbook, plus a more balanced split with his ground game, Maye remained exceptional in 2023, accounting for 33 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards of total offense. Maye wrapped his UNC career with an 81.0 Total QBR, 79 touchdowns and more than 9,500 yards — enough to be in the conversation for the top spot in the 2024 NFL draft.

CB, Colorado, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 3 INT on defense, 5 TD on offense
Preseason ranking: 70

A true two-way threat, Hunter was a key player for the Buffaloes at receiver and at corner, playing a majority of the team’s snaps on both sides. In nine games, he finished with 57 catches for 721 yards receiving and five touchdowns, with three interceptions.

OL, Kansas State, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 1 sack allowed in 456 pass-block snaps
Preseason ranking: 27

Kansas State’s first Outland Trophy finalist, Beebe started 48 games for the Wildcats, allowing just one sack since 2021. This year, playing mostly left guard, he helped power a run game that averaged 204 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry.

RB, Texas, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 1,139 yards, 10 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Brooks stepped into big shoes, replacing Bijan Robinson as Texas’ starter, and despite tearing his ACL late in the season against TCU, ran for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games, which ranked sixth in the FBS in rushing yards and seventh in rushing yards per game (113.9 YPG). He had eight straight games with at least 98 rushing yards, including 218 against Kansas on Sept. 30. In the Big 12 championship win over Oklahoma State, coach Steve Sarkisian sent him out to get the ball on the last play of the game to commemorate his role in getting there.

LB, Clemson, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 5.5 sacks, 2 FF, 2 INT
Preseason ranking: 21

Trotter was the physical and emotional leader of a Clemson defense that ranked second in efficiency in 2023. He led the Tigers with 88 tackles and 15 tackles for loss, along with 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 10 QB hurries and 5 pass breakups. It’s enough to ensure he’ll be among the first linebackers off the board in the 2024 NFL draft.

S, Alabama, Freshman
Notable 2023 stats: 70 solo tackles, 1 FF, 2 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

A starter from the outset of the season, Downs lived up to his billing as one of the top recruits in the country and played well beyond his years as a true freshman. He led the Crimson Tide with 107 total tackles, forced a fumble and also had two interceptions and a punt return for a touchdown.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

OL, Oregon State, Junior
Notable 2023 stat: OSU offense averaged 426.9 total yards (180.8 YPG rushing) in regular season
Preseason ranking: NR

A first-team All-Pac-12 selection on the offensive line, Fuaga received several All-American nods after guiding one of the country’s best position groups. The Beavers’ line allowed just 15 sacks, and, as a run-blocker, Fuaga earned the country’s best grade from Pro Football Focus.

OL, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 4 blown blocks, not whistled for any penalties
Preseason ranking: 19

Zinter was named a unanimous first-team All-American this season after being the go-to guy on Michigan’s well-regarded offensive line, making sure things ran smoothly for J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum and crew. The Wolverines’ offense averaged 161.8 rushing yards a game, which finished sixth in the Big Ten.

UL, Oregon, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 0 sacks allowed in 469 pass block attempts
Preseason ranking: NR

There’s a reason Powers-Johnson is headed to the NFL draft. The Ducks’ center was an anchor for their offense as he guarded quarterback Bo Nix and helped fuel the team’s running to perfection. His work was aptly recognized this season as Powers-Johnson was awarded the 2023 Rimington Trophy, which recognizes the most outstanding center in college football.

C, Georgia, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 0.9 pressure pct allowed
Preseason ranking: 41

One of the best centers in the FBS, Van Pran was a steadying force on a Georgia offensive line that dealt with myriad injuries. Perhaps the greatest testament to Van Pran’s importance was that he started 43 straight games. The Bulldogs went 41-2 in those games. He won the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy and was a finalist for the Rimington Award, given to the top center in the FBS.

RB, Notre Dame, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,341 yards, 18 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

One of the most physical runners in the country, Estime racked up 1,341 yards on the ground (12th nationally) and scored 18 times. His 12.6% broken-tackle rate was among the best in the Power 5, which helped him to rack up 799 yards after contact this season, the eighth most nationally and fourth best among Power 5 backs.

LB, Ohio State, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 40 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: 47

Eichenberg recorded 80 tackles (40 solo), leading the team while playing in only 10 games this season for the Buckeyes. In three games (Western Kentucky, Maryland and Rutgers), he tallied double-digit tackles — with his 13 against Maryland a season high. Ohio State had the third-best defense in the FBS (259.9 YPG).

RB, Michigan, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,111 yards, 25 TD
Preseason ranking: 7

Corum led all running backs with 25 touchdowns, finding the end zone at least twice in nine games for Michigan. The two-time Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year recipient averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

RB, Boise State, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 1,347 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Arguably no non-quarterback did more for an FBS offense than Jeanty, who was thrust into action after an early-season injury to George Holani. He finished with 1,347 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns and added 569 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 43 receptions. Jeanty led the FBS in average yards from scrimmage (159.7 YPG). The best news for Boise State? He will be back in 2024.

Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

CB, Missouri, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 38 solo tackles, 1 FF, 4 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

A stalwart for a physical Mizzou defense, Abrams-Draine allowed only a 37% completion rate and a 28.4 QBR as primary coverage guy. He picked off four passes, broke up 11 more, and proved his physicality with 2.5 tackles for loss, a run stuff and a pair of pressures on six pass rushes.

MLB, Alabama, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 32 solo tackles, 3 sacks
Preseason ranking: NR

Lawson was sidelined for three games with injuries, but he was able to fight his way back into the lineup and become a key part of Alabama’s defense from his inside linebacker spot. He finished the season with 67 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

DT, Alabama, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 29 solo tackles, 7 sacks
Preseason ranking: NR

After suffering a spinal/neck injury after four games in 2022, Eboigbe wasn’t sure whether he’d ever get to play football again. He not only worked his way back but was one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the FBS. He finished with 63 tackles, 11½ tackles for loss and 7 sacks in 2023.

RB, Oregon, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,180 yards, 11 TD
Preseason ranking: 77

Irving was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection for the Ducks and rushed for 1,180 yards with 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Washington and Washington State in the middle of the season and is a vital cog in one of the most explosive scoring offenses in the country.

QB, Washington State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 3,735 yards, 25 TD, 7 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

Ward became one of the top transfer targets in college football after passing for 3,735 yards, ranking No. 7 in FBS. The former Incarnate Word quarterback was at his best against Oregon State early in the season, when he threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in what was a top-25 matchup at the time.

WR, Ole Miss, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 985 yards, 8 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

The former Louisiana Tech transfer had an immediate impact at Ole Miss, leading the Rebels with 851 receiving yards on 47 catches with eight scores. Harris made the biggest impact in two of Ole Miss’ biggest wins with 153 receiving yards on eight catches in a 55-49 victory against LSU and 11 catches for 213 yards in a 38-35 win against Texas A&M.

WR, Florida State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 50 rec, 658 yards, 11 TD
Preseason ranking: 86

Coleman could be frustratingly inconsistent at times in 2023, but when he was clicking, he was borderline unstoppable. His 9 catches, 122 yards and 3 touchdown receptions in the opener against LSU set the tone for Florida State’s season, and he was nearly as impactful in wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech. For the year, he finished with 50 catches for 658 yards and 11 scores, adding another 300 yards as a punt returner.

WR, Virginia, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 110 rec, 1,426 yards, 9 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Among the most impactful transfers in the country, Washington used his one season at Virginia to demolish ACC defensive backs. He led the country with 110 catches in the regular season, finished third in receiving yards (1,426) and added nine touchdowns, despite Virginia using three different QBs throughout 2023.

WR, Texas, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,014 yards, 5 TD
Preseason ranking: 59

Worthy led the team in receiving yards with 1,014 yards on 75 catches, adding five touchdowns. His presence allowed transfer Adonai Mitchell to add another 845 yards and 11 TDs opposite him, with Mitchell saying it’s wild how much attention the speedy Worthy draws. Worthy was also a catalyst on special teams, with 371 yards on punt returns this season, including a 74-yard return TD against BYU.

S, Georgia, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 31 solo tackles, 3 INT, 7 PD
Preseason ranking: 40

It takes a pretty special freshman to start 14 games on Georgia’s defense, and that’s what Starks did in 2022. He was just as good this past season with 52 total tackles, 7 passes defended and 3 interceptions. He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the sport’s top defender.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

CB, Clemson, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 2 INT, 2 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

Wiggins earned first-team All-ACC honors after emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the country, with a team-high 9 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 25 total tackles. His best game might have come against North Carolina, when he had eight tackles, forced a fumble on the goal line to prevent a touchdown and had a game-sealing interception on Drake Maye. Wiggins has already declared for the NFL draft. Kiper currently lists Wiggins as the No. 2 cornerback available.

DB, Georgia, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 46 solo tackles, 4 INT, 2 sacks
Preseason ranking: NR

Foot and knee injuries prevented Smith from making a big impact at Georgia after he transferred from West Virginia in 2021. The senior safety saved his best for last, as he piled up 70 total tackles, 8½ tackles for loss, 4 interceptions and 2 sacks this past season. Smith’s versatility was invaluable for the UGA defense.

LB, Old Dominion, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 167 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF
Preseason ranking: NR

The prolific tackler who led the FBS with 189 tackles in 2022 continued to pile up stops for ODU. Henderson was second in the nation with 167 tackles, and he earned second-team AP All-America honors after receiving a host of All-America accolades last season. His career tackles-per-game average of 12.1 ranks third in FBS history, trailing only Boston College’s Luke Kuechly and Maryland’s E.J. Henderson.

RB, Florida State, Junior
Notable 2023 stats: 905 yards, 14 TD
Preseason ranking: 69

Benson rushed for 905 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, earning second-team All-ACC honors. With Jordan Travis out for the season, Benson saved his best for the final two games. In a 24-15 win at Florida, Benson ran for 95 yards — including three rushing touchdowns. Then in the ACC championship game against Louisville, Benson had 67 yards rushing to take pressure off third-string quarterback Brock Glenn. Benson is the only ACC player with two games with three rushing TDs in 2023.

RB, Texas Tech, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 1,541 yards, 10 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

After an 0-2 start, Tech rebounded to win seven games by handing the ball to Brooks. Over the final 11 games, Brooks averaged 24.6 carries and 130.2 yards. He finished with 1,541 yards, and the Red Raiders won six of his eight 100-yard games. The best news? He’s returning in 2024.

LB, Florida State, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 33 solo tackles, 7 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT
Preseason ranking: NR

A first-team All-ACC selection, DeLoach took a star turn his senior season for the Seminoles — with 68 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. He had the most important defensive play of the season against Clemson, when he sacked Cade Klubnik, forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter. Florida State eventually won in overtime and finished the regular season undefeated.

RB, North Carolina, Sophomore
Notable 2023 stats: 253 car, 1,504 yards, 15 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

A finalist for the Doak Walker Award, Hampton earned first-team All-ACC honors after a breakout sophomore season. Among FBS running backs, Hampton ranks fifth in rushing yards (1,504). In all, Hampton had seven 100-yard rushing games this season as he recorded 15 rushing touchdowns.

WR, South Carolina, Senior
Notable 2023 stats: 71 rec, 1,255 yards, 7 TD
Preseason ranking: NR

Legette played quarterback in high school, and it took him a while to get comfortable at…

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