College football is a high turnover industry. Rarely have the best players left more than a year to the NFL, and college program success It comes down to how well they can store the pipeline behind their stars. In the lead-up to the 2021 season – which begins at the end of August – it’s worth considering the players who will fill these roles in 2021. A few will be first-time rookies, while others have already established themselves as rising stars and will use 2021 as a springboard for something bigger.
Meet 10 of them. These players, who represent teams from across the country, are emerging in key positions and are expected to make a significant impact on the 2021 season.
DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Clemson
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Uiagalelei and Young were both five-star volunteers in the 2020 class, but they sat behind the QBs’ stars in their first seasons. Uiagalelei had a few chances to start while Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence was out after contracting COVID-19, and he showed plenty of skill — even while almost losing to Boston College and then effectively losing, in overtime, to Notre Dame.
Young was limited to purge duty at the end of Bama’s victories. With Lawrence and Alabama writer Mac Jones Both are in the NFLUiagalelei and Young will be mainly responsible for maintaining the two greatest programs in the sport at the moment.
John Mitchie III, WR, Alabama
This will be Michy’s third year in Alabama. In 2019, he barely saw the field because the tide had four receivers in front of it (all of them have since become first-round NFL draft picks). He had more playing time in 2020, but was still ranked third wide behind two of those in the first round of the NFL.
This year, all the people before him are gone, and it falls to Metchie to be the latest in an increasingly long line of unstoppable Alabama receivers. Expect him to be great. The only question is how cool it is. With Bama recharged more than usual this year, whether Metchie is an elite or a UltraThe elite will have a great influence on the fortunes of the tides.
Jaivon Heiligh, WR, Coastal Carolina
QB Grayson McCall is getting a lot of attention from the Chanticleers, who stunned everyone with an undefeated regular season in 2020. McCall is really critical, but let’s focus for a moment on Heiligh, whose great ability to play in singles coverage was Strong influence on the rest of the offense success last year. Healy was the All-Sun Belt’s No. 1 player of the year 2020. This year, he should be considered an all-American candidate – and if he plays as well as he did (998 yards, 10 touchdowns) – he is key to winning the Coastal Sunbelt again.
Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia
Salyer is the offensive line broadcaster for Georgia. Dawgs have what looks like endless talent along the streak, but they sometimes struggled to find the right group of players to fill the five positions, which led to crashes. (A notable example is the loss of Florida last year.)
The simplest way to ensure Dawgs’ streak continues is for the star most assured of that streak, Salyer, to play like the star. If he’s in control on attack point and in passing protection, it will make life a lot easier for the rest of the Dogs – particularly midfielder GT Daniels, whose main concern will be staying healthy.
Germaine lol, DT, Arizona
Sun Demons have a chance to win the Pac-12. If they were to, Lole would need to set the tone in the middle of their line of defense. He was one of ASU’s best players during their surprisingly strong 2019 season, and he dominated during a brief four-game season in 2020.
Lole is the kind of midfield presence that has become somewhat of a rarity in the Pac-12, a league that lacks talent in the trenches like the SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten. Last year, he had four sacks in four games – a huge achievement for a player stuck in the middle of the line. If he builds on this progress, the Herm Edwards program will be a lot better for him.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon
Thibodeaux is kind of oddly apt for a discussion about hacker players, because it arguably broke out before he even set foot on the Oregon campus in 2019. He was the #1 unanimous recruiter in the country, and everyone expects him to be. A contender for the #1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft as well.
But despite his excellent recruiting pedigree and solid performance in a 2020 season that has been cut short by the pandemic, it appears Thibodeaux still has a lot to show before he turns pro next year. Oregon is the Pac-12’s best hope for ending an entire conference drought that has been going on since 2016. If the ducks make a playoff this year, Thibodeaux will be a major part of their success.
Megay Sanders, D., Cincinnati
The Bearcats were the best team of 2020 in the Group of Five conferences (the FBS bottom half, if you’re just catching up), and they nearly beat Georgia in the Peach Bowl. The driving factor in UC’s dominance has been its defense, and there will be no bigger chunk of that defense than Sanders, who collected eight sacks and 31 quickenings from QB last year.
JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
The Huskers probably won’t be very good this year, but Domann is an excellent hybrid linebacker who can also play as a corner hole or safety box, covering receivers or running chases and tight ends around it. If, and that’s a big thing, the Mummies bounces back a bit this year and restores some shine to one of the old college football programs, Domann will be a major asset.
Praline Trahan, S., Louisiana
The Ragin’ Cajuns were one of the best teams in the country last year, and they have Much of talent dating back to 2021. They lead the 130 FBS teams with a 96% rate ESPN .’s “Production Return” Scale, which tracks the number of yards, tackles, touchdowns and other statistical totals that remain on the team’s roster from the previous year.
The Cajuns will also retain their head coach, Billy Napier, who was widely expected to leave for another job. With four interceptions and seven assists last year, Trahan is back as one of the best minor players in college football. If UL’s defensive appearance is as good as it was last year, the Cajuns could upset the Texans in the first week and earn another run for the Sun Belt title.
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