College Football: 10 Underclassmen to Watch In Week 8

by Pat Pryor
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For the most part, juniors and seniors get the majority of coverage when it comes to scouting, and for good reason. The NFL requires prospects to be three years out of high school to declare. However, it’s always good to get a jump on the guys who will be making headlines in college football next year. All of the following prospects are eligible in 2023, unless otherwise stated.

Quarterback

Caleb Williams, Oklahoma (2024)

Williams came onto the scene with no chance of starting, or so everyone thought. However, when Spencer Rattler couldn’t hold up against Texas, Williams took the helm and showed everyone he could ball, and led a furious comeback to stay undefeated. He’s already racked up 609 yards, 6 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He’s a dual threat quarterback and is always looking for a big play. Now leading Oklahoma, he has what should be a storied career ahead of him. The Sooners face Kansas on Saturday, in what should be a blowout, allowing Williams to continue his impressive start. 

Running Backs

Sean Tucker, Syracuse 

Tucker plays for a Syracuse team that has a storied history of college football running backs, such as Jim Brown, Flloyd Little, Larry Csonka, and the late Ernie Davis. Now bursting onto the scene in 2021, Tucker leads the team in receiving and rushing yards, and even has more rushing yards than quarterback Shrader has passing. He’s the backbone of a Syracuse offense which would suffer without him. As the focus of the Orange, he’ll play an important part against Virginia Tech this weekend. 

Wide Receiver

Marvin Mims, Oklahoma 

One of the reasons the aforementioned Williams looks like a natural at quarterback is the talent surrounding him, such as Mims. He had arguably the catch of the year against Texas on the sideline for an incredible touchdown to bring Oklahoma back in it. He’s already on pace to top his impressive numbers from 2020, and will absolutely be a top option in the 2023 NFL draft. He and Williams will look to connect against Kansas this week in what should be a big win. 

Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh 

An absolute weapon with the ball, Addison has had an electric start to 2021, with 9 touchdowns. He is the leading receiver in a Pittsburgh offense that has seen quarterback Kenny Pickett fly up draft boards, and even be discussed as a first round prospect by some. Addison and No. 23 Pittsburgh host Clemson this week in a great matchup, where both Pickett and Addison will both continue to make their case for being one of college football’s best duos. 

Tight End

Michael Mayer, Notre Dame 

With a similar sounding name to Michael Meyers, defenders may be just as terrified. An athletic tight end with a nice ability to reel in the football, Mayer leads the Fighting Irish in receiving yards. In one of the hardest positions to nail down in the NFL, Mayer is already providing teams a solid option in the 2023 NFL draft. Pittsburgh faces USC as they look to improve on their 5-1 record and No. 13 ranking. 

Offensive Line

Robert Scott Jr, OT, Florida State

Florida State, despite standing at 2-4, is currently slated to win one of the biggest blowouts in college football this week. The Seminoles are favored over UMass by 35.5. In the mix of this likely rout, will be the 6’5″ Scott Jr. Though McKenzie Milton has struggled this year, Scott has still managed to be a quality protector. He’s also blocked for a rushing game that’s averaged over 200 yards per game. After starting 7 games during his freshman season, Scott will likely head into the 2023 NFL draft as an experienced tackle.

Edge

Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State (2024)

Getting playing time as a true freshman on defense is tough. However, Oliver has shown when he’s on the field, he’s a force to be reckoned with in college football. On 16 tackles, he has a team leading 3.5 sacks. He’s a highly productive edge rusher who finds his way into the backfield quickly. Oliver and the 8th ranked Cowboys face off in a tough matchup against Iowa State. Oliver will have to find his way into the backfield and disrupt Brock Purdy to stave off the Cyclones. 

Linebacker

Noah Sewell, Oregon

You might just be familiar with Sewell’s older brother Penei, who was picked 7th by the Lions in this past draft. While the Sewell family will have to go without a first round pick in 2021, they may see another in 2022. Sewell leads the Ducks in tackles with 54, and has 3 sacks and a forced fumble. Now ranked 10th, Oregon squares off against the UCLA Bruins in one of the top games of the week. Sewell will look to make an impact during this important matchup. 

Cornerback

Eli Ricks, LSU

Coming off a dominant freshman season, Ricks is a candidate for a very high pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Until the latter suffered a season-ending injury, he and Derek Stingley Jr. paired up to be one of the best cornerback duos in college football. Both also have legitimate shots at being the first defensive backs selected in their respective classes. After upsetting Florida last week, LSU is looking to continue their success against No. 12 Ole Miss, where Ricks will he’ll have to step up again. 

Duce Chestnut, Syracuse (2024)

One of the hottest freshmen in college football, Chestnut was the third true freshman to ever start for Syracuse in week 1. He has 28 tackles on the season. That includes an astounding eight wrap-ups and a pick to start his career in the opener against Ohio State. Now named to the AP midseason All-American freshman team, Duce joins a recent slew of talented DBs for the Orange. Syracuse will square off against Virginia Tech, where he’ll need to be at the top of his game to win. 

 

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