College Football 2018: Top 10 Players To Watch Entering Season

With many of college football’s biggest stars, such as Baker Mayfield, Saquon Barkley, Sam Darnold and Lamar Jackson, among others, departed for the NFL, there is some question as to who will take their place among the upper-echelon. With the Heisman race appearing wide open and much question as to who will be selected high in the 2019 NFL Draft, here is a list of ten names, in order of interest, who could rise to the top of the college football world.

10. Ed Oliver DT, Houston

Seen by some as a potential first overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Oliver has been a star since his first game at Houston. In his two years at Houston, he has recorded 138 total tackles, 10.5 sacks, 38.5 tackles for loss, nine pass deflections and four forced fumbles. Should he continue that production during his junior year he could very well go at the tip-top of the Draft and even garner some Heisman consideration.

9. Nick Bosa DE Ohio State

The younger brother of NFL star Joey Bosa, Nick could follow in his brother’s footsteps and become a top-five pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He has recorded 13.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss during his time with the Buckeyes. He will be the key player on an Ohio State defense that hopes to be part of a team that makes the Playoff for the third time since the NCAA switched over from the BCS.

8. Dwayne Haskins QB Ohio State

Bosa’s teammate appears to be the heir-apparent to J.T. Barrett at QB in Columbus. Scouts and close observers say that Haskins has a blend of athleticism and arm strength. Should he lead OSU to the playoff, he will be at the forefront of all Heisman discussions. Heisman voters have tended to select younger QBs of late, such as Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston and Lamar Jackson. Haskins could be the next name on that list, though he remains a question mark as he has never started a game in college before this season.

7. Khalil Tate QB Arizona

Tate put up monstrous numbers behind center last season, what with 1,411 rushing yards and 1,591 more through the air. Tate is expected to continue his production with new head coach Kevin Sumlin, who was able to get the most out of Johnny Manziel during their years together at Texas A&M. Tate is one of college football’s most electrifying players and could very easily be part of the Heisman discussion at year end.

6. Dexter Lawrence DL Clemson

Yet another defensive lineman expected by many to be a top 5/10 pick in the 2019 draft. Clemson will once again contend for a national title, thanks to players on both sides of the ball. They are expected to improve on offense while maintaining the level of dominance they had on defense in 2017. Lawrence is yet another player some see as a potential first overall pick, and should he prove productive, there is little reason to doubt him.

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5.Shea Patterson QB Michigan

The hype for Patterson, who just completed a transfer from Ole Miss to Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan and is eligible to play immediately, appears limitless. Patterson was proficient in his seven games at Ole Miss last season before a season-ending injury. He made plays both inside and outside the pocket, drawing comparisons to contemporaries like Johnny Manziel and Baker Mayfield. Michigan fans are beside themselves as to this point during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure, they have not had a half-decent QB. Should Patterson live up to his hype, Michigan will be clear-cut national championship contenders.

4.Kelly Bryant QB Clemson

It was never going to be an easy task replacing Deshaun Watson at Clemson, but Bryant was just good enough. However, he was exposed in the playoff semi-final against Alabama. Tiger fans are hopeful that Bryant used the offseason to improve and can live up to the lofty standard Watson created in his three seasons at the school. Some see Bryant as a potential first-round pick, but, of course, will need to show he can get it done on the biggest stages.

3.Justin Herbert QB Oregon

Draft scouts are in love with Herbert, who see first overall pick potential in droves. Oregon has struggled since Chip Kelly left for the NFL, but some feel Herbert can return Oregon to the elite status they attained earlier in the decade. Health is the key question, as Herbert missed a handful of games last year because of injury. Should he stay healthy the sky is the limit: both Heisman and first-overall pick are possible.

2. Bryce Love RB Stanford

The 2017 Heisman runner-up put up humungous numbers coming out of the backfield for Stanford. With 2118 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns, Love more than adequately replaced former Stanford star Christian McCaffrey at Running Back. Expectations will be ridiculously high for Love, but he has proven he can surpass expectations. He is the de-facto Heisman front-runner, though will likely need Stanford to win the PAC-12 and maybe more to be reasonably considered.

1a Jake Fromm QB Georgia, 1b Tua Tagovailoa

We have a tie at the top! The two most intriguing players entering the 2018 seasons are the QBs who faced off in the second half and overtime of January’s national championship game. Jake Fromm impressed with his mental toughness and throwing ability as just a true freshman after taking over for previous starter Jacob Eason early in the season. He is expected to improve on a Georgia team that will be eager to redeem their loss to Alabama from January.

As for Tua, the highly touted Hawaiian QB stunned everyone when his head coach put him into the game in the second half against Georgia after Jalen Hurts struggled in the first half. Tua went on to lead his team downfield multiple times with apparent ease, eventually ending the game on a bomb in overtime. Tua reminds many of Russell Wilson, and could very well follow in his footsteps into the NFL. He’ll need to get past Jalen Hurts in their QB competition, but if he does, Tua could rise as college football’s biggest star.