Who is the best college football player in the country entering the 2018 season? On Tuesday, Aug. 7, with the season rapidly approaching, ESPN unveiled its rankings of the top 50 players in the nation. While familiar names like Will Grier, Bryce Love, Nick Bosa, Jarrett Stidham, and Tua Tagovailoa were near the top of the list, the No. 1 overall player came from a Group of Five school.
According to the Worldwide Leader, the best player in the country is Houston Cougars defensive lineman Ed Oliver.
Oliver, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound junior, has widely been regarded as one of the top NFL prospects at the collegiate level since he was set to enter his sophomore season at Houston. Now, with the experience piling up, Oliver continues to improve and blow away talent evaluators and scouts.
Lsat season, the former five-star recruit recorded 73 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The last defensive lineman to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting was Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009. The unblockable Oliver could replicate Suh’s feat on the way to potentially becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Oliver was also featured on one of four covers for Sports Illustrated’s college football preview issue.
Many also expect Oliver’s skillset to translate to the NFL. The defensive tackle is currently ranked No. 1 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board and likely would have been a top-five pick if he would have been in the 2018 NFL Draft class.
Oliver and the Cougars officially kickoff their 2018 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 1 against the Rice Owls. Kickoff at Rice Stadium is set for 12:00 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network.