Every year ESPN releases its list of rankings for the college football season. The list doesn’t just focus on teams that should contend for top spots in their respective conferences; it also ranks the players. The list is full of names everyone recognizes, but today we discuss five worthy players who were snubbed by ESPN’s college football player rankings.
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
It is shocking that Eno Benjamin didn’t make ESPN’s power rankings. In coach Herman Edwards’ first season leading the Sun Devils, Benjamin was phenomenal. He ran for over 1,600 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground. The running back was also a threat in the passing game, hauling in 35 passes. Benjamin averaged over five yards per carry last season. In 2018, he has a good start, with nearly 300 yards of offense in Arizona State’s first two games.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ohio State
Last year could be deemed a down year for the Buckeyes running back, even though he ran for over 1,000 yards. J.K. Dobbins didn’t show the explosiveness and decision-making he had as a freshman. This season, the Ohio State offense expects more from him. We think Dobbins and new quarterback Justin Fields will make an excellent combo in the running game. So far so good for Dobbins. He has run for 232 yards and found the end zone three times in the Buckeyes’ first two games.
Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern
Northwestern’s defense gets overlooked in the Big Ten, but Paddy Fisher is the real deal. He has back-to-back seasons with over 110 total tackles. This season, Northwestern could have one of the best defenses in the country. Yes, there are bigger names like Isaiah Simmons and Dylan Moses, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better true tackler than Fisher.
The linebacker had six tackles and a forced fumble in the Wildcats’ first game of the season. If he can keep up this pace, Fisher could be looking at an All-American nomination.
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
This may be the biggest surprise of the list. Taking over leadership duties in the secondary, Xavier McKinney fills the void left by Minkah Fitzpatrick. He racked up 74 tackles last season — six behind the line of scrimmage — and picked off two passes. The safety can play in either man or zone coverage, blitz at the line of scrimmage, and has sideline-to-sideline speed to keep up with running backs or tight ends.
In Alabama’s two wins so far, he already has 14 tackles and a forced fumble, so another strong season from McKinney should be on the horizon.
Kelly Bryant, QB, Missouri
Is Kelly Bryant the forgotten quarterback? The former Clemson star seems lost in the shuffle of great college players, even though he was dynamic in Clemson’s offense. He had 24 total touchdowns in 2017 and has already done a lot of damage in the Tigers offense this season.
Bryant has thrown five touchdowns and just one interception (an issue he had at Clemson). He will have to improve his throwing if the Tigers are going to reach a bowl game. Bryant has a career completion percentage of 66%. We think he could throw 25 touchdown passes this season.
Who do you think is ESPN’s biggest snub?
Who do you think was most overlooked? We are going to go with Eno Benjamin because scoring 18 touchdowns in a season isn’t easy. If you want more college football news, check out our NCAA section.