CFB Player Rank: Top 100 players of the 2023 season

ByESPN Staff ESPN logo
Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The best player in college football is always an arbitrary choice. Is it the guy who won the Heisman Trophy? Jayden Daniels is surely deserving. Is it the player who has carried his team to the highest point? Michael Penix Jr.'s performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl was legendary. Or is it the player who'll likely go first in the NFL draft? Caleb Williams was awesome in 2023 -- even if his defense was not. The answer is always up for debate, but ESPN's staff of college football writers weighed in to come up with not just the nation's best player but a ranking of the top 100 players of the 2023 season. It's a list guaranteed to have you nodding in agreement with each flawless pick.--David Hale

Methodology: Voters were presented with a series of one-on-one votes. For example, "Who should be ranked higher following the 2023 season: Jayden Daniels or Michael Penix Jr.?" Think of it as an Oklahoma drill of statistical reasoning. More than 10,000 votes later, these are the results.

Jump to: 1-10 | 11-20|21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50

51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100

1. Jayden Daniels

QB, LSU, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:3,812 yards, 40 TD, 4 INT, 10 rushing TD

Preseason ranking: 15

On his way to winning the Heisman Trophy, Daniels led the country with 4,946 yards in total offense (nearly 600 yards more than the next-closest player when the regular season ended) and accounted for 50 touchdowns (40 passing and 10 rushing). Daniels joined Johnny Manziel as the only two players in SEC history to pass for 3,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

2.Michael Penix Jr.

QB, Washington, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 4,648 yards, 35 TD, 9 INT

Preseason ranking: 6

In his second year with Washington, Penix had one of the greatest seasons in program history, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting and leading the Huskies to a 13-0 record and the Pac-12 title, and he also won the Maxwell Award, presented to the best player in college football.

3. Marvin Harrison Jr.

WR, Ohio State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 67 rec, 1,211 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: 3

Harrison, the Biletnikoff Award winner, became the first receiver in Ohio State history to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He caught 67 passes for 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Big Ten's best offense (425.0 total YPG). Harrison is No. 2 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board.

4. Bo Nix

QB, Oregon, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 4,508 yards, 45 TD, 3 INT

Preseason ranking: 14

Nix was sensational for the Ducks, especially in Pac-12 play, as he earned first-team All-Pac-12 and was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year. The Auburn transfer ranked second in QBR (91.2) behind only Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels and threw 45 touchdown passes to just three interceptions while being sacked just five times.

5.Brock Bowers

TE, Georgia, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:56 rec, 714 yards, 6 TD

Preseason ranking: 2

The first two-time winner of the Mackey Award as the sport's best tight end, Bowers proved this past season that he not only runs faster and blocks better than others -- he also heals faster. After TightRope surgery to repair a high ankle sprain, Bowers returned to action 26 days later. He had 56 catches for 714 yards with six touchdowns in 10 games.

6.Malik Nabers

WR, LSU, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 89 rec, 1,569 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: 37

Nabers, who became LSU's career leader in receptions, tied for third this season among Power 5 players with 89 catches. He led the country with an average of 120.7 receiving yards per game and tied for third with 14 touchdown catches while finishing second to Marvin Harrison Jr. for the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football.

7.Rome Odunze

WR, Washington, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,553 yards, 13 TD

Preseason ranking: 20

The Washington wideout didn't win the Biletnikoff Award, but he had a season worthy of such recognition. Odunze was arguably the best player for the Huskies all season, tallying 1,553 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging more than 17 yards a catch through the CFP semifinal. Whenever quarterback Michael Penix Jr. needed to make a key throw in a crucial moment, you could bet the ball was going to be headed Odunze's way.

8.Dallas Turner

OLB, Alabama, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 10 sacks, 28 solo tackles

Preseason ranking: 28

Turner was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by the league's coaches. The 6-foot-4, 252-pound junior leads Alabama with 14.5 tackles for loss and recorded 10 sacks. Turner became the 41st player under Nick Saban at Alabama to earn consensus All-America honors.

9. Joe Alt

OL, Notre Dame, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:allowed 3 pressures, 1 sack, missed 3 run blocks

Preseason ranking: 11

A year ago, Alt was Pro Football Focus' top-graded offensive tackle. So, what did he do for a follow-up in 2023? He was, once again, the top-graded offensive tackle. Alt helped protect Sam Hartman and open run lanes for Audric Estime, and for the season, Alt allowed just three pressures and one sack and missed three run blocks total.

10.Caleb Williams

QB, USC, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:3,633 yards, 30 TD, 5 INT

Preseason ranking: 1

It was disappointing season overall for the Trojans, but that came despite another standout year for Williams, who remains the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Williams threw for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdown passes to just five interceptions. He added 11 rushing touchdowns.

11.Ollie Gordon II

RB, Oklahoma State, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 285 car, 1,732 yards, 21 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Gordon broke out this year, becoming a unanimous All-American, the Doak Walker Award winner and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year after running for 1,732 yards and 21 TDs in the season. He had more than 250 scrimmage yards against Kansas, West Virginia and Cincinnati, the only FBS player in the past 10 years to do so in three straight games.

12.Jordan Travis

QB, Florida State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:2,756 yards, 20 TD, 2 INT

Preseason ranking: 8

The numbers tell a convincing story of Travis' 2023 season: 27 total touchdowns, just shy of 3,000 yards and only two turnovers all season on an undefeated team. But much as FSU fans might hate it, the ultimate compliment came from the CFP committee, which essentially said Travis was irreplaceable. It wasn't wrong. No player had more of an impact on dragging FSU from the brink of the abyss in 2020 to the brink of perfection in 2023 than Travis.

13.Payton Wilson

LB, NC State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 6 sacks, 3 INT, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: 81

Wilson was, quite possibly, the best all-around defender in college football in 2023. He finished the regular season with 138 tackles (tops in the ACC, second in Power 5), six sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, 10 QB hurries, 6 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries and 3 interceptions (including one returned for a TD). Basically if there's a category on the defensive stat sheet, Wilson filled it this season.

14.Laiatu Latu

DL, UCLA, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:13 sacks, 2 FF, 2 INT

Preseason ranking: 49

Latu won the Lombardi Award after leading the nation in tackles for loss per game (1.8) and ranked third with 13 sacks. He was part of a defense that ranked No. 16 nationally in scoring defense (18.4) and No. 12 in total defense (301.5 yards per game) in the regular season.

15.Luther Burden III

WR, Missouri, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 86 rec, 1,212 yards, 9 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

The former five-star prospect blossomed as a sophomore and put together the best season for a Mizzou receiver since 2009: 83 catches, 1,197 yards and 9 touchdowns. His five straight 100-yard receiving games drove Mizzou's early unbeaten start, and he was instrumental in the Tigers' first major bowl bid since 2013.

16.Cody Schrader

RB, Missouri, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 276 car, 1,627 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Schrader walked on at Mizzou after rushing for 2,000 yards at Division II's Truman State, and after a solid 2022 campaign, he became one of the nation's best backs in 2023. He rushed for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged 196.4 yards from scrimmage over Mizzou's final five regular-season games.

17.T'Vondre Sweat

DL, Texas, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 45 total tackles, 2 sacks

Preseason ranking: NR

The 6-4, 362-pound intimidator brought home the first Outland Trophy for Texas in 46 seasons, leading a defense that allowed just 80.9 rushing yards per game, fourth-best nationally. Despite facing double-teams all year, Sweat did it all, finishing with 45 tackles and two sacks. He also blocked a kick and caught a TD pass in the Big 12 championship game.

18.Jalen Milroe

QB, Alabama, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 2,834 yards, 23 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

One of the most improved players in the country, Milroe threw for 23 touchdowns, ran for another 12 and turned the ball over just six times this season as he led the Tide to a 27-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game. Milroe ended the year with an 80.3 QBR.

19.Cooper DeJean

CB,Iowa, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 26 solo tackles, 2 INT, 5 PD

Preseason ranking: 46

A vital piece of an Iowa defense that does a lot of things right, DeJean, No. 13 on Kiper's Big Board, was the linchpin. DeJean, a unanimous All-American, recorded 41 tackles (26 solo), 2 interceptions and 5 passes defended for the country's fifth-best defense (274.8 YPG).

20.Olu Fashanu

OL, Penn State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: No sacks allowed in382 pass-block snaps

Preseason ranking: 16

Fashanu bypassed a chance to be a potential first-round selection in 2023 to come back to Penn State for one more season. Led by Fashanu, eighth overall on Kiper's Big Board, the Nittany Lions' offensive line helped the team average 186.7 rushing yards -- tops in the Big Ten.

21.Mike Sainristil

DB, Michigan, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 2 FF, 5 INT, 6 PD

Preseason ranking: NR

Sainristil made the transition from wide receiver to defensive back look easy for one of the best defenses in the country. He was first-team All-Big Ten after recording 36 tackles (20 solo) with 4 tackles for loss, 5 interceptions and 6 passes defended.

22.Carson Beck

QB, Georgia, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 3,941 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Beck had the unenviable position of replacing former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national titles in 2021 and 2022. All Beck did in his first season was complete 72.4% of his passes for 3,941 yards with 24 touchdowns and six picks. Georgia went 13-1 after a 63-3 win in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

23.Edgerrin Cooper

ILB, Texas A&M, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:8 sacks, 2 FF, 83 total tackles

Preseason ranking: NR

One of the few bright spots in another disappointing Texas A&M season, Cooper was Pro Football Focus' highest-rated FBS linebacker with a 91.7 grade. He was the only linebacker to grade higher than 85 in run defense, coverage and rushing the quarterback. He had 83 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

24.Kool-Aid McKinstry

CB, Alabama, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 24 solo tackles, 7 PD

Preseason ranking: 12

McKinstry has been an integral part of Alabama's secondary since his freshman season. One of the top coverage cornerbacks in the country, the 6-1, 195-pound junior recorded 24 solo tackles this season and broke up seven passes. He's No. 22 on Kiper's Big Board.

25.Xavier Watts

S, Notre Dame, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 30 solo tackles, 1 FF, 7 INT, 4 PD

Preseason ranking: NR

Sometimes interceptions don't tell an accurate story of a defender's impact, but in Watts' case, his FBS-best seven picks only underscores just how exceptional he was throughout 2023. He recorded 52 total tackles (30 solo) and had four passes defended.

26.Troy Franklin

WR, Oregon, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 81 rec, 1,383 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

The explosive receiver ranked third in FBS with 14 touchdown receptions during a season in which he finished with 81 catches for 1,383 yards (No. 6 in the country in total yards). He was particularly good in Pac-12 play, with six 100-yard receiving games in six conference games. He had at least four catches in all but one game this season, with the exception being a two-catch game in USC with 147 yards.

27.Jer'Zhan Newton

DL, Illinois, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 26 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: 35

Newton, the 2023 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 52 tackles (26 solo) with 8.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks for Illinois this season. Newton, who was a Nagurski Trophy finalist, is 16th overall on Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board for 2024.

28.Dillon Gabriel

QB, Oklahoma, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:3,660 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: 60

Gabriel has already moved on to Oregon, but he cemented his place as an Oklahoma legend when he became the first OU QB with at least 250 passing yards and 100 rushing yards against Texas, driving the Sooners 75 yards in 1:02 and throwing a 3-yard TD pass to Nic Anderson with 15 seconds left in a 34-30 win. He passed for 3,660 yards, 30 TDs and 6 INTs and ran for 373 yards and 12 touchdowns.

29.Jared Verse

DE, Florida State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 23 solo tackles, 9 sacks, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: 9

Verse's two years at FSU were remarkable by any measure, but it was his final two games after the Jordan Travis injury that solidified his status as a Noles legend. Against Florida and Louisville, he had 58 pass rushes, 13 pressures, 4.5 sacks, 20 tackles (11 at/behind the line), 3 QB hurries and 1 forced fumble, while opponents averaged just 2.7 yards per play (1.7 on the ground) when Verse was on the field.

30.Brian Thomas Jr.

WR, LSU, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,177 yards, 17 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Thomas and Malik Nabers teamed up to form one of the most prolific pass-catching tandems in the country. Thomas' 17 touchdown catches led all FBS players, and he averaged 17.3 yards per catch. Thomas also had eight catches of 40 yards or longer.

31.Noah Fifita

QB, Arizona, Freshman

Notable 2023 stats: 2,869 yards, 25 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Had Fifita begun the season as the Wildcats' starter, he might have wound up as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate. That's how good he was over the final two months of the season, leading Arizona to wins in its final six games of the year. He finished the year with 25 touchdowns and recorded an 83.7 QBR, placing him in the top 10 in the country in that stat.

32.Terrion Arnold

CB, Alabama, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 40 solo tackles, 1 FF, 5 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Arnold was one of Alabama's most versatile defenders this season and lined up at a couple of different spots in the secondary when other players were injured. He leads the Crimson Tide with five interceptions and had 6.5 tackles for loss to lead all Alabama defensive backs.

33.J.J. McCarthy

Michigan QB, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 2,851 yards, 22 TD, 4 INT

Preseason ranking: 39

McCarthy, a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, was the point person for a Michigan offense that helped the team return to the College Football Playoff. McCarthy has thrown for 2,851 yards, 22 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and has a QBR of 89.5.

34.Drake Maye

QB, North Carolina, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:3,608 yards, 24 TD, 9 INT

Preseason ranking: 5

Despite a new offensive coordinator and playbook, plus a more balanced split with his ground game, Maye remained exceptional in 2023, accounting for 33 touchdowns and more than 4,000 yards of total offense. Maye wrapped his UNC career with an 81.0 Total QBR, 79 touchdowns and more than 9,500 yards -- enough to be in the conversation for the top spot in the 2024 NFL draft.

35.Travis Hunter

CB, Colorado, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:3 INT on defense, 5 TD on offense

Preseason ranking: 70

A true two-way threat, Hunter was a key player for the Buffaloes at receiver and at corner, playing a majority of the team's snaps on both sides. In nine games, he finished with 57 catches for 721 yards receiving and five touchdowns, with three interceptions.

36.Cooper Beebe

OL, Kansas State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 1 sack allowed in456 pass-block snaps

Preseason ranking: 27

Kansas State's first Outland Trophy finalist, Beebe started 48 games for the Wildcats, allowing just one sack since 2021. This year, playing mostly left guard, he helped power a run game that averaged 204 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry.

37.Jonathon Brooks

RB, Texas, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:1,139 yards, 10 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Brooks stepped into big shoes, replacing Bijan Robinson as Texas' starter, and despite tearing his ACL late in the season against TCU, ran for 1,139 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 games, which ranked sixth in the FBS in rushing yards and seventh in rushing yards per game (113.9 YPG). He had eight straight games with at least 98 rushing yards, including 218 against Kansas on Sept. 30. In the Big 12 championship win over Oklahoma State, coach Steve Sarkisian sent him out to get the ball on the last play of the game to commemorate his role in getting there.

38.Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

LB, Clemson, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:5.5 sacks, 2 FF, 2 INT

Preseason ranking: 21

Trotter was the physical and emotional leader of a Clemson defense that ranked second in efficiency in 2023. He led the Tigers with 88 tackles and 15 tackles for loss, along with 5.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 forced fumbles, 10 QB hurries and 5 pass breakups. It's enough to ensure he'll be among the first linebackers off the board in the 2024 NFL draft.

39.Caleb Downs

S, Alabama, Freshman

Notable 2023 stats: 70 solo tackles, 1 FF, 2 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

A starter from the outset of the season, Downs lived up to his billing as one of the top recruits in the country and played well beyond his years as a true freshman. He led the Crimson Tide with 107 total tackles, forced a fumble and also had two interceptions and a punt return for a touchdown.

40.Taliese Fuaga

OL, Oregon State, Junior

Notable 2023 stat:OSU offense averaged 426.9 total yards (180.8 YPG rushing) in regular season

Preseason ranking: NR

A first-team All-Pac-12 selection on the offensive line, Fuaga received several All-American nods after guiding one of the country's best position groups. The Beavers' line allowed just 15 sacks, and, as a run-blocker, Fuaga earned the country's best grade from Pro Football Focus.

41.Zak Zinter

OL, Michigan, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:4 blown blocks,not whistled for any penalties

Preseason ranking: 19

Zinter was named a unanimous first-team All-American this season after being the go-to guy on Michigan's well-regarded offensive line, making sure things ran smoothly for J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum and crew. The Wolverines' offense averaged 161.8 rushing yards a game, which finished sixth in the Big Ten.

42.Jackson Powers-Johnson

UL, Oregon, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:0 sacks allowed in 469 pass block attempts

Preseason ranking: NR

There's a reason Powers-Johnson is headed to the NFL draft. The Ducks' center was an anchor for their offense as he guarded quarterback Bo Nix and helped fuel the team's running to perfection. His work was aptly recognized this season as Powers-Johnson was awarded the 2023 Rimington Trophy, which recognizes the most outstanding center in college football.

43.Sedrick Van Pran

C, Georgia, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:0.9 pressure pct allowed

Preseason ranking: 41

One of the best centers in the FBS, Van Pran was a steadying force on a Georgia offensive line that dealt with myriad injuries. Perhaps the greatest testament toVan Pran's importance was that he started 43 straight games. The Bulldogs went 41-2 in those games. He won the SEC's Jacobs Blocking Trophy and was a finalist for the Rimington Award, given to the top center in the FBS.

44.Audric Estime

RB, Notre Dame, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:1,341 yards, 18 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

One of the most physical runners in the country, Estime racked up 1,341 yards on the ground (12th nationally) and scored 18 times. His 12.6% broken-tackle rate was among the best in the Power 5, which helped him to rack up 799 yards after contact this season, the eighth most nationally and fourth best among Power 5 backs.

45.Tommy Eichenberg

LB, Ohio State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 40 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: 47

Eichenberg recorded 80 tackles (40 solo), leading the team while playing in only 10 games this season for the Buckeyes. In three games (Western Kentucky, Maryland and Rutgers), he tallied double-digit tackles -- with his 13 against Maryland a season high. Ohio State had the third-best defense in the FBS (259.9 YPG).

46.Blake Corum

RB, Michigan, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,111 yards, 25 TD

Preseason ranking: 7

Corum led all running backs with 25 touchdowns, finding the end zone at least twice in nine games for Michigan. The two-time Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year recipient averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

47.Ashton Jeanty

RB, Boise State, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:1,347 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Arguably no non-quarterback did more for an FBS offense than Jeanty, who was thrust into action after an early-season injury to George Holani. He finished with 1,347 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns and added 569 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 43 receptions. Jeanty led the FBS in average yards from scrimmage (159.7YPG). The best news for Boise State? He will be back in 2024.

48.Kris Abrams-Draine

CB, Missouri, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 38 solo tackles, 1 FF, 4 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

A stalwart for a physical Mizzou defense, Abrams-Draine allowed only a 37% completion rate and a 28.4 QBR as primary coverage guy. He picked off four passes, broke up 11 more, and proved his physicality with 2.5 tackles for loss, a run stuff and a pair of pressures on six pass rushes.

49.Deontae Lawson

MLB, Alabama, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 32 solo tackles, 3 sacks

Preseason ranking: NR

Lawson was sidelined for three games with injuries, but he was able to fight his way back into the lineup and become a key part of Alabama's defense from his inside linebacker spot. He finished the season with 67 total tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

50.Justin Eboigbe

DT, Alabama, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 29 solo tackles, 7 sacks

Preseason ranking: NR

After suffering a spinal/neck injury after four games in 2022, Eboigbe wasn't sure whether he'd ever get to play football again. He not only worked his way back but was one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the FBS. He finished with 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 7 sacks in 2023.

51.Bucky Irving

RB, Oregon, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,180 yards, 11 TD

Preseason ranking: 77

Irving was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection for the Ducks and rushed for 1,180 yards with 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Washington and Washington State in the middle of the season and is a vital cog in one of the most explosive scoring offenses in the country.

52.Cam Ward

QB, Washington State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:3,735 yards, 25 TD, 7 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Ward became one of the top transfer targets in college football after passing for 3,735 yards, ranking No. 7 in FBS. The former Incarnate Word quarterback was at his best against Oregon State early in the season, when he threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in what was a top-25 matchup at the time.

53.Tre Harris

WR, Ole Miss, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:985 yards, 8 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

The former Louisiana Tech transfer had an immediate impact at Ole Miss, leading the Rebels with 851 receiving yards on 47 catches with eight scores. Harris made the biggest impact in two of Ole Miss' biggest wins with 153 receiving yards on eight catches in a 55-49 victory against LSU and 11 catches for 213 yards in a 38-35 win against Texas A&M.

54.Keon Coleman

WR, Florida State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:50 rec, 658 yards, 11 TD

Preseason ranking: 86

Coleman could be frustratingly inconsistent at times in 2023, but when he was clicking, he was borderline unstoppable. His 9 catches, 122 yards and 3 touchdown receptions in the opener against LSU set the tone for Florida State's season, and he was nearly as impactful in wins over Clemson and Virginia Tech. For the year, he finished with 50 catches for 658 yards and 11 scores, adding another 300 yards as a punt returner.

55.Malik Washington

WR, Virginia, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:110 rec, 1,426 yards, 9 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Among the most impactful transfers in the country, Washington used his one season at Virginia to demolish ACC defensive backs. He led the country with 110 catches in the regular season, finished third in receiving yards (1,426) and added nine touchdowns, despite Virginia using three different QBs throughout 2023.

56.Xavier Worthy

WR, Texas, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,014 yards, 5 TD

Preseason ranking: 59

Worthy led the team in receiving yards with 1,014 yards on 75 catches, adding five touchdowns. His presence allowed transfer Adonai Mitchell to add another 845 yards and 11 TDs opposite him, with Mitchell saying it's wild how much attention the speedy Worthy draws. Worthy was also a catalyst on special teams, with 371 yards on punt returns this season, including a 74-yard return TD against BYU.

57.Malaki Starks

S, Georgia, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:31 solo tackles, 3 INT, 7 PD

Preseason ranking: 40

It takes a pretty special freshman to start 14 games on Georgia's defense, and that's what Starks did in 2022. He was just as good this past season with 52 total tackles, 7 passes defended and 3 interceptions. He was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the sport's top defender.

58.Nate Wiggins

CB, Clemson, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:2 INT, 2 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

Wiggins earned first-team All-ACC honors after emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the country, with a team-high 9 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 25 total tackles. His best game might have come against North Carolina, when he had eight tackles, forced a fumble on the goal line to prevent a touchdown and had a game-sealing interception on Drake Maye. Wiggins has already declared for the NFL draft. Kiper currently lists Wiggins as the No. 2 cornerback available.

59.Tykee Smith

DB, Georgia, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 46 solo tackles, 4 INT, 2 sacks

Preseason ranking: NR

Foot and knee injuries prevented Smith from making a big impact at Georgia after he transferred from West Virginia in 2021. The senior safety saved his best for last, as he piled up 70 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions and 2 sacks this past season. Smith's versatility was invaluable for the UGA defense.

60.Jason Henderson

LB, Old Dominion, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:167 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

The prolific tackler who led the FBS with 189 tackles in 2022 continued to pile up stops for ODU. Henderson was second in the nation with 167 tackles, and he earned second-team AP All-America honors after receiving a host of All-America accolades last season. His career tackles-per-game average of 12.1 ranks third in FBS history, trailing only Boston College's Luke Kuechly and Maryland's E.J. Henderson.

61.Trey Benson

RB, Florida State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:905 yards, 14 TD

Preseason ranking: 69

Benson rushed for 905 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, earning second-team All-ACC honors. With Jordan Travis out for the season, Benson saved his best for the final two games. In a 24-15 win at Florida, Benson ran for 95 yards -- including three rushing touchdowns. Then in the ACC championship game against Louisville, Benson had 67 yards rushing to take pressure off third-string quarterback Brock Glenn. Benson is the only ACC player with two games with three rushing TDs in 2023.

62.Tahj Brooks

RB, Texas Tech, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:1,541 yards, 10 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

After an 0-2 start, Tech rebounded to win seven games by handing the ball to Brooks. Over the final 11 games, Brooks averaged 24.6 carries and 130.2 yards. He finished with 1,541 yards, and the Red Raiders won six of his eight 100-yard games. The best news? He's returning in 2024.

63.Kalen DeLoach

LB, Florida State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:33 solo tackles, 7 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

A first-team All-ACC selection, DeLoach took a star turn his senior season for the Seminoles -- with 68 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. He had the most important defensive play of the season against Clemson, when he sacked Cade Klubnik, forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game in the third quarter. Florida State eventually won in overtime and finished the regular season undefeated.

64.Omarion Hampton

RB, North Carolina, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 253 car, 1,504 yards, 15 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

A finalist for the Doak Walker Award, Hampton earned first-team All-ACC honors after a breakout sophomore season. Among FBS running backs, Hampton ranks fifth in rushing yards (1,504). In all, Hampton had seven 100-yard rushing games this season as he recorded 15 rushing touchdowns.

65.Xavier Legette

WR, South Carolina, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 71 rec, 1,255 yards, 7 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Legette played quarterback in high school, and it took him a while to get comfortable at receiver at South Carolina. After catching 42 passes in his first four seasons combined, Legette exploded as a fifth-year senior in 2023. He was second in the SEC with 1,255 receiving yards and third with 71 catches to go with seven scores.

66.Jay Higgins

LB, Iowa, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 79 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Higgins, a Butkus Award semifinalist, was a first-team All-Big Ten selection for a stingy Iowa defense that spearheaded a 10-win regular season. His 171 tackles (79 solo) this season led the Big Ten, ranked second nationally and was the most by a player from a Power 5 conference.

67.Cedric Gray

LB, North Carolina, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:121 total tackles,5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: 64

The first-team All-ACC selection continued his dominance in 2023, with 121 total tackles -- second most in the ACC and ranked in the top 20 nationally. In addition, he has 11 tackles for loss, 7 quarterback pressures, 4 pass breakups, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception. Gray has declared for the NFL draft and opted out of the bowl game. Kiper has him ranked as the No. 6 off-ball linebacker available.

68.Michael Pratt

QB, Tulane, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:2,406 yards, 22 TD, 5 INT

Preseason ranking: 99

Few Group of 5 quarterbacks perform as well -- or remain at the level -- as long as Pratt did at Tulane, which nearly repeated as AAC champion and as a New Year's Six bowl participant. Pratt eclipsed 2,300 passing yards and 20 touchdowns for the third consecutive season and posted a career-best completion percentage of 65.4. He became Tulane's career passing leader with 9,603 yards and earned AAC Offensive Player of the Year honors.

69.Shedeur Sanders

QB, Colorado, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:3,230 yards, 27 TD, 3 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Sanders -- and really, the entire Colorado team in general -- experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows this season. Behind an offensive line that gave him less and less protection as the year went on, Sanders threw for 3,230 yards and 27 touchdowns. In what was a noisy rebuilding year for the Buffs, Sanders stood out in singular moments but also showed that both he and Colorado have a ways to go.

70.Dillon Johnson

RB, Washington, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 222 car, 1,162 yards, 16 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

While plenty of deserved noise surrounded Michael Penix Jr. and Rome Odunze all year, Johnson's back half of the season ensured that he would be mentioned among his teammates when discussing the Huskies' potent offense. The running back from Mississippi has 1,162 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns as Washington is heading to the CFP National Championship game, and his biggest performances came in statement fashion: 256 yards and four touchdowns against USC late in the year and 152 yards and two touchdowns in Washington's Pac-12 title game victory over Oregon.

71.Will Howard

QB, Kansas State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:2,643 yards, 24 TD, 10 INT

Preseason ranking: 87

In his first full season as K-State's starter, Howard threw for 2,643 yards, rushed for 455 more (not including sacks) and produced 33 combined TDs. He produced a QBR of 82 or higher in half his games, and the Wildcats went 6-0 and averaged 43 points per game when he did so.

72.Jonah Elliss

DE, Utah Utes, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:23 solo tackles, 12 sacks, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

What was an uncharacteristic down year for the Utes this past season was not at all that for Eliss, who made his presence known nationally with 12 sacks on the year (seventh in the nation) as well as 37 tackles and one forced fumble. In a year without Cameron Rising, Elliss was the Utes' best player.

73.Jalen Green

DE, James Madison, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:15.5 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

He finished the season second in the nation in sacks (15.5) and second in tackles for loss (20) before a knee injury cut his exceptional season short in November. Green needed just five sacks to break Elvis Dumervil's single-season FBS record. He added 7 quarterback hurries, 1 pick-six and 2 forced fumbles for a ferocious JMU defensive front. Despite missing the final month, Green earned first-team AP All-America honors.

74.Nathaniel Watson

LB, Mississippi State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:10 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Watson ranked ninth nationally in tackles (137) and had 10 sacks. He had five games with double-digit tackles, and, among the nation's top 20 tacklers, his five missed tackles was easily the fewest. He did his best to carry a flawed Bulldogs squad.

75.Ray Davis

RB, Kentucky, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 199 car, 1,452 total yards, 21 total TD

Preseason ranking: NR

The Vanderbilt transfer made one of the season's biggest early statements, rushing for 280 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-14 blowout of Florida in September, and he finished his year in Lexington with 1,452 total yards (1,129 receiving) and 21 touchdowns (14 receiving).

76.Javon Foster

OT, Missouri, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 2.1 pressure allowed pct.

Preseason ranking: NR

The Missouri offensive line took a huge step forward in 2023, and Foster's nearly flawless play at left tackle was a huge reason why. He allowed just nine pressures, with three holding penalties and only seven blown run blocks, in 13 games. He's in Kiper's top 10 for 2024 tackle draft prospects.

77.Diego Pavia

QB, New Mexico State,Junior

Notable 2023 stats:2,973 yards, 26 TD, 9 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Along with coach Jerry Kill, Pavia became the face of New Mexico State's renaissance, which led to consecutive bowl appearances and 18 wins, including a historic road upset of Auburn on Nov. 18. Pavia more than doubled his passing output from last season to finish with 2,973 yards, and doubled his touchdown passes total to 26. He also led the team in rushing touchdowns (7) and was NMSU's leading rusher in seven games.

78.Ashton Gillotte

DE, Louisville, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:23 solo tackles, 11 sacks, 3 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

Gillotte had 11 sacks this season -- ranking No. 9 in the nation, and the most at Louisville since Devonte Fields had 11 in 2015. Gillotte picked up first-team All-ACC honors after also notching a career-high 45 tackles, a team-high 14.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. Gillotte has already announced he will return to Louisville for his senior season.

79.Jaylan Ford

LB, Texas, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 47 solo tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: 88

Texas' leading tackler the past two seasons, Ford had 101 total tackles with 10.5 tackles for loss, adding one sack and two interceptions. Ford, a vocal leader at linebacker for the Longhorns, was a first-team All-Big 12 selection and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award.

80.Dorian Strong

CB, Virginia Tech, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:25 tackles, 3 INT, 8 PD

Preseason ranking: NR

Strong emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the ACC this past season, with eight pass breakups and three interceptions. Strong led the nation in lowest completion percentage allowed and was second in yards per target. He has announced he will return to the Hokies for next season.

81.Kaimon Rucker

Edge, North Carolina, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 34 solo tackles, 8.5 sacks, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

Rucker had his best season for the Tar Heels, ranking third in the ACC with 8.5 sacks and getting a team-high 61 total tackles. He also forced and recovered a fumble against Clemson, although UNC ended up losing that game. The North Carolina defense faltered in the final month of the season, but Rucker remained one of the key standouts.

82.Collin Oliver

LB, Oklahoma State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 45 solo tackles, 6 sacks, 4 FF

Preseason ranking: 75

After 11.5 sacks as a freshman in 2021, Oliver moved from the defensive line to linebacker in OSU's new 3-3-5 defense this year, becoming an every-down player with 73 tackles, 6 sacks, 5 passes defended and 4 forced fumbles, including 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble in a 39-32 win over Kansas on Oct. 14. He was named to the All-Big 12 second team.

83.Zachariah Branch

WR, USC, Freshman

Notable 2023 stats:1,164 all-purpose yards, 5 total TD

Preseason ranking: NR

Branch's inaugural season struck the college football world like a lightning bolt when he debuted with 232 all-purpose yards, a 96-yard kickoff return for a score and one receiving touchdown on nine touches in his first game. Even if he -- and USC -- tapered off as the season progressed, Branch still had a handful of electric moments on his way to 1,164 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in his freshman year.

84.Junior Colson

LB, Michigan, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 40 solo tackles

Preseason ranking: 56

Colson was a Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist and a second-team All-Big Ten selection. He led Michigan in tackles for a second consecutive season after recording 89 tackles (40 solo) as part of the nation's second-best defense (239.7 YPG).

85.Ismail Mahdi

RB, Texas State, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 1,331 yards, 10 TD

Preseason ranking: NR

The 5-9 transfer from Houston Christian sparked Texas State's offense in coach G.J. Kinne's first season. Mahdi was a threat every time he touched the ball, not only averaging 6.0 yards per rush but also 25.6 yards on kickoff returns, with a 100-yard touchdown against Southern Miss. He earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors as an all-purpose star and made several All-America teams as well.

86.Devin Neal

RB, Kansas, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 1,280 yards, 16 TD

Preseason ranking: 79

In 11 starts this year, Neal ran for 1,280 yards, fourth most in Kansas single-season history, and 16 TDs, second most in a season. He averaged 6.3 yards per carry and had six 100-yard games on the season. Against UCF, he had a 75-yard TD run. The 5-11 215-pounder has started 31 career games for the Jayhawks.

87.Calen Bullock

S, USC, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:42 solo tackles, 2 INT, 7 PD

Preseason ranking: 63

It was not exactly a banner year for USC's defense, but Bullock -- who was an All-American last season -- remained a strong presence in the Trojans' secondary. Bullock finished the year with 61 tackles, 7 pass deflections and 2 interceptions, which was a regression from his stellar 2022 season.

88.Cole Bishop

S, Utah, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:60 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Utah's defense continues to recruit, develop and show off its incredible defensive identity under Kyle Whittingham through guys such as Bishop. As the Utes' calling card had to be their defense this season, the junior safety did a little bit of everything, racking up 60 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1 forced fumble.

89.Danny Stutsman

LB, Oklahoma, Junior

Notable 2023 stats: 51 solo tackles, 3, sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: 52

Stutsman, the Sooners' leader on defense, led OU in tackles for the second straight year, with 104 total stops, adding 3 sacks, an interception and 2 forced fumbles despite missing half of the Kansas game and all of the Oklahoma State game, both OU losses. He was named a third-team AP All-American and is bypassing the NFL draft and returning to Oklahoma next season, big news for the Sooners.

90.Quinn Ewers

QB, Texas, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 3,479 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Ewers made a big leap this season, throwing for 3,479 yards and 22 TDs to six INTs, and completed 69% of his throws. He led Texas to a huge win in Tuscaloosa, going 24-of-38 for 349 yards and three TDs in a 34-24 win over then-No. 3 Alabama in a game that went a long way toward getting the Longhorns into the College Football Playoff. But those 452 yards and four TDs in the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma State didn't hurt, either.

91.Kaidon Salter

QB, Liberty, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats: 2,876 yards 32 TD, 6 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

After starting four games in 2022, Salter blossomed under first-year coach Jamey Chadwell, helping Liberty to its first undefeated regular season, a Conference USA title and its first New Year's Six bowl berth. He earned Conference USA MVP honors after recording 11 games with multiple touchdown passes, four games with multiple rushing touchdowns and seven games with at least 225 passing yards. A Maxwell Award semifinalist, Salter led Conference USA in passing efficiency and passing touchdowns and ranked second in rushing touchdowns.

92.Damien Martinez

RB, Oregon State, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:1,185 yards, 9 TD

Preseason ranking: 95

Martinez nearly helped pull off a late-season upset of title-game participant Washington when he rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-20 Huskies win. After rushing for 982 yards in 2022, he went over the 1,000-yard mark this year and has 2,167 yards and 16 scores in his two seasons in Corvallis.

93.TreVeyon Henderson

RB, Ohio State, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:156 car, 926 yards, 11 TD

Preseason ranking: 33

Even though Henderson missed three games because of injury, he still led Ohio State in rushing with 926 yards and 11 touchdowns. He scored multiple touchdowns in three games (Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Minnesota) and found pay dirt in eight of the nine games he played for the Buckeyes.

94.Rueben Bain Jr.

DE, Miami, Freshman

Notable 2023 stats: 7.5 sacks, 3 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

The ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year made an immediate impact as a true freshman, wreaking havoc from the edge. Bain started the final 10 games of the season, finishing with 44 tackles -- the most among Miami defensive linemen. In addition, he was tied for first on the team with 7.5 sacks.

95.Mohamed Kamara

DE, Colorado State, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:13 sacks, 2 FF, 56 total tackles

Preseason ranking: NR

The Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year was among the nation's most consistently disruptive pass-rushers in 2023, leading the league in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (17) and ranking in the top 10 nationally in averages for both categories. He recorded sacks in each of CSU's first five games, punctuating the stretch with three against Utah State. Kamara finished his career with 30.5 sacks and 45.5 tackles for loss.

96.Braelon Allen

RB, Wisconsin, Junior

Notable 2023 stats:984 yards, 12 TD

Preseason ranking: 31

Allen was third in the Big Ten in rushing (984 yards) and second in touchdowns (12) for Wisconsin. Allen went over the 100-yard mark five times this season, led by a 165-yard effort in a win over Minnesota. He was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree.

97.Maxwell Hairston

CB, Kentucky, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:53 solo tackles, 1 FF, 5 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

A sure tackler and a ball hawk, Hairston picked off five passes, broke up six more and nearly scored as many touchdowns (two from pick-sixes) as he allowed (3). His 89% tackle success rate is about as good as you'll see from a cornerback in space, too.

98.Trey Moore

LB, UTSA, Sophomore

Notable 2023 stats:14 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF

Preseason ranking: NR

After setting a team record for tackles for loss as a redshirt freshman (18), Moore set his sights on another milestone. He piled up 14 sacks, a UTSA record and a half-sack shy of the AAC record, in the Roadrunners' first season in the league. Moore earned AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors and finished with 45 tackles, including 17.5 for loss, before entering the transfer portal.

99.Sam Hartman

QB, Notre Dame, Senior

Notable 2023 stats:2,689 yards, 26 TD, 8 INT

Preseason ranking: 25

Hartman transferred to the Irish from Wake Forest for his final season, and it was not without its share of ups and downs. Hartman finished with 2,689 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the season and some big performances in key wins -- including on the road at Duke. But Hartman also struggled in losses to Louisville and Clemson, throwing a combined five interceptions.

100.Chris Braswell

OLB, Alabama, Senior

Notable 2023 stats: 8 sacks, 3 FF, 1 INT

Preseason ranking: NR

Dallas Turner wasn't the only edge defender on Alabama's team who wreaked havoc this season. Braswell, a 6-3, 255-pound senior, was second to Turner with eight sacks. His three forced fumbles led the Tide, and he also had a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State.

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