football Edit

Farrell 25: College football's top players, Nos. 1-5

Every year in August I roll out the Farrell 50, a ranking of the top 50 players in college football. But this year is different, as it’s almost mid-September and only three Power Five conferences are getting ready for football this fall. So this year I am doing a Farrell 25, finishing up today with Nos. 1-5.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.


FARRELL 25: Nos. 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

MORE COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series


5. RB Najee Harris, Alabama


The skinny: Harris committed to Alabama in the spring of his sophomore year but Michigan was a serious contender late, even as the five-star played in the Army All-American Bowl. Torn between the two schools, Harris made his final choice in San Antonio and flew directly to Alabama after the event to enroll in school. Coming off his best collegiate season, when he rushed for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns, Harris surprised many by deciding to return for his senior season.

Farrell’s take: Harris drew some comparisons to Adrian Peterson - and some even had the bravery to say he was more talented out of high school - but he was just a shade behind as the second best running back I’ve scouted. He’s an elite talent who broke out last season and should have an equally impressive year this season. He has size and speed, and he can catch the ball and make people miss with great balance when hit.



4. RB Travis Etienne, Clemson

The skinny: Etienne was initially committed to Texas A&M, but re-opened his recruitment two months later. After trimming his list to Clemson, LSU and Tennessee - and taking official visits to Clemson and Tennessee in January - he committed to the Tigers a week before National Signing Day.

After two consecutive monster seasons, during which he totaled 3,272 yards and 43 touchdowns on the ground, Etienne will be back to further entrench himself in the Clemson record books.

Farrell’s take: This is a kid I thought might be under-ranked, because he had size, speed and shiftiness. LSU really coveted him, but much too late, and Clemson did a great job winning this recruiting battle for the high three-star. He’s faster than I expected and his burst has improved greatly.

As a guy just outside of that four-star ranking, he is making our evaluation look bad. Etienne has already turned into one of the fastest and most explosive running backs in college football, and he should be an NFL star. His return to college football is a welcome surprise.



3. RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

The skinny: Hubbard piled up approximately 25 offers throughout the spring before committing to Oklahoma State in early May. He also had offers from Auburn, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas A&M and Tennessee.

Expectations were high for Hubbard in 2019, but not many people thought he would rush for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. Will he be able to keep up that high level of play in 2020?

Farrell’s take: Hubbard was a four-star athlete out of high school because he could have played numerous positions, including defense. However, his strength was always his ability as a running back with great vision and excellent quickness. Hubbard is good in space and has showed his star potential last season. He’s that rare highly ranked prospect from Canada that has panned out.



2. CB Derek Stingley, LSU

The skinny: Stingley originally committed to LSU early in his high school career, but then he reopened his recruitment and considered several programs. The Tigers eventually landed his re-commitment over Florida and Texas.

Arriving on campus as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Stingley never let the pressure get to him as he managed to outperform the highest expectations. Finishing with 38 tackles, six interceptions and 15 passes defended, what can the sophomore possibly due for an encore?

Farrell’s take: The only cornerback in Rivals history to be named the No. 1 player overall in the country, Stingley is living up to that reputation and then some. Already named as the best player on a great defense that won the national title last season, Stingley has a great future ahead of him. We liked him as a big, physical corner with rare instincts and athleticism, and he will easily be a first-rounder when his turn comes. He’s the best I’ve seen at the position.



1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

The skinny: The No. 1 prospect in the 2018 class committed to Clemson in December of his junior year and never seriously considered other programs after his pledge. Georgia was very much a serious contender early on, and then Alabama and LSU were involved, but they felt like long shots.

Lawrence has excelled since the second he arrived at Clemson. Having totaled 6,945 yards and 66 touchdowns through the air and 740 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground in his two years, anything less than a Heisman Trophy will be disappointing.

Farrell’s take: Lawrence is the best quarterback I have scouted in my 20-plus years, and it shows. He has it all – size, arm strength, accuracy, mobility and football sense – and that made him an instant star in college. There was no doubt in my mind he would have a great freshman year, and his sophomore season was just as impressive. He hasn’t won a Heisman yet, so this is the year.