Farrell 50: Nos. 31-35
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
It’s that time of year. The college football season is almost over, so it's time for a look at the Farrell 50 — the top 50 players in college football and how they were ranked as recruits. We continue today with Nos. 31-35.
35. OL Trey Smith, Tennessee
The skinny: After taking official visits to Ohio State and Tennessee during his senior season, his in-state visit to Knoxville was more than enough for him to decide to stay closer to home and commit to the Vols.
Despite continued struggles on the field by the Vols in 2020, Smith’s performance did not disappoint. One of the top interior offensive linemen in the nation, he was first-team selection in the SEC and earned All-American honors.
Farrell’s take: Smith's ranking out of high school was a bit controversial because we had him as a four-star but he was ranked as a five-star by other networks. I think we’ve hit this correctly as he’s turned into an elite college OL but certainly not a definite first-rounder. This season he was down a bit but still very effective.
34. DL Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
After an impressive performance during his true freshman season, Thibodeaux continued to improve his game this fall with 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in only six games. He recently earned third-team All-American honors.
Farrell’s take: Thibodeaux was a definite five-star for us and an elite pass rusher out of high school and he hit the ground running in college. In his second year he’s emerged as one of the truly elite pass rushers in college football and is well on his way to being a first-rounder if he continues to fill out.
33. Shakur Brown, Michigan State
The skinny: Brown was a late qualifier, so his recruiting process ended more than three months after National Signing Day. While several programs, including West Virginia, Kentucky and Minnesota, continued to pursue him past National Signing Day, a late May visit to Michigan State put the Spartans over the top.
While Michigan State experienced their fair share of troubles this fall, Brown continued to prosper with 25 tackles, four pass breakups and five interceptions.
Farrell’s take: Brown was a tall and thick but raw corner out of Georgia and his technique has become amazing. He’s an elite playmaker with the ball in the air and he doesn’t mind putting his face in the fan in run support.
32. RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
The skinny: Patterson had a slow recruitment, eventually committing to Buffalo with his twin brother James.
Finishing his collegiate career with 3,884 yards and 52 rushing touchdowns, Patterson helped the Bulls become a major Group of Five player. This season he totaled 1,072 yards and 19 touchdowns, but will be most remembered for his record-tying eight-touchdown performance against Kent State in November.
Farrell’s take: Patterson was a smallish all purpose back out of Maryland coming out of high school with low-level interest and has gone from two-star to superstar. He’s been the best rusher in a short span this season and could be higher on this list.
31. DL Alim McNeill, NC State
The skinny: McNeill sped up his recruitment with a commitment to NC State during his senior season. He initially had planned to commit during the U.S. Army All-American game and had official visits schedule to Michigan and Virginia Tech that he did not end up taking.
One of the top defensive linemen in the country, McNeill continued to prove his talents this fall with 25 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and one interception, which was returned for a touchdown. He was named second-team All-American and first-team All-ACC after the season.
Farrell’s take: McNeill was a Rivals250 four-star, so this isn’t a surprise, but he filled out nicely and has been better against the run than expected. He takes up some much attention others can roam free.