Farrell 50: The nation's top players - Nos. 36-40
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
It’s that time of year, the middle of the college football season and time for a look at the Farrell 50 — the top 50 players in college football and how the were ranked as recruits. We continue today with Nos. 36-40.
The skinny: Betiku took official visits to USC, Notre Dame and Florida State during his senior season before committing to the Trojans at the end of December. At USC, he failed to make an impact, totaling only two tackles during his two seasons in Los Angeles. After then missing the 2018 season due to a hip surgery, he decided to transfer. He found a new home at Illinois, where he has finally flourished. Having accumulated 21 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries, Betiku has become one of the early surprises of the 2019 season.
Farrell’s take: The USC transfer was highly regarded out of high school as a national top 50 player. He was very raw with his technique but had tremendous explosion, played with excellent leverage and he had a non-stop motor. Now at Illinois, he’s one of the top pass rushers in the country and living up to his high ranking.
The skinny: Hall earned his Virginia offer during a summer camp performance and waited approximately a month before committing to the Cavaliers. He did take an unofficial visit to Penn State during his senior season, but never truly wavered off Virginia. Hall took his game to a new level in 2018 with 62 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions and an NCAA-leading 21 pass breakups. Now considered one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft, Hall has responded in 2019 with 19 tackles, three tackles for a loss, one sack and four pass breakups, as offenses actively avoid his side of the field.
Farrell’s take: Hall was a low two-star prospect out of high school. He was listed as an athlete and Virginia was his only committable offer. He could have played receiver or defensive back in college and was originally recruited to play on offense. He was a quiet kid who played for a good program in Pennsylvania, but he never really emerged on the radar for schools for whatever reason. He had good size but wasn’t a burner and was considered a reach by Virginia. The Cavaliers are having the last laugh now.
The skinny: Weaver took an active recruiting approach, taking numerous unofficial visits before committing to Cal during a trip to Berkeley. He also considered Utah, Arizona, Boise State and Washington State. Coming off a season when he totaled 155 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks, Weaver still managed to glide under the radar heading into 2019. However, that is no longer the case, as with 78 tackles, five tackles for a loss and one forced fumble already this season, he has proven himself to be one of the top tacklers in the country.
Farrell’s take: Weaver wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school mainly because he played in Washington state and not a lot teams recruit that area. He was a mid-range three star defensive end out of high school who has emerged as one of the top tacklers in the country and is leading a surprising Cal defense that is very good.
The skinny: Bachie initially committed to Western Michigan, but always held out hope for a Big Ten offer. When Michigan State did offer during the spring, he quickly flipped his commitment to the Spartans. While the Michigan State offense experienced their fair share of struggles last season, Bachie flourished on the defensive side with 102 tackles, nine tackles for a loss, one sack and one interception. This fall Barchie continues to excel with 47 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and four pass breakups.
Farrell’s take: Bachie was a mid-range three-star prospect out of high school with good size but there were questions about his range and ability to cover. He was not heavily recruited and is another good example of Michigan State finding a diamond in the rough. Now he’s the leader of the defense from the linebacker position and a guy who makes a ton of plays. His instincts are excellent, and he always takes the proper route to the football.
The skinny: Parsons initially committed to Penn State before backing off the pledge in order to take a closer look at a few other programs. Ohio State became the biggest challenge to Penn State, but the Nittany Lions were able to regain his commitment in late November. Parsons enjoyed a memorable true freshman season with 82 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Even more was expected from him this fall, and while he may not reach the same levels statistically, he has proven to be a next-level talent with 22 tackles, four tackles for a loss and one pass breakup.
Farrell’s take: Parsons was a freak of nature out of high school, one of the best pass rushers I’ve seen from a standing position at defensive end in my career. He also showed great ability in space and the quick-twitch speed needed to cover a ton of ground. I was surprised he was being looked at as a middle linebacker to some extent, but his athleticism was so off the charts in high school that I guess he could play safety and I wouldn’t be stunned. He is having another great year.