Farrell 50: The nation's top players - Nos. 41-45
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 they were as recruits. We continue today with Nos. 41-45.
FARRELL 50: Nos. 46-60
The skinny: With upwards of 20 offers already on the table, Quarterman still quickly committed to the Canes after he earned his offer at a summer camp. Quarterman has been extremely productive and consistent since his arrival in Coral Gables in 2016. After foregoing the NFL Draft, he returned to Miami coming off a season in which he logged 82 tackles, 14 TFLs, five sacks and and one interception. One of the unquestioned leaders on the defensive unit, he is once again producing with 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one sack and one fumble recovery.
Farrell’s take: Quarterman was a Rivals100 prospect despite his overall lack of length because he was such a violent hitter and worked so well downhill. He was also very athletic in coverage and closed on the receiver quickly. He’s been a standout since his freshman year at Miami and he’s the leader of the team's defense. The Canes may be struggling, but Quarterman has still been effective.
The skinny: Murray trimmed his list of top schools down to Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M before committing to the Sooners in August. An unofficial visit to Norman a couple of weeks before his decision put the Sooners over the top. The defensive struggles for the Sooners last fall were well-documented, but Murray was not a part of the problem. This fall, he again continues to lead by example, with 31 tackles, four tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks for the undefeated Sooners.
Farrell’s take: Murray was a four-star ranked outside the Rivals250 who had good length but needed to fill out and add size. He was a solid tackler in high school and showed good instincts, but he’s become a tackling machine at the college level. He’s outplayed his ranking so far and is one of the Big 12’s best defenders.
The skinny: Ruggs took January official visits to Alabama, Florida State and Penn State before committing to the Tide on National Signing Day. This came down to the Tide and Seminoles until the very end. Part of a loaded receiving corps in Tuscaloosa, Ruggs began to hit his stride last season with 46 receptions and 11 touchdowns. This fall, he has continued to showcase his explosive skill set with 17 receptions for 361 yards and four touchdowns, along with a 75-yard touchdown run.
Farrell’s take: Ruggs was a tiny receiver with great speed coming out of high school and his ability to separate was what had him so highly ranked. He’s a touchdown waiting to happen in college and the same could be said about high school. He should kill it at the NFL Combine with his 40 time.
The skinny: Hudson took official visits to Michigan, Penn State and UCLA before committing to the Wolverines in late January. He also seriously considered Pittsburgh throughout his recruitment. After an All-American caliber season in 2017, Hudson’s production levels took a tumble last fall. Because of this, there was some uncertainty regarding his 2019 season. However, he has responded as you would expect from a veteran with 41 tackles, one tackle for a loss and one sack, while playing all over the field for the Wolverines.
Farrell’s take: Hudson was a high three-star athlete for us who could play many different positions in college and came on strong near the end of his senior season. His coming out party was at the annual Big 33 game well after our final ranking, where he showed he had just started to tap into his potential. He was always a great athlete. He just never stood out at one position until that Big 33 game and he has taken things to the next level since. He was a tough evaluation because of his versatility.
The skinny: With offers piling up during the winter after his junior season, Gross-Matos began to focus on Penn State, Virginia Tech and North Carolina before he gave his commitment to the Nittany Lions almost year before his National Signing Day. Gross-Matos had a breakout 2018 season with 54 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and two forced fumbles.
With offenses paying more attention to his whereabouts, his statistics may not be matching up to last season, but he has been a disruptive force throughout the early portion of the season with 11 tackles, five tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Farrell’s take: Gross-Matos was a Rivals250 four-star who got better each time we saw him, and he finished the rankings cycle on an upswing after a great week at Under Armour. He had good length and a frame he continued to fill out, but it was his agility and balance that impressed us the most. He was very hard to knock off balance. Another key get for Penn State from Virginia, a state the Nittany Lions have done well in.