Farrell 50: The nation's top players - Nos. 21-25
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. 26-30.
The skinny: Biadasz held a quartet of FCS offers when he took an unofficial visit to Madison and picked up an offer from Wisconsin. Less than two days later he committed to the Badgers.
After redshirting in 2016, he has become a mainstay on the offensive line during the last two seasons. Anchoring the line from the center position, Biadasz decided to forego the NFL Draft earlier this year. That definitely seems like a good decision at this point, as he continues to show leadership, while dominating opponents and helping pave the way for Heisman Trophy candidate running back Jonathan Taylor.
Farrell’s take: Biadasz was a three-star prospect who lacked great size and power out of high school but had smarts and athleticism. We had him ranked as a defensive tackle because he seemed to excel at that position and was aggressive. Biadasz has taken that aggression and brought it to the offensive line. The level of competition he played wasn’t great and we worried a bit about his frame, but he’s turned into your typical underrated, nasty Wisconsin offensive lineman.
The skinny: Willekes never saw his recruiting process take off, so when Michigan State offered him a walk-on opportunity during an official visit, he grabbed it. Despite consecutive impressive seasons in East Lansing, Willekes still did not receive the national attention that he deserved heading into this fall. And now with 41 tackles, six tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown, he continues to prove himself as one of the top defenders in the country.
Farrell’s take: Willekes had a very good high school career but never received the FBS offer he wanted so he walked on at Michigan State. And the Spartans, as they have done before, turned him into a standout player. His motor and desire are off the charts and he’s always around the football. He’ll join a slew of former Michigan State walk-ons to make it to the NFL.
In Athens, Thomas made an immediate impact. He started 13 games as a true freshman, while more than holding his own against top-level SEC defensive talent. After another impressive season in 2018, even more was expected from him this fall from both Georgia coaches and fans, plus NFL scouts. And he has proven to everyone that he deserved the pre-season attention he received, as he has helped solidify a powerful offensive line for the undefeated Bulldogs.
Farrell’s take: As a Rivals100 prospect and top-10 offensive tackle nationally, we liked Thomas quite a bit and he got stronger as the rankings cycle progressed. He became more physical with each evaluation and was especially impressive at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week where he shot up into our final Rivals100.
He had a good frame, excellent reach and good feet, but what he’s done as a starter since day one at Georgia is still way ahead of schedule. He’s been a big part of the Dawgs' recent success and is one of the top OL for the NFL Draft next April.
The skinny: Mond originally committed to Baylor, but then re-opened his process and ended up signing with Texas A&M. Auburn proved to be the Aggies’ major threat. After showing his potential as a true freshman in 2017 and then taking his game to the next level in 2018, many were curious as to what 2019 would bring. To this point he has continued to perform at a high level, with 1,333 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air, plus two rushing touchdowns.
Farrell’s take: Mond has been key for Texas A&M and handled the pressure of being thrust into a starting role before he was ready. Mond was a guy I stood on the table for as a five-star with zero agreement from our staff, so if he fails, it’s on me for this eval. He reminded me of a young DeShaun Watson with slightly less accuracy but better running ability. So far it’s been up and down, but last season he had a solid year. There have been many more ups than downs and he’s played some of his best football against the best teams, although this year he’s fallen a bit flat against Clemson and Auburn, which is disappointing.
The skinny: While he already held a pile of offers, Georgia became the immediate favorite when they threw their hat into the ring. He trimmed his list down to Georgia, Penn State, Clemson, Florida State and Alabama, but then did the expected and committed to the Bulldogs in January.
Swift, who began to reach his potential last season with 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, has now become the consistent big-game threat that many envisioned when he arrived in Athens. While only receiving 66 carries to this point, he has totaled 460 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, plus 147 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Farrell’s take: Swift was just shy of a fifth star in 2017 ranked as the No. 3 running back and No. 35 player in the country. He reminded me a bit of Nick Chubb coming out of high school, although he caught the ball a bit better. He’s still not being used enough, but he’s one of the most dynamic players in the country.