Midseason Farrell 50: Countdown continues with Nos. 36-40
The mid-season Farrell 50 is here, my list of the top 50 players in college football and I can say that this season has been like no other so far. Here’s Nos. 36-40.
RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info/coverage on 2021 camp series
40. LB Darien Butler, Arizona State
The skinny: Butler took an official visit to Arizona State on the last weekend prior to National Signing Day, which led to his commitment. He also had offers from Boston College, Colorado, San Jose State, New Mexico and Hawaii. Butler started 13 games as a true freshman and has never looked back. This fall, with 44 tackles, six tackles for a loss, two sacks and three interceptions, he has finally gained the national recognition that he deserves.
Farrell’s take: An important recruit from California for Arizona State, Butler has panned out better than expected and more importantly has stepped up to become a leader.
39. DB Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M
The skinny: Johnson initially committed to Tennessee, but less than two months later he re-opened his recruitment after taking an unofficial visit to Texas A&M. While several other schools remained in contention throughout the summer leading up to his senior season, including Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska and Missouri, he committed to the Aggies in early September. Johnson is having a breakout season in College Station, having totaled 51 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, one interception and four pass breakups.
Farrell’s take: A big-time recruit in the 2020 class for Jimbo Fisher and Co., the big defensive back is hitting his stride this season. As a national top-50 recruit, this was expected.
38. DE Jermaine Johnson, Florida State
The skinny: One of the top JUCO recruits in the country during the 2018 cycle, Johnson trimmed his list of top schools down to Georgia, Miami, Colorado, UCLA, USC, Oregon and Texas before committing to the Bulldogs in early August. After two rather disappointing seasons in Athens, Johnson transferred to Florida State, where he has flourished. With 44 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks, he has become one of the top pass rushing linemen in the country.
Farrell’s take: Johnson has been an amazing transfer for Florida State not only for his pass rushing ability but also for his leadership as the roster was revamped and needed players who could lead on and off the field.
37. QB Malik Willis, Liberty
The skinny: Willis initially committed to Virginia Tech, but reopened his recruitment in late December and flipped to Auburn the next day. After attempting 14 passes in his two seasons with the Tigers, he transferred to Liberty, where he has led the Flames to two consecutive memorable seasons. This fall he has passed for 1,462 yards and 14 touchdowns and rushed for 655 yards and 13 touchdowns, as he has also become a hot quarterback name in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Farrell’s take: Willis was a Power Five talent coming out of high school and has been dominant at the lower level. Some have him as the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft next year and his pass-run ability is hard to defend.
36. TE Isaiah Likely, Coastal Carolina
The skinny: While Boston College, the local program, took a long look, Likely committed to Coastal Carolina since the Eagles’ offer never arrived. Other schools that offered included Southern Miss, Rhode Island and Bethune-Cookman. In his fourth season at Coastal Carolina, Likely is performing like an All-American this fall. Now with 27 receptions for 513 yards and eight touchdowns for the undefeated Chanticleers, he and quarterback Grayson McCall are one of the top receiving combos in the country.
Farrell’s take: The best tight end in the country? He could very well be that guy as he’s a prolific pass catcher and always finds a way to get open. He’s a danger in the red zone as well.