The Farrell 50: Nos. 41-45
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
With the college football season nearly upon us, it’s time for another installment of the Farrell 50, the top 50 college football players in the country. We take a look at how each ranked out of high school and if they are exceeding or simply living up to expectations. Today we start off with 41-45 and lead off with a former walk-on who originally was headed to the Ivy League.
THE FARRELL 50: Nos. 46-50
The skinny: Falk was originally committed to Cornell when coach Mike Leach gave him a late opportunity to walk-on at Washington State. He accepted the opportunity and after redshirting in 2013 he has become one of the more productive quarterbacks in the country over the last two seasons. After totaling 9,029 yards and 76 touchdowns through the air during the last two seasons, he now enters 2017 with 89 career touchdown passes, which puts him 27 behind the all-time Pac-12 record of 116 held by Matt Barkley.
Farrell’s take: This is an excellent example of how well Leach works with quarterbacks, because Falk was not an attractive commodity out of high school. He was tall and had plenty of room to fill out, but his release wasn’t pretty and his arm strength average. He couldn’t make it at Oaks Christian and was benched after two games and the competition level in Utah wasn’t great. And now he’s killing it in college after being Ivy-bound? Wow. This is another ranking that will make people shake their heads, but I’m telling you the Falk you see now is nothing close to what he was in high school.
The skinny: Pettway, a one-time Florida State pledge, became Auburn's first commitment in the class of 2014. While he only played in nine games last season due to injuries, Pettway still managed to rush for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns. Teaming up with new quarterback Jarrett Stidham this fall, Auburn has the potential to have one of the more lethal backfields in the SEC in 2017.
Farrell’s take: The good news? We had Pettway as the No. 1 player at his position in the country in 2014. The bad news? We had him as a fullback and were worried he didn’t have the speed and quickness to be a feature back. Pettway has proven us wrong and he’s one of the SEC’s best and most physical running backs.
The skinny: Gesicki first took an official visit to Ohio State, but a visit to Penn State two weeks later was enough for him to seal the deal with the Nittany Lions. He also took a visit to Duke in January after the coaching change, but James Franklin quickly re-secured Gesicki's commitment after he took over. After totaling 25 receptions and one touchdown during his first two seasons, Gesicki reeled in 48 passes for 679 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Farrell’s take: We liked Gesicki, especially his athleticism, out of high school enough to make him a four-star, but we had questions about how physical he was willing to be and how he would fare as a blocker. We underestimated his athleticism and he’s obviously done well in other aspects of the game as well. He started off in our database as a wide receiver and he played a lot from the flex position and even outside. He was also athletic enough to be recruited in basketball and truly focused on football his last couple of seasons in high school.
The skinny: Hubbard accumulated an impressive number of offers during the winter and spring of his junior year, before committing to the Buckeyes in early April. He never wavered on his word and signed with Ohio State on Signing Day. With the Buckeyes, Hubbard patiently waited until Joey Bosa made his move to the NFL before totaling 46 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in his first season as a starter. While Hubbard has performed well to this point, expectations are even higher in 2017.
Farrell’s take: Hubbard was an interesting prospect out of high school, a massive kid who went from playing safety to linebacker and projected to defensive end. His athleticism in space was impressive as was his ability to drop in coverage, but there were too many variables to have him ranked any higher than a high three-star. He was also a national top 30 lacrosse prospect who at one point committed to Notre Dame, so it was hard to determine what his future would be. Now his future appears to be as the heir apparent to Bosa and a possible first round pick like Bosa as well.
The skinny: Heading into his decision on National Signing Day, Nnadi trimmed his list to Florida State, Virginia Tech and Virginia. While the Hokies were seen as the favorite by some people, Nnadi committed to the Seminoles. In Tallahassee, Nnadi began to emerge in 2015 but took his game to an even higher level last season with 49 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Will he continue to take his game to higher levels this fall?
Farrell’s take: Nnadi was always a ball of energy, a bit sawed off for a defensive tackle but a very active player who could shoot the gap and run plays down. I saw him in camps and games and he always brought boundless enthusiasm and aggression to the point where he had to be calmed down at times. As a Rivals100 prospect, we expected big things from him and he reminded me of a poor man’s Warren Sapp.