football Edit

The Farrell 50: Nos. 46-50

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 46-50 and lead off with an elite offensive lineman from New Jersey.

RELATED: Updated Rivals100 for 2018 | Updated Rivals100 for 2019


The skinny: Nelson always held Notre Dame in high regard, so when it offered, it immediately jumped to the head of the pack. The Irish further strengthened their chances after a spring visit to South Bend, so after trimming his list to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Boston College, Penn State and Rutgers, it came as no surprise when he committed to the Irish in early May. After redshirting in 2014, earning valuable playing time in 2015 and becoming the starting left guard in 2016, Nelson and Mike McGlinchey are part of an experienced and talented Irish offensive line.

Farrell’s take: I really liked Nelson on film, but when I first saw him in person at our New Jersey RCS Camp, I remember being wowed and felt he was a five-star prospect. He was huge, had good feet and he was a physical kid. It’s not shocking to see him working inside, but he could play tackle as well if needed and play either guard or tackle in the NFL. He was raw as a prospect out of high school so his best football is still ahead of him. He was always trying to prove he should be higher ranked as a prep and I would imagine he’s still trying to improve his stock now.

The skinny: Sutton took official visits to SMU, Colorado and BYU before committing to the Mustangs on Signing Day. After grabbing 49 receptions for 862 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, Sutton became one of the more productive receivers in the country last season with 76 receptions for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns. Now projected as a first round NFL Draft pick, will Sutton maintain the same level of productivity?

Farrell’s take: We had Sutton projected as a defensive back with his tall frame and good range. He also played some linebacker as well, but he has developed into a very good wide receiver at the next level. He was a big-play threat at wide receiver in high school, although not nearly as polished as he is now. Most wanted him as a defensive back, but his ball skills have transitioned well and his size, speed and hands make him one to watch for the draft. He could easily shoot up this list by the end of the season.

The skinny: Flowers initially committed to USF in June, then re-opened his process before re-committing to the Bulls in October. While Flowers received numerous offers as an athlete, his priority was to play quarterback at the college level. So despite late charges by Nebraska and Florida, he stuck with the Bulls. Coming off a season when he had 4,337 total yards and 42 total touchdowns, expectations are high for both him and the Bulls this fall.

Farrell’s take: Flowers had some big-time offers but regressed a bit from his sophomore season to his senior season and we were never truly convinced he could be an elite quarterback at the next level. Obviously that was our mistake as he’s been very impressive, especially last year. He was a thick, muscled up kid who wasn’t very tall for a quarterback so we could see him as a receiver or especially a defensive back, but he’s proven his worth as a quarterback and clearly picked the right program for him.

The skinny: While USC was always considered the heavy favorite, Marshall also took official visits to Oregon, Florida State, LSU and Michigan before committing to the Trojans on Signing Day. Marshall’s first two seasons with the Trojans have been very productive, with 119 tackles, six interceptions and 17 pass break-ups. After living in the shadows of Adoree’ Jackson for the last two seasons, Marshall will have the spotlight on him with his former teammate now in the NFL.

Farrell’s take: As with any position, you can get a feeling about a player and I had that feeling about Marshall. What was that feeling? It's that I was seeing something special and looking at a kid who could be an NFL star someday. With Marshall, he had the size, hips, strength and quickness, but it was more about his instincts and ability to see the field than anything else. He was a defensive quarterback at cornerback and by that I mean he's one of the few corners I've seen who could make the defensive calls from out on an island. He just knew where everyone was and where they are going and you simply couldn’t teach his coverage instincts. Even as the No. 1 corner in the country, he never avoided competition and always wanted to prove his worth.

The skinny: While UCLA received an official visit during his senior season, this came down to an in-state battle between Alabama and Auburn, which both received visits in January. Considering he played at Auburn High School, the Tigers were considered the favorite, but Evans pulled a Signing Day surprise by committing to the Crimson Tide. After dealing with some injuries during his first two seasons at Alabama, Evans came into his own last fall with 52 tackles and four sacks. Look for a much bigger season out of Evans this fall as the experience he gathered in 2016 should pay huge dividends this season.

Farrell’s take: Evans was a quick, athletic linebacker who played with the speed of an outside guy but could hit like an inside linebacker. I remember he completely laid out future teammate Cameron Robinson at the Under Armour All-America Game practices when the offensive lineman, who had 100 pounds on him, tried to get to the next level on him. Evans was great at shocking and shedding opponents and worked well off of contact. He could also cover in space and get skinny when he needed to.