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Faculty soccer’s Place U 2022

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Suppose your college has the perfect historical past of churning out star defensive backs? Elite receivers? The very best QBs? Get in line, buddy.

Yearly, followers rage on social media, gamers put on branded shirts and faculties promote their groups as the highest producer of expertise at a given place, and yearly, one other fan base chimes in to supply a compelling counterargument. The issue is, there is no set formulation for who will get to be Quarterback U or Linebacker U. Success is within the eye of the beholder — or at the very least on the thumbs of the tweeter.

However ESPN Stats & Info has tried so as to add some technique to the insanity and provide you with one thing that, if not totally definitive, at the very least provides some information behind the bragging rights.

This is the way it works:

We’re counting gamers since 1998 solely. Why 1998? It appeared a very good breaking level, because it was the beginning of the BCS period that finest represents trendy faculty soccer. We all know Notre Dame would love to assert Paul Hornung within the race for, um, Halfback U, however we’re making an attempt to maintain it to the period of gamers immediately’s recruits could be most conversant in.

What counts as success? We narrowed it down to a couple key classes. Faculties received factors for all-conference and All-America alternatives, together with factors for being drafted (weighted by spherical) and for achievement on the subsequent stage. For that final class, we checked out solely the primary 4 years of a participant’s profession (past that, the NFL ought to get credit score for improvement) utilizing Professional Soccer Reference’s weighted profession worth.

Coping with transfers is hard, too. When Jordan Addison will get drafted subsequent yr, will he depend for Pitt or USC? Sorry so as to add some extra salt to the injuries for Panthers followers, however we have made the decision that NFL information counts solely towards the varsity a participant final suited up for.

Obtained all that? Let’s get on to the rankings.


Bounce to a place: QB | RB
WR | TE | OL
DL | LB | DB | Kicker | Punter

Oklahoma stays QBU for the third straight yr, however the Sooners are actually treading into uncharted waters. Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams have each transferred, and Lincoln Riley — the QB whisperer who helped construct Oklahoma into QBU — is off to USC (which, it must be famous, is a detailed second on this checklist). Will Dillon Gabriel add to Oklahoma’s lengthy custom of elite QBs? Can Brent Venables hold recruiting future stars? Or will Riley not solely stun the Sooners fan base by leaving, but in addition by stealing their crown as the highest producer of quarterback expertise?

The highest 5

1. Oklahoma
2. USC
3. Oregon
4. Alabama
5. Louisville

Greatest by convention
ACC: Louisville
Large 12: Oklahoma
Large Ten: Ohio State
Pac-12: USC
SEC: Alabama
Non-Energy 5: Fresno State

Greatest mover: Alabama

When ESPN ran its first Place U numbers 4 years in the past, the Tide ranked thirty third at QBU, a quantity reflective of their relatively mundane quarterback efficiency regardless of all of the nationwide championships. Now? The Tide are No. 4 on the checklist, because of a run of greats, together with Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones — all NFL starters now — and final yr’s Heisman winner, Bryce Young.

Who’s lacking: NC State

Sure, Wolfpack followers, we all know. The formulation for our place rankings is not giving NC State correct credit score for Russell Wilson, as a result of he transferred, and that method would possibly must be reconsidered within the coming years because the portal has made participant motion much more frequent. Within the meantime, we’ll make sure you get NC State into our high 5 in time for Devin Leary‘s induction in Canton.

On the recruiting path: No group has scored extra high quality QB recruits since 2006 than Florida, which has inked 16 quarterbacks with a recruiting grade of 80-plus, in response to ESPN. Nonetheless, the Gators rank eleventh on our QBU checklist, falling out of the highest 10 for the primary time this yr. In the meantime, North Dakota State — which has by no means inked a blue-chip QB recruit — cracked our high 25 because of Carson Wentz and Trey Lance each blossoming into first-round draft picks.

RBU is Alabama

It is robust to argue with the numbers right here. Since 2011, 10 Tide working backs have been chosen within the first three rounds of the NFL draft, together with Brian Robinson Jr. within the 2022 draft. Two have received Heisman trophies. 4 of the NFL’s high 15 rushers in 2021 got here from Alabama. And since Nick Saban is not all in favour of resting on his laurels, he went out and added Georgia Tech switch Jahmyr Gibbs this offseason, including arguably essentially the most dynamic working again within the nation to the combo for 2022.

The highest 5

1. Alabama
2. Wisconsin
3. LSU
4. Miami
5. Oklahoma

Greatest by convention

ACC: Miami
Large 12: Oklahoma
Large Ten: Wisconsin
Pac-12: Oregon
SEC: Alabama
Non-Energy 5: Memphis

Greatest mover: Iowa State

The Cyclones jumped from No. 42 in final yr’s rankings all the way in which into the highest 25 thanks to a different distinctive season from Breece Hall, who went on to be the highest working again chosen within the 2022 NFL draft, together with one other sturdy yr from David Montgomery, who racked up 1,150 yards from scrimmage for the Chicago Bears.

Who’s lacking: Syracuse

The historical past of the Orange relies round nice working backs — from Jim Brown to Ernie Davis to Floyd Little. However these all got here earlier than our information set for Place U begins, and the current historical past of tailbacks at Syracuse has been sparse, to say the least. Previously 20 drafts, Syracuse has had only one working again chosen — Delone Carter in 2011, who began simply three video games in his NFL profession — and the Orange test in at No. 56 on our checklist. However that would change quickly. Sean Tucker led the ACC in speeding in 2021 and was fourth nationally in speeding yards per recreation.

On the recruiting path: Georgia recruits working backs in addition to anybody within the nation, inking 20 blue-chip backs since 2006. What occurs from there, nevertheless, has been one thing of a blended bag. Some have blossomed into faculty superstars (Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley), whose NFL success was short-lived. Others, like D’Andre Swift, seem to have shiny futures on the subsequent stage. And a handful — Richard Samuel, Caleb King, Washaun Ealey — washed out earlier than they got here near reaching their ceiling.

WRU is USC

Even in a down yr when the coach was fired and the offense struggled, USC nonetheless managed to provide a star at receiver, with Drake London chosen eighth general on this yr’s NFL draft. USC’s lead over LSU and Alabama — two faculties producing a torrent of high receiver expertise these days — really grew from 2021 as current draftees Amon-Ra St. Brown and Michael Pittman blossomed within the NFL. Now add Lincoln Riley’s dynamic offense to the combo — alongside defending Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison, who transferred from Pitt this offseason — and odds are, the Trojans can be hanging on to the highest spot for the foreseeable future.

The highest 5

1. USC
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Oklahoma
5. Ohio State

Greatest by convention

ACC: Florida State (No. 7)
Large 12: Oklahoma
Large Ten: Ohio State
Pac-12: USC
SEC: LSU
Non-Energy 5: Western Michigan (No. 19)

Greatest mover: Purdue

The Boilermakers aren’t precisely knocking on the door of the highest 10. They’re nonetheless checking in at No. 29 general — however that is up 19 spots from a yr in the past. Credit score the impression of Rondale Moore, who had a breakthrough rookie season within the NFL, and the stellar contributions of David Bell, who had 93 catches for Purdue in 2021 earlier than being drafted within the third spherical by the Cleveland Browns.

Who’s lacking: Georgia

We talked about the Bulldogs’ wealthy historical past at working again. Receivers, although? Eh, not a lot. Maybe it is becoming {that a} college that received the 1980 nationwide championship by finishing only one cross within the Sugar Bowl and received final yr’s title on the power of eight defenders chosen within the NFL draft checks in at No. 20 right here, however the fact is, Bulldogs receivers have been a blended bag. Between A.J. Green in 2011 and George Pickens (No. 52) this yr, Georgia had only one receiver chosen within the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

On the recruiting path: Florida State nonetheless owns the ACC’s high spot at receiver — simply barely over Pitt, Clemson and Miami — however the current monitor file has been depressing. Within the wake of their 2013 nationwide championship, the Seminoles inked 11 blue-chip receivers of their subsequent 5 courses. None have been drafted. As soon as Jimbo Fisher left, the recruiting fell off utterly. FSU has signed simply three four- or five-star receivers since 2019, and only one stays on the roster. Mike Norvell has labored to repair the difficulty via the switch portal, however the development line amongst highschool recruits is brutal for the Seminoles.

TEU is Miami

Certain, different faculties have made a current run at this honor — from Iowa to Stanford to UCLA. However even when Miami hasn’t produced anybody of the caliber of George Kittle in recent times, the run of expertise at this place stays spectacular. The Canes have had 13 tight ends drafted since 2000, together with first-rounders Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow, Greg Olsen and David Njoku. Will Mallory could possibly be the following breakout star this season, or maybe blue-chip 2022 signee Jaleel Skinner bursts onto the scene. Regardless, Miami’s place as Tight Finish U is not unsure for the foreseeable future.

The highest 5

1. Miami
2. Iowa
3. Stanford
4. Florida
5. Missouri

Greatest by convention

ACC: Miami
Large 12: Oklahoma (No. 8)
Large Ten: Iowa
Pac-12: Stanford
SEC: Florida
Non-Energy 5: BYU (No. 14)

Greatest mover: Colorado State

What a distinction a second-round draft choose could make. Trey McBride went No. 55 general to the Arizona Cardinals after a stellar 2021 marketing campaign for the Rams (90 catches, 1,121 yards receiving) and have become the third Colorado State tight finish drafted since 2005. That may not sound like a lot, nevertheless it was sufficient to push the Rams up 26 spots in our rankings, from No. 43 as much as No. 17.

Who’s lacking: Alabama

Contemplating the Crimson Tide are among the many leaders in practically each different place group, tight finish — the place they rank simply thirty eighth — stands out. The Tide have had a couple of breakout stars, like O.J. Howard, however tight finish hasn’t usually been a vital piece to their offensive puzzle. Final yr, most observers thought Jahleel Billingsley could be the following elite tight finish at Alabama, however he received in Nick Saban’s doghouse early and finally transferred to Texas.

On the recruiting path: Need extra proof that Miami is Tight Finish U? Since 2006, ESPN has given simply 70 tight ends a recruiting grade of 80 or higher. Eight have signed with Miami — three greater than every other college. Certain, not all of them panned out, nevertheless it’s a reminder {that a} college’s traditions make an actual distinction on the recruiting path.

OLU is Alabama

And we’re again to hyping Alabama, which tops our offensive line rankings after placing yet one more huge man into the primary spherical, as Evan Neal went seventh general within the 2022 draft. In truth, the Tide have seen an O-lineman chosen among the many first 34 picks within the draft in six of the previous seven years. General, 20 offensive linemen have heard their names known as within the NFL draft since Saban took over in 2007. It is much more spectacular that Alabama has been so good on the offensive line, on condition that its an space usually dominated by the Large Ten, which has 4 of the highest eight faculties in our rankings.

The highest 5

1. Alabama
2. Wisconsin
3. Ohio State
4. Oklahoma
5. Michigan

Greatest by convention

ACC: Florida State (No. 11)
Large 12: Oklahoma
Large Ten: Wisconsin
Pac-12: USC (No. 7)
SEC: Alabama
Non-Energy 5: Boise State (No. 23)

Greatest mover: Kentucky

4 faculties — Kentucky, Northwestern, Tulsa and NC State — moved up at the very least 10 spots in our rankings, however none ended up higher than thirty first (NC State). The largest mover, nevertheless, was Kentucky, which had two O-linemen — Luke Fortner and Darian Kinnard — chosen in final yr’s draft. The Wildcats aren’t precisely knocking on the door of OLU — they’re nonetheless 72nd nationally — however the huge leap from 2021 is one other reminder of the spectacular work Mark Stoops is doing in Lexington.

Who’s lacking: Texas

Texas has inked 40 blue-chip recruits on the offensive line since 2006, and but the Longhorns nonetheless barely crack our high 10. Texas hasn’t had a first-round draft choose off its O-line since 2002 and has had simply two offensive lineman drafted at any level since 2009. If Steve Sarkisian desires to maintain his star QB recruits, like Quinn Ewers or Arch Manning, on their toes lengthy sufficient to ship wins, he would possibly need to begin fixing the downturn on the road.

On the recruiting path: Let’s simply say Alabama’s success in growing offensive linemen did not come from discovering a bunch of diamonds within the tough. The Tide have signed 40 totally different blue-chip OL recruits since 2006, tied for essentially the most in faculty soccer (with Texas). For those who’re on the lookout for circumstances of real improvement, nevertheless, look no additional than Boston College, which has simply three blue-chip OL signees in that time-frame however has had 10 linemen drafted, together with 4 within the first spherical (Zion Johnson went seventeenth general this yr). They’d possible have one other first-rounder in Christian Mahogony in 2023, however a knee damage will price him the season.

DLU is Alabama

Yawn. One other class dominated by the Tide. It isn’t as in the event that they’re primarily a 3-4 protection that must be at a drawback on this class consequently and — oh, proper, they’re. Alas, Alabama has been notably adept at growing NFL expertise on the inside of late, with a defensive sort out moving into both the primary or second spherical of each NFL draft since 2016. In truth, Alabama is answerable for practically 30% of all of the defensive tackles taken within the first two rounds of the previous seven NFL drafts. That is downright unbelievable. Oh, and the Tide have not been too dangerous at growing ends both.

The highest 5

1. Alabama
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
5. Clemson

Greatest by convention

ACC: Florida State
Large 12: Texas
Large Ten: Ohio State
Pac-12: USC (No. 8)
SEC: Alabama
Non-Energy 5: Houston (No. 34)

Greatest mover: Oregon

The Geese had just one participant drafted in 2022, however he helped their rating right here considerably. Kayvon Thibodeaux was the fifth general choice by the New York Giants, the fourth first-rounder off Oregon’s defensive position prior to now 10 years. Thibodeaux’s inventory helped transfer the Geese from No. 29 in final yr’s rankings as much as No. 18 in 2022. The second-biggest mover of the yr was Georgia, and the Bulldogs’ spot — at the moment No. 13 — figures to maintain enhancing. Not solely did UGA have three D-linemen taken within the first spherical of this yr’s draft (together with No. 1 general choice Travon Walker), the Dawgs’ most gifted DL could be coming subsequent yr, when sort out Jalen Carter is eligible for the draft.

Who’s lacking: Notre Dame

The Irish have churned out their share of elite defenders of late, notably within the secondary, however up entrance has been harder sledding. Jerry Tillery was a first-round choose in 2019, however he is the one Notre Dame D-lineman taken within the first three rounds prior to now eight drafts. Because it stands, Notre Dame checks in at No. 35 on our checklist, behind far much less outstanding faculties, like South Carolina, Purdue and Syracuse.

On the recruiting path: There is a good motive for Alabama’s success on the D-line. Since 2006, the Tide have inked 61 blue-chip defensive linemen, an absolute wealth of riches. Extra not too long ago, Clemson has been dominant on the recruiting entrance — they’ve signed 27 blue chips since 2015 — and has put its share of D-linemen into the league. The Tigers additionally return 5 defensive linemen in 2022 prone to be drafted, together with Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy and Xavier Thomas — all potential first-rounders.

LBU is Georgia

The disrespect to Nakobe Dean — the star linebacker at LBU — was immense. Dean dropped all the way in which to the third spherical (No. 83 general), the place the Philadelphia Eagles nabbed him. Regardless, Georgia simply retains its crown atop our linebacker rankings. It has been a heck of a run for the Bulldogs, who’ve had 15 linebackers drafted, together with 5 within the first spherical — prior to now decade. Georgia has had 15 All-SEC linebackers since 1998 and 7 All-People. Alabama (eight All-People, together with returning star Will Anderson) and Ohio State (19 All-Large Ten alternatives) are inside placing distance, however the path to LBU figures to run via Athens for some time.

The highest 5

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
5. USC

Greatest by convention

ACC: Clemson (No. 8)
Large 12: Oklahoma
Large Ten: Ohio State
Pac-12: USC
SEC: Georgia
Non-Energy 5: Temple (No. 36)

Greatest mover: Duke

Say what? Duke? The Blue Devils? Actually? Yup. However it’s sophisticated. Duke moved up 26 spots from 2021, because of Shaka Heyward choosing up some ACC honors and Chris Rumph — a defensive finish in faculty however an out of doors linebacker within the NFL — including some juice within the professionals. Nonetheless, the tip result’s a No. 72 rating for Duke. However hey, we must always all the time reward progress. After the Blue Devils, the following greatest mover was Utah, which jumped to the No. 35 spot on the heels of an All-American season by Devin Lloyd, who went on to turn into a first-round draft choose.

Who’s lacking: Oklahoma State

The Pokes have been stable — if not spectacular — up entrance and within the secondary, however at linebacker, it has been a black gap. Oklahoma State checks in at No. 103 in our rankings, courtesy of simply 4 all-Large 12 gamers since 1998 (in comparison with 18 from its in-state rival Oklahoma). The excellent news is that Oklahoma State did have two linebackers drafted this yr (each within the sixth spherical). The dangerous information is that was the primary time a Cowboys linebacker heard his identify known as on draft day since 1995.

On the recruiting path: Clemson has signed eight blue-chip linebackers prior to now 4 cycles, and with Trenton Simpson a possible All-America candidate, the Tigers could possibly be an enormous riser in subsequent yr’s rankings. Georgia is No. 1 for a motive. The Bulldogs have 30 blue-chip signees since 2006, together with three from the 2022 class. The wealthy get richer. Penn State as soon as owned this class — and traditionally, the Nittany Lions would possibly nonetheless maintain the all-time LBU title — however they’ve signed simply 12 blue-chip recruits prior to now 17 years.

DBU is Ohio State

The Buckeyes cling to the highest spot by only a fraction of some extent over LSU. For all of the Place U discussions, this could be the only most enjoyable debate. Derek Stingley Jr. was the third general choice on this yr’s draft, shifting LSU up the rankings. The Tigers have seen eight DBs chosen within the first three rounds of the previous six drafts. The Buckeyes, in the meantime, have had a whopping 31 All-Large Ten DBs since 1998, however only one DB has been drafted prior to now two years. Even past the highest two groups, there’s a lot extra intrigue down the rankings, as Florida, Miami and Florida State rank 4-5-6, respectively, making for some good in-state hostilities.

The highest 5

1. Ohio State
2. LSU
3. Alabama
4. Florida
5. Miami

Greatest by convention

ACC: Miami
Large 12: Texas
Large Ten: Ohio State
Pac-12: USC
SEC: LSU
Non-Energy 5: UCF (No. 26)

Greatest mover: Baylor

The Bears moved up 25 spots to No. 52, which was practically matched by the large leap taken by Cincinnati, which jumped 24 spots from No. 68 to No. 44. Each groups deserved the upgrades. Baylor had three DBs drafted, led by second-rounder Jalen Pitre, who went to the Houston Texans. Cincinnati despatched Sauce Gardner to the New York Jets with the fourth general choose (the very best choice at school historical past) and in addition had Coby Bryant taken within the fourth spherical. Just one new college managed to leap into our high 20, nevertheless. Notre Dame moved up three spots from twenty first to 18th.

Who’s lacking: North Carolina

The Tar Heels test in at No. 65, which must be irritating for a faculty that counts Dre Bly amongst its alumni. The Heels could be positioned for an enormous transfer if star corners Tony Grimes and Storm Duck can flip in a productive 2022 and drive their manner up draft boards. UNC is not alone as a substitute within the doldrums of the DBU standings both. Arizona State (No. 61), Texas A&M (No. 50) and Penn State (No. 31) are among the many big-name faculties missing a current monitor file of success within the secondary.

On the recruiting path: Ohio State might need edged LSU within the general rankings, however no college is pulling in additional DB expertise than the Bayou Bengals. LSU has signed 41 blue-chip DBs since 2006 (and that does not embrace recruits designated athletes, who later transformed to DB). Among the many different notables, Virginia Tech has signed 15 blue-chip DBs and produced 17 All-ACC gamers on the place. TCU has simply six blue-chip DBs singed in that span, however the Horned Frogs have racked up 20 All-Large 12 awards within the secondary.

Kicker U is Florida State

The Seminoles retain the highest spot for good motive, given their lengthy historical past of nice kickers. The issue, nevertheless, is it has been some time since FSU had a very good one. They’re simply 32-of-51 (63%) on area objectives prior to now 4 seasons.

The highest 5

1. Florida State
2. UCLA
3. Iowa
4. Utah
5. Ohio State

Punter U is Texas A&M

The Aggies have taken the Punter U crown every of the previous two years, thanks largely to star Braden Mann, who was a sixth-round draft choose by the punt-first Jets. Nonetheless, Utah and Tennessee stay scorching on the Aggies’ path. We nonetheless doubt that is sufficient to get followers to begin rooting towards going for it on fourth down.

The highest 5

1. Texas A&M
2. Utah
3. Tennessee
4. Cal
5. Georgia Tech

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