October 6, 2022

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School soccer’s Place U 2022

Suppose your college has the most effective historical past of churning out star defensive backs? Elite receivers? One of the 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’s no set system for who will get to be Quarterback U or Linebacker U. Success is within the eye of the beholder — or no less than on the thumbs of the tweeter.

However ESPN Stats & Data has tried so as to add some technique to the insanity and give you one thing that, if not solely definitive, no less than provides some knowledge behind the bragging rights.

Right here’s the way it works:

We’re counting gamers since 1998 solely. Why 1998? It appeared a great breaking level, because it was the beginning of the BCS period that greatest 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 may be most conversant in.

What counts as success? We narrowed it down to some key classes. Faculties bought 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 growth) utilizing Professional Soccer Reference’s weighted profession worth.

Coping with transfers is hard, too. When Jordan Addison will get drafted subsequent 12 months, will he depend for Pitt or USC? Sorry so as to add some extra salt to the injuries for Panthers followers, however we’ve made the decision that NFL knowledge counts solely towards the varsity a participant final suited up for.

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


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

Oklahoma stays QBU for the third straight 12 months, 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 an in depth second on this listing). 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

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

Largest 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 quite mundane quarterback efficiency despite all of the nationwide championships. Now? The Tide are No. 4 on the listing, because of a run of greats, together with Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones — all NFL starters now — and final 12 months’s Heisman winner, Bryce Younger.

Who’s lacking: NC State

Sure, Wolfpack followers, we all know. The system for our place rankings isn’t giving NC State correct credit score for Russell Wilson, as a result of he transferred, and that method may must be reconsidered within the coming years because the portal has made participant motion way more frequent. Within the meantime, we’ll be sure you get NC State into our prime 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 line with ESPN. Nonetheless, the Gators rank eleventh on our QBU listing, falling out of the highest 10 for the primary time this 12 months. In the meantime, North Dakota State — which has by no means inked a blue-chip QB recruit — cracked our prime 25 because of Carson Wentz and Trey Lance each blossoming into first-round draft picks.

RBU is Alabama

It’s robust to argue with the numbers right here. Since 2011, 10 Tide operating 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 prime 15 rushers in 2021 got here from Alabama. And since Nick Saban isn’t desirous about resting on his laurels, he went out and introduced in Georgia Tech switch Jahmyr Gibbs this offseason, including arguably probably the most dynamic operating again within the nation to the combination for 2022.

The highest 5

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

Finest by convention

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

Largest mover: Iowa State

The Cyclones jumped from No. 42 in final 12 months’s rankings all the best way into the highest 25 thanks to a different distinctive season from Breece Corridor, who went on to be the highest operating again chosen within the 2022 NFL draft, together with one other sturdy 12 months 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 operating backs — from Jim Brown to Ernie Davis to Floyd Little. However these all got here earlier than our knowledge set for Place U begins, and the latest historical past of tailbacks at Syracuse has been sparse, to say the least. Previously 20 drafts, Syracuse has had only one operating again chosen — Delone Carter in 2011, who began simply three video games in his NFL profession — and the Orange examine in at No. 56 on our listing. However that might change quickly. Sean Tucker led the ACC in speeding in 2021 and was fourth nationally in speeding yards per sport.

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On the recruiting path: Georgia recruits operating backs in addition to anybody else within the nation, inking 20 blue-chip backs since 2006. What occurs from there, nevertheless, has been one thing of a combined 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 12 months when the coach was fired and the offense struggled, USC managed to provide a star at receiver, with Drake London chosen eighth general on this 12 months’s NFL draft. USC’s lead over LSU and Alabama — two faculties producing a torrent of prime receiver expertise recently — truly grew from 2021 as latest draftees Amon-Ra St. Brown and Michael Pittman blossomed within the NFL. Now add Lincoln Riley’s dynamic offense to the combination — alongside defending Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison, who transferred from Pitt this offseason — and odds are, the Trojans will probably 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

Finest by convention

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

Largest 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’s up 19 spots from a 12 months in the past. Credit score the influence 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 operating again. Receivers, although? Eh, not a lot. Maybe it’s becoming {that a} college that received the 1980 nationwide championship by finishing only one cross within the Sugar Bowl and received final 12 months’s title on the energy of eight defenders chosen within the NFL draft checks in at No. 20 right here, however the fact is, Bulldogs receivers have been a combined bag. Between A.J. Inexperienced in 2011 and George Pickens (No. 52) this 12 months, 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 prime spot at receiver — simply barely over Pitt, Clemson and Miami — however the latest observe 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 problem 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 latest run at this honor — from Iowa to Stanford to UCLA. However even when Miami hasn’t produced anybody of the caliber of George Kittle lately, 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 isn’t doubtful for the foreseeable future.

The highest 5

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

Finest by convention

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

Largest 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. Which may not sound like a lot, however 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 just a few breakout stars, like O.J. Howard, however tight finish hasn’t sometimes been a essential piece to their offensive puzzle. Final 12 months, most observers thought Jahleel Billingsley could be the following elite tight finish at Alabama, however he bought in Nick Saban’s doghouse early and in the end 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, however it’s a reminder {that a} college’s traditions make an actual distinction on the recruiting path.

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OLU is Alabama

And we’re again to hyping Alabama, which tops our offensive line rankings after placing one more large man into the primary spherical, as Evan Neal went seventh general within the 2022 draft. In actual fact, the Tide have seen an O-lineman chosen among the many first 34 picks within the draft in six of the previous seven years. Total, 20 offensive linemen have heard their names known as within the NFL draft since Saban took over in 2007. It’s much more spectacular that Alabama has been so good on the offensive line, provided that it’s an space sometimes dominated by the Massive 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

Finest by convention

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

Largest mover: Kentucky

4 faculties — Kentucky, Northwestern, Tulsa and NC State — moved up no less than 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 within the 2022 NFL draft. The Wildcats aren’t precisely knocking on the door of OLU — they’re nonetheless 72nd nationally — however the large 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, but the Longhorns nonetheless barely crack our prime 10. Texas hasn’t had a first-round draft choose off its O-line since 2002 and has had simply two offensive linemen drafted at any level since 2009. If Steve Sarkisian needs to maintain his star QB recruits, like Quinn Ewers or Arch Manning, on their ft lengthy sufficient to ship wins, he may wish to begin fixing the downturn on the road.

On the recruiting path: Let’s simply say Alabama’s success in growing offensive linemen didn’t come from discovering a bunch of diamonds within the tough. The Tide have signed 40 completely different blue-chip OL recruits since 2006, tied for probably the most in faculty soccer (with Texas). When you’re on the lookout for instances of real growth, nevertheless, look no additional than Boston School, 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 12 months). They’d probably 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’s not as in the event that they’re primarily a 3-4 protection that must be at an obstacle on this class because of this and — oh, proper, they’re. Alas, Alabama has been notably adept at growing NFL expertise on the inside of late, with a defensive deal with stepping into both the primary or second spherical of each NFL draft since 2016. In actual fact, 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’s downright unbelievable. Oh, and the Tide haven’t been too unhealthy at growing ends both.

The highest 5

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

Finest by convention

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

Largest 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 line of defense previously 10 years. Thibodeaux’s inventory helped transfer the Geese from No. 29 in final 12 months’s rankings as much as No. 18 in 2022. The second-biggest mover of the 12 months 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 12 months’s draft (together with No. 1 general choice Travon Walker), the Dawgs’ most gifted DL may be coming subsequent 12 months, when deal with 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’s the one Notre Dame D-lineman taken within the first three rounds previously eight drafts. Because it stands, Notre Dame checks in at No. 35 on our listing, behind far much less outstanding faculties, like South Carolina, Purdue and Syracuse.

On the recruiting path: There’s a great purpose 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 — signing 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 best way 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 — previously 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-Massive Ten alternatives) are inside putting distance, however the path to LBU figures to run via Athens for some time.

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The highest 5

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

Finest by convention

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

Largest mover: Duke

Say what? Duke? The Blue Devils? Actually? Yup. Nevertheless it’s difficult. Duke moved up 26 spots from 2021, because of Shaka Heyward selecting up some ACC honors and Chris Rumph — a defensive finish in faculty however an outdoor linebacker within the NFL — including some juice within the execs. Nonetheless, the result’s a No. 72 rating for Duke. However hey, we must always all the time reward progress. After the Blue Devils, the next-biggest 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 develop 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-Massive 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 12 months (each within the sixth spherical). The unhealthy information is that was the primary time a Cowboys linebacker heard his title known as on draft day since 1995.

On the recruiting path: Clemson has signed eight blue-chip linebackers previously 4 cycles, and with Trenton Simpson a possible All-America candidate, the Tigers could possibly be a giant riser in subsequent 12 months’s rankings. Georgia is No. 1 for a purpose. 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 may nonetheless maintain the all-time LBU title — however they’ve signed simply 12 blue-chip recruits previously 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 may be probably the most enjoyable debate. Derek Stingley Jr. was the third general choice on this 12 months’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-Massive Ten DBs since 1998, however only one DB has been drafted previously 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

Finest by convention

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

Largest mover: Baylor

The Bears moved up 25 spots to No. 52, which was practically matched by the massive 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 prime 20, nevertheless. Notre Dame moved up three spots from twenty first to 18th.

Who’s lacking: North Carolina

The Tar Heels examine in at No. 65, which needs to be irritating for a college that counts Dre Bly amongst its alumni. The Heels may be positioned for a giant transfer if star corners Tony Grimes and Storm Duck can flip in a productive 2022 and pressure their means up draft boards. UNC isn’t alone as a replacement 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 latest observe 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 doesn’t embody 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 signed in that span, however the Horned Frogs have racked up 20 All-Massive 12 awards within the secondary.

Kicker U is Florida State

The Seminoles retain the highest spot for good purpose, given their lengthy historical past of nice kickers. The issue, nevertheless, is it has been some time since FSU had a great one. They’re simply 32-of-51 (63%) on subject objectives previously 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 sizzling on the Aggies’ path. We nonetheless doubt that’s sufficient to get followers to start out rooting towards going for it on fourth down.

The highest 5

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