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College football Freaks List 2022: Bruce Feldman’s rankings, with Michigan’s Mazi Smith at No. 1

Bruce Feldman

Aug 10, 2022

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It’s been almost two decades now since I began writing about the biggest Freaks in college football. Initially, there were 10 of ‘em. My premise was to spotlight the players who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the unique physical abilities that wow even those who observe gifted athletes every day. The Freaks list is compiled with the help of many coaches, players and sports information directors, as well as NFL scouts from all over the nation.

(Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

1. Mazi Smith, Michigan, defensive tackle

His former teammate, Aidan Hutchinson, almost was our top guy in 2021, but this year a Wolverine is the No. 1 Freak in college football. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with. But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 33 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.

The Wolverines do a reactive plyo stairs test, which is a series of seven 26-inch high stairs that players attempt to jump up as fast as possible. The team record is 2.21 seconds. Smith did it in 2.82. To better gauge just how impressive that is, Hutchinson, some 60 pounds lighter than Smith, did it in 2.57.

Even more remarkable: The Wolverines also do a workout on their combo-twist machine, which is designed to show a player’s ability to rotate an opponent but also their ability to resist being rotated in the trenches. Smith had the machine completely tapped out. There was only enough room for 300 pounds on each side of the machine for a 600-pound max.

“For Mazi, it wasn’t even challenging,” says one of the Wolverine strength coaches. A staffer called the manufacturer to see if there was a way to extend it, then ultimately contacted a private company to build custom extenders for the combo-twist, which made it capable of loading up to 800 pounds to accommodate Smith.

“Mazi’s rotational strength is ridiculous,” said longtime Michigan strength coach Ben Herbert, who said Smith is the strongest defensive lineman he’s seen in 25 years in the business. “He is an incredible combination of rare traits packaged into one player. He is just ridiculously strong and powerful.”

2. Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State, wide receiver

There has been a ridiculous run of wideout talent in Columbus the past decade, and Harrison, the son of Colts great Marvin Harrison, is probably the Freakiest athlete of the entire group. Harrison is a big dude at 6-3 1/2, 206 pounds. He benched 380 pounds this offseason, doing 22 reps at 225. He clocked a blistering 3.94 pro shuttle time and did 10-9 on the broad jump. He also topped out at 23 mph on the GPS. As a freshman in 2021, he caught 11 passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns but finished with a flourish, catching six passes, including three touchdowns, in the Rose Bowl win over Utah.

3. Myles Murphy, Clemson, defensive end

Murphy made 43 tackles, a team-high 14.0 tackles for loss, and a team-best seven sacks in 2021. The 6-5, 275-pound junior is viewed by NFL scouts as a “significantly better player” than former Tiger Clelin Ferrell, who went fourth overall in the 2019 draft. Murphy bench-presses 405 pounds, power-cleans 335 and deadlifts 505. He also has vertical-jumped 35 inches, broad-jumped 10 feet and consistently clocked in the high 4.5s in the 40, according to Clemson coaches.

4. DJ Johnson, Oregon, edge

The Miami transfer bounced around last year, playing 152 snaps on defense as an outside linebacker (11 tackles, 2 TFLs), 98 on offense as a tight end, and 18 on special teams. But don’t be shocked if he emerges as a big force on Dan Lanning’s defense. Johnson had a dominant showing in the Ducks’ spring game, making five TFLs and four sacks. Those numbers are as jaw-dropping as the results the 6-4, 275-pounder has produced in the Oregon training program, posting a blazing 22.88 mph on the GPS to go with a 455-pound bench and 655-pound sumo deadlift.

5. Will McDonald IV, Iowa State, defensive end

The former high school basketball and track star has lived up to the hopes of the Iowa State staff when it recruited McDonald, a 2021 first-team All-American. He tied for the Big 12 lead in sacks for the second straight season with 11.5, breaking his own single-season school record, to go with his 14 TFLs and five forced fumbles.

“He’s an elite athlete who can do backflips standing still and has videos jumping over cars. All of that along with sacking the QB,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said of the 6-3, 236-pound edge rusher. Campbell expects McDonald will vertical-jump 42 or 43 inches when he goes to the combine and should broad jump around 11 feet.

(Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today)

6. Kelee Ringo, Georgia, cornerback

In 2021, he made the freshman All-SEC team, which he punctuated with a terrific showing on the biggest stage, making six tackles and a game-sealing 79-yard interception return for touchdown in the College Football Playoff Championship Game against Alabama. Ringo’s combination of size and freakish explosiveness is reminiscent of another SEC Freak DB, Patrick Peterson. The 6-2, 215-pound Ringo, a World Class junior sprinter from Arizona who ran a 10.43 100- and 21.18 200-meter time, is a legitimate 4.3 40 guy and consistently clocks in the high-22 mph range on the GPS.

7. Julius Welschof, Michigan, edge

Welschof has been on our radar since before he arrived at Michigan. European super scout Brandon Collier has been buzzing about him and his Freakish ability for years. Back then, Welschof was a 6-6, 220-pound former champion moguls skier from Germany doing backflips on his skis and walking 50 yards on his hands. Since arriving in Ann Arbor, Welschof has dazzled his teammates with his athleticism. Asked what the most impressive thing he’s ever seen Welschof do, standout cornerback DJ Turner said it’s an ankle mobility test that measures the flexibility in their lower legs.

“Usually people get like 12 inches. I was like 13 or 14. He got 23 inches,” Turner said. “Stuff that he can do sometimes just doesn’t make sense — like what?!? How can he do that?”

Technically, Welschof measured 22 inches on his right leg and 23 on his left. “From his skiing background with how his lower limbs function, he has tremendous range of motion,” Michigan strength coach Ben Herbert said. “His ankle mobility is ridiculous.”

That’s just the start of it. “Juice,” who has leaned down 22 pounds to 268, broad-jumps 10-5 consistently and vertical-jumped 34 1/2 inches this offseason. His 40 was 4.66. The most amazing numbers posted by former Wolverine Freak Aidan Hutchinson were his shuttle times. Hutchinson did 6.73 in the 3-cone drill in Indy (sixth fastest among all players there). Hutchinson clocked a 6.54 last offseason in Ann Arbor. Herbert said Welschof ran a 6.76 this offseason. He’s also done a 4.19 in the 20-yard shuttle — only Hutchinson’s 4.15 was faster among D-linemen and linebackers in Indy. Hutchinson was the first athlete Herbert ever witnessed do a “Turkish Get-Up” with 135 pounds and no collars (to lock on the plates) in a quarter-century working in college weight rooms. This offseason, Welschof did it with a 160-pound dumbbell “like it was effortless.”

 

8. Owen Pappoe, Auburn, linebacker

He’s made 165 tackles and six sacks in his career for the Tigers, and he’s determined to bounce back from missing part of last season and the spring with a leg injury. Folks inside the Auburn program say he is aptly nicknamed “The Freak.” The 6-1, 225-pounder bench-presses 435 pound and has been clocked in the 40 at 4.32.

9. Calijah Kancey, Pitt, defensive tackle

He’s a bit undersized at 6 feet, 282 pounds, but man, is the Miami native disruptive. This was a great find by Panthers defensive line coach Charlie Partridge, who has deep ties around South Florida. In 2021, Kancey earned first-team All-ACC honors after producing 13 TFLs and seven sacks. Pat Narduzzi says Kancey reminds him of Panthers legend Aaron Donald, and while that is pretty hefty talk, no doubt this guy is special too. Narduzzi told The Athletic this month that Kancey has been clocked running a 4.69 40. Kancey also has vertical-jumped 31 1/2 inches and bench pressed 425.

10. Chris Braswell, Alabama, linebacker

He’s not the headliner of the Tide backers in what is a remarkably talented group, but coaches say Braswell (13 tackles in 2021) is the biggest Freak. At 6-3, 243, he squats 705 pounds and power-cleaned 405 pounds this offseason. He also vertical-jumped 38.5 inches.

11. Zack Kuntz, Old Dominion, tight end

Penn State has had a bunch of gifted tight ends and a few who ended up leaving to flourish at other programs. Kuntz, a former high school track star who was a state champion in hurdles, has blossomed at Old Dominion. In 2021, he won first-team All-Conference USA honors and was second in the country among tight ends with 73 receptions to go with 692 yards. At 6-8 1/4, 251 pounds, Kuntz is an eye-popping blend of great size and athleticism. This offseason he clocked a 4.57 40 to go with his 40-inch vertical and 10-8 broad jump. His explosiveness is also reflected in a 365-pound clean.

12. Maason Smith, LSU, defensive lineman

The former five-star recruit is one of the most gifted players in college football. The 6-5, 300-pound sophomore won Freshman All-America honors after posting five TFLs and four sacks in 2021 despite missing three games due to injury. In his debut performance in Tiger Stadium, Smith had six tackles, 3.5 TFLs and three sacks in a win over McNeese State. Expect a lot more from him this season for the Tigers. In the offseason, Smith hit 19.5 mph on the GPS and can touch 11 feet in his standing vertical jump.

13. Andre Carter II, Army, outside linebacker

What a gem Army found at Connecticut’s Cheshire Academy in Carter, at the time a two-star tight end prospect. Now a 6-7, 260-pound senior with a 6-10 wingspan, Carter piled up 18.5 TFLs, 15.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2021. Carter’s length is only more amazing when factoring in that he also blazed a 4.2 in his pro agility test this offseason. Army coaches say that when Carter’s doing change of direction work in the summer, he finishes in the top three with their skill guys. They also say his reaction time and processing speed is unmatched.

14. Bryan Bresee, Clemson, defensive tackle

At 6-5, 310 pounds, Bresee jumps off the tape for NFL scouts. The former five-star was a third-team All-ACC selection (15 tackles, three TFLs) despite being limited to four games due to a torn ACL in late September. Bresee benched 435 pounds, power-cleaned 330 and deadlifted 585. He has vertical-jumped 30 inches, but the most impressive number is him clocking in the high 4.7s in the 40.

15. Andrei Iosivas, Princeton, wide receiver

One of the best players in the Ivy League also is one of the top track athletes in the country. On the field, the 6-3, 205-pound Hawaiian — his name is pronounced “Yoshi-vas” — had 41 catches for 703 yards. In track, he finished fourth in the country in the heptathlon and ran the fastest 60 in NCAA heptathlon history (6.71). Iosivas bench pressed 370 pounds this month and has vertical-jumped 39 inches. His 60-yard dash time would, by his own estimation, translate into a 4.2-something 40, but he points out that it was also out of the blocks and on a track, so maybe not. His position coach, Brian Flinn, predicts when Iosivas goes through the draft process and performs those tests he will “destroy them all. He trains year-around on how to start and sprint.” Iosivas bought a Jugs machine when he was quarantined during COVID to keep honing his skills.

16. Dylan Horton, TCU, defensive end

The new Horned Frogs staff loved what it saw from him this spring, and pro scouts really like him, too. Horton was good last year with nine TFLs and four sacks, but expect him to be a lot better in 2022. At 6-4, 279, Horton, a high school safety who also excelled in basketball and as a high jumper, vertical-jumped 38 inches and broad-jumped 10-0. He also clocked a 4.55 40 and has power-cleaned 400 and squatted 700 pounds.

17. Gabe Hall, Baylor, defensive lineman

The Bears have a few D-linemen (App Ika, Jaxon Players) who also could merit a spot here, but it’s the 6-6, 295-pound Hall who is the biggest Freak. The former high school shot putter, who had six sacks and seven TFLs in 2021, bench pressed 500 pounds, power-cleans 465 pounds, did 750 pounds on the trap bar deadlift and squatted 650 (the BU strength staff stopped him or else Hall’s probably lifting a lot more). He also hit 18.2 mph on the GPS.

18. Braelon Allen, Wisconsin, running back

The latest bruising Badgers running back, Allen had a breakout 2021, leading Wisconsin and ranking third in the Big Ten with 1,268 rushing yards. He ran for at least 100 yards in eight games, including a streak of seven consecutive 100-yard games – the longest by a freshman in school history. The 6-2, 235-pounder is already exceptionally powerful, power-cleaning 406 pounds, back-squatting 610 and bench-pressing 365 pounds. In addition, his 10-yard split also is freakishly fast for such a big back, going 1.49 seconds. Allen doesn’t even turn 19 until after this season’s over in late January.

19. Riley Moss, Iowa, cornerback

A first-team All-Big Ten pick, Moss (39 tackles, four interceptions) is one of the big reasons why Iowa’s defense is so stingy. The 6-1, 193-pounder was an excellent hurdler in high school, and that high-level athleticism has only been enhanced from four years in Iowa City. Moss has vertical-jumped 42 inches and broad-jumped 10-8. We’re told he has clocked the fastest short shuttle time for DBs in Kirk Ferentz’s two decades-plus at Iowa, blazing through it in 3.85 seconds. That would’ve been almost a full tenth of a second faster than anyone at this year’s combine, with Sam Houston State’s Zyon McCollum going 3.94. In fact, no one in Indy has even cracked 3.90 since Washington’s Kevin King did 3.89 in 2017.

20. Keion White, Georgia Tech, defensive lineman

White was a devastating player for Old Dominion in 2019, making 19 TFLs. He was 265 then. He transferred to Tech, but then suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him. He’s now 6-4, 290 and primed to be a problem for ACC teams. White has hit 21 mph despite being almost 300 pounds. He also has vertical-jumped 32 inches and done 38 reps of 225 on the bench press.

“We’re really excited to see him,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said.

21. Je’Quan Burton, FAU, wide receiver

The former walk-on, who began his career at Southern Illinois before going to Iowa Central, has been a solid contributor to the Owls offense, catching 27 passes for 483 yards and three touchdowns. But it’s his exploits in the strength and conditioning part, so far, that are really turning heads. The 185-pound wideout bench-presses 345 and power-cleans 345. Even more remarkable: He vertical-jumped 45 inches this offseason and broad jumped 11-5. He ran a fully automated timed (FAT) 40 in 4.36 seconds. So don’t be shocked if he proves to be more of a big-play weapon for FAU this fall.

22. Trevor Reid, Louisville, left tackle

Reid has been a fixture on this list since arriving from junior college doing backflips. Reid has gone from 285 pounds to 314, and he routinely does box jumps of 48 to 52 inches. Even at almost 315, he’s still clocking in the mid-19s (mph) on the GPS and vertical-jumped 34.5 inches and broad-jumped over 9-5.

23. Quentin Johnston, TCU, wide receiver

Expect him to really flourish in Sonny Dykes’ system. Johnston, at 6-4, 210, is a remarkable athlete. He has vertical-jumped 42 inches and broad-jumped 11 feet. He’s clocked a 4.4 40 and back-squatted 575 pounds. Despite missing three games in 2021, he still made first-team All-Big 12. Johnston’s 33 catches went for 634 yards and six touchdowns.

24. Jaylen Wright, Tennessee, running back

He had a good debut season in 2021, rushing for 409 yards and four touchdowns, but figures to be even more of a weapon in Josh Heupel’s system. The 5-11 Wright is up to 200 pounds but displayed some serious juice this offseason, clocking 23.6 mph in practice. Beyond that, Wright vertical-jumped 44 inches and did a 10-8 broad jump.

25. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon, cornerback

The younger brother of two former All-American sprinters, 6-2, 200-pound Gonzalez was a standout for Colorado in 2021, making 53 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and five pass breakups. Gonzalez wowed the Ducks’ coaches this offseason with this athleticism, hitting 23.3 mph on the GPS, vertical-jumping 42 inches and power-cleaning 325 pounds.

26. Roschon Johnson, Texas, running back

This guy is just an outstanding all-around football player. He breaks tackles to pick up third downs, taking direct snaps out of the Wildcat, can run away from linebackers or take on defensive ends. The 6-2, 223-pound senior has seamlessly transitioned from college quarterback to running back, and has a per carry average of 5.5 (1,636 yards on 299 carries with 18 touchdowns). He also has 42 receptions for 293 yards (7.0 YPR) with two more touchdowns. This offseason, Johnson has packed on 5 more pounds of muscle but continued to get faster, hitting 22.6 mph on the GPS, making him one of Texas’ fastest players.

27. Luke Musgrave, Oregon State, tight end

The nephew of former Oregon quarterback Bill Musgrave, now the offensive coordinator at Cal, looks like a future NFL tight end. In 2021, he caught 22 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown, but the 6-6, 250-pounder has the kind of athleticism made for Sundays.

The younger Musgrave was an elite high school long jumper and triple jumper. He also excelled at lacrosse and in alpine skiing. This offseason, Musgrave vertical-jumped 36 1/2 inches, broad-jumped 10-1 3/4, clocked a 4.51 40 and did 4.21 in the pro agility — all terrific numbers for a tight end this size.

28. Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin, center

The 6-6, 323-pounder made honorable mention All-Big Ten in his first season as a starter for the Badgers. Tippmann is a terrific combination of strength (635-pound back squat and 455-pound bench) and athleticism, clocking a 4.31 pro agility time and a 1.65 10-yard split, which would’ve been faster than any O-lineman at the NFL combine this year.

29. Trenton Simpson, Clemson, linebacker

Scouts really love how this big linebacker moves around like a much smaller guy. The 6-3, 240-pounder, who only has 6 percent body fat, ranked third on the team with 78 tackles and finished second in both tackles for loss (12.0) and sacks (six). Simpson bench-presses 375 pounds, power-cleaned 355 and has vertical-jumped 35 inches and done 10-2 on the broad jump. More impressively, Tigers coaches say he has run the 40 in the high 4.3s, which includes a 10-yard split under 1.5 seconds.

30. Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern, defensive end

He led Northwestern with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss in 2021. The 6-2, 280-pounder this offseason did 30 reps on the bench at 225. He maxed 410 on the bench and 685 in the squat and 375 power clean. His times also are elite: a 4.05 pro shuttle; a 6.9 3-cone to go with a 10-5 broad jump and a 37.5 vertical jump. His name is pronounced: add-E-TOMMY-wah add-E-BAR-eh; NFL scouts are already practicing it.

31. DJ Turner, Michigan, cornerback

A former three-star recruit who has made big strides in Ann Arbor, Turner’s grown from 177 pounds to 187 and is coming off a strong year. He made honorable mention All-Big Ten after producing 33 tackles, nine PBUs and two interceptions. He is the fastest guy on the Wolverines, having hit 23.07 mph on the GPS and run a 4.28 40 — out of a two-point stance, no less. His 3-cone time is even more stunning. He clocked a 6.29 this offseason, and strength coaches think he has a good shot at besting the combine record of 6.28, set in 2018 by Oklahoma’s Jordan Thomas.

32. Elijah Higgins, Stanford, wide receiver

In 2021, he was a rare bright spot in a dismal Cardinal season, catching a team-best 45 passes for 500 yards and four touchdowns. At 6-3, 240, Higgins flashed his burst by hitting 21.5 mph on a 56-yard touchdown catch and run.

“And, he’s crazy strong,” said Cardinal cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly. “I’ve seen him (power)-clean about 385. That was dope.”

Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee said Higgins, despite his huge frame, is the fastest or one of the two fastest players in the program. McKee said one day this offseason, players were challenging each other on the Kaiser machine, putting 80 pounds on it to row it to see what their max power would be. McKee said most of the guys were registering around 1,600-1,700. “Elijah went up there and hit 2,100 and everyone started freaking out. He’s just that Freak.”

33. and 34. The Brown Twins, Illinois

We’re listing them together because I couldn’t decide who should be ranked higher. The Brown twins are from Ontario and the sons of a former CFL player and a figure skater.

Chase Brown, a 6-0, 207-pound running back, made the All-Big Ten third team in 2021 after rushing for 1,005 yards and five touchdowns. He added 4 pounds of lean muscle mass this summer while losing 3 pounds of fat. He also has reached 22.5 on the GPS on one of his long touchdown runs last year.

Sydney Brown, a 6-0, 211-pound safety, made All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2021, led Illinois with 81 tackles and also forced two fumbles. He added almost 6 pounds of lean muscle mass this summer while losing 1 pound of fat. He has also hit 22.4 mph on the GPS in-game.

“I’m addicted to seeing little results, no matter what it is,” Sydney said. “I’m in love with the process, whether it’s the diet or the workouts, the coaching tips that I get. That’s what really drives me. He’s a little more laid-back than I am. I’d just say we’re both very explosive in our own way.”

35. Devon Achane, Texas A&M, running back/kick returner

Arguably the fastest man in college football, the 5-9, 185-pound junior has big-time track credentials. He’s run a 10.02 personal best in the 100, although that was a wind-aided time. He’s also run a 10.14 100 that was legal with a 1.8 mph wind, which ranks as the 10th-fastest time in A&M history. He’s also clocked a 20.20 200-meter time. Achane showed that dazzling speed when he took a kickoff back 96 yards midway through the third quarter in the win over No. 1 Alabama to help him average a robust 33.4 yards per return on the season. The 20-year-old was also second on the team in rushing with 910 yards and averaged 7.0 yards per carry. As a receiver he caught 24 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown.

36. BJ Thompson, Stephen F. Austin, defensive end

Thompson came out of high school a stringy 6-5, 190 pounds, spent two seasons at Baylor and had four sacks and 5.5 TFLs as a sophomore. He arrived at SFA at 210 pounds but is now 6-6, 230 and an intriguing NFL prospect after making first-team all-conference after putting up 13.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks to go with two forced fumbles. This offseason, Thompson broad-jumped 11-3, clocked a 4.56 40 and had a 10-yard split of 1.63. His vertical was 40 inches and he got 4.2 in the pro agility.

37. Jesus Gibbs, Towson, defensive lineman

A transfer from South Carolina, 6-4, 260-pound Gibbs really impressed NFL scouts with his tape against North Dakota State, making plays all over the field. He also made five tackles and two TFLs against San Diego State. Injuries limited him to four games last season, but he was productive, making 15 tackles and three TFLs. In the offseason, Gibbs vertical-jumped 37 inches, got 10 feet in the broad jump and had a terrific 10-yard split of 1.58 seconds. He also bench pressed 400 pounds.

38. Cam Hart, Notre Dame, cornerback

This is a long, fast corner who made 42 tackles last season in his first year as a starter, intercepting two passes and deflecting nine others. The 6-2 1/2, 205-pounder from Maryland has remarkable tools, broad-jumping 11-2, vertical-jumping 38 inches and hitting 21.7 mph on the GPS. His power-clean peak output (2490) is also one of the best on the team.

39. Arian Smith, Georgia, wide receiver

The fastest guy on a team full of Freaks, the 6-0, 185-pound redshirt sophomore consistently hit 23 mph on the GPS and was an All-American sprinter for the track team. Smith ran leadoff on the Bulldogs’ school record-setting 4×100-meter relay team that went 39.02 at the SEC championships before it ran 38.54 at the NCAA outdoor meet, where it finished second. Smith’s blazing speed has produced a spectacular 37.6 yards per catch. He’s had five receptions in two seasons in Athens, and three have gone for touchdowns.

40. Thor Griffith, Harvard, defensive tackle

A standout wrestler and hockey player from New Hampshire, the 6-2, 310-pounder received Freshman All-American honors leading the FCS’ top-ranked rushing defense. Griffith, who scored a 1500 on the SAT, showed just how dedicated he is to excelling at football this summer by waking up at 3 a.m. every day to drive from Portsmouth, N.H., to Harvard, which is more than 60 miles, to take part in the Crimson’s summer lifting program. That effort is really paying off. Griffith bench pressed 500 pounds, squatted 750 and power-cleaned 315. He also did 800 pounds on the trap bar. His agility numbers for his size and age are also excellent, clocking a 5.16 40, and a 4.64 shuttle.

41. Cedric Johnson, Ole Miss, defensive lineman

This is a really promising young player who had eight TFLs and 6.5 sacks in 2021. The computer science major from Mobile, Ala. looks like a future All-SEC talent. At 6-3, 270, he has just 11.3 percent body fat, and he vertical-jumped 36.5 inches, broad-jumped 10 feet and bench pressed 390 pounds. This offseason, he topped over 20 mph on the GPS and did six pull-ups with a 70-pound belt attachment.

42. Noah Sewell, Oregon, linebacker

The 2020 Pac-12 freshman defensive player of the year followed that with another big season, finishing second in the Pac-12 with 114 total tackles, 37 more than any other Duck. Sewell, a former high school quarterback, also had 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. The 6-2, 260-pound junior has great movement skills, topping out at 20.85 mph on the GPS. He also bench pressed 425 this offseason, did 655 pounds on the sumo deadlift and power-cleaned 345.

43. Tyler Harrell, Alabama, wide receiver

On his 20 receptions last year for Louisville, the Miami native scored six touchdowns and averaged a gaudy 28 yards per catch. That kind of big-play potential isn’t shocking when you consider just how fast the 6-0, 195-pounder is. At U of L, he was consistently hitting 24 mph on the GPS and had a 10-yard split of 1.41. His former coach there, Scott Satterfield, told The Athletic that Harrell is the fastest guy he’s ever timed and had him on his stopwatch at a 4.19 in the 40; he did 4.24 on the laser.

44. Jacob Dobbs, Holy Cross, linebacker

NFL scouts like his tape and think he’s an intriguing prospect who is really instinctive. He has been a team captain since his sophomore year and has been a tremendous leader for the three-peat Patriot League Champion Crusaders. In 2021, he received All-American honors and was the league’s defensive player of the year; he notched 137 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 6 quarterback hurries, and 3 PBUs. His athleticism is also evident in the Holy Cross training program, where the 6-0, 235-pounder with just 9 percent body fat has power-cleaned 365; vertical-jumped 36.5 inches, run a 4.65 laser-timed 40; done a laser-timed 4.02 pro shuttle; clocked 22.57 mph in a game and bench pressed 435.

45. Brock Bowers, Georgia, tight end

The 2021 SEC Freshman of the Year represents the Freakiest tight end room in college football with 6-7, 285-pound Darnell Washington, who can run the 40 in the high 4.6s, and Arik Gilbert, who is almost as big as Washington and moves even better, but it’s the 6-4, 245-pound Bowers who is the marquee Freak after leading all Georgia receivers with 56 catches for 882 yards (a 15.8-yard average) and 13 touchdowns. Bowers’ speed shocks defenses. Word is, Bowers, whose mom was an All-American softball player at Utah State and whose dad was a two-time All-Big West center for the USU football squad, has run the 40 in 4.49 seconds and is expected to only get even Freakier with more time in the Georgia strength program.

46. Kenneth Grant, Michigan, defensive tackle

Remember this name. He was only ranked a three-star recruit coming out of Indiana, but he’s already generated a lot of buzz inside the Wolverines program in a few months there. At 6-4, 360, he ran a sub-5.0 40, Jim Harbaugh told The Athletic this month. Ben Herbert, the UM strength coach who has trained more than his share of Freaks, said Grant has “incredible traits” and “is likely to be a No. 1 (Freak)” down the line if he applies himself.

Herbert said one of the tests is a 26-inch high reactive plyo staircase, on which receiver Roman Wilson recently set a Wolverine record, going 2.21. Aidan Hutchinson did it in 2.57, which was flying. When Grant first started, he posted impressive times for his massive size, going as low as 3.2, but after a few weeks, he’s done it as fast as 2.77. “Everyone about fell over when they saw that,” Herbert said.

47. Christian Young, Arizona, safety

The 6-3, 222-pound Young, who has played everything at Arizona from cornerback to safety to hybrid linebacker, emerged as a playmaker on the Cats defense in 2021, making 68 tackles, including 15 against USC. His most impressive play was chasing down then-Oregon star Travis Dye downfield. Young, a high school 4×100 relay guy in Texas, was clocked at 22.6 mph in that game. Young’s speedy wheels caught new teammate Jacob Cowing, a sub-4.4 guy who has topped out at 23 mph himself, off guard this spring.

“I was going on a route and I was able to get behind him, and out of nowhere he just catches up in like a split second,” Cowing said. “I was like, ‘Man!’ I didn’t know he was capable of doing something like that. Biggest Freak on the team? Hands down, it’s him.”

48. Payton Wilson, NC State, linebacker

The Pack is loaded at linebacker, and this guy is the best of a fantastic group. Wilson missed all of 2021 with a shoulder injury, but he made first-team All-ACC in 2020 after leading the league in tackles per game with 10.8 and making 11 TFLs. The 6-4, 230-pound former North Carolina state champion high school wrestler has vertical-jumped 36 inches, and coaches say he will “easily” run the 40 in the 4.49 to 4.54 range.

49. Derek Parish, Houston, defensive lineman/fullback

NFL scouts see him as a Ben Mason, Patrick Ricard-ish type, can-do-everything prospect who relishes all things physical. In 2021, Parish made the All-American Athletic Conference second team after getting 12.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks. The 6-2, 245-pound Parish, who has a 21-inch neck, is a beast in the weight room, power-cleaning 426 pounds and back-squatting 674. He benches 425 pounds for three reps but also runs a 4.58 40 and has hit 21 mph on the GPS.

Oh yeah — Parish also won the team steak-eating contest in 2021 when he ate 110 ounces of meat (!!) in one sitting.

50. Anthony Richardson, Florida, quarterback

We never have many quarterbacks on this list, but this is a rare athlete. Richardson is a chiseled 6-4, 238 pounds with just 10 percent body fat and says he has run a 4.4 40 and can throw a football 75 yards. Football insiders eye-balling college quarterbacks at this summer’s Manning Passing Academy were wowed by Richardson’s physical tools, saying he and Kentucky’s Will Levis were well above and beyond every other quarterback there. Richardson cleans 325 pounds and squatted 500 this offseason.

“Anthony is physically built like an outside linebacker — tall, long, and chiseled out of stone,” said Florida strength coach Mark Hocke. “Has the athleticism (speed and agility) and bounce (plays above the rim) of a running back/wide receiver combined with a Jugs machine for an arm.”

51. Bryce Foster, Texas A&M, offensive lineman

Back in high school he could bench-press more than 400 pounds, and the 6-5, 325-pounder has only gotten more powerful. Foster, a sophomore, is an elite shot putter with a personal record of 64’ 8.75”, which ranks fifth best all-time for the Aggies, and keep in mind, Texas A&M has had three Olympic gold medal throwers: Randy Matson (1968); Mike Stulce (1992); Randy Barnes (1996). Foster and teammate Devon Achane were the only two NCAA football/track combination guys to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Last year, Foster started all 12 games for the Aggies as a true freshman and made the conference all-freshman team.

52. Monte Pottebaum, Iowa, fullback

He’s a presence in the Hawkeyes’ physical offense system. He only ran for 76 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown in 14 games last year, but he’s one of the better blocking backs in the Big Ten. He’s also a very explosive, big dude at 6-1, 247, holding Hawkeye position records with a stellar 3.92 short shuttle time and a 435-pound power clean.

53. Isaiah Mullens, Wisconsin, defensive end

This is a big presence on the Badgers defensive front. At 6-4, 303 pounds, Mullens had 29 tackles, three TFLs and two sacks in 2021. His numbers in the strength and conditioning program are even more impressive. He power-cleans 375 pounds, back-squats 741 and bench presses 435. His feet are really good too, clocking a 1.67 10-yard split and  a 4.32 pro agility time. He has vertical-jumped 30 1/2 inches.

54. Tyler Scott, Cincinnati, wide receiver/kick returner

Scott’s burst gave opponents fits all season long, catching 30 passes for 520 yards and five touchdowns. At 5-9 1/2, 185 pounds, he clocked a 4.29 40 to go with a 40 1/2-inch vertical jump and did 11 feet on the broad jump. In addition, Scott squatted 600 pounds and did 16 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and maxed out at 345.

55. Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State, fullback

This is a terrific player in the best program in FCS. Coach Matt Entz describes him as “the total package, super talented.” The Wisconsin native was the most outstanding player of the 2022 NCAA Division I championship game after scoring three touchdowns for the Bison. On the season he had 87 carries for 543 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-1 1/2, 235-pounder is as tough as there is but also really explosive. This offseason he vertical-jumped 36 inches; clocked a 4.2 pro agility time and ran the 40 in the high 4.5s. He is just a fantastic all-around athlete, winning state wrestling titles at 195 pounds in 2017 and then at 220 in 2018 and going 49-0 as a senior. Luepke was also a three-time all-conference center fielder in baseball and conference champ in the 100-meter dash.

56. Rylie Mills, Notre Dame, defensive lineman

The 6-5, 292-pound former high school discus thrower and shot putter is a player to watch. Mills, who had three sacks in 2021, is really strong, having benched 420 this offseason, but also moves very well, clocking 19 mph on the GPS. Mills’ explosiveness also is reflected in his hang clean peak output of 2828 and his power clean peak output of 2,854 — both totals are higher than his super freaky linemate Isaiah Foskey (2,674, 2,696, respectively).

57. Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU, cornerback

He’s a good player, but what he lacks in height, he makes up for with explosiveness. He vertical-jumped 42 inches and broad-jumped 10-8. His 40 time: 4.3. He has also back-squatted 605.

58. Ashton Gillotte, Louisville, defensive end

A Florida high school standout powerlifter and shot putter, Gillotte arrived at U of L very advanced in the weight room, and that helped him make a splash on the field, notching eight TFLs and four sacks. The 6-2 Gillotte has added a dozen pounds or so and is now up to 276 but still has hit 19.9 mph on the GPS and vertical-jumped 36 inches. He power-cleans 390, but strength coach Ben Sowders said he could probably do 405. “He’s so explosive.”

59. Starling Thomas V, UAB, cornerback

The Blazers’ top cornerback has added 25 pounds and is now a sturdy 6-0, 195 pounds. He received honorable mention All-C-USA honors in 2021 after making 41 tackles, eight PBUs and two interceptions. His sheer speed gets him on this list after reaching 24.16 mph on the GPS. In high school, Thomas was an Alabama state 100-meter champ, having run a 10.4.

60. Jakorian Bennett, Maryland, cornerback

In 2021, the senior topped all Power 5 players and ranked sixth in the FBS with 16 pass breakups, the most by a Maryland player since Domonique Foxworth had 22 in 2003. He also had three interceptions. The 5-11, 195-pound Bennett goes against elite receivers every day at practice, and that competitiveness carries over to training, where he and Rakim Jarrett go back and forth over who can jump the highest and run the fastest. Bennett is proud to say he’s got his buddy with a 42-inch vertical. He claims to be the fastest on the team with a 22.9 mph on the GPS, although Jarrett said he matched that in late July.

61. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland, wide receiver

The former five-star broke out last year, leading the team with 62 receptions for 829 yards and five touchdowns. Jarrett has trimmed down since arriving at 202 pounds thanks to a better diet and a more thorough training program. “I feel a lot faster,” said the 6-0, 194-pounder. He clocked 22.9 on the GPS this month and has vertical-jumped 41.3 inches.

62. Brian Branch, Alabama, defensive back

The Georgia native emerged as a playmaker in the Tide defense in 2021, making 55 tackles, five TFLs and had a team-high nine pass breakups. Brand, at 6 feet, 194 pounds, is a strong DB, squatting 565 and power-cleaning 335. He’s also got a lot of speed, having clocked 22.3 mph on the GPS system.

63. Dylan McMahon, NC State, offensive lineman

He played both guard spots and center in 2021. The 6-4, 300-pounder leads an excellent batch of State linemen with defensive tackle Josh Harris and center Grant Gibson also worthy of spots on this list. McMahon power-cleans over 400 pounds and vertical-jumped 32 inches this offseason.

64. Isaiah Land, FAMU, edge

The winner of the 2021 Buck Buchanan Award, honoring the nation’s top defensive player in FCS football, Land led the nation in sacks with 19 and in TFLs with 25.5. Not bad for a player who was 6-3, 180 pounds in high school and whose only offer was from Florida A&M. After last season, Land put his name in the portal and drew offers from Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Texas, among others, but opted to stay at FAMU.

Coach Willie Simmons says he loves Land’s motor and his toughness. Land, now 6-4, 225, clocked a 4.6 40 this offseason and broad-jumped 10-9. His L-drill time was 6.7 seconds. He also bench pressed 375 and squatted 600.

65. Elijah Chatman, SMU, defensive tackle

The Mustangs have another future Freak on their defense in freshman linebacker Pierre Goree, a 6-1, 220-pounder who ran wind-aided 10.08 and 10.09 100-meter times this spring and blazed a 10.22 in May at an event in Austin, but Chatman is the SMU player for now we’re spotlighting. Not only is he pound for pound one of the strongest people in college football, Chatman is one of the strongest period. On the field, Chatman made 25 tackles, 10 TFLs and 2.5 sacks. In the weight room, the 6-1, 295-pound Shreveport, La., product bench pressed 495 pounds this offseason and has done 42 reps at 225. He also back-squatted 615 and power-cleaned 335, and did this muscle-up weighing 290.

66. Tyleik Williams, Ohio State, defensive tackle

Williams made a splash as a freshman in 2021, making 6.5 TFLs and five sacks. He’s in much better shape, going from over 350 down to 315, and really can help the Buckeyes get back to having a dominant D-line again. The Buckeyes have several Freak candidates in that room — 6-6, 272-pound Zach Harrison at the top of that list, having once run a 10.7 100 meters, but Williams is one to really keep an eye on. His burst gets him on the list this year. His 10-yard split of 1.62 is an amazing time for a 300-plus pounder.

67. Tre Tucker, Cincinnati, wide receiver/kick returner

The 5-9, 185-pounder from Akron made second-team All-AAC last year after catching 34 passes for 426 yards and returning 22 kicks for 557 yards with one touchdown. Tucker clocked a 4.29 40, broad-jumped 10-10 and vertical-jumped 36 1/2 inches. He’s also very powerful for his size, squatting 600 pounds and doing 16 reps of 225 on the bench.

68. Bryce Ford-Wheaton, West Virginia, wide receiver

The third generation Mountaineer had 42 receptions for 575 yards in 2021. At 6-3 1/4, 224, Ford-Wheaton puts up some big numbers in the training program. He vertical-jumped 40 inches, broad-jumped 10-8; had a 4.02 pro agility time and went 6.68 in the L-drill. In addition, he power-cleaned 365 pounds. Teammate Lance Dixon, a linebacker who is almost the exact same size, put up very strong numbers in some of these areas too, with a 10-6 broad jump; a 39-inch vertical and 4.11 pro agility time.

69. Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State, safety

The Nittany Lions always have some Freaks, and Brown, one of the Big Ten’s best defenders, is their top one this season. In 2021, he made six interceptions, the most by a Penn State player in 15 years, to go with 73 tackles and two fumble recoveries. The 5-11, 208-pounder has elite quickness, clocking a 3.99 pro shuttle time this offseason. He also ran a 4.45 40 and bench pressed 370 to go with a 345-pound power clean.

70. Micah Bernard, Utah, running back

He played both ways for the Utes in the Rose Bowl, starting at corner when the team desperately needed his help there. He made a team-high 10 tackles and also ran for 31 yards and had a receiving touchdown. For the season, he ran for more than 500 yards, averaging 6 yards per carry and led Utah backs with 26 catches and 251 yards. The 6-0, 202-pound sophomore broad-jumped 10-9 1/2, clocked 4.42 in the 40 and vertical-jumped 38 1/4. Teammate Clark Phillips gushed about Bernard’s Freak credentials, pointing out the guy who is barely 6 feet can do 360 dunks.

71. Jordan Jefferson, West Virginia, defensive lineman

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We need this Avenger:

40. Thor Griffith, Harvard, defensive tackle

A standout wrestler and hockey player from New Hampshire, the 6-2, 310-pounder received Freshman All-American honors leading the FCS’ top-ranked rushing defense. Griffith, who scored a 1500 on the SAT, showed just how dedicated he is to excelling at football this summer by waking up at 3 a.m. every day to drive from Portsmouth, N.H., to Harvard, which is more than 60 miles, to take part in the Crimson’s summer lifting program. That effort is really paying off. Griffith bench pressed 500 pounds, squatted 750 and power-cleaned 315. He also did 800 pounds on the trap bar. His agility numbers for his size and age are also excellent, clocking a 5.16 40, and a 4.64 shuttle.

 

image.png.39c54cd8dfe13213e26b428b336b9b6d.png

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12 minutes ago, Fantasy Island said:

We need this Avenger:

40. Thor Griffith, Harvard, defensive tackle

A standout wrestler and hockey player from New Hampshire, the 6-2, 310-pounder received Freshman All-American honors leading the FCS’ top-ranked rushing defense. Griffith, who scored a 1500 on the SAT, showed just how dedicated he is to excelling at football this summer by waking up at 3 a.m. every day to drive from Portsmouth, N.H., to Harvard, which is more than 60 miles, to take part in the Crimson’s summer lifting program. That effort is really paying off. Griffith bench pressed 500 pounds, squatted 750 and power-cleaned 315. He also did 800 pounds on the trap bar. His agility numbers for his size and age are also excellent, clocking a 5.16 40, and a 4.64 shuttle.

 

image.png.39c54cd8dfe13213e26b428b336b9b6d.png

Give him #77

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8 hours ago, dbatesman said:

I thought this was going to be about guys who are into feet or whatever

Fair, I wa expecting a video about sideshow acts with no explanation that I’d have to move to the Hmertz thread. 

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lol - some funny responses but truth be told, I freaking love this list.  You can find some gems to pay attention to every year.

As an example a couple of players who've made this from my alma mater that have played out at least in the season and are now in the NFL are Damien Pierce, Kyle Pitts, Jabari Zuniga, just to name a few.  And this year, a player to definitely watch from Florida they have at 50, Anthony Richardson and if he wasnt a QB, he'd be top 10 on here.  He is an absolute freak.  Guy is a faster, better armed Cam Newton.

Just to make it easy for you, what they said:

We never have many quarterbacks on this list, but this is a rare athlete. Richardson is a chiseled 6-4, 238 pounds with just 10 percent body fat and says he has run a 4.4 40 and can throw a football 75 yards. Football insiders eye-balling college quarterbacks at this summer’s Manning Passing Academy were wowed by Richardson’s physical tools, saying he and Kentucky’s Will Levis were well above and beyond every other quarterback there. Richardson cleans 325 pounds and squatted 500 this offseason.

“Anthony is physically built like an outside linebacker — tall, long, and chiseled out of stone,” said Florida strength coach Mark Hocke. “Has the athleticism (speed and agility) and bounce (plays above the rim) of a running back/wide receiver combined with a Jugs machine for an arm.”

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2 minutes ago, JiFapono said:

lol - some funny response but truth be told, I freaking love this list.  You can find some gems to pay attention to every year.

As an example a couple of players who've made this from my Alma Mater that have played out at least in the season and are now in the NFL are Damien Pierce, Kyle Pitts, Jabari Zuniga, just to name a few.  And this year, a player to definitely watch from Florida they have at 50, Anthony Richardson and if he wasnt a QB, he'd be top 10 on here.  He is an absolute freak.  Guy is a faster, better armed Cam Newton.

Just to make it easy for you, what they said:

We never have many quarterbacks on this list, but this is a rare athlete. Richardson is a chiseled 6-4, 238 pounds with just 10 percent body fat and says he has run a 4.4 40 and can throw a football 75 yards. Football insiders eye-balling college quarterbacks at this summer’s Manning Passing Academy were wowed by Richardson’s physical tools, saying he and Kentucky’s Will Levis were well above and beyond every other quarterback there. Richardson cleans 325 pounds and squatted 500 this offseason.

“Anthony is physically built like an outside linebacker — tall, long, and chiseled out of stone,” said Florida strength coach Mark Hocke. “Has the athleticism (speed and agility) and bounce (plays above the rim) of a running back/wide receiver combined with a Jugs machine for an arm.”

If Zach Wilson doesn't pan out, I'd be intrigued by AR-15 or Levis next year. 

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7 hours ago, Dwight Englewood said:

We are picking top 5 overall again.  I want Marvin Harrison Jr

Even with Moore and Garrett Wilson on the roster? Next year I'd like to target offensive tackle, edge rusher or QB. 

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8 hours ago, Dwight Englewood said:

We are picking top 5 overall again.  I want Marvin Harrison Jr

47 minutes ago, maury77 said:

Even with Moore and Garrett Wilson on the roster? Next year I'd like to target offensive tackle, edge rusher or QB. 

Won’t be a problem for next year since Harrison will be a true sophomore this season and not draft eligible until 2024.

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