Among commentators and fans of the NFL, there are always those who pay attention to collegiate football too. Pretty much every top pick at the NFL drafts is a fresh-faced athlete who distinguished themselves during their college years, often by playing as part of the NCAA. The biggest names have very bright futures ahead of them, getting guaranteed places in the best NFL teams.
Today we’re taking a look at five collegiate footballers who are on that path. In the next few years, they’ll face their own draft and join the NFL. Knowing these players before they hit the NFL can also give you an advantage when gambling, too. Not only can you bet on collegiate players with Fanduel’s NCAAF odds, but you’ll also be more informed on their playstyle in the future.
1. D.J. Uiagalelei
Trevor Lawrence of the Clemson Tigers has been the talk of the collegiate circuit for the last year or two. Now that he’s shipped off to the Jacksonville Jaguars after getting picked first in the 2021 draft, somebody needs to take his place.
That somebody looks to be D.J. Uiagalelei, who already has some hype building behind his crazy performance metrics. After Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19, Ugialeilei replaced him for two games during his freshman year. Being thrown into the deep end, Uiagalelei came out of those two games with some impressive metrics.
The first game saw Uiagalelei make 31 passes out of 40, completing 342 yards and two touchdowns to take victory against the Boston College Eagles. In the second game, against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Uiagalelei completed 29 of 44 passes to make 439 yards and another two touchdowns. They lost the game but Uiagalelei’s performance was impressive.
2. Bryce Young
The Alabama Crimson Tide is one of the most-watched and hyped-up collegiate teams out there right now, so it makes sense that some of their new talents have bright futures ahead of them.
Now that Mac Jones has left the Tide to join the New England Patriots, he’s being replaced as the star quarterback by Bryce Young. Despite being in his sophomore year, Young has already broken the record for a single-game pass by an Alabama student, throwing for 559 yards against Scott Hunter’s previous record of 484. With precise and skillful passing being the cornerstone of Crimson Tide offense, Young is going to get better and then get unleashed on the NFL. Many already think that, when Young is eligible for the draft in 2023, he’ll be the first pick.
3. CJ Stroud
As the backup for Justin Fields, CJ Stroud has been waiting for his moment to step into the limelight. Now that Fields has left the Ohio State Buckeyes for the Chicago Bears, Stroud is poised to establish his own platform and prove himself worthy of a place in one of the NFL’s teams.
While Stroud didn’t make any passes in 2020, he did orchestrate a 48-yard rushing touchdown that got some people’s attention. Then, in 2021, he was selected as the starting quarterback in Fields’ absence. He started all of his season games, save for one due to injury, and after those eleven games, he walked away with a Davey O’Brien Award nomination. Of the twelve games played, he won ten and lost two.
4. Kemore Gamble
With tight end Kyle Pitts of the Florida Gators leaving for the Atlanta Falcons, Kemore Gamble is one of the players who can step forward and demonstrate their sporting talent. The Gators’ defense changes a lot, especially now that Pitts is gone when he acted as both tight end and wide receiver when needed.
Now in his senior year, Gamble is closer to his draft than anybody else we’ve mentioned so far. Gamble celebrated his senior year by setting his own personal best for a long touchdown, rushing for 47 yards before bringing home the play. He also logged six receptions across 122 yards in a single game, time will tell if that personal best lasts.
5. Noah Shannon
Last, we have defensive tackle Noah Shannon of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team. Having lost defensive end Daviyon Nixon to the Carolina Panthers in the 2021 draft, the Hawkeyes need to shake up their defense strategy if they want to recover.
Of all the possible replacements, Noah Shannon has the best chance of stepping into Nixon’s shoes. Shannon has greatly improved on his 2019 and 2020 performances to make 19 solo tackles this year.