It is time for the annual installment of the Devy 100, the third-most ballyhooed set of devy rankings completed within the greater Southwest Minneapolis area. As always, whittling this down to a mere one hundred was no simple task. If there is anybody you believe was omitted erroneously, feel free to pop in the comments and express your displeasure.
90. Danny Davis, WR Wisconsin Badgers
Profile: There’s still a misnomer around Wisconsin which would lead you to believe the Badgers are nothing but meat and potatoes, grind-it-out talent in the trenches. While they’re still extremely strong in these areas, they’re loaded with athletes on the perimeter. Perhaps their most notable threat, rising sophomore Danny Davis has tremendous physical gifts and put together a quality freshman campaign, punctuated by a monster, three-touchdown performance against Miami in the Orange Bowl. Between Davis and fellow 2017 freshman Jonathan Taylor, the Badgers have two of the B1G’s brightest young stars.
2018 Outlook: While Alex Hornibrook may hold the Badgers back from competing with the elite teams from the Big Ten East, he made significant strides in 2017 and the last we saw of him, he was carving up Miami’s stout defense in the Orange Bowl. He can support multiple productive pass-catchers, and with leading receiver Troy Fumagalli off to the NFL there is a void to be filled. Davis has the most talent of a fairly deep group of Badger receivers, and he could prove to be an excellent value in devy drafts before a 2018 breakout season.
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89. Spencer Brown, RB Alabama-Birmingham Blazers
Profile: Despite being a true freshman, Spencer Brown was a bully for the resurrected UAB program, utilizing a bruising running style to pile up 1,329 yards and ten touchdowns. Already possessing a thoroughbred build at 6’0”, 235, Brown also demonstrated more than enough breakaway speed to hit the big play; he is far more than just a plodder. With a meager 4/42/0 receiving line, we need to see more from him in the passing game, and the general physical maturation we see from top prospects would be welcomed as well, but the early returns are positive on a rather unknown talent.
2018 Outlook: It should be more of the same in 2018. Brown returns as the clear starter and profiles as a workhorse as notching 251 carries as a freshman. The numbers will be there, though it would be great to see a productive game when the Blazers travel to Texas A&M. In his only game against Power 5 competition in 2017 (Florida), Brown was shut down to the tune of eight carries for 17 yards.
88. Kyle Davis, WR Florida Atlantic Owls
Profile: My number one receiver in the 2016 recruiting cycle, Kyle Davis never gained traction at Auburn, occasionally flashing the skills which made him a highly coveted recruit before being dismissed from the team during the 2017 season. With an NFL build out of high school, Davis was a big add for a receiver-needy program and was expected to contribute early. Finding a niche as a vertical threat, Davis made some big plays and averaged 24.1 yards per reception on only 19 receptions over two years. All in all, however, it was a disappointing tenure for both sides as Davis had star potential which never materialized under Gus Malzahn.
2018 Outlook: The 2018 season is a total mystery for Davis. While all signs point to him being eligible, he is a newcomer on a team returning its top three receivers and led by running back centerpiece Devin Singletary. He’s a total flier at this point, and this ranking is based solely on a judgment of his talent.
87. Marquise Brown, WR Oklahoma Sooners
Profile: The Sooners had a giant void at receiver following the departure of Biletnikoff winner Dede Westbrook, and few could have imagined yet another JUCO transfer (like Westbrook himself) would seamlessly fill the role in 2017. While Brown did not post the video game-esque numbers of Westbrook, he did pace the Sooners with 1,095 yards and continued Westbrook’s tradition of popping off for monster plays at big moments. Brown’s a true burner whose speed plays anywhere.
While NFL teams have become more creative utilizing players who do not check all the boxes with regards to their physical dimensions, there is a possibility Brown is currently in the 150’s for body weight. The slight build is currently holding him back from being a top prospect, as it is tough to bank on somebody so light to conquer NFL secondaries. J.J. Nelson may be the high-end comparison.
2018 Outlook: As talented as Kyler Murray is, it is impossible to replicate the impact Baker Mayfield had on the Sooner passing game. Mayfield was an improvisational master and routinely hit his receivers on the numbers to allow for huge after the catch opportunities. Murray is a better runner and lesser passer than Mayfield, though the absence of Mark Andrews creates additional target opportunities on the outside. The numbers should be there for Brown, even if the big plays are less frequent. If he can fight off rising star CeeDee Lamb to be the team’s primary target, it will be a major boon to see how he handles additional attention from corners, even in the often defense-optional Big 12.
86. Khalil Tate, QB Arizona Wildcats
Profile: At just over six feet tall and a decidedly run-first quarterback, I will forgive you for being reticent of Khalil Tate’s NFL prospects. We have seen plenty of quarterbacks fit the mold of dynamic collegiate dual-threat before fizzling in the NFL. I am, however, thoroughly intrigued by the potential of Tate, largely thanks to the fact he is a natural thrower who just needs refinement as opposed to a quarterback who will throw only when absolutely required to.
This baseline of passing acumen is all I need when looking at a premier athlete who still has plenty of room to grow. We saw another elite runner – Lamar Jackson – make consistent strides with his passing game throughout his collegiate career and the hope is Tate can do the same. Much like Tate, Jackson is a natural thrower (lazy and undefinable statement? – in any event, I am rolling with it) who can grow into a major prospect.
2018 Outlook: A legitimate Heisman candidate, Tate should continue to post monster numbers despite a coaching change, as Kevin Sumlin’s offense has generally been kind to passers, specifically the dual-threat type he showed an affinity for in College Station. Draft-eligible in 2019, it is a golden opportunity for Tate to continue to expand his game and capture the national spotlight despite toiling in the often overlooked West Coast time zone.