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.
80. Greg Dortsch, WR Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Profile: Prior to having his redshirt freshman season truncated due to injury, Greg Dortsch was one of the nation’s most under-the-radar breakout stars. He Dortsched (patent pending) the ACC to the tune of 107.2 yards per game in league play, and his grand finale was a 167-yard, four-touchdown demolition of Louisville. His trademark explosion off the line allowed him to toy with defenders and create separation with ease. He routinely wins at the line of scrimmage, and while size will be the obvious black mark on his resume, he has elite feet and long speed, making him an intriguing prospect toiling in relative obscurity.
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2018 Outlook: Though they lose their starting quarterback, this should continue to be a very effective Wake Forest offense. Dortsch and fellow receiver Scotty Washington lead the charge in the passing game and a full season from Dortsch should have him eclipsing 1,000 yards. With a bit more exposure in the devy community this off-season, a monster campaign could cause his stock to skyrocket.
79. T.J. Pledger, RB Oklahoma Sooners
Profile: I can get pretty giddy about an elite pass-catching back signing on with one of the nation’s most wide-open and creative offensive schemes. A running back by trade, Pledger has excellent hands and is a smooth route-runner, portending a major role in the Sooner passing game before long. His stocky build allows him to run with ample power and he’s a gifted mover in tight spaces. There is a ton to like about Pledger’s game and its match with Lincoln Riley’s offense.
2018 Outlook: You could make a strong case Oklahoma has the nation’s best backfield. Both redshirt junior Rodney Anderson and rising sophomore Trey Sermon are elite backs. Redshirt freshman Kennedy Brooks – who missed 2017 due to injury – has also been lavished with praise this spring. It makes early opportunity for Pledger difficult to envision, though a versatile skill-set is always the best way to make an impression. We may have to wait until 2019 to get an extended look.
78. Mike Epstein, RB Illinois Fighting Illini
Profile: Were it not for a foot injury suffered mid-season, we may be much more familiar with Mike Epstein. The true freshman immediately became one of the Illini’s most explosive weapons and one of the B1G’s most promising young runners. Despite collecting only four receptions in his five games, Epstein is a natural receiver with excellent hands and nuanced routes. A slashing runner, Epstein is decisive and showcases excellent burst. While not a standout athlete, Epstein maximizes his talent and possesses an incredibly well-rounded skill-set.
2018 Outlook: Illinois is likely to feature Epstein in 2018, as despite missing seven games he led the Fighting Illini in rushing with a meager 346 yards. If Illinois can find any semblance of consistency under center and improve on the nation’s 126th-ranked offense, it could be a true breakout campaign for Epstein. He is unlikely to be owned in many leagues at this point and offers tremendous upside for the cost of a late-round pick.
77. Michael Carter, RB North Carolina Tar Heels
Profile: An elite performer in a talent-rich state, Michael Carter still was a bit overlooked as a recruit, partly due to his location in the Panhandle and partly due to his size. He quickly erased any doubts he could compete at a high level, shining in the opener against Cal and operating as a versatile weapon for a rebuilding Tar Heels squad. With compact and powerful strides, Carter has the requisite tools to be effective between the tackles and really shines in the passing game, where his shiftiness is on full display. Lauded for his work ethic, Carter’s game should only take off as his body continues to mature.
2018 Outlook: There is ample opportunity to become the feature player in North Carolina’s offense. Anthony Ratliff-Williams returns on the perimeter and is complemented by incoming freshman Jordyn Adams, but neither has the potential to impact the offense like an all-purpose back. Jordon Brown returns to a prominent role in the backfield but he may not have the talent to hold off Carter for long, as the rising sophomore adds a unique element to the mix.
76. Jake Fromm, QB Georgia Bulldogs
Profile: His freshman counterpart at quarterback stole the show in the National Title game, though it was Jake Fromm who had everybody buzzing early. Fromm took over for an injured Jacob Eason early in the year and never relinquished the starting job, proving a steady presence for a run-heavy Georgia offense. What Fromm lacks in arm talent he makes up for with poise, touch, and leadership in spades. His physical tools are certainly not lacking; they’re just not the hallmark of his game. He’s one of the more promising quarterback prospects in all of college football.
2018 Outlook: Fromm’s reward for leading Georgia to within seconds of a national title is to enter a camp battle with incoming freshman Phenom Justin Fields. While Fromm figures to enter 2018 as the clear starter, Fields should see the field in certain packages and has the type of otherworldly talent to really push Fromm if he falters. However, competition should only push Fromm to be better, and he has the disposition to handle the situation with grace and aplomb. He has a chance to add real panache to his devy profile if the Georgia staff takes the kid gloves off in 2018.