As dynasty owners putter about the interwebs discussing short shuttle times and dissecting the nuances of the Dominator Rating, devy owners are intently watching Spring Practices and eyeing key positional battles. They say dynasty football never sleeps, but devy football never even rests. From Signing Day (both of them) to fall camp, devy calendars are chock-full of important dates.
The Devy 100 is a breakdown of some of the best collegiate talent around. Players will be missed; others will emerge. My rankings will be cursed from Juneau, Alaska to Key West, Florida. Yet hopefully it provides a modicum of assistance to those navigating the murky waters of deep leagues, struggling to identify their tenth round selection as they decide between Auburn’s third-string running back and an incoming freshman receiver at Ohio State. Without any further inane ramblings, on to the list.
80. SPENCER BROWN, RB ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (2020 ELIGIBLE)
The Skinny: Bill Clark is college football’s version of the Night King, resurrecting the UAB program from ash and giving it new life. A two year hiatus from the football world was no big thing for Clark, as he rebuilt the Blazers into a notable Group of Five program that routinely develops good football players like Brown. His ascension in Birmingham was swift, as he parlayed a strong summer showing into a 1,329 yard freshman season.
It was his brawn which got him on the field early; at 6’0” and 220 pounds he is an impolite north-south runner. Yet it was his graceful movements in the open field which allowed him to be more than your generically productive collegiate back. Brown impressed coaches with a 4.53 forty prior to his freshman season; he has more than one trick in his bag. If he can add any sort of passing game dimension to his skill set, he will make himself impossible to ignore the 2020 class, even with its absurd depth.
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2019 Outlook: Brown’s been the alpha in the backfield for two seasons running and there’s nobody on the depth chart who can abscond with his throne. Another 1,000 yard and double-digit touchdown season is a cinch with good health. An expanded passing game role (only 12 receptions for 62 yards over his first two seasons) is the key component of his development.
79. LYN-J DIXON, RB CLEMSON (2021 ELIGIBLE)
The Skinny: If you’re a fan of efficiency per touch, it is hard to top Lyn-J Dixon. The true freshman averaged 8.8 yards per carry and 41 yards per reception. Now, context: it was on 62 carries – many of which were in lopsided affairs – and on only one reception. But stats can be fun when cherry-picked without a backstory. Hyperbole aside, if you stepped away from your television for a moment watching Clemson games, you could have easily confused Dixon for 2020 standout Travis Etienne. Both Dixon and Etienne treat pursuit angles with disdain and glide effortlessly in the open field. Etienne’s simply further along in his development.
Etienne is, of course, the absolute ceiling given few prospects come with more intrigue. That ceiling, however, is not an unattainable goal. Dixon is now up to 195 pounds after checking in at 178 as a recruit. If Dixon maintains his rare explosive abilities after packing on the weight required to battle as a feature back, he could vault up the rankings of what is thus far a rather pedestrian 2021 running back class.
2019 Outlook: Few hurdles to touches stand taller than Etienne. He is Clemson’s clear top back and one of the nation’s elite. However, the transfer of Tavien Feaster is good news for Dixon’s touch potential. Given Clemson figures to bludgeon most of its opponents in 2019, we could see 2018’s touch count of 63 double.
78. ANTHONY SCHWARTZ, WR AUBURN (2021 ELIGIBLE)
The Skinny: A highly accomplished track athlete, Anthony Schwartz has speed in spades. It’s the type of easy speed that forces defenses to adjust before the ball is snapped. Even within a rudimentary Auburn option, Schwartz was able to create splash plays over his 49 touches. More than just an athlete with limited football skills, Schwartz showed soft hands and put defenders on skates after the catch. Modest production was to be expected in light of the overall limitations of the Auburn offense, but we certainly got enough of a peek to get excited about a genuine speed demon whose game is mature beyond his wheels.
2019 Outlook: Quietly, Auburn has one of the most gifted group of young skill position groups in the nation. Joining him at receiver is ascending sophomore Seth Williams and two veterans returning from injury in Will Hastings and Eli Stove. If Gus Malzahn can coax anything out of young quarterbacks Joey Gatewood or Bo Nix as he takes over play-calling full-time, this offense should take major strides, though targets for Schwartz could be lean given the depth out wide.
77. JEROME FORD, RB ALABAMA (2021 ELIGIBLE)
The Skinny: We normally associate a ‘Bama running back with power, acting as the hammer while the Tide’s cadre of linemen wear down a defense over four quarters. Nick Saban, as he is wont to do, has recognized the value in complementing his power backs with versatile weapons in the mold of Josh Jacobs. Jerome Ford fits said mold, with sticky hands and the ability be a more nuanced route runner than your standard runner who sits in the flat waiting for dump-offs.
A smooth and flexible athlete, Ford is also adept at creating running lanes where none previously existed due to his shifty feet and unheralded power. Ford is all projection at this point, but Saban always has a plan when he goes “off the board” for a recruit who had a limited profile (by Alabama standards) when the Tide pursued him.
2019 Outlook: The departure of both Damien Harris and Jacobs is huge for Ford’s opportunity, as they were the Tide’s two best passing game backs. Najee Harris and Brian Robinson figure to earn a large portion of the early-down work, with five-star recruit Trey Sanders filling in as well, but Ford’s skill set provides him a unique opportunity within the framework of the offense.
76. K.J. HILL, WR OHIO STATE (2020 ELIGIBLE)
The Skinny: Perhaps the least heralded of Ohio State’s veteran receivers, Hill nonetheless finished second on the Buckeyes in receiving and offered the ideal complement to the screen game prowess of Parris Campbell and the vertical threat of Terry McLaurin. Hill does his damage over the middle of the field; he’s electric off the line and is unperturbed by dirty areas of the field.
I don’t expect Hill to test like a premier athlete nor establish himself as a fantasy star, but he has a workmanlike skill set that’s always useful. He could very well be the kind of steady player lacking flash yet always providing value.
2019 Outlook: Gone are Campbell and McLaurin, though their departure likely provides more opportunity to younger receivers. Ohio State has fairly established roles for its players. Hill will continue to crush in the intermediate game and while his numbers may see a small boost, he’s unlikely to become the clear top option in this passing game.