Rivals.com – Farrell 50: Nos. 1-10

Mike FarrellThe annual countdown of the top 50 players of the 2021 college football season ends today with numbers 1 to 10.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

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10. QB CJ Stroud, State of Ohio

The skinny: Stroud pledged in the state of Ohio on Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, USC, and others at the start of National Signing Day, even though the Buckeyes didn’t volunteer until the trial was over. In his first season as a starter, Stroud experienced some difficulties early in the season, but quickly bounced back to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the country with 3,862 yards, 38 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

Farrell’s opinion: Stroud exploded late in his recruiting process and started slowly this season as he became familiar with all of his guns. His mechanics were tweaked and he ended up as a Heisman finalist.

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9. C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa

The skinny: Linderbaum only had three offers at the time of his summer decision, but two were Iowa and Iowa State programs. His familiarity with Hawkeye helped them achieve the recruiting victory. In Iowa, Linderbaum has become one of the best domestic offensive linemen in the country for the past two seasons, which have continued into this season with an all-American performance.

Farrell’s opinion: A local rookie for the defensive tackle, Linderbaum brings that defensive mentality to the offensive line. It is the best center in the country.

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8. WR Jordan Addison, Pitt

The skinny: Addison had already made two unofficial visits to Pittsburgh before taking an official one during the spring. At the end of his visit he engaged with the panthers. After an impressive freshman season, Addison has established himself as one of the best offensive players in the country with 93 receptions for 1,479 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Farrell’s opinion: A brilliant receiver from Maryland, he was better than expected from day one and is easily one of the best and most explosive runners in the country.

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7. OT Evan Neal, Alabama

The skinny: Neal was a first time engagement in Alabama, but then reopened his recruiting and made official visits to Georgia, Miami, and Oklahoma during his senior season. It eventually re-engaged with the tide during the early subscription period. An All-American preseason unanimous this year, Neal has performed at that level from the start. Displaying a unique combination of size, strength and athleticism, he is also an offensive leader for the tide.

Farrell’s opinion: Neal is an athletic freak of nature who simply turns off his opponents and keeps the blind side free. It could be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

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6. QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt

The skinny: Pickett initially made a commitment to Temple, but after collecting some additional offers, he reopened his trial. One such new offer came from Pittsburgh, which led to two visits and then her engagement a month later. In his fifth season with the Panthers – and his fourth as a starter – Pickett emerged as one of the best players in the country with 4,319 yards, 42 interceptions and just seven interceptions.

Farrell’s opinion: Did we see it coming? Pickett came so far from the Pickett that we saw a couple of years ago which is amazing. He made all the right decisions and few mistakes and is probably a first player.

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5.DE Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

The skinny: Hutchinson amassed offers from several elite programs over the winter, but ever since his father, Chris Hutchinson, played at Michigan the Wolverines have always been seen as the clear favorite. He had no surprises and got involved in Michigan. After playing only two games last season due to a broken leg, a healthy Hutchinson returned this fall and dominated with 58 tackles, 15.5 tackles per loss, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Farrell’s opinion: I love the engine in Hutchinson’s game and this season he has remained healthy and entered the discussion on choice # 1. 1 in general. Win battles with speed, power and tenacity.

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4. LB William Anderson, Alabama

The skinny: Anderson committed to Alabama during the summer leading up to his senior season. He had made several unofficial visits to Tuscaloosa and trips to Georgia Tech, Florida and Auburn before making his decision. After his first All-American season, Anderson became one of the best defensive players in the country this fall with 91 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks.

Farrell’s opinion: Anderson was a five-star pass rusher out of high school for a reason, and his out-of-bounds speed is unmatched in college football. As he continues to compile, we may be looking at the top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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3. RB Kenneth Walker III, State of Michigan

The skinny: Walker committed to Wake Forest following his official December visit to Winston-Salem. Wake Forest was his only Power Five offering. After two productive seasons with the Demon Deacons, Walker moved to the state of Michigan, where he quickly emerged as the best running back in the country. Finishing with 1,646 yards and 18 ground touchdowns, he recently declared for the NFL Draft.

Farrell’s opinion: Wake Forest’s transfer was fantastic for the Spartans, running with speed, power and vision. But it’s his balance that impresses me, as he’s hard to take down and can bounce off tackles.

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2. QB Bailey Zappe, western Kentucky

The skinny: Zappe never saw his high school recruitment take off and eventually got involved with Houston Baptist, who was his only offer. After an extremely productive couple of seasons with the Huskies, he moved to western Kentucky, where he broke onto the national stage in his only season at the FBS level. Going for 5,968 yards and 62 touchdowns – both of which were NCAA records in a single season – helped lead the Hilltoppers to a 9-5 season.

Farrell’s opinion: Zappe was not an FBS prospect out of Texas in high school, but he went from FCS to FBS level like everyone else.

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1. QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The skinny: Young initially engaged with USC during the summer leading up to his junior season, but then moved to Alabama early in his senior season. He paid a visit to Tuscaloosa over the weekend he made his flip official. During his first season as a starter he played like a veteran, winning the Heisman Trophy as he passed for 4,478 yards, 44 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Farrell’s opinion: Young lived up to the hype as a five star and his maturity was remarkable. He seems to be able to slow down the pitch somewhat with his incredible patience and vision.

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