Rivals.com – Farrell 50: Nos. 31-40

Mike FarrellThe annual countdown of the top 50 players of the 2021 college football season continues today with numbers 31-40.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

FARRELL 50: nos. 41-50

40. DB Verone McKinley, Oregon

The skinny: McKinley engaged in Oregon during the summer before his senior season on Washington, UCLA, Penn State and Nebraska. There was some concern in Eugene after the coach left Willie Taggart, but his official visit to Eugenio put an end to all doubts. McKinley enjoyed his best collegiate season this fall with 71 tackles, five interceptions (# 1 in the NCAA) and six break-up passes.

Farrell’s opinion: McKinley has always been a slightly underpowered prospect with a chip on his shoulder. This season he has shown his ball skills and made some future money with his match against Ohio State. He continued his strong game throughout the season.

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*****

39. DE Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

The skinny: Bonitto cut his list of the best shows in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisville, but it was the Sooners who were considered the favorites for months. He did the expected and engaged with Oklahoma at the Under Armor All-America Game. At the head of Oklahoma’s unbeaten defensive unit, Bonitto continues to shine in Norman with 21 tackles, 7.5 tackles per loss, four sacks and two fumble steals.

Farrell’s opinion: Bonitto was a big draw to Oklahoma from Florida’s St. Thomas Aquinas powerhouse, and has become one of the best linebackers around. After last season’s momentum, he continued his high level of play this year.

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*****

38. TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

The skinny: Bowers took an aggressive approach, making multiple visits during the spring and summer, including Georgia, Cal, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, LSU, and Washington. He ultimately focused on Bulldogs and Huskies, committing to Georgia in August. Bowers had a truly enlightening freshman season in Athens, leading the Bulldogs in receptions (47), yards received (791) and touchdowns received (11). He also added a running touchdown.

Farrell’s opinion: Bowers intervened quickly and filled a much-needed void in the Georgia offensive. It also ruined it for anyone who believes UGA doesn’t use tight end enough. He was an instant impact star and was the best offensive weapon for a playoff team. He is one of only two true freshmen to make this list (Ohio State’s TreVeyon Henderson is the other).

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*****

37. OL Darrian Kinnard, Kentucky

The skinny: Kinnard committed to Kentucky during the spring following his junior season on offers from Penn State, UCLA, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Indiana. A lot of expectations have followed Kinnard this season and he hasn’t disappointed his dominant performance as one of the best blockers in the country.

Farrell’s opinion: Kinnard is back to step up his stock and push Kentucky to heights he has never seen and accomplished both. He was part of one of the best offensive lines in the country and clearly the best.

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*****

36. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

The skinny: Thibodeaux cut its extensive list of deals for Oregon, Alabama, the state of Florida, and Florida before engaging with the Ducks just days before the early subscription period. Though an ankle injury hampered Thibodeaux earlier this season, his time on the pitch was impressive with 49 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles.

Farrell’s opinion: Despite being injured for some key matches, Thibodeaux has been his dominant self when he’s healthy and can’t be stopped on the edge. He is still in the running to be the first overall pick in the NFL Draft.

*****

35. LB Malcolm Rodriguez, State of Oklahoma

The skinny: With his only other offer coming from Wyoming, Rodriguez committed to Oklahoma State the same day he received his offer from the Cowboys in early December. Rodriguez ended his successful Cowboys career with his best overall performance, finishing with 118 tackles, 16 tackles per loss, three sacks and four forced fumbles.

Farrell’s opinion: A three-star safety out of high school, Rodriguez became one of the best tackle linebackers in college football and was the constant force in the Cowboys’ defense.

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*****

34. OL Zion Johnson, Boston College

The skinny: Johnson played his first two collegiate seasons at FCS Davidson before moving to Boston College ahead of the 2019 season. During his first two seasons with the Eagles, he earned several All-ACC accolades, but had his best result this. fall earning several All-American accolades.

Farrell’s opinion: He didn’t look at FBS outside of high school because he was a little too big and slow. It is now one of the best tackles around.

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*****

33. WR Chris Olave, State of Ohio

The skinny: Olave cut its list of top schools in Ohio State, USC, Oregon, Florida, UCLA, and Utah before committing to the Buckeyes in late January. A home visit with Ohio State just days before his decision helped cement the commitment. One of Ohio State’s best offensive weapons in the past three seasons, Olave had his most productive performance in 2021 with 65 receptions for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns, leading the Big Ten.

Farrell’s opinion: Olave was as impressive as expected and will achieve more goals as the quarterback’s position becomes more established. He is sudden and a great course runner. Unsurprisingly, he led the conference by receiving touchdowns.

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*****

32. DT Calijiah Kancey, Pitt

The skinny: Kancey made an official visit to Pittsburgh during the spring and soon afterwards engaged with the Panthers. Louisville, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, and South Carolina were some of his other offerings at the time of his decision. After a redshirt season in 2020, Kancey continued to raise his level of play this fall with 32 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven sacks and a forced fumble.

Farrell’s opinion: An undersized defensive tackle from Florida, he became an absolute monster to Pitt and was the beating heart of the Panthers’ defense. He makes a lot of plays in the backfield and shoots the gap at an elite level.

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*****

31. S Jalen Pitre, Baylor

The skinny: Pitre was a first engagement for Baylor, making his decision during the summer leading up to his junior season. With the Bears, Pitre began showing his defensive playmaker skills in 2020, but then upped his game further in 2021 with 70 tackles, 17.5 tackles for one loss, 2.5 sack, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and seven passing breaks. UPS.

Farrell’s opinion: An elite defender with great ball skills out of high school, he overcame a knee injury in his junior season to make an early impact and become the leader of this Baylor defense.

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