- Nov 16, 2021
- 1 min
Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins celebrates after a play (Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)
It is never too early to forecast some of the top breakout players for the 2023 College Football season. Sidelines Sports Network insiders Jacob Davis (@jacobscottdavis) and Brendan Moore (@bmoorecfb) have put together a list of ten players to keep an eye on throughout spring football, fall camp and the 2023 season.
Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins
Of course, everyone in college football around the south has heard of the SEC's returning leading rusher. He emerged onto the scene in 2022 rushing for 1,567 yards and 16 touchdowns as a true freshman.
While Lane Kiffin remains the head coach in Oxford, Rebel fans can expect a heavy run game powered by Judkins who should be even better in 2023. – Jacob Davis
Miami safety Kamren Kinchens
The Hurricanes suffered through a tough first season under new head coach Mario Cristobal, falling to 5-7 and missing the mark for bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007.
One of the very few bright spots on the Miami defense was Kinchens ability to make plays at safety. He intercepted six passes this past season, which led the ACC. He also specializes in making open field tackles, rushing the passer, forcing negative plays and matching up against an opponent's best weapon to shut them down. – Jacob Davis
Notre Dame cornerback Jaden Mickey
After making one start in 2022, Mickey is set to be the next great Notre Dame cornerback. Mickey played in 11 games last season and recorded nine tackles, seven of those tackles were solo. He might be undersized at just under six feet tall, but Mickey has raw potential.
He struggled in his first career start against USC. However, with more experience Mickey can develop into a starting corner this season and become the leader of Notre Dame’s secondary in years to come. – Brendan Moore
LSU linebacker Harold Perkins
When thinking about guys who were superstar freshmen in 2022, Perkins definitely has to be included in that list. The 6'2” 220-pound linebacker played a lot of stand-up edge rusher, too. He is a dominating presence for a man so young.
How can we list Perkins, the fourth overall prospect in the 2022 class, as a potential breakout player? He has an opportunity to be the next Will Anderson Jr. type of impact player that anchors a feared defense. Perkins had several great performances in 2022, including exceptional outings against Alabama and Arkansas.
“He's a bit of a throwback, and a throwback in this sense,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said after the Alabama game when the freshman phenom recorded seven quarterback hurries. “Just tell me what to do. I don't need all the other things. And I'll figure it out as I go."
Against the Razorbacks, Perkins tied the school record for sacks in a game (four) and forced two fumbles. With those performances, he was named back-to-back SEC Player of the Week. There is no doubt a repeat of 2022 is in the works for this season. – Jacob Davis
SMU quarterback Preston Stone
Under head coach Rhett Lashlee and former head coach Sonny Dykes, SMU has had a myriad of successful passers in the past few years. Stone is set to be the next man to follow in the footsteps of former Mustangs’ quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Tanner Mordecai.
In 2022, Stone had the opportunity to sit behind Mordecai and learn Lashlee’s offense while also getting game experience as he threw for 388 yards and two touchdowns. Stone was a former four-star recruit by 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals. The SMU offense is now in his hands. With Cincinnati, Houston and UCF leaving the American, Stone and the Mustangs could capitalize in a wide-open conference. – Brendan Moore
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis
If you're looking for a guy with tremendous upside that plays on a team that's on the verge of breaking out, watch for Travis and the Seminoles to do just that. The signal caller has never stopped improving.
Most had him dubbed as a quarterback that only relied on his legs to make plays during the shortened 2020 season. Then, when they brought in more of a pure passer in McKenzie Milton to replace him, Travis never yielded and kept fighting, ultimately regaining his job and carrying the Seminoles to their first 10-win season since 2016. – Jacob Davis
Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner
Turner might be the most recognizable name on this list and for good reason. He has proven himself time and time again. However, the shadow of fellow linebacker and elite pass rusher Will Anderson Jr. has always been cast over him. Anderson is now off the NFL, so Turner will be the star of the Alabama defense.
He’s totaled 18 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Turner is expected to have similar numbers this season as he leads the Crimson Tide defense. – Brendan Moore
Colorado wide receiver Xavier Weaver
The former USF wide receiver was a bright spot on a team that wasn't very good last year. Weaver had an interesting time while in the transfer portal. He was highly considered to be an Alabama lean or settle with Arkansas before they landed Tyrone Broden (Bowling Green) and Isaac Teslaa from Hillsdale College.
Weaver ended up choosing the Buffaloes. He is a favorable candidate to break out this fall. Statistically speaking, nothing pops off the chart as he's only caught 116 passes for 1,700 yards and eight career touchdowns, but Weaver can develop into a go-to target for quarterback Shedeur Sanders and new head coach Deion Sanders. – Jacob Davis
Tennessee wide receiver Squirrel White
Tennessee’s offense has undergone a renaissance under head coach Josh Heupel. The Volunteers’ deep threat from 2022, Jalin Hyatt, is off to the NFL which leaves an opening out wide. Expect White to become the next great deep threat under Heupel.
As a freshman in 2022, White posted 30 receptions, 481 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 16 yards per reception. For comparison purposes, Hyatt averaged 18.9 yards per reception. White will see his production increase this fall. He is incredibly fast and very shifty. Opposing defenses need to be aware of No. 10 on the Vols offense. – Brendan Moore
Clemson linebacker Wade Woodaz
Clemson’s defense helped propel the Tigers to an ACC Championship in 2022. One of the leaders of that defense, linebacker Trenton Simpson, is headed to the NFL which leaves an opening at the second level of the Clemson defense for Woodaz.
Woodaz was a true freshman last season. He recorded 20 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2022. Woodaz played in all 14 games and started one game. He is a versatile weapon that can play both linebacker and safety. – Brendan Moore