College Football players to watch in 2023: Part 10
In this weekly series, I will highlight some of the top players to watch ahead of the 2023 College Football season, which is set to begin on August 26. We will go from the SEC to the MAC and everywhere in between. Part 10 features Oregon State quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr., Florida State defensive end Jared Verse, Illinois defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton, UTSA outside linebacker Trey Moore and Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt.
Oregon State quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei
While Uiagalelei isn’t exactly flying under the radar, he is an important player to know heading into the 2023 season. His Clemson career wasn’t all that great. He threw for 5,681 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and had a 59.8 completion percentage in three seasons under Dabo Swinney.
Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images
Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State this offseason looking for a fresh start. There is no doubt that he is super talented. He’s shown flashes, especially in the 2020 season against Notre Dame when he threw for 439 yards and two scores. Don’t write Uiagalelei off just yet. New surroundings, a new offense and being coached by a former quarterback in Jonathan Smith might be exactly what he needs.
Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr.
Gore is Mr. Do-it-all for the Southern Miss offense. As a true freshman in 2020, he was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team after totaling 708 yards on the ground. His production increased in 2021 as he started all 12 games and carried the ball 179 times for 801 yards and five touchdowns.
Photo by Joe Harper
The 2022 campaign is Gore’s best up to this point. He had 228 carries for 1,382 yards and nine scores. Gore can also catch and throw the ball when called upon. He is 17-for-30 passing in his Southern Miss career for 368 yards and seven touchdowns. Gore also has 48 receptions for 471 yards. Gore is one of the best all-around athletes in the nation.
Florida State defensive end Jared Verse
Verse was a big reason why Florida State had a breakout season in 2022. Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell has been extremely successful at recruiting players from the transfer portal during his tenure in Tallahassee. Verse is a prime example as he was originally at Albany before transferring to FSU.
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Last season, he totaled 48 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Verse was set to be a first-round draft pick but decided to come back to school for another year. He will be a force for opposing offensive lines to deal with this season.
Illinois defensive tackle Jer'Zhan Newton
Illinois had one of the top defenses in the Big Ten last season under Bret Bielema. With many players from that defense in the NFL now, Newton is a guy that could follow in their footsteps. Newton has been a two-year starter for the Fighting Illini.
Photo via Illinois Athletics
The 6-foot-2, 295-pounder has 134 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and one forced fumble in his three seasons with Illinois so far. Newton will be one of the top defensive tackles in the country this season.
UTSA outside linebacker Trey Moore
Moore had a breakout season in 2022. After totaling one tackle in three games played in 2021, Moore led the Roadrunners in tackles for loss with 17. The next closest on the team had 6.5 tackles for loss. Moore totaled 58 tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended and two forced fumbles to go along with the 17 tackles for loss.
Photo by Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics
UTSA is a team that is known for having an explosive offense. Don’t forget about the defense as the Roadrunners enter the AAC. Moore is a large part of a defense that should have an improved season in 2023.
Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt
There is no doubt that Alt is one of the top offensive tackles in the country. At 6-foot-8, Alt is the tallest player on the Notre Dame roster. As a true freshman in 2021, Alt started the final eight games of the season. On top of that, he also started all 13 games in 2022 at left tackle.
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Alt has started 21 consecutive games at left tackle for Notre Dame. He was named to numerous first teams after the season concluded including ESPN, Associated Press, Pro Football Focus, CBS Sports and Action Network.