- Nov 16, 2021
- 1 min
In this new 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 four features Washington quarterback Michael Penix, Clemson running back Will Shipley, Tulsa safety Kendarin Ray and Colorado State wide receiver Tory Horton.
Penix broke onto the Pac-12 scene last season as he threw for 4,641 yards in an offensive system that he thrived in under head coach Kalen DeBoer. Last season was Penix’s best season in his college career, and he avoided injury, which plagued him during his time at Indiana.
Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
After a great year in 2022 and since Washington has many of its top offensive skill players returning, Penix is among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. If Penix can stay healthy again, he will torch secondaries with his accuracy and touch downfield.
Shipley has stacked back-to-back good rushing campaigns on top of each other. In 2021, he totaled 739 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. In 2022, he accumulated 1,182 yards on the ground and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Photo via USATSI
He is also a threat in the passing game and as a kick returner. Shipley is arguably Clemson’s best player with the ball in his hands. Shipley has great hops for a guy his size as well. He will be one of the top running backs in College Football this season.
Ray has been a consistent presence on the Tulsa defense in each of the past four seasons. Ray entered the transfer portal after the 2022 season but withdrew his name so he could return to Tulsa. He was getting interest from power five programs like Arkansas and Oklahoma State.
Photo via Tulsa Athletics
Ray recorded a career-high 86 tackles in 2022 along with three forced fumbles. He is a hard-hitting safety who can crash and stuff the run. Ray is one of the best defensive players in Tulsa’s football history.
Horton was Colorado State’s leading receiver last season. He had 71 receptions for 1131 yards and eight touchdowns. The second-leading receiver on the Rams had 26 receptions for 424 yards. Horton was the best playmaker for an offense that didn’t put up more than 19 points in a single game last season.
Photo via CSU Athletics
After the 2021 season, Horton transferred from Nevada to Colorado State to join head coach Jay Norvell who also left for CSU from Nevada during that same offseason. At 6-foot-2, Horton will be one of the top receivers in the Mountain West this season.