10 college football players off to impressive starts in 2018
It may be early, but we know who’s starting to stand out among college football’s elite players. They may not necessarily be household names, and they may not ultimately be Heisman contenders, but they’re absolutely stuffing the stat sheet and doing big things for their teams on both sides of the ball.
Here are ten college football players who have stood out so far in 2018.
Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Maybe Murray is going pro in the wrong sport. With 863 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception, he’s certainly looked the part of a star Oklahoma quarterback. He also adds a dual threat, with 169 yards rushing and two touchdowns so far. He’s been so good that he had one rival coach wishing he’d gone pro a year early. He’s looking like a promising early-season Heisman candidate through three games.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
No disrespect to the likes of J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones or Braxton Miller, but it’s been a while since the Buckeyes had a quarterback this good. He has 890 yards and 11 touchdowns to just one interception so far, and he had his best game of the season against his toughest test so far. That 344-yard, two-touchdown performance against TCU looks really good on a resume. Haskins looks to be on his way to a huge season. He is a big reason why, at least early on, Ohio State looks to be the class of the Big Ten once again.
A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
The sophomore running back looks like a star in the making for a surging Boston College squad. Dillon is averaging over seven yards per carry, culminating in a total of 432 yards in three games so far. Even if the opposition hasn’t quite been top-notch, what Dillon is doing is impressive. He has four touchdowns to his name, and he’s coming off a 185-yard game against Wake Forest when the Eagles rode him to the tune of 33 carries. A lot more yards are coming his way.
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Clemson defensive front is really good, but so far, Ferrell has been outpacing everyone in the sack department. He has five sacks in three games, leading FBS and already over halfway to outpacing his total for the entire 2017 season, in which he racked up 9.5. Two of those sacks came in a disruptive performance against Texas A&M, where he was responsible for three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. He could become a sneaky Heisman candidate if this level of defensive disruption continues.
Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes are really hoping Bosa’s injury doesn’t turn out to be a serious one, because he’s been outstanding for him so far. The star defensive lineman has 14 tackles and four sacks in just three games, with at least one sack in each game he’s played so far. Bosa suffered an abdominal strain against TCU. The hope is that it won’t have any long-term impacts, because he’s poised for a huge year if his health holds.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Herbert has thrown more interceptions than he’d like to — four through three games — but the rest of his numbers are superb. In three games, he has 840 yards and 12 touchdown passes, and he’s added a touchdown on the ground as well. Herbert will have a chance to make a real statement and show everyone just how good he is with a game against seventh-ranked Stanford looming, but he certainly looks like one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis
The nation’s leading rusher through three games comes to us from Memphis, where Henderson is taking apart all comers. More astonishingly, he’s done it on just 33 carries. His 521 yards are good for a remarkable 14.5 yards per carry. And while nobody is under any impression that it’ll keep up, he’s still doing amazing things out of the Tiger backfield. He posted one of the most remarkable stat lines we’ll see all season against Navy — 13 carries, 212 yards, and three touchdowns. He’s doing truly impressive things.
Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii
The wild, joyous, pass-happy Hawaii offense is back, and McDonald gets to lead it and post the gaudy passing numbers that come along with it. He is, in fact, doing just that. The sophomore has already thrown for 1,486 yards, 15 touchdowns, and no interceptions through four contests. That includes 400-yard games against both Colorado State and Navy, the latter of which saw him throw for six touchdowns. The numbers McDonald posts in 2018 are going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin
Despite Wisconsin’s stunning loss at the hands of BYU, Taylor certainly has held up his end of the bargain. He starred as a freshman and has picked up right where he left off. He’s up to 515 yards and five touchdowns through three games, including a 253 yard day against New Mexico. He failed to find the end zone against BYU, but he still had 117 yards. He’s going to have another big season.
Preston Williams, WR, Colorado State
A former five-star recruit, many in Knoxville probably wish this wide receiver never transferred from Tennessee to Colorado State. He’s now thriving with the Rams, with 497 yards through four games, the second-highest total in the country. That includes a 12-catch, 154-yard performance against Arkansas in which he caught two of his four touchdowns on the season. He added another 106 yards in a loss to Florida. He’s looking like a great addition for Colorado State.