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Star Search: Week 8 College Football Standouts

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QB Standouts

Michael Penix Jr, Washington (36 comp/51 att // 374 yds // 2 TD)

The little-talked-about Penix Jr currently leads the nation in passing yards (2934) and is 4th in passing touchdowns (22). Over the last two weeks, he's thrown for 890 yards (next closest is 770), 6 touchdowns, and 0 zero interceptions. He has calm feet, a quick 3/4 release motion, and the athleticism to play shortstop and throw around defenders with a sidearm release. He can hit outbreaking routes from the opposite hash with timing and accuracy, and also displays good patience as a runner in the option, forcing the defenders to commit before executing the keep or pitch.

RB Standouts

Will Shipley, Clemson (27 car/172 yards/2 TD/3 rec/17 yards)

Clemson stayed undefeated last Saturday, but it definitely was not because of the passing game. The Tigers had to rely on their defense, and Will Shipley to carry them to victory. Shipley has arguably been the most consistent offensive presence for this team and that theory was represented in the matchup with Syracuse. He carried the ball plenty as per usual, but also caught passes out of the backfield, had a steady day in pass protection, and was impactful as a kick returner. He was earning plenty of tough yards along with producing his explosive plays. Whether you can obtain Shipley in Devy, C2C, DFS, it does not matter. He will be an asset for the foreseeable future.

Eric Gray, Oklahoma, (20 car/176 yards/2 TD/2 rec/13 yards)

The Sooners ended a three-game skid against the Kansas Jayhawks with a lot of credit going to the likes of Eric Gray. He was quite efficient with his opportunities, averaging just about 8.6 yards per touch. He was running with good patience and vision. He made plenty of Kansas defenders miss with efficient and confident feet. It seems to be under the radar, but Gray is averaging 7.2 yards per carry, and ranking 23rd in the country in rushing with 695 yards on the year. The OU offensive line is playing well, which does help his case, but Gray has equally earned his yards and should be a player to watch for the rest of the season.

Avery Morrow, Colorado State (26 att / 147 yds / 2 TD)

Junior running back Avery Morrow transferred from Nevada to Colorado State this past off-season. Morrow lacks a top breakaway gear, but he's quick with the ball in his hands, understands leverage, and how to utilize run blocking to his advantage. Over the last three games, his snaps (25, 28, 31) and carries (24, 27, 26) have skyrocketed since the first four weeks when he only had 69 total yards. Over this recent stretch, his rushing lines have been 168, 116, and 147, with 0, 1, and 2 touchdowns to match.

WR Standouts

Troy Franklin, Oregon (10 tgts/8 rec/132 yards/16.5 avg/2 TD)

Troy Franklin stepped up big in Oregon’s top 10 matchup with UCLA. He helped the Ducks steal momentum in the 2nd quarter with his two touchdowns. The first of which, was a great effort to beat the corner inside and stack them up, giving Bo Nix the chance to drop a beautiful ball into Franklin’s lap. He had a couple back shoulder receptions that displayed his incredibly good body control and ball tracking. He was contending with DB’s and keeping a foot in bounds. Franklin has an ideal combination of height, weight, and speed. This makes him dangerous attacking down the field, and across the middle. If he continues on this development path, he could become one of the most threatening receiving weapons in college football.

Ali Jennings III, Old Dominion (15 tar/9 rec // 130 yds // 1 TD)

Jennings is a larger receiver (6'2" 200) who displays smooth movement around defenders when the ball is in his hands. He's a smart player when attacking zone coverage, finding soft spots within the defense and settling with his eyes on the quarterback. Whether the ball is in his hands or not, Jennings has dangerous speed and quickness and is a big play threat on every down and distance. He is a player to continue to watch as draft season draws nearer.

TE Standouts

Var'Keyes Gumms, North Texas (6 tar/3 rec // 92 yds // 1 TD)

Freshman Var'Keyes Gumms gave a valiant effort in a close 31-27 loss to UTSA. Of his 92 yards, 44 came on his touchdown reception in which UTSA brought a six-man blitz on a North Texas 3rd & 6. Gumms, aligned in the slot, ran to the vacated, shallow-middle of the field where the ball got to him in stride. With only the safety between him and the end zone, Gumms showed both pre-snap processing and live, situational awareness of the defense as the safety was arriving for contact just a beat behind the ball getting to his hands. He secured the reception while setting his body up to complete a football play and deliver contact to the safety. He did so, delivering his shoulder into the safety which knocked them to the ground, maintained his balance through the entire event, and quickly shifted gears as he ran to daylight, scoring on the play.

Princeton Fant Tennessee (2 tar/1 rec/17 yds rec // 1 att/1 comp/66 yds/1 TD // 12 rush yds/2 TD)

While Princeton Fant has been a low-volume tight end in the Volunteer offense, he's had two games of increased performance since Tennessee upset Alabama. This past week bares no exception in the flow volume department, having seen only 2 targets, but it was his 66 yard touchdown completion and 12 rushing yards for 2 touchdowns that elevated his CFF production. Tennessee has beaten the teams necessary to earn the respect of the nation. Now, they are having fun, mixing it up, and running with the wind at their backs. Princeton Fant's unique usage is a testament.

Arik Gilbert Georgia (2 tar/2 rec/16 yds/1 TD)

Redshirt Sophomore and high-profile LSU transfer, Arik Gilbert, caught his first touchdown as a Georgia Bulldog. Gilbert made my pre-season watch list given his unique traits as an oversized receiver, and how he had performed during his true-freshman season at LSU. After taking his 2021 transfer season off for personal reasons, it's been concerning that he wasn't getting on the field in 2022. Gilbert has true NFL ability and potential, and while his score came as the reserves took the field with the game completely out of hand, the enthusiasm of his teammates was a genuine display of joy for the young man who has been battling through personal issues. While 2022 has largely been lost for Gilbert, his story is still being written.


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