When the 2021 NFL season opens, three beginning quarterbacks will probably be former Oklahoma Sooners.
Spencer Rattler is the odds-on favourite to win this yr’s Heisman Trophy, which might make him the fifth Sooners quarterback to take action previously 19 years.
Lincoln Riley and his workers simply received a dedication from Malachi Nelson, the Seventeenth-ranked prospect and No. 2 quarterback, in response to ESPN, within the 2023 class.
These are heady occasions at QBU, a title Oklahoma has each proper to assert. Certainly, ESPN’s numbers in our third annual Place U database present the Sooners’ lead over No. 2 USC has grown markedly in only a yr. Greatness follows greatness. It is the Oklahoma QB mannequin.
But when Oklahoma is QBU, how would you rank QBU’s alumni? Does Jason White get credit score for a nationwide title? Does Baker Mayfield take the throne for kicking off this latest run of success? The one factor higher than debating the most effective QB college is to debate the most effective QBs from the most effective QB college.
Suppose that is powerful? Strive choosing the most effective Ohio State defensive backs or the most effective Alabama offensive linemen. The choices are huge.
For this yr’s Place U countdown, we did not simply let you know which faculties churned out probably the most expertise at every spot on the depth chart, we dug deeper to search out out “Mount Rushmore” of alumni at every place — the most effective of the most effective.
How we calculated our outcomes
There is no set system for calculating which college produces the most effective prospects at every place, which is why a dozen applications can declare to be DBU. However our Stats and Data crew put some math behind the boasts. So, what makes a college Place U? It is a mixture of faculty success, draft inventory and NFL success. Our system awards factors for all-conference and All-America choices, rewarding the most effective school performers. It awards factors on a sliding scale primarily based on the place a participant is drafted, rewarding spectacular NFL evaluations.
Then, utilizing knowledge from Professional Soccer Reference, we add extra factors for manufacturing by way of the primary 5 years of the participant’s NFL profession — past that, credit score belongs to the NFL trainers and coaches — in order that the draft busts and the late bloomers all get credit score, too. After all, we additionally must account for the switch portal, which is an more and more large concern within the rankings. Our plan: Awards gained in school belong to the college the place it occurred. The draft and NFL manufacturing get credited to the final college a participant performed for.
Leap to a place: Quarterback | Operating again
Extensive receiver | Tight finish | O-line
D-line | Linebacker | Defensive again | Kicker | Punter
The winner: Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners’ QB Mt. Rushmore
Mayfield is considered one of school soccer’s best tales, changing into the one walk-on ever to win a Heisman Trophy. Named the best Sooner in historical past by The Oklahoman, he completed within the high 4 of Heisman voting 3 times, successful it in 2017. Mildren was the “Father of the Wishbone” below offensive coordinator Barry Switzer, who helped usher in a brand new period at OU, and Heupel equally jump-started Bob Stoops’ Air Raid run, going from a junior-college switch to a Heisman winner and nationwide champion in Stoops’ second season. Bradford averaged 400 yards and 4 TDs over 21 video games in an injury-shortened profession and led the Sooners’ 2008 offense that averaged 51.1 factors per recreation, permitting him to edge out a number of different really nice Sooners QBs, together with Heisman winners Jason White and Kyler Murray, each who had legendary single seasons as starter. — Dave Wilson
6. Florida State
Huge movers: Zach Wilson’s large season helped BYU soar 24 spots, from No. 56 on our checklist to No. 32. After all, if we went again past the BCS period, the Cougars have a wealthy historical past on the place, so it is solely proper to see them climbing the checklist as soon as extra. In the meantime, Alabama lastly cracks the highest 10 after Mac Jones adopted in Tua Tagovailoa’s footsteps as a first-rounder and Heisman finalist. If Bryce Younger lives as much as expectations, Alabama is perhaps thought-about a QB college earlier than too lengthy.
Who’s lacking: Sure, NC State followers, Russell Wilson nonetheless counts as a Wisconsin grad, so the Wolfpack did not land in our high 10 regardless of a powerful pedigree of Wilson, Philip Rivers, Mike Glennon, Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Finley. On the upside, Devin Leary has a vivid future, so there’s nonetheless hope for the 2022 checklist. In the meantime, Ohio State ranks eleventh, due largely to its lackluster NFL monitor document. Maybe Justin Fields will lastly dispel the notion that the Buckeyes cannot produce a star on the subsequent degree.
Trying forward: The wealthy simply get richer, as Oklahoma has this yr’s favourite for the Heisman in QB Spencer Rattler and simply received a dedication from five-star 2023 prospect Malachi Nelson. Clemson, too, continues to burnish its QBU résumé, with D.J. Uiagalelei poised to be the Tigers’ subsequent star on the place, and 2022 commit Cade Klubnik taking house MVP honors on the Elite 11.
Operating Again U
The winner: Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide’s RB Mt. Rushmore
Henry is a reasonably straightforward selection at No. 1, however then issues get difficult as Ingram, regardless of a Heisman Trophy in 2009, is not as memorable as different Crimson Tide working backs. Alexander had an incredible profession with 3,565 yards and 41 touchdowns in Tuscaloosa, and Harris’ robust end final season helps him edge different deserving backs similar to Bobby Humphery, Trent Richardson, Johnny Musso and T.J. Yeldon. — Adam Rittenberg
8. Ohio State
Huge movers: The mixture of David Montgomery’s NFL success and Breece Corridor tearing up the Huge 12 helped Iowa State soar 38 spots on our rankings, from No. 80 to No. 42. The Cyclones are nonetheless a methods from the highest 10, however because of Ezekiel Elliott and J.Ok. Dobbins, Ohio State’s résumé is now sufficient to maneuver 4 spots as much as eighth place, dropping Arkansas out of the highest 10.
Who’s lacking: Notre Dame has as wealthy a historical past as any school soccer program, together with at working again. However the most effective of the bunch — Ricky Watters, Jerome Bettis — simply missed our Place U timeline. For the reason that introduction of the BCS period, no Irish tailback has blossomed right into a Professional Bowler within the NFL, with Julius Jones probably the most efficient professional of that time-frame.
Trying forward: It is exhausting to think about Alabama shedding the highest spot any time quickly. Whereas Henry dominates defenses for the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers took Najee Harris within the first spherical of this yr’s draft, and the Tide have two working backs ranked in ESPN’s high 51 dedicated for 2022.
Extensive Receiver U
The winner: USC Trojans
The Trojans’ WR Mt. Rushmore
With apologies to a handful of others who’ve legitimate claims for inclusion, this group represents the most effective mixture of expertise (Williams and Johnson) and sustained manufacturing (Jarrett and Lee) to have suited up for the Trojans. Williams caught an unimaginable 30 touchdowns in his two years, whereas Johnson parlayed his two-year stint into being chosen No. 1 total within the NFL draft. Lee was the one USC participant to win the Biletnikoff Award, and with 41 landing receptions, Jarrett has 9 greater than some other Trojan in historical past. — Kyle Bonagura
5. Ohio State
6. Florida State
7. Oklahoma State
Huge movers: DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown blossomed into reputable NFL stars, whereas Elijah Moore loved the fruits of Lane Kiffin’s offensive scheme in 2020, pushing Ole Miss up 12 spots, from No. 25 to No. 13. Given the prolific passing recreation Kiffin instituted final season, odds are excessive the Rebels will crack the highest 10 earlier than lengthy.
Who’s lacking: From 2009 by way of 2018 — a decade of draft-eligible signing courses — Texas inked 18 blue-chip receivers. None had been drafted within the first or second spherical, none made a Professional Bowl. The final impression NFL receiver the Longhorns equipped to the professionals was Roy Williams, who was drafted within the first spherical in 2004 and made one Professional Bowl.
Trying forward: Alabama’s run of receiving dominance solely elevated in 2020 too, with DeVonta Smith’s Heisman. The Tide jumped from No. 8 to No. 4 on this yr’s rankings because of this. However that is only the start. John Metchie appears like a star within the making, and the Tide inked a trio of blue chips, together with five-star prospect Jacorey Brooks, in 2021.
Tight Finish U
The winner: Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes’ TE Mt. Rushmore
Shockey has the final word school and professional resume: Successful each a nationwide championship in school, and two Tremendous Bowls within the NFL — along with the non-public accolades that got here his method, from All-America honors and Professional Bowl choices to his induction within the College of Miami Sports activities Corridor of Fame. Olsen lately retired after a 14-year NFL profession, whereas Franks arguably began the Miami TEU custom — he starred within the late Nineteen Nineties, simply earlier than Shockey. — Andrea Adelson
8. Notre Dame
Huge movers: Kyle Pitts is perhaps the most effective tight finish prospect in years, and he did lots for Florida’s positioning on this yr’s rating. After handing over an All-America season, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Pitts No. 4 total, making him the seventh Gators tight finish drafted since 1998. Pitts’ success pushed Florida from No. 12 on the 2020 checklist all the best way as much as the No. 4 spot this yr.
Who’s lacking: Ohio State’s struggles to provide an amazing NFL QB are properly documented. Much less so is the Buckeyes’ points at tight finish. Luke Farrell went within the fifth spherical of this yr’s draft, becoming a member of an ignominious checklist of predecessors, together with Nick Vannett (third spherical, 2016), Jeff Heuerman (third spherical, 2015) and Ben Harstock (third spherical, 2004). On the upside, Jeremy Ruckert appears like a matchup nightmare within the Huge Ten this season.
Trying forward: Notre Dame ranks eighth on our checklist, however the Irish are climbing. Cole Kmet was a first-round decide in 2020, and Tommy Tremble went in Spherical 4 this yr. However the most effective is perhaps but to return, with Michael Mayer poised for a breakout sophomore season. He is already received the “Child Gronk” nickname, and he might quickly have Notre Dame pushing for the title of Tight Finish U.
Offensive Line U
The winner: Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide’s OL Mt. Rushmore
When Paul “Bear” Bryant known as Hannah the most effective offensive lineman he ever coached, he meant it. Hannah was a two-time All-American and was inducted into each the School Soccer Corridor of Fame and the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame. Stephenson is not far behind after two stints on the All-American crew, two nationwide championships and 5 Professional Bowl choices. Whereas there are a handful of Nick Saban-era linemen to select from, Jones’ résumé consists of successful the Outland Trophy as a junior, switching from sort out to middle and successful the Rimington Trophy the next yr. — Alex Scarborough
3. Ohio State
7. Notre Dame
Huge movers: Penei Sewell could have opted out in 2020, however his excessive draft inventory — No. 7 total — helped give the Geese a three-spot enhance, cracking the highest 25. Brady Christensen grew to become the primary BYU O-lineman drafted since 2005, and that was sufficient to leap the Cougars 15 spots, from No. 73 to No. 58. Texas ticked up only one spot, nevertheless it introduced the Longhorns into the highest 10 — the lone newcomer within the group.
Who’s lacking: Once we first did this checklist in 2019, Florida State was properly represented on the O-line, coming in at No. 8. The previous few years, nonetheless, have not been good within the Tallahassee trenches. On the sector, FSU has been dogged by horrible O-line play, and Mike Norvell is simply starting to show issues round. On this yr’s rankings, the Seminoles fell out of the highest 10 for the primary time.
Trying forward: For all of Clemson’s success over the previous decade, the offensive line has been largely ignored. Jackson Carman was taken in Spherical 2 of this yr’s draft, the very best a Tigers O-lineman has been chosen since 1971, however the future appears far brighter. John Simpson and Tyler Shatley at the moment are established NFL starters, and the Tigers inked eight blue-chip linemen of their previous two recruiting courses, together with five-star Tristan Leigh. They have two extra dedicated for 2022, too.
Defensive Line U
The winner: Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide’s DL Mt. Rushmore
Alabama has produced 10 defensive linemen chosen within the first two rounds of the NFL draft simply since Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Allen was probably the most embellished defensive lineman within the nation his senior season and has collected 16 sacks in his final three seasons within the NFL. It is troublesome to incorporate Copeland with out his sidekick, Eric Curry, from the 1992 nationwide championship crew, and Dareus and Williams had been completely unimaginable at sort out. And the way do you allow off Marty Lyons of the Jets’ famed “New York Sack Alternate?” Welcome to the riches of defensive position expertise at Alabama. — Chris Low
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
4. Penn State
Huge movers: We now have a brand new crew atop the leaderboard right here, as Alabama edged out Florida State to take the crown. It is exhausting to argue with the Tide’s success, which incorporates seven defensive linemen chosen within the first or second spherical of the previous 5 drafts. Pitt has produced the most effective defensive lineman in a era in Aaron Donald, however the DLU résumé elevated in 2021 too, with three gamers chosen on this yr’s draft. It was sufficient to maneuver the Panthers up 14 spots to No. 20 on our checklist.
Who’s lacking: Miami checks in at No. 28 on our checklist, which could appear a bit stunning provided that the Canes simply had two D-linemen taken within the first spherical of this yr’s draft (Jaelan Phillips and Gregory Rousseau). Earlier than that, nonetheless, it is a lengthy option to discover Miami’s final defensive lineman taken within the first two rounds (Calais Campbell, second-rounder in 2008).
Trying forward: Texas A&M simply makes our high 20 this yr, however that is more likely to change shifting ahead. In 2021, the Aggies inked 5 of the highest 30 defensive ends as ranked by ESPN, which dietary supplements an already spectacular group that features preseason All-SEC lineman DeMarvin Leal.
The winner: Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs’ LB Mt. Rushmore
The Bulldogs have had eight linebackers drafted within the first two rounds for the reason that begin of the BCS in 1998, together with 4 first-rounders. Smith was a consensus All-American and gained the Butkus Award with 137 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks as a junior in 2017. Jones performed solely two seasons at Georgia after transferring from USC, however made them rely with a mixed 28 sacks. Justin Houston, a third-round choice in 2011, has 97½ profession sacks within the NFL in 11 seasons with the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts. Leonard Floyd, a first-round decide of the Chicago Bears in 2016, had 10½ sacks with the Los Angeles Rams final season. Two of Georgia’s all-time nice defenders — edge rusher David Pollack and security Thomas Davis — performed far more at linebacker, as properly. — Mark Schlabach
3. Ohio State
5. Penn State
Huge movers: The highest of the rankings remained largely secure, although Notre Dame jumped three spots to No. 14, the largest mover in our high 25. Trying additional down the rankings, nonetheless, Zaven Collins managed to place Tulsa on the map. After an All-American season that culminated with Collins being drafted No. 16 total, the Golden Hurricane rocketed from No. 111 in our rankings to No. 65.
Who’s lacking: Ok.J. Britt was chosen within the fifth spherical, No. 176 total on this yr’s draft, making him the highest-selected Auburn linebacker since Will Herring (161st total in 2007). After all, just one different Auburn linebacker was taken in that span, so it is not saying a lot. For a college that gave us Takeo Spikes, Karlos Dansby and Aundray Bruce, the latest period of linebackers has been awfully disappointing.
Trying forward: Clemson has had a terrific run at linebacker below defensive coordinator Brent Venables, together with 2020 first-round decide Isaiah Simmons and third-rounder Tanner Muse, shifting it as much as No. 8 in our rankings. Total, the Tigers have seen 5 linebackers taken previously six drafts, and have inked blue-chippers like Trenton Simpson and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. in recent times.
Defensive Again U
The winner: Ohio State Buckeyes
The Buckeyes’ DB Mt. Rushmore
Tatum’s nickname within the NFL was “The Murderer” as a result of he hit so exhausting. He was one of many nice safeties for Ohio State, was an All-American twice in his profession and was finally a first-round decide by the Oakland Raiders. He’s amongst a protracted checklist of excellent defensive backs which have performed for Ohio State, which made it troublesome to land on these 4. Shawn Springs, Mike Sensibaugh and a handful of others might have been thought-about. The DBU distinction is just from 1998 and ahead, however Ohio State’s historical past with this place group is lengthy and profitable. — Tom Van Haaren
6. Florida State
10. Virginia Tech
Huge movers: The one new crew getting into this yr’s high 25 is Oregon, which jumped three spots from final yr after seeing 4 DBs drafted this spring, together with second-rounder Jevon Holland. Northwestern remains to be a good distance from competing for the title of DBU, however because of an amazing season from Greg Newsome, which ended with him drafted twenty sixth total, the Wildcats moved up 49 spots in our rankings, from No. 120 to No. 71.
Who’s lacking: Texas A&M ranks within the high 25 at each place besides working again and defensive again. The Aggies have not had a DB go within the first spherical since Sammy Davis again in 2003. Davis was out of the league after simply 5 seasons, having began simply six video games from 2005 by way of 2007.
Trying forward: Pitt checks in at No. 34 on our DBU checklist, however the Panthers are climbing quick. Prior to now three drafts, Pitt has seen 5 defensive backs chosen, together with Jason Pinnock and Damar Hamlin final yr. Each 2018 picks — Jordan Whitehead and Avonte Maddox — have blossomed into starters, with Whitehead successful a Tremendous Bowl with the Bucs final season. The pipeline appears promising for the close to future too, with Marquis Williams among the many ACC’s finest corners returning for 2021.
The winner: Florida State Seminoles
4. Ohio State
The winner: Texas A&M Aggies
6. Georgia Tech
7. Michigan State
8. Ohio State
Particular groups Mt. Rushmore
Sebastian Janikowski, FSU
Roberto Aguayo, FSU
Shane Lechler, Texas A&M
Braden Mann, Texas A&M