2018 Big Men On Campus: College Football’s Best Offensive Skill Players
Quarterback: University of Oklahoma, Kyler Murray
I think Tua Tagovailoa is one of the the best college quarterbacks ever. With that being said, what Kyler Murray’s doing at Oklahoma is even more impressive. This 2018 Alabama team is the best team Nick Saban’s ever had and it’s because they finally have a gunslinger in Tagovailoa. Despite that, they’d still probably be undefeated without him. In the case of Oklahoma, we don’t know if they’d even have a winning record if Murray wasn’t saving the day. The dual-threat field general arrived at Oklahoma after polishing off a perfect 42-0 record at Texas high school powerhouse Allen and a short stint at Texas A&M, where his dad, Kevin Murray became a legend. Since taking over for 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, Murray entered Week 12 of the 2018 season ranked second nationally in passing efficiency rating (205.8) -- higher than the NCAA record set by Mayfield last season -- points responsible for per game (24.0 first among Power Five players) and yards per completion (16.9). These eye-popping stats only tell some of the story as he’s on pace to become the first FBS player to ever average at least 300 passing yards and 60 rushing yards per game. He’s orchestrating the NCAA’s No. 1 offense -- leaders in total yards and points -- and has kept Oklahoma rolling at 10-1 despite having one of the worst defenses among the Power 5. In the Sooners’ only loss, a 48-45 stunner against rival Texas, he almost single-handedly brought his squad back, accounting for 21 points in the fourth, including a 67-yard touchdown burst in which he channeled his inner Mike Vick, setting a defensive back up with a cut move before skating down the sidelines. Though he’s already a millionaire who’s signed an MLB contract, I expect Murray to comeback to football in the near future and be Russell Wilson 2.0. He’s got the arm talent -- delivers arguably the best ball in college football and has insane arm strength -- , the guts, and is an assassin in the open field. Sorry Tua, the Heisman belongs in Norman again.
Running Back: University of Memphis, Darrell Henderson
Memphis has put out a lot of talent in the last couple of years, including first-round pick Paxton Lynch and budding Chicago star Anthony Miller. Henderson promises to be the next Tigers product to get selected in the draft’s first two days. His stats are video-gameish. In his first 11 games, he rushed for 1,521 yards, including two performances with at least 200, on an eye-popping 8.7 yards per carry. 8.7 bro. I feel like Willie when he slapped his mama in Next Friday. The Henderson-styled barbecue in Memphis is just that good. He’s also tallied 283 receiving yards, showing soft hands out of the backfield. If Memphis pops onto your screen one of these Saturdays, watch the herculean home run hitter. His combination of vision, speed and balance might remind you a bit of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Wide Receiver: University of Texas, Lil’ Jordan Humphrey
In a small-pocket of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex lies a wealthy community where the football reigns supreme. That community is Southlake, the home of the Dragons, myself and standout Longhorns wideout Li’l Jordan Humphrey -- the best name in college football. A converted running back, Humphrey runs like a man who has mouths to feed, charging through arm tackles and blazing through defenses in the same manner Cordarrelle Patterson did at Tennessee. Unlike Patterson, Humphrey’s stands at 6-foot-5, can run the route tree and has soft hands made for catching alley-oops. He put the Texas vs Texas Tech game on ice in 2018 with a Crabtree-like catch and drag a defender to hell on the team’s final possession. And through the Longhorns’ first 11 games, he’s compiled 1,033 receiving yards, eight touchdown grabs, a rushing score and a passing score.If you need one game to get a feel for Humphrey’s otherworldly talent, tune in the 2018 Red River Rivalry, when he looked like the best player on the field amongst a ton of future NFL players. Big-time players make big- time plays in big-time games. Just ask Humphrey.
Tight End: University of Alabama, Irv Smith Jr.
It seems like every year, Alabama features a tight end that is just more athletic than folks. After OJ Howard finished having his way with college defenses, the Crimson Tide put Smith on the stage. He’s looked every bit as good as Howard, and might actually be faster if that’s at all possible. In the Crimson Tide’s first 11 games, he’s totaled seven touchdowns and averaged an eye-popping 18.3 yards per catch. 18.3 for a tight end is insane. Too many times has he shrugged off defenders with a juke move only to speed past the rest of the remaining defenders like Usain Bolt against the field. Alabama didn’t need a cheat code, but what’s a Nick Saban team without a few unfair advantages.