The first AP poll of the 2023 college football season dropped on Monday, which means we are drawing ever closer to live game action. It also means we are almost able to see the top prospects in the 2024 class get back to work. Every ranked team will definitely have at least one prospect worth watching this season. Let’s take a look at the top prospect on every top 25 team.
Georgia – Brock Bowers, Tight End
We get to start with an easy one atop the AP poll. Georgia has a very talented team all the way around, but Bowers is a special prospect. It would take a big drop off this season for him to not be the first tight end selected in 2024. He is a great receiver, but he may be even better as a blocker. He should be an impact player from day one in the NFL.
Michigan – Kris Jenkins, Defensive Lineman
Unlike Georgia, this one is a little more up in the air. Michigan has some fantastic offensive linemen that could very well be Top 100 selections come draft day. However, I’m going to the defensive side of the ball with the son of a former NFL defensive tackle. Jenkins shares his dad’s name and is a force in the middle of Michigan’s defense. He is a bit undersized to play defensive tackle, but he could be a 3-tech or 5-tech at the next level.
Ohio State – Marvin Harrison Jr., Wide Receiver
The Buckeyes are loaded with potential NFL talent, headlined by Harrison. He is the top player on my big board heading into the season and it is hard to see that changing. He is a bigger, faster, stronger version of his father, who wound up being a Hall of Fame receiver. Harrison is a legitimate Heisman candidate and should be the top non-quarterback drafted in 2024.
Alabama – Kool-Aid McKinstry, Cornerback
The king of producing NFL prospects, Alabama has plenty of intriguing prospects once again for the 2024 NFL draft. McKinstry projects as a top-end starting corner in the league. He has good size for the position and provides additional value as a punt returner. He will be in the running to be the first corner selected in next year’s draft.
LSU – Maason Smith, Defensive Lineman
It is understandable that fans might not know a ton about Smith. The junior defensive tackle is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in the season opener against Florida State in 2022. He had flashes as a true freshman, recording four sacks in seven games. He might get off to a bit of a slow start as he continues to recover from the injury, but his potential is off the charts.
USC – Caleb Williams, Quarterback
The reigning Heisman trophy winner would be the best prospect on just about any team in the country. Williams enters his third year under head coach Lincoln Riley and his second with the Trojans. His mobility, arm talent, and poise have NFL scouts dreaming of landing the top pick in the 2024 draft. He will be a must-see TV appointment all season long for USC.
Penn State – Olu Fashanu, Offensive Tackle
Give James Franklin a lot of credit. Outside of the quarterback position, Penn State regularly has NFL talent all over its roster. This season is no different, with Kalen King and Chop Robinson as potential first-round selections. However, neither of their stocks is as high as Fashanu, who projects as the top tackle in this class. He is a fluid mover with great hands and power. He has all the makings of a franchise left tackle in the NFL, according to our Dustin Mosher.
Florida State – Jared Verse, Edge Rusher
A potential top-20 selection in 2023 had he declared, Verse decided to return to school. The Albany transfer wowed in his first season at Florida State, racking up nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He is my top-edge rusher entering the season and currently in the top five on my big board. He should be in store for another monster year.
Clemson – Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Linebacker
Another player with a famous NFL father, Trotter is a dynamic player with tons of athleticism. He is disruptive as a blitzer, posting 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. He will likely need to add a little weight. Clemson currently lists Trotter at 210 pounds, which would be in the 1st percentile. That won’t prevent him from being considered an elite prospect, but that will come up when he is being assessed.
Washington – Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver
The Huskies burst onto the scene in 2022 with a massive turnaround from the year before and landed in the top 10 of the AP poll. Michael Penix Jr. certainly deserves a lot of the credit, but his top target is the better prospect. Odunze put together a breakout season with 1,145 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He has the chance to solidify himself as a first-round pick with another big campaign.
Texas – Xavier Worthy, Wide Receiver
Quinn Ewers gets a lot of the attention, but Worthy is the better prospect at this stage. His raw numbers dipped a bit in 2022, but he is still one of the top playmakers in this draft class. He has 23 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons. The biggest knock on him at this stage will be his weight. Texas has him listed at 172 pounds, which would put him around the 3rd percentile for wide receivers.
Tennessee – Joe Milton III, Quarterback
There were a few different directions to go for the Volunteers’ top prospect. I opted for Milton here because he is the most intriguing prospect on this roster by far. He has a massive arm and great mobility. However, he has a bit of an inconsistent history. He has never been a full-time starter despite spending five seasons in college split between Michigan and Tennessee. He will have to prove it this year. He is running out of opportunities to shine.
Notre Dame – Joe Alt, Offensive Tackle
When you think of Notre Dame draft prospects, you historically think of tight ends and offensive linemen. 2024 will be no different. Alt is a hulking presence at left tackle, measuring in at 6’8″, 322 pounds. He is a former tight end with 21 starts at tackle already under his belt. Expect him to contend with Olu Fashanu for the No. 1 tackle spot in this draft class.
Utah – Brant Kuithe, Tight End
Dalton Kincaid stole the limelight in Utah’s tight end room last year, but heading into the season, it was Kuithe who was high on the draft radar. He was coming off a 50-reception, 611-yard, 6-touchdown campaign in 2021 only to go down with a torn ACL last September. He is a proven receiver heading into his sixth college season. If he can bounce back, he should be a fringe Day 2 prospect.
Oregon – Bo Nix, Quarterback
It is incredible that Nix is in this position given where he was at this time last year. Coming off three rollercoaster years at Auburn, Nix arrived at Oregon looking for a fresh start. He put together a stellar year and put himself firmly in the mix to be the third quarterback selected in the 2024 draft. He will have to learn a new offense with Kenny Dillingham now at Arizona, but he is poised for another big season.
Kansas State – Cooper Beebe, Interior Offensive Line
The Wildcats stunned a number of people by grabbing the Big 12 title in 2022 led by a dynamic offense. Beebe was a big part of their offensive success. He is a rock-solid interior lineman with good movement skills. He also has 35 starts already under his belt. He should be one of the top guards selected in 2024.
TCU – Josh Newton, Cornerback
The unexpected party crasher to the College Football Playoff a year ago boasted a good amount of NFL talent and not all of it left in the 2023 draft. Newton had a fantastic season in his debut for the Horned Frogs. After three years at Louisiana-Monroe, he transferred to the Big 12 and had an immediate impact with 12 pass deflections and 3 interceptions. He has the tools and size to be a starting NFL cornerback.
Oregon State – Joshua Gray, Offensive Tackle
Despite the demise of the Pac-12, the conference has five teams in the AP poll to open the year. The Beavers have quietly become one of the better-run programs in the country under Jonathan Smith. They don’t have a ton of recognizable names on the roster outside of D.J. Uiagalelei, but the Clemson transfer has a lot of work to do to rehab his draft stock. Gray is a name to know though. The redshirt senior has started each of the past three seasons at left tackle. He is a bit undersized, but he is a proven run blocker who has made strides in pass protection.
Wisconsin – Braelon Allen, Running Back
Allen figures to be the latest in a long line of dominant Wisconsin running backs to make the jump to the NFL. Over the past two seasons, he has racked up 2,510 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns. He also has 21 catches in that span. He is a determined runner with the potential to be the lead back in an NFL backfield.
Oklahoma – Danny Stutsman, Linebacker
After years of being an offensive juggernaut under Lincoln Riley, Brent Venables is attempting to rebuild the defensive side of the ball. Playmakers like Stutsman are leading the charge. The true junior linebacker has the prototypical size for the position at 6’4″, 240 pounds. He flies around the field and has a knack for delivering big hits. He is someone I am excited to watch a lot more of this season.
North Carolina – Drake Maye, Quarterback
If not for Caleb Williams, the hype around Maye would be on a different level. The junior quarterback looks the part of a franchise quarterback at 6’5″, 220 pounds, and delivered a monster season for the Tar Heels in 2022. He had 4,321 passing yards, 698 rushing yards, and 45 total touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. Maye needs another season like that to solidify his draft stock. He will likely be a top-five pick next April.
Ole Miss – Zakhari Franklin, Wide Receiver
If you are not familiar with UTSA football, there is a chance you are very confused to see Franklin as the Rebels’ top prospect. The Roadrunners’ all-time leading receiver transferred to Ole Miss this summer and brings with him a ton of production. If he can find a way to replicate that success against SEC competition, you will hear his name in conversations to be a top-50 selection.
Texas A&M – Moose Muhammad III, Wide Receiver
Yet another kid of a former NFL player. Muhammad’s father played 14 seasons in the NFL. I’m not willing to say Moose will have the same success as his dad, but he is certainly an intriguing prospect on the rise. The redshirt junior only has 48 career catches, but Texas A&M’s passing offense figures to be much stronger this year. If he takes the next step in his progression, he should be a top-100 pick.
Tulane – Michael Pratt, Quarterback
The Wave shocked the world by winning the Cotton Bowl this past season and earned themselves a spot in the AP poll. Willie Fritz had a good amount of NFL talent to work with led by his returning redshirt junior quarterback. Pratt topped 3,000 yards passing and tossed 27 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. He also added 10 touchdowns on the ground. As of now, he projects as an early Day Three selection, but another strong season could push him even further up draft boards.
Iowa – Cooper DeJean, Defensive Back
Iowa sneaks into the AP poll. Few teams are on par with the Hawkeyes when it comes to producing NFL talent. DeJean figures to be the latest Iowa player to find his way into the first round. He is a pick-six specialist with great size. He has added value as a special teams player as well. Iowa’s defense figures to be one of the best in the country with DeJean leading the way.