Farrell 25: The top stars playing this fall
Every year in August I roll out the Farrell 50, a ranking of the top 50 players in college football. But this year is different as it’s almost mid-September and only three Power Five conferences are getting ready for football this fall. So this year, let’s do a Farrell 25 starting today with Nos. 25-21.
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
25. DE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest
The skinny: Basham trimmed his list of top programs down to Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Maryland before committing to the Demon Deacons during a live TV announcement during the summer leading up to his senior season. Having established himself as one of the top defensive players in the ACC, Basham is coming off a junior season when he totaled 57 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Farrell’s take: Basham was a linebacker who grew into a defensive end in high school and was a late bloomer of sorts. He was rated as a three-star and was a solid pass rusher and chose Wake because the Deacons wanted him to play a hybrid role. He’s emerged as one of the best pass rushers in college football.
24. S Richard LeCounte
The skinny: LeCounte committed to the Bulldogs over Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida a week after Kirby Smart was named the head coach. He did end up taking a late official visit to check out the Buckeyes but never truly wavered on his commitment. With the Bulldogs, LeCounte has become a defensive leader, while also becoming more of a playmaker last season with 61 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.
Farrell’s take: LeCounte was on the radar early playing at the same school as former five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and was always a very physical player. He lacked great size and still does but it doesn’t stop him from making big plays and his ball skills have always been excellent. He’s lived up to his Rivals100 ranking so far.
23. LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
The skinny: Originally committed to LSU early in his high school career, Moses backed off that pledge and eventually picked Alabama over LSU, Texas and many others. He received his first offers while still in middle school, a rarity even just a few years ago which has become much more common in recent recruiting cycles. After a 2018 season that saw Moses finish with 86 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks, an All-American caliber season was expected in 2019. However, due to a knee injury he missed the entire season.
Farrell’s take: Moses became famous as a middle school prospect and transitioned from a running back prospect to a linebacker as his high school career continued. He was a five-star early, then lost that fifth star in the middle of the cycle and earned it back at the very end. And he’s living up to the hype as he’s emerged as one of the top linebackers in the country and someone the NFL is waiting on. There has been pressure on Moses for a long time and he’s delivered but how will he come back from injury? My guess is as strong as ever.
22. TE Kyle Pitts, Florida
The skinny: Pitts trimmed his list of favorites down to Florida, Georgia and Virginia Tech during the summer leading up to his senior season. A few days after the Bulldogs landed a commitment from John FitzPatrick, Pitts committed to the Gators. Pitts is coming off his breakout season in 2019, finishing with 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns.
Farrell’s take: Pitts was a big get for Florida out of the state of Pennsylvania but he was ranked outside the Rivals250 because he was a bit raw and inconsistent. He’s emerged as the best tight end in college football and should have a bigger season than last year.
21. QB Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
The skinny: Mond originally committed to Baylor, but then re-opened his recruitment and eventually signed with Texas A&M. Auburn proved to be the Aggies’ major threat. About to begin his third full season as a starter in College Station, Mond has passed for 6,004 yards and 44 touchdowns and rushed for 975 yards and 15 touchdowns during this time.
Farrell’s take: Mond has been key for Texas A&M and handled the pressure of being thrust into a starting role before he was ready as a freshman. Mond was a guy I stood on the table for as a five-star with zero agreement from our staff, so if he fails, it’s on me for this eval. He reminded me of a young DeShaun Watson with slightly less accuracy but better running ability. So far it’s been up and down, but last season he had a solid year and he continues to show signs of being to break out. There have been many more ups than downs and he’s played some of his best football against the best teams and much is expected this season.