The top 10 players returning to the UAB Blazers for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1. Brontae Harris, CB
2. Jordan Smith, OLB
3. Tyler Johnston III, QB
4. Spencer Brown, RB
5. Austin Watkins, WR
6. Kristopher Moll, LB
7. Will Boler, S
8. Dy'jonn Turner, CB
9. Alex Wright, DE
10. Starling Thomas V, CB
Honorable Mention: Myron Mitchell, WR; Noah Wilder, LB; Tony Fair, DI; CD Daniels, CB; Grayson Cash, S
If you've forgotten about Brontae Harris, then that's too bad. All he did two seasons ago was lockdown every receiver in his coverage, finishing with a 41.0% completion percentage into his throws and two picks with 12 pass breakups to his credit. In fact, his 14 plays on the ball were more than half of the total completions he allowed (25) despite seeing over 50 targets his way. He sticks to his receivers in man coverage and covers ground incredibly quick in a zone scheme. He should be healthy to open the season this year and should once again dominate in coverage and in run defense.
Smith, the gigantic defensive end, was unstoppable a season ago. He recorded eight sacks, 21 QB hits and a bevy of other hurries. There was truly no stopping him and at 6-foot-7, 245 pounds, he presents a mismatch for any offensive lineman in front of him with his rare combination of size, speed and strength. Smith has it all, and should absolutely hear his name called early in the NFL draft.
On offense, Johnston, Brown and Watkins are as strong a QB-RB-WR combination that there is at the G5 level. Johnston is a true gunslinger and if he can take the next level jump in terms of his short-area accuracy, he could present a fun NFL draft prospect himself. Brown had a down year by his standards in 2019 after running for over 1,200 yards in each of his first two seasons. If he can rebound and stay healthy, and see 200+ carries in 2020, he could absolutely hit that plateau once again.
Watkins did reach that 1,000-yard plateau in dramatic fashion, averaging 19.2 yards per catch last year. He ran for nearly 300 of those yards after the catch and did all of that with no more than a single drop to his name.
Then we switch back to defense for the remaining top spots as Moll is an all-around talent at linebacker. Despite just a few pass-rushes, he came away with 10 sacks and 28 total pressures to go with his ridiculous tackle numbers and strong coverage skills. Boler, Turner and Thomas are also ridiculously talented as Turner didn't allow a touchdown last year, Boler had 10 total plays on the ball and Thomas allowed fewer than 50% of the passes thrown his way to be caught.