College Football Star Power Index: Anthony Richardson dazzles for Florida, Kayshon Boutte absent in LSU loss

The wide geographic appeal of college football, coupled with the sheer volume of players boasting 131 FBS rosters, creates a huge pool of potential characters who can emerge as stars. Sometimes those stars are predictable. Former five-star prospect Bryce Young, for example, ran into the hype as a sophomore last season and won the Heisman Trophy while playing quarterback for a big-brand school like Alabama.

Other times, the sport produces unexpected stars like Kansas tight end Jared Casey, who became a national hero last season by catching the game-winning two-point conversion in the Jayhawks’ upset win at Texas. Casey, who started his career as a foot, and Young, who was the No. 1 overall prospect in his recruiting class, can be stars in college football. Such is the beauty of sport.

As the 2022 season progresses, we’re turning on a Star Power Index to see who shines the brightest. This is not a Heisman Trophy watch list or ranking of earning potential based on players’ names, likenesses and likenesses, nor is it a simulated NFL draft. There are plenty of places to find those things.

This is a roundup of players who are maxing out their platform, whether for quality performance or other reasons, to stand out as stars in the sport.

College Football Star Power Index

Anthony Richardson, Florida quarterback

How a quarterback making his first career start at home against a top-10 opponent on his coach’s debut could appear so perfectly in control defied explanation. There were Cam Newton and Dak Prescott vibes emanating from Richardson during No. 12 Florida’s 29-26 victory over No. 13 Utah. Passing stats alone (Richardson was 17-of-24 passing for 168 yards) don’t tell the story. Richardson’s impact on the ground (he had 106 rushing yards and three touchdowns), coupled with his command of big moments and his ability to make decisive plays, make him one of the first stars of the 2022 season.

This critical 2-point conversion stands out as the highlight of Richardson’s performance, but there was plenty to choose from when he put the Gators on his back and put his name in the national spotlight.

Tory Taylor, Iowa kicker

It’s no exaggeration, or even sarcasm, to suggest that no player was more critical to his team’s Week 1 win than Taylor. The immaculate right foot of the Iowa punt helped the Hawkeyes defense get two safeties in the second half of a unpleasant 7-3 victory over South Dakota State. Taylor had 10 punts for 479 yards, 193 more yards than the Iowa and South Dakota state offenses combined. A staggering six of his punts were knocked down inside the 10-yard line, and he allowed just 8 yards return. If it weren’t for Taylor’s ability to salvage the Hawkeyes’ lousy offense, Iowa and South Dakota State could still be trading failed two-point conversion attempts in an overtime game.

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Maybe the Hawkeyes should test their arm in practice this week, because they need to figure out how to get their best player on the field more often than every fourth down. Instead of the RPO, how about the PPO? The punt-pass option. In the case of Iowa, it could be used effectively in all attempts.

Drake Maye, North Carolina quarterback

The competition hasn’t been elite, but Maye threw nine touchdowns without an interception and proved a threat with his legs in wins over Florida A&M and Appalachian State. Not bad for a redshirt freshman tasked with replacing Sam Howell, the program’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and yards. The most impressive thing about Maye’s 352-yard performance in the Tar Heels’ wild 63-61 win over Appalachian State in Week 1 was that it came without star receiver Josh Downs on the field. With Downs injured, Maye relied heavily on Kobe Paysour, a redshirt freshman who entered the game with a career reception from him. After Paysour, Maye’s second most frequent target was sophomore JJ Jones, who entered with seven career receptions for him.

North Carolina’s defense has obvious problems, but this offensive core has the potential to become even better than what the Tar Heels had in 2020 when Howell and a dynamic group of running backs and receivers made up one of the most potent attacks in the game. country.

Jacoby Windmon, Michigan State linebacker

Michigan State’s star transfer last season was running back Kenneth Walker Jr., but the early leader to take that title on the 2022 Spartans roster is linebacker Jacoby Windmon. The former UNLV star had four sacks in a 35-13 win over Western Michigan in Week 1 and was named Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week. He was particularly effective in the second half when the Broncos were coming back. His sack count was the best in the nation in Week 1, and his eight total QB pressures are tied for second nationally.

Windmon’s great performance is a great example of a player who maximizes his opportunity. He was ranked player No. 2,124 in the Class of 2019 at the 247Sports Composite and played reserve during his freshman year at UNLV. Now in his fourth season, he stands out on the national stage.

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Grayson McCall, Carolina Coast Quarterback

As one of the most recognizable Group of Five players in the nation and a proven quarterback, McCall surely could have chosen a Power Five transfer destination and reap the benefits of a powerful collective this offseason if he wanted to. Instead, he returned to anchor a Coastal Carolina roster that lost many of its best players from back-to-back seasons 11-2 in 2020 and 2021. One game into his senior season, that decision is paying off. Among quarterbacks who faced FBS opposition in Week 1, McCall posted the second-highest quarterback rating, completing 12 of 17 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-28 win over Army. .

But that is not all. McCall also appeared in a NASCAR Xfinity Series car at Darlington Raceway as part of a NIL deal with Myrtle Beach-based clothing printing company Native Sons. Between the mullet and her NIL treatment of her, McCall is as Carolina as she gets.

Kayshon Boutte, wide receiver at LSU

The reason Boutte checks into the Star Power Index is because his ratio of national attention to actual production was off the charts during LSU’s savage 24-23 loss to Florida State in New Orleans. Boutte did not catch a pass for the first 50 minutes of the game and finished with just two receptions for 20 yards. However, because of who he is, Boutte has managed to be a headlining figure in college football’s Week 1 drama, especially since LSU and Florida State were in the national sports television spotlight Sunday night. night.

With LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels’ penchant for running over and letting field options play out, and the scrutiny surrounding Brian Kelly’s transition to LSU, Boutte believes he will continue to be a curiosity every week until he and the Tigers find some kind of stability. (It should be noted that all references to LSU have been removed from his twitter page and Instagram account.) Perhaps Boutte and Daniels will develop a certain relationship, which will result in more prolific production for Boutte. Or maybe things are going in another direction. Either way, Boutte is a star, and the junior season saga of him already feels like one of the main storylines of the 2022 season.

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