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Caleb Williams, Brock Bowers, Marvin Harrison Jr. lead college football’s top 100 players for 2023

Everyone wants to be known as the best at something. Anything. Being the best grill master at your house. Being the best among your friends at singing Taylor Swift karaoke at 2 a.m. Being the best player in all of college football. And when it comes to us who cover college football for a living, we want to be the best at determining who those best players are!

It was with that goal in mind that we here in the college sports corner of once again spent a large chunk of our summer discussing, debating, voting and, in this age of ever-evolving AI, even leaning on an algorithm to help us determine the best of the college football best. And as far as you know, none of us did that while standing over the grill singing Taylor Swift karaoke at 2 a.m.

So, as the season bears down on us like Washington’s Bralen Trice chasing Caleb Williams, you decide whether we are the best or the worst at separating the truly best from the merely great as you read our 2023 ESPN Preseason Top 100 College Football Player Rankings.

— Ryan McGee

Methodology: Voters were presented with a series of one-on-one votes. For example, “Who should be ranked higher for the 2023 season: Blake Corum or Caleb Williams?” Think of it as an Oklahoma drill of statistical reasoning. More than 10,000 votes later, these were the results.

Jump to: 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50
51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100

QB, USC, junior
Notable 2022 stats: 52 TDs (42 pass, 10 rush), 4,537 yards
2022 end-of-season ranking: 1

In his first year at USC and second year in college, Williams took the sport by storm. He threw for 4,537 yards, 42 touchdowns and only eight interceptions on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy. He draws Patrick Mahomes comparisons and has more or less secured the No. 1 overall draft pick for next season barring some unforeseen circumstances. What can he do for an encore?

TE, Georgia, junior
Notable 2022 stats: 790 rec yards, 9 total TDs
2022 ranking: 14

Bowers has been a fixture at tight end since the day he arrived on Georgia’s campus. He catches everything thrown his way, blocks with the same efficiency and runs like a running back both after the catch and when he’s taking a handoff. He has scored 24 touchdowns in his first two seasons (20 receiving and four rushing).

WR, Ohio State, junior
Notable 2022 stats: 1,263 yards, 14 TDs
2022 ranking: 9

Harrison was an unanimous All-American in 2022 — Ohio State’s first — and was named the Big Ten’s Wide Receiver of the Year. He caught 77 passes for 1,263 yards and 14 touchdowns. He went over the 100-yard receiving mark in seven games last season.

LB, LSU, sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 8.5 sacks, 3 FF, 1 INT
2022 ranking: 54

Perkins — who can play linebacker or edge rusher — is an impact defender wherever he lines up. He was learning the ropes in the SEC a year ago as a true freshman but still led LSU in tackles for loss (13), sacks (7.5 sacks), quarterback hurries (14) and forced fumbles (three).

QB, North Carolina, sophomore
Notable 2022 stats: 38 TDs, 4,321 passing yards
2022 ranking: 18

A year ago, Maye entered fall camp unsure whether he’d land UNC’s starting job. This year, he opens the season as one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy. In between, he threw for 4,321 yards, ran for 698 more, accounted for 45 touchdowns and led North Carolina to an ACC Coastal Division title.

QB, Washington, senior
Notable 2022 stats: 31 TDs, 4,641 yards
2022 ranking: 17

After transferring to Washington from Indiana to be reunited with coach Kalen DeBoer, the former Hoosiers offensive coordinator, Penix was a revelation in Seattle. He led FBS in passing yards per game (357), tossed 21 touchdown passes and turned down the opportunity to enter the NFL draft to return to UW.

RB, Michigan, senior
Notable 2022 stats: 18 TDs, 1,463 rush yards
2022 ranking: 10

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