Cal Football: Pac-12 Barely Represented on 247 Sports' List of Nation's Top-50 Players

Jeff Faraudo

Does Alabama by itself have as many elite football players as the entire Pac-12 Conference?

That’s the takeaway from a top-50 national ranking of 2020 college football players, as assembled by 247Sports.

The website has six ‘Bama players on its list — all of them in the top-26, for that matter — matching the number of Pac-12 players given a spot. Oregon tackle Penei Sewell sits No. 2 on the list, but the Pac-12 has just one other player among the first 33 that earned rankings.

Although Cal is expected to challenge Washington for second place in the Pac-12 North, the Golden Bears have no one on the list.

Here is the methodology used by 247Sports in making its selection:

— Players were initially sorted by position and were assigned rankings

— Players were then sorted into overall tiers.

— Positional value was often used to break ties.

— Generally, what a player has done in his career was used as a tiebreaker as well.

— Some players on this list are more projections than proven entities. In those cases, we tended to be a little more cautious with their rankings while still reflecting what we expect them to become.

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Trevor Lawrence scores against LSU in the national championship game
Clemson's Trevor Lawrence scores against LSUPhoto by Mark J. Rebilias, USA Today

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Atop the list of top-50 players is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Here’s what 247Sports had to say about Lawrence:

No. 1 Trevor Lawrence, Clemson QB

Few quarterbacks have entered college with more hype than Trevor Lawrence, and he’s lived up to every bit of it. The Tigers are 25-1 under his direction as a starter, with two national championship appearances and one national title to show for it. Lawrence threw for 3,665 yards, 36 touchdowns and completed 65.8 percent of his passes last season while carrying a 4.5-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also emerged as a legitimate running threat with 563 yards on the ground averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Lawrence is the sport’s top overall player until someone knocks him off his spot.

Here are the six Pac-12 players on the 247Sports top-50 list, with their rankings:

No. 2 Penei Sewell, Oregon OT

There might not be a more dominant individual player in college football than Swell, who anchored Oregon’s offensive line as a sophomore last season. The Outland Award winner and consensus All-American earned a 95.5 overall grade from PFF College last season, and the outlet said of Sewell: “(He’s) the best run-blocking offensive lineman we’ve seen.” Sewell, at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, is elite as a pass blocker as well allowing only one sack across 1,376 snaps the last two seasons.

24. Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, Oregon

Every list like this is a combination of resume and projection. This is the first pick we’re leaning heavily on projection. Thibodeaux showed off his five-star skill set late last season, totaling 6.5 sacks across Oregon’s final five Pac-12 games. That included a monster 2.5-sack performance against Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. Thibodeaux finished his Freshman All-American season with nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Expect him to blow up this year and become one of the premiere EDGE rushers in the country.

34. Jevon Holland, CB, Oregon

Holland is the engine of the nation’s top overall secondary. The junior totaled nine interceptions across his first two seasons in Eugene, a total that places him third among all active FBS players. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound defensive back is versatile, having played many snaps at both safety and slot cornerback throughout his career. Holland showed particularly apt in the slot last season. He’s produced the highest two-year coverage grade of anyone nationally in the slot, according to PFF College.

37. Kedon Slovis, QB, USC

Slovis took over for an injured JT Daniels after Week 1 last season, and he never looked back. The Arizona native threw for 3,502 yards, 30 touchdowns against nine interceptions and completed 71.9 percent of his passes, a single-season Pac-12 record that Andrew Luck used to hold. Speaking of records, Slovis’ 167.6 passing efficiency rating was the highest in USC history. Remember, this is the same program that produced Sam Darnold, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer and many others. Slovis turned out to be a perfect fit for offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s Air Raid attack.

38. Elijah Molden, DB, Washington

Yep, another elite Washington defensive back. Molden became a full-time starter last year, and quickly earned All-Pac 12 honors during a season in which he totaled 79 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions along with 17 passes defended. Molden played mostly in the slot for the Huskies, and proved equally adept as a tackler in space as he was a ball hawk. Molden’s 17 passes defended ranked second nationally, and he consistently made important tackles in the open field.

39. Jayden Daniels, QB, Arizona State

This is a projection, but it’s one we feel great about making. Daniels had a strong true freshman season for the Sun Devils, throwing for 2,943 yards and 17 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He also showed a flare for the dramatic, leading a quartet of game-winning drives. Arizona State spent the offseason building a new-look offense (scheme and personnel) around Daniels. Expect him to emerge as an elite signal caller in 2020.

Also considered from the Pac-12: Walker Little, OT, Stanford, Hamilcar Rashed, LB, Oregon State; Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford; Abraham Lucas, OT, Washington State; Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon.

Here are Alabama’s six ranked players: 13. Jaylen Waddle, WR; 15. DeVonta Smith, WR; 19. Alex Leatherwood, OT; 21. Dylan Moses, LB; 23. Patrick Surtain, CB; 26. Najee Harris, RB.

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FCS level star quarterback Trey Lance of North Dakota State
Trey Lance, North Dakota StatePhoto courtesy of North Dakota State Athletics

There were 10 quarterbacks among the 50 players chosen, with Ohio State’s Justin Fields at No. 3 and this unexpected pick at No. 10:

10. TREY LANCE, QB, NDSU

An out-of-left-field selection? Maybe. But Lance is a worthy selection here all the same. For those unfamiliar, here’s a quick refresher: Lance started 16 games for the Bison as a redshirt freshman, leading them to a 16-0 record and a national championship. The Minnesota native threw for 2,798 yards, 28 touchdowns with a completion percentage of 67 and ZERO interceptions. He also ran for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He’s the first freshman to win the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top overall player in the FCS. Lance will be in the mix with Lawrence and Fields for the top QB taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Why should Pac-12 football fans care about Trey Lance? Watch my video:

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Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo

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