Skip to main content

Cal Football: Bears Will Face 11 of the Top-100 Players in the Country, Per ESPN

The Pac-12 landed nine spots on the website's list while the SEC dominated with 33.

ESPN released its list of the top 100 players in college football this season and Cal is nowhere to be found.

But the Bears will face 11 players on the list — including five from USC (including four transfers) and four from Notre Dame.

Linebacker Will Anderson and quarterback Bryce Young, both of Alabama are ranked 1-2 on the list. The Crimson Tide is represented by eight players while Georgia and Clemson each have seven and Ohio State six.

The Pac-12 is represented on the list by nine players, including two from Utah, which is not on Cal’s schedule this season.

The Southeastern Conference dominates the selections with 33 players on the list formulated by votes from 10 ESPN college football writers.

Here are the opposing players Cal will see this fall, with bios courtesy of ESPN:

9. Jordan Addison

WR, USC, Junior
Notable 2021 stats: 1,593 yards, 17 TDs
Last year's ranking: NR

Pitt transfer Addison was the addition who seemed to swing USC from being dangerous this coming season to potentially being a problem for teams beyond the Pac-12. Can a wide receiver add that much value? It's hard to argue that he can't given he was the best wideout in the country and is about to play in a better offense and with a better quarterback. One thing USC hasn't lacked even during its down years is elite wide receiver talent -- JuJu Smith-Schuster, Michael Pittman, Drake London. None of them, however, won a Biletnikoff like Addison just did.

10. Caleb Williams

QB, USC, Sophomore
Notable 2021 stats: 1,912 yards, 21 TDs
Last year's ranking: NR

What Williams can do on the field is evident. But perhaps his biggest strength is the fact that the heightened hype around him doesn't seem to make him uncomfortable. USC has been missing a player with -- and this is meant as a compliment -- this kind of irrational confidence. If his game matches it this season, the Oklahoma transfer can single-handedly will this team to not just relevance, but success.

16. Michael Mayer 

TE, Notre Dame, Junior
Notable 2021 stats: 840 yards, 7 TDs
Last year's ranking: 47

Along with Georgia's Brock Bowers, Mayer is a prime Mackey Award candidate in what should be his final college season. He has been dominant from the start, recording 113 receptions for 1,290 yards and nine touchdowns in his first two seasons. His presence will be huge for Notre Dame's new starting quarterback, Tyler Buchner.

17. Noah Sewell 

LB, Oregon, Sophomore
Notable 2021 stats: 114 tackles (53 solo), 4 sacks, 2 FF, 1 INT
Last year's ranking: NR

After a season of 114 tackles, four sacks two forced fumbles and a whole lot of changes at Oregon, Sewell is the mainstay the Ducks badly need. With Dan Lanning -- a defensive-minded head coach -- stepping into the fold, Sewell is bound to build on last season's success. Questions abound on the offensive side of the ball, so Oregon is going to need an encore from Sewell as the leader of the Ducks' defense to make some noise this season. The good news? He's plenty capable.

22. Jarrett Patterson

C, Notre Dame, Senior
Notable career stat: Has never allowed a sack
Last year's ranking: NR

Scroll to Continue

Read More

The three-year starter and 2021 captain has not been responsible for a sack in his college career, a big reason why he ranks No. 2 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s list of draft-eligible centers for 2023. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Patterson will anchor one of the nation's best lines, and should push to become Notre Dame's first Rimington Trophy winner.

31. Isaiah Foskey 

DE, Notre Dame, Senior
Notable 2021 stats: 52 tackles (38 solo), 11 sacks, 6 FF
Last year's ranking: NR

Pass rush should be a strength for Notre Dame's defense, and Foskey will lead the effort after recording team-highs in sacks (11) and tackles for loss (12.5) in 2021. Foskey was among the nation's most disruptive defenders, tying for the FBS lead in forced fumbles (6) and tying for 11th in sacks per game (.85).

37. Brandon Joseph 

S, Notre Dame, Junior
Notable 2021 stats: 79 tackles (54 solo), 3 INT
Last year's ranking: 62

A 2020 All-America selection at Northwestern, Joseph could be one of the most important transfers on defense in the past cycle. After six interceptions two seasons ago, his playmaking production dipped last fall, but he brings experience and talent to a Notre Dame secondary that will be tested right away against Ohio State.

56. Travis Dye 

RB, USC, Senior
Notable 2021 stats: 1,271 yards, 16 TDs
Last year's ranking: NR

Through injuries and inconsistent quarterback play, Dye was Oregon's metronome last season. Now at USC this year, Dye will be an ideal No. 1 back as a runner and a pass-catcher. And though he's a classic example of substance over flash, it feels like there's a more explosive version of him that could be unlocked by playing in a Lincoln Riley offense next to Caleb Williams.

67. Zach Charbonnet 

RB, UCLA, Senior
Notable 2021 stats: 1,137 yards, 13 TDs
Last year's ranking: NR

The former Michigan running back has carved out a nice role at UCLA, where he finished last season as the second-leading rusher in the Pac-12 (in conference play) and finished the season with 1,137 yards rushing. He was a second-team all-Pac-12 selection and could be among the national rushing leaders this season.

81. Andrew Vorhees

G, USC, Senior
Notable 2021 stat: 5 pressures allowed in 499 pass-block snaps
Last year's rankings: NR

An Associated Press third-team All-American last season, this is the sixth straight season Vorhees has entered with a role for the Trojans (he received a medical redshirt for the 2019 season). With 44 appearances, he's one of the most experienced players in college football and will play a key role on the offensive line for USC.

100. Mario Williams 

WR, USC, Sophomore
Notable 2021 stats: 380 yards, 4 TDs
Last year's ranking: NR

Part of the Oklahoma-to-USC convoy, Williams was named to's true freshman All-American team last season after catching 35 passes for 380 yards with four touchdowns for the Sooners. His knowledge of the offense and relationship with QB Caleb Williams should result in a big season in the Pac-12.

Cover photo of USC quarterback Caleb Williams and running back Travis Dye by Kirby Lee, USA Today

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