CFB Monthly Round-Up: August 2023
The final CFF monthly round-up of the 2023 offseason
The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.
Gather in to the tavern, my friends. In light of the Week Zero games kicking off today, I thought I’d release this month’s round-up article a little earlier. This article represents the last of its kind for the 2023 offseason, however, I plan to do something similar during the season.
In today’s ‘Monthly Round-Up’, I will cover at a high level the notable headlines, rumblings, and quotable quotes in College Football and their relevancy to CFF. These will include camp rumblings, notable transfer portal news, and injury/suspension events. I will also provide an overview of the content I have published over the month on the VolumePigs platform and on other platforms.
If you’re reading this with an interest in CFF, I would encourage you (if you haven’t already) to join us over at the Pig Pen. In addition to getting content directly to your inbox, there is a group chat for paid subscribers.
You can find the previous installment of the series here (free):
In case you missed it
Some of most popular articles of August include:
I also wrote some articles with the Campus2Canton crew:
Tulsa Has a Potential Rising Superstar at WR : Tulsa WR Malachai Jones
The VolumePig Manifesto: My CFF Redraft Philosophy
VP’s CFF Dynasty Darlings – Part One
I contributed to the C2C 2023 CFF Guide released on July 1st (20$)
Notable fall camp rumblings
NC State QB Brennan Armstrong appears to be the starter for the Wolfpack headed into 2023. MJ Morris will occupy the QB2 role. Morris looked promising last season in limited action and will present value in CFF should Armstrong ever miss time this season. Armstrong has re-united with his old OC from UVA in Robert Anae, which is good news for his CFF outlook. I wrote about him here.
In one of the biggest shockers of the summer, true freshman QB Jaden Rashada was announced as the starter for Arizona State. Rashada was a high profile recruit out of high school who originally committed and signed with Florida, but was released after NIL agreements broke down. New Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham spent 2022 as the OC and QBs coach at Oregon, in which his QB Bo Nix had an exceptionally productive season. Rashada immediately becomes a viable CFF option at QB, but I’d wait and see how the first few games go before picking him up.
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson talked about his plans for the offence in 2023, Nate Marchese graciously summarized the key take aways:
Cooper Legas had a good offseason and is the current starting QB
Getting Terrell Vaughn touches will be a priority (I wrote about him here)
Offence plans to run at a much faster pace than the last couple of years
The Texas Longhorns are expected to field a ‘1-2 punch’ in the backfield this season with Jonathan Brooks as RB1A and superstar freshman CJ Baxter as RB1B. This is a great sign for Baxter, who at the very least looks to be a monstrous prospect for 2024 and 2025. On the flip side, Jadon Blue may be on a path to the portal come season’s end. A lot of football still to be played, though, and things can change quickly. Don’t hit panic mode just yet if you’re a Blue shareholder. I wrote about UT’s backfield here.
Old Dominion QB Grant Wilson has been announced as the starting QB for the 2023 season. The new OC of the Monarchs—Kevin Decker, joined the program from the FCS school Fordham, where the starting QB Tim DeMorat, led the country in touchdown passes and passing yards, with 4891 yards and 56 passing TDs to only 10 INTs in 2022. I wrote about ODU’s new offensive system here.
Tennessee QB Joe Milton is listed as the starter for week one, with Nico Iamaleava listed as the backup. Milton figures to be next in-line in Heupel’s explosive passing attack, after Hendon Hooker had an extremely productive season in 2022.
The Alabama depth chart was released with QB Jalen Milroe listed as the starter with no ‘OR’s behind him. Notably, the Crimson Tide look to be employing a committee approach at the RB position, from a Bama beat report summary of the depth chart: “Jase McClellan and (not or) Roydell Williams [listed at the top]. Jam Miller and Justice Haynes will get almost as much work as the first two. I will not be surprised if Jam Miller becomes the lead back early in the season, but frequent rotation with all four will continue.” This has been my impression during the offseason, though I thought Miller would be the #2 with McClellan instead of Williams. I wrote some of my thoughts in April here, and again in July here.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has refused to name a starting QB and stated “You'd like a sizeable gap to be able to name a starter for sure”. Day has mentioned he wants to see more consistency. Per NBC’s Josh Perry: “A lot of people thought it was Kyle McCord's job, and Devin Brown could push but wouldn't be in the mix there . . . But this thing is actually very, very close. From the people I've spoken to, they are confident in either quarterback's ability to go out there and be successful. They are just looking for that consistency. It feels as this drags out a little bit more; it does start to favor a younger guy in Devin Brown. He's got some really good movement skill and athletic ability." Day mentioned the possibility of a “two-QB system in week 1”. Of note, it is not atypical for Day to delay as long as possible before naming a starter.
BYU freshman RB LJ Martin has been impressing the staff this offseason. OC Aaron Roderick said of Martin: "[he is] one of the best players on this team." Martin was a super producer in Texas high school football out of West Texas, and already holds the requisite size to withstand a heavy workload at 6’2, 205 pounds. His is a name to watch for 2024, as he’ll be at best RB1B with UNLV transfer Aidan Robbins this season.
Ole Miss freshman WR Ayden Williams has reportedly ‘looked special’ in practice and is expected to contribute in a big way as a freshman in 2023. Per Lane Kiffin: "Ayden looked really good . . . Obviously was a great high school player, but you never know until you get them . . . he looked really special and unique out there”. Ole Miss’ top two receivers from a year ago vacate over 1800 receiving yards in Malik Heath and Jonathan Mingo, so Williams has a phenomenal opportunity to break out as a freshman—especially given Franklin’s recent injury (details of which are provided below). Williams has been described as a versatile player, who could even play in the slot at 6’3”.
Cincinnati WR and Louisville transfer Braden Smith caught a 5-yard TD pass and added a 40-yard gain on another pass in an August scrimmage. “He’s been a weapon for us this whole camp,” said Coach Satterfield. “He understands our offence inside and out so we can do a lot of things with him.” Those are interesting comments. While the QB will probably be running a lot, there could still be value in Satterfield’s WR1 (not saying Smith necessarily is WR1…). At Louisville he had productive WRs in multiple seasons (remember Tutu Atwell?).
Texas QBs Arch Manning and Maalik Murphy are battling for the backup job behind Quinn Ewers. This is about what I expected for this room. It’s a good sign for Ewers (or at least, not a bad sign) that he was named starter so early on with minimal contention.
Miami freshman RB Mark Fletcher was described by head coach Mario Cristobal during camp with a glowing review “[Fletcher] has been an absolute stud”. Fletcher is a former standout high school player at powerhouse program American Heritage, and was a one-time commit to Ohio State. With the availability of some of the other backs in doubt, we could be seeing much more of Fletcher this year than previously anticipated.
Ole Miss QB Jaxon Dart has taken first-team reps throughout all of fall camp and is in line to start for the teams season-opener against Mercer. The 6-foot-2 junior is set to start for the second year in a row as the Rebels starting quarterback after passing for 2,974 yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. Dart beat out Spencer Sanders, who took reps with the second-team during practice on Friday.
Per Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham: “(QB) Bryson Barnes took the majority of first team reps” in Utah’s most recent practice while Cam Rising sat out with injury, and that “Bryson Barnes would be the guy if we had to play today”. Utah QB Brandon Rose had been thought to be the next guy up should Rising miss the opener—but suffered a scary injury during camp in August.
Cincinnati QBs Emory Jones and Brady Lichtenberg had multiple rushing TDs in the red zone during the Bearcats’ scrimmage. “It’s a big part of our offense,” said Coach Satterfield. “I’m not giving anything away. Anybody that’s seen us over the years knows that the quarterback is going to be able to run the football”. Jones would appear to best fit the offence Satterfield wants to run, so I’m assuming he will win the starting role, but even if he doesn’t, I’d keep an eye on whoever the starter is here—sounds like they’ll be rushing quite a bit.
Cincinnati freshman QB Brady Drogosh had a long TD run in the Bearcats’ scrimmage. The 6’4”, 215 pound freshman showed off his speed on a 99-yard score — albeit against the third-team defence. “That big guy can run,” said Coach Satterfield. “It was special to be able to see that”. Drogosh has had a very strong spring, which is promising for his future outlook.
Wyoming RB Jamari Farrell was listed as the RB1 on Wyoming’s depth chart for week one, but it is expected that D.Q. James (listed as RB2) will be heavily involved as well. The backfield is beat up with injuries to Harrison Waylee and Dawaiian McNeely. Waylee is planning to return within the first month of the season. Farrell is a bit of a surprise, as he only joined the Wyoming program this past June. Clearly, he’s made an impression in short order.
Hawaii RB Tylan Hines worked as the No. 1 running back in Hawaii’s August scrimmage with Landon Sims and David Cordero working behind him. Hines has also taken reps at slot receiver this offseason and figures to be used in a multitude of ways in this offence. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear he’ll be receiving dual position eligibility with WR/RB on Fantrax. I’ve written about Hines here.
Colorado RB and Houston transfer Alton McCaskill was described as a week away from returning to contact practice in mid August. His RB coach said this of McCaskill: “We brought him here to be the guy.” Do with that information what you will. As of Aug. 24, he has yet to be cleared for contact.
Texas State QB Malik Hornsby is reportedly the current leader in the QB battle. The winner of that role could very well hold immense upside in CFF due to the new system in place with head coach GJ Kinne. CFF managers will be crossing their fingers that this report is true. I’ve written about Hornsby here.
Wisconsin OC offered some thoughts on the Badgers’ starting slot receiver Will Pauling: "After my wife and kids, the thing I love most are slot receivers . . . He's a mismatch for a lot of people. We can do a lot of things with him." Notably, Pauling suffered a minor injury during camp, but is not expected to miss any time. I wrote about Pauling here.
Ole Miss freshman QB Austin Simmons has reportedly impressed his teammates already in camp. WR Jordan Watkins said this: "He's looked really good . . . He's impressed me. Super young, but he can throw it. He's got to work on everything that a young quarterback has to work on coming out of high school. With him being so young it's probably harder for him [to adjust], but I think he's just naturally talented." Simmons reclassified from the c/o 2025 to 2023 this offseason, and was previously committed to Florida. His reclassification may be eye popping, but he was held back at least one year. He is 17 years of age, which is in-line for the 2023 class.
Ole Miss TE Michael Trigg has primarily worked with the second-team offence. Trigg caught 17 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns in his sophomore season last year. Caden Prieskorn is in line to be the teams starting tight end heading into the season.
ISU freshman QB JJ Kohl is in a tight battle for the starting job with Rocco Becht. Kohl is a former four-star recruit and one of the highest rated prospects to ever sign with the Cyclones, but Rocco’s been in the program longer. There are a few implications of starting QB Hunter Dekkers’ suspension which has opened the door for these two QBs—the passing game might struggle a lot this year which would 1) be a damper on the value of players like WRs Jaylin Noel and Jayden Higgins, and 2) could be a boon for RB Cartevious Norton who would get the start in Brock’s absence should he be suspended. I wrote about Norton here.
Following up on the previous bullet, ISU RB Jirehl Brock has reportedly left the team.
Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith announced that QB DJ Uiagalelei will be the starter to open up the season.
Utah freshman WR Mikey Mathews is listed as a co-starter vs. Florida. Mathews is a former three star recruit out of California. This is an encouraging sign for his development going forward. I wouldn’t expect him to be all that relevant this season, but he becomes a player to watch for 2024 and beyond.
NC State true freshman WR Kevin Concepcion has been listed as a starter on the depth chart. True freshman TE Juice Vereen is listed as second string in the flex WR position with an ‘OR’ designation, suggesting he’ll be in the rotation. As mentioned in the first bullet, this offence is going to be very different from what it was last year with new OC Robert Anae, so each of these players could very well be CFF relevant assets in year one. It remains to be seen if Vereene can crack his way into the starting lineup. The 6’4 playmaker has TE eligibility on Fantrax, making him an intriguing player. I wrote about him here.
Jacksonville State QB Zion Webb’s application for 2023 eligibility was accepted and he appears to be the starter once again this season. Of note, QB Logan Smothers is also listed as a co-starter. Smothers transferred into JAX State from Nebraska this offseason.
Texas WR Adonai Mitchell has apparently stood out in camp, even overshadowing fellow star WR Xavier Worthy. Personally, I am avoiding Worthy in drafts for the reason that I think the Horns will be spreading the ball around a lot, and Worthy’s a skinny and brittle player. The more I hear about AD, however, the more I think he could end up finishing WR1 on this team come season’s end.
Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke was named the starter for the week zero match-up vs. San Diego State. Rourke suffered an ACL injury late in 2022, but was reportedly back to practice earlier this offseason. Him being named the starter is not surprising due to the depth chart, the question was more so related to his health.
Despite having a strong spring, Vanderbilt freshman RB Sedrick Alexander is reportedly third on the depth chart. Credit to CFFDFS for this info.
Jacksonville State WR Perry Carter (formerly of ULM) has been reportedly