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Highest-graded players at every position through Week 5 of the 2021 college football season

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) warms up before the game against the New Hampshire Wildcats at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After another wild weekend of college football, it seems like two programs are pulling away from the pack. Alabama and Georgia keep knocking out whoever they play and look to be on a collision course toward the College Football Playoff.

Clemson continues to struggle on offense and might not make it out of the ACC, while Ohio State is finding its rhythm amid structural changes within the defensive coaching staff.

Here are the top-graded players at each position at this point in the season.

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Power Five: Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Panthers | 92.5

Playing in what seems like his 10th year of college football, Pickett is finally breaking out. With a touchdown to interception rate of 19-to-1, he’s keeping this Pittsburgh team afloat. Pickett has 90.0-plus grades this season across five outings, and his three turnover-worthy plays all came in the same game. 

Group of Five: Malik Willis, Liberty Flames | 94.1

The only quarterback in the country with a 90.0-plus rushing grade, Willis stays in the top spot and improves his overall grade by 2.8 points after hammering UAB, 36-12, in Week 5. He’s forced a missed tackle on over two-thirds of his rushes, and 60% of his carries have gone for a first down or a touchdown. Willis has been bombing away with his arm, as well. He has a big-time throw rate of 14%. No other quarterback in the country is over 10%.

Related content for you: College Football Week 5 Takeaways: Notable grades, advanced stats & more via Anthony Treash

Running Back

Power Five: Jarquez Hunter, Auburn Tigers | 90.2

Hunter has averaged over six yards per carry in all of his 2021 outings. His season average is 10.6 yards, and no one else in the country with over 25 carries is also averaging more than 10 yards. He also ranks 19th in the country in missed tackles forced per rush (0.43).

Group of Five: Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU Mustangs | 90.0

SMU was off this week, but Bentley retains the top spot here regardless. In the Battle for the Iron Skillet two weeks ago, Bentley put the Mustangs on his back by rushing for 153 yards — 97 of which came after contact. He created eight explosive runs and forced 10 missed tackles on only 20 attempts. At this point, 69% of his total rushing yards have come after contact. 

Wide Receiver

Power Five: Drake London, USC Trojans | 85.7

It took a while, but the big playmaker is on top of the rankings after another quality performance, this time against Colorado. London leads the country in targets (68) and catches (48). He’s a big-bodied, contested-catch freak, hauling in 13 contested catches on 20 such targets. No other player has more than seven receptions of that variety.

Group of Five: Jaivon Heiligh, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers | 92.2

At this point, it’s going to be tough for anyone to usurp Heiligh at the top of these rankings. He caught all three of his targets against UL-Monroe this past weekend, and the Chanticleers continued to roll. Heiligh ranks 12th in the nation in receiving yards even though he’s been in on only 83 pass plays. His yards per route run mark is an astonishing 6.01, which leads FBS wideouts by more than a full yard.


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