College News & Analysis

How every five-star recruit in the 2020 class has graded so far in their college football career

6. Detroit Lions (from Los Angeles Rams) -- Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson Ncaa Football Syracuse At Clemson

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Every year, college football fan bases across the country get excited about their incoming recruiting class — eager to see the next stars for their favorite program.

The best of those recruits are rated five stars. There are about 32 five-stars every year, making them essentially college football’s version of first-round picks.

We’ve already gone over the 2022 and 2021 classes, but the 2020 one is unique in that many have already wrapped up their collegiate careers and will be selected next month in the 2023 NFL Draft.

With that in mind, here’s how every five-star from the 2020 class has played so far in their career.

(Note: On3 Sports’ industry rating is used here, which weighs On3 Sports, 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals into one ranking.)

1. DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson Tigers

Career Grade: 73.6 (912 snaps)

Bresee made an instant impact as a true freshman, leading all ACC interior defensive linemen with an 81.2 pass-rushing grade. His 26 pressures in 2020 were also tied for fourth among all Power Five interior defensive linemen. 

He didn’t have much of a chance to build upon that as a sophomore, as he tore his ACL in the fourth game of the 2021 season. Bresee once again excelled as a pass-rusher this past year though, as his 12.4% pressure rate was ninth among Power Five interior defensive linemen. He’s currently a top-20 prospect on PFF’s 2023 NFL Draft big board.

2. QB Bryce Young, Alabama Crimson Tide

Career Grade: 93.1 (1,897 snaps)

Young spent his true freshman season as Mac Jones‘ backup during Alabama's national championship run.

He then took over as the Crimson Tide’s starter in 2021 and became the first Alabama quarterback to bring home the Heisman Trophy. That season, his 92.2 grade tied with C.J. Stroud and Kenny Pickett for the highest among all quarterbacks in the country. Young also tied for the most big-time throws in the Power Five that year with 36.

This past season, Young’s 91.3 passing grade was tied for the highest among all quarterbacks in the country. He’s currently the No. 1 overall prospect on our big board.

3. WR Julian Fleming, Ohio State Buckeyes

Career Grade: 67.2 (808 snaps)

Fleming was Ohio State’s No. 5 receiver as a true freshman behind three top-15 picks in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams in addition to another potential one this year in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. He finished the season catching seven of his 13 targets for 74 yards.

Fleming remained the Buckeyes’ No. 5 receiver as a sophomore as a nagging shoulder injury held him out of five games in 2021. He ended up catching 12 of his 19 targets for 86 yards and a touchdown that season. Fleming missed a couple of games this past season due to that same shoulder issue but was Ohio State’s third-leading receiver after Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka. He caught 34 of his 52 targets for 533 yards and six touchdowns. Fleming should once again be the Buckeyes’ No. 3 receiver after Harrison and Egbuka in 2023.

4. CB Kelee Ringo, Georgia Bulldogs

Career Grade: 78.7 (1,620 snaps)

Ringo missed all of his freshman season after suffering a torn labrum in August 2020. He returned in 2021 and has been a starting cornebacks in each of the Bulldogs’ national championship seasons. In fact, Ringo had the game-sealing pick-six off of Bryce Young in the 2021 national championship game.

As a redshirt freshman, he only allowed a 20.3% open target rate, the sixth lowest among Power Five corners. Ringo struggled a bit more this season with a 73.3 coverage grade. Still, he has freaky tools for the position at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds while running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash. He’s a top-75 prospect on PFF’s big board. 

5. TE Arik Gilbert, LSU Tigers

Career Grade: 70.5 (581 snaps)

Gilbert entered Baton Rouge as the highest-rated tight end recruit since Martellus Bennett in 2005. He started for LSU in his first year and led all true freshman tight ends in the country with 11 catches of 15-plus yards. Overall, he caught 35 of his 53 targets for 368 yards and two touchdowns. 

After the season, he entered the transfer portal and originally committed to Florida before re-entering the portal a month later and settling on Georgia. He sat out of all of the 2021 season due to what head coach Kirby Smart described as “personal issues” before rejoining the Bulldogs this past season. Gilbert only played 31 snaps across three games though and finished his time at Georgia with two catches on four targets for 16 yards and a touchdown. 

Gilbert entered the transfer portal for the third time in two years this offseason and will try to revive his career at Nebraska in 2023. 

6. LB Justin Flowe, Oregon Ducks

Career Grade: 46.0 (244 snaps)

Flowe has had the worst luck of any player on this list. After just two snaps in his freshman year, he tore the meniscus in his right knee and missed the rest of the season. In the first game of the following season, he suffered a season-ending foot injury. 

He finally played in multiple games in 2022 but only received the fourth-most snaps among Oregon linebackers, as he once again fought through injuries. Flowe didn’t particularly impress on those snaps either, as his 32.5 coverage grade and 45.6 pass-rushing grade were among the five worst marks among FBS linebackers with at least 175 snaps. He performed admirably as a run-defender though as his 75.1 run-defense grade was third among Pac-12 linebackers with at least 175 snaps.

Flowe will play for another Pac-12 team in Arizona next season.

7. DI Gervon Dexter Sr., Florida Gators

Career Grade: 68.0 (1,417 snaps)

Dexter saw a healthy 254 snaps as a backup during his true freshman season before taking over as a starter in 2021. 

He had arguably his best season as a sophomore, when his 12 combined sacks/hits were third among SEC interior defensive linemen while his 13.5% pass-rush win rate and 10.6% pressure rate ranked fifth. While he slightly improved as a run defender in his junior year, his pass-rushing grade fell over 20 points to a 55.2 mark. He’s a fourth-round prospect on PFF’s big board.

8. EDGE Myles Murphy, Clemson Tigers

Career Grade: 88.4 (1,561 snaps)

Murphy was absolutely dominant as a run defender in his freshman season, as his 92.5 run-defense grade led all edge defenders in the country in 2020. 

He never quite reached that high again, as his run-defense grades dipped to 84.1 as a sophomore before a 72.8 mark this past season. However, he steadily improved as a pass-rusher. His 13 combined sacks/hits in 2022 tied for seventh among ACC edge defenders, and he recorded a career-high 78.5 pass-rushing grade. He’s currently a top-25 prospect on our 2023 NFL Draft big board.

9. OT Broderick Jones, Georgia Bulldogs

Career Grade: 82.3 (1,396 snaps)

Jones played 25 snaps as a backup right tackle in his freshman season. He was still a backup in 2021, primarily as a left tackle. The redshirt freshman saw a starter’s amount of snaps that year (438) and earned an impressive 78.8 grade. 

He took over as Stetson Bennett’s full-time blindside protector in 2022 and excelled at doing just that. Jones’ 99.0 pass-block efficiency score and 2% pressure rate allowed were both top-five marks among Power Five tackles this past season. He also didn’t allow a sack on 449 pass-blocking snaps. Jones is currently a top-25 prospect on PFF’s big board.

10. OT Paris Johnson Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes

Career Grade: 86.7 (1,621 snaps)

Johnson played 26 snaps as a backup in his true freshman season, playing mostly guard. He took over as the starting right guard in 2021 and impressed with a 79.1 grade, sixth among Big Ten guards. 

He kicked out to left tackle this past season and recorded the fifth-highest grade among Power Five tackles (83.0). Johnson’s 11 big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks) that season ranked third in that same group. He’s a top-20 prospect on our 2023 NFL Draft big board.

11. EDGE Jordan Burch, South Carolina Gamecocks

Career Grade: 71.9 (1,301 snaps)

Burch was third in South Carolina’s edge defender rotation in his freshman and sophomore seasons. 

He became a starter this past season and tied for the fifth-most pressures among SEC edge defenders (40). His 22 run-defense stops were tied for the most as well. Burch transferred to Oregon in January. 

12. QB DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson Tigers

Career Grade: 75.9 (1,905 snaps)

As a true freshman, Uiagalelei was Trevor Lawrence’s backup and even started a couple games when Lawrence caught COVID-19.

He became the starter as a sophomore and struggled with accuracy. Uiagalelei’s 26.6% uncatchable pass rate was the ninth-worst figure among Power-Five quarterbacks. He took a step forward as a junior this past season with a 79.6 grade that was over 13 points higher than what he posted in 2021. Uiagalelei transferred to Oregon State this offseason. 

13. RB Zach Evans, TCU Horned Frogs

Career Grade: 85.4 (668 snaps)

Evans had the most eventful recruiting journey of every player on this list. After silently signing with Georgia in the early signing period, he asked to be released from his letter of intent just 10 days later. Four months after that, he eventually ended up at TCU. 

As a true freshman, Evans was one of the backup running backs, but he still impressed, averaging the fifth-most yards per carry among FBS running backs with at least 50 attempts (7.7). Evans led all backs in the country the following year, averaging 7.0 yards per attempt (min. 90 carries). 

He spent his final season at Ole Miss but was once again the No. 2 running back, behind freshman sensation Quinshon Judkins. Evans still ran for 930 yards and picked up a first down or touchdown on 36.8% of his attempts, the fifth-most among Power-Five backs. He’s a fourth-round prospect on PFF’s big board. 

14. DI Jalen Carter, Georgia Bulldogs

Career Grade: 91.4 (1,075 snaps)

Carter started immediately as a true freshman for Georgia, earning a respectable 71.4 grade. He then broke out as a sophomore, as his 90.0 pass-rushing grade and 18.9% pass-rush win rate led all Power Five interior defensive linemen. 

Carter followed that up with a similarly dominant junior season, leading all Power Five interior defensive linemen with a 92.3 grade. He finished with the second-best pass-rushing grade (89.1) and the fourth-best run-defense grade (91.2) among that same group. 

Carter is the No. 2 overall prospect on our 2023 NFL Draft big board but is starting to see his stock fall due to off-field issues. 

PFF's 2023 NFL Draft Guide is available for download to all PFF+ subscribers. Click here to download the guide today! 

15. EDGE Chris Braswell, Alabama Crimson Tide

Career Grade: 74.8 (443 snaps)

Braswell didn’t see any action in his true freshman season and was a backup edge defender in 2021. He still impressed with a 77.8 grade on 114 snaps.

Braswell was third in Alabama’s edge defender rotation this past season behind Will Anderson Jr. and Dallas Turner. He excelled as a pass-rusher, as the junior’s 22.4% pass-rush win rate led all SEC edge defenders. With Anderson off to the NFL, Braswell should be one of the Crimson Tide’s starting edge defenders next season alongside Turner.

16. RB Bijan Robinson, Texas Longhorns

Career Grade: 95.1 (1,355 snaps)

Robinson is one of the best running backs we’ve seen since we started charting college football in 2014. 

His 39% career forced missed tackle rate is tied with Javonte Williams for the best in the PFF College era. Robinson’s 104 forced missed tackles this past season broke David Montgomery’s record set in 2018. He’s easily the top running back prospect on PFF’s big board and is the rare one worthy of a first-round selection.

17. EDGE Will Anderson Jr., Alabama Crimson Tide

Career Grade: 91.0 (2,203 snaps)

Like Robinson, Anderson has been one of the most productive players at his position that we’ve seen.

He led the nation in pressures in both his freshman and sophomore seasons before placing “only” fifth this past season. Anderson’s 206 career pressures are the most in the PFF College era. As dominant as he was as a pass-rusher, there’s a case to be made that he was an even better run defender. Anderson’s 63 career run-defense stops led all Power Five edge defenders since 2020. 

He’s the No. 3 overall prospect on our big board.

18. CB Eli Ricks, LSU Tigers

Career Grade: 83.4 (1,216 snaps)

Much like his former teammate, Derek Stingley Jr., Ricks was one of the best cornerbacks in the country as a true freshman. His 82.9 man-coverage grade in 2020 was second among Power Five cornerbacks.

Also like Stingley, injuries hampered Ricks’ career after that. He dealt with a shoulder injury throughout his sophomore year before opting for season-ending surgery after six games. After transferring to Alabama, he dealt with various injuries and missed four games. Ricks still showed signs of his lockdown ability with the Crimson Tide though. He was among the top-three FBS corners in forced incompletion rate (36.8%), first down/touchdown rate allowed (15.8%) and yards per coverage snap allowed (0.37). His 31.6% completion rate allowed also led all cornerbacks in the country. Ricks is currently a second-round prospect on PFF’s 2023 NFL Draft big board.

19. CB Tony Grimes, North Carolina Tar Heels

Career Grade: 63.9 (1,827 snaps)

Grimes was one of North Carolina’s starting outside cornerbacks as a true freshman. That year, he allowed the fifth-fewest yards per coverage snap among Power Five corners (0.50).

His play dipped in the following two years with 59.3 and 63.3 grades, respectively. Grimes will try to recapture his freshman form at Texas A&M next season. 

20. LB Noah Sewell, Oregon Ducks

Career Grade: 77.3 (1,849 snaps)

The younger brother of Penei Sewell, Noah started for Oregon as a true freshman. His 0.31 yards allowed per coverage snap was tied for the best among Pac-12 linebackers that season.

As a sophomore, his 30.6% pass-rush win rate led all linebackers in the country. Sewell wasn’t quite as dominant of a blitzer in his junior year but improved his coverage grade by over 13 points to a 72.6 mark. He’s currently a fifth-round prospect on our big board.

21. RB Demarkcus Bowman, Clemson Tigers

Career Grade: 73.2 (37 snaps)

Bowman didn’t spend too much time with Clemson, transferring to Florida in October of his freshman year. In two games with the Tigers, he had nine carries for 32 yards with two forced missed tackles. 

Bowman then played just five games for the Gators in his redshirt freshman season, rushing 14 times for 81 yards and three first downs. That summer, he transferred once again to UCF. Bowman was ineligible to play this past season since he transferred multiple times. He’s expected to push for the Knights’ starting job in 2023. 

22. LB Trenton Simpson, Clemson Tigers

Career Grade: 72.4 (1,474 snaps)

Simpson was a backup linebacker in his freshman year and earned a 59.6 grade on 283 snaps. He became a starter as a sophomore and excelled as a blitzer. Simpson’s seven sacks, 30 pressures and 34.5% pressure rate were all top-five marks among all linebackers in the country during the 2021 season. 

He was overshadowed this past season by a couple five-star sophomores in Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter. Simpson ended up with a 68.7 grade and is a third-round prospect on PFF’s big board.

23. WR Demond Demas, Texas A&M Aggies

Career Grade: 54.5 (362 snaps)

Demas played just 15 snaps in his freshman season and caught one of his three targets for zero yards. As a redshirt freshman, he was one of Texas A&M’s starting receivers and caught 15 of his 34 targets for 235 yards and a touchdown. 

Demas had multiple off-field incidents during his time at College Station, including being arrested for charges related to the assault of his girlfriend in March of 2022. After that incident, he was suspended from the university and was removed from the Aggies’ football team. Demas took this past season off in order to prioritize his legal issues and will play at the JUCO level in 2023 at Garden City Community College (Kansas).

24. TE Darnell Washington, Georgia Bulldogs

Career Grade: 84.5 (1,312 snaps)

As a true freshman, Washington led Georgia’s tight ends with 166 receiving yards on seven catches, averaging an absurd 23.7 yards per reception.

Once Brock Bowers entered the fold in 2021, Washington took a backseat in the Bulldogs’ tight end room, at least as a receiver. However, he was able to use his monstrous 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame to shine in the run game. Washington’s 81.3 run-blocking grade and seven big-time blocks this past season were both top-five marks among all tight ends in the country. He still made an impact as a receiver, as his 454 receiving yards trailed only Bowers among SEC tight ends. 

Washington is a third-round prospect on our 2023 NFL Draft big board.

25. EDGE Sav’ell Smalls, Washington Huskies

Career Grade: 59.9 (602 snaps)

Smalls was one of Washington’s starting edge defenders as a true freshman and earned a 51.0 grade.

He was a backup the following two seasons and earned 61.8 and 64.3 grades, respectively. Smalls projects to once again be a rotational edge defender for the Huskies in 2023. 

26. CB Jaylon Jones, Texas A&M Aggies

Career Grade: 72.3 (1,976 snaps)

Jones has been one of Texas A&M’s starting outside corners since his true freshman season. He earned a respectable 69.0 grade in his first year before dipping to 61.5 as a sophomore. 

Jones rebounded in 2022 though, as his 0.37 yards allowed per coverage snap tied for second among Power Five cornerbacks. He’s a bigger player for the position at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, but only 26% of his snaps were in press coverage this past season. Whichever team drafts him should prioritize using him at the line of scrimmage more often. Jones is a third-round prospect on PFF’s big board.

27. LB Drew Sanders, Alabama Crimson Tide

Career Grade: 71.4 (1,182 snaps)

Sanders played 52 snaps in his freshman season as a backup edge defender for the Crimson Tide. He was once again a backup edge defender as a sophomore behind Anderson and Turner. Sanders impressed as a run defender that year, as his 70.5 run-defense grade was a top-10 mark among SEC edge defenders with at least 275 snaps. 

He transferred to Arkansas for this past season and transitioned to an off-ball linebacker., which proved fruitful, as his 79.2 grade was second among SEC linebackers. Sanders still showed why he was originally an edge defender, as his seven sacks and 30 pressures were top-five figures among all linebackers in the country. He’s the No. 3 linebacker on our big board and is considered a second-round prospect. 

28. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State Buckeyes

Career Grade: 90.7 (867 snaps)

As a true freshman, Smith-Njigba was Ohio State’s No. 4 receiver and caught 10 of his 13 targets for 49 yards and a touchdown.

He exploded as a sophomore and was arguably the best receiver in college football in 2021. On a team that featured two top-15 picks in Wilson and Olave, who were both older mind you, Smith-Njigba led all Power Five receivers in grade (91.7), receiving yards (1,595), yards after the catch (790) and receiving yards after contact (390). His 4.01 yards per route run led all FBS receivers as well.

As a junior, he only played 60 snaps due to a nagging hamstring injury. Still, Smith-Njigba is our No. 2 receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft and is a top-15 overall prospect.

29. WR Kayshon Boutte, LSU Tigers

Career Grade: 74.6 (1,385 snaps)

As a true freshman, Boutte was LSU’s top receiver. He was a monster after the catch, as his 199 receiving yards after contact trailed only the eventual Heisman Trophy winner in DeVonta Smith among SEC receivers. 

Boutte only played six games in his sophomore season due to an ankle injury that required multiple surgeries. He still led LSU in receiving with 503 yards on 37 catches. Boutte entered his junior season as a projected top-10 pick but didn’t particularly impress with a 64.8 grade. Despite playing five more games than his 2021 season, he only recorded 35 more receiving yards as LSU’s No. 2 receiver. 

He initially announced that he’d return to Baton Rouge for his senior season, but changed his mind and entered the draft less than a month later. He’s a fourth-round prospect on our big board.

30. WR Rakim Jarrett, Maryland Terrapins

Career Grade: 72.9 (1,223 snaps)

Despite having the fifth-most snaps among Maryland receivers as a true freshman, Jarrett still led the Terrapins with 177 yards after the catch. 

He became Maryland’s top receiver as a sophomore and was fourth in the Big Ten with 430 yards after the catch. Jarrett had a pretty disappointing junior year, as he was the Terps’ second-leading receiver while his 64.6 grade was nearly 10 points lower than what he posted in 2021. He’s a fifth-round prospect on PFF’s big board.

31. EDGE MJ Sherman, Georgia Bulldogs

Career Grade: 67.6 (140 snaps)

Sherman played just one defensive snap in his true freshman season and spent most of his time as a special teamer. He was a backup edge defender as a sophomore and picked up a tackle for loss, a couple run-defense stops and four pressures on 97 snaps. 

Sherman only played 42 snaps this past season and registered a couple pressures and a run-defense stop. Like his teammate Gilbert, he’ll try to realize his potential at Nebraska next season.

32. CB Dontae Manning, Oregon Ducks

Career Grade: 51.3 (501 snaps)

Manning played just three snaps in his freshman season — all on special teams. He was a backup corner in 2021 and earned just a 46.8 grade as he allowed a 113.8 passer rating when targeted. 

He was once again one of Oregon’s backup corners this past season and improved his grade to 60.2. Manning will compete with Alabama transfer Khyree Jackson for one of the Ducks’ starting outside corner spots with Christian Gonzalez off to the NFL.

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