These dudes don’t need Samuel L. Jackson’s wallet proclaiming themselves a bad mother f*****. They prove it on the field. These are GAMs – grown ass men – and you want them in your crew when things go sideways at the club.
Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
Penei Sewell will be a cornerstone left tackle for an NFL team this time next year, likely a top 5 pick. PFF calls him “the best offensive tackle prospect we’ve ever graded,” and the numbers bear that out. Since 2014 when PFF started grading college games, 4,739 offensive linemen have played at least 250 snaps in a season, and Sewell’s 2019 campaign was the highest Wins Above Average rating in those five years – better than Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson in 2017, and Nelson may be the best OL in the league now. PFF graded Sewell at 95.5 last year, the highest grade ever given to an offensive lineman, and he’s ranked the third best player in the country preseason. He didn’t give up a sack last year and has only given up one in 1,376 snaps for the Ducks. The last time an OL finished in the top five of Heisman voting was 1996 when Ohio State’s Orlando Pace finished fourth. Sewell could change that. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon’s sophomore stud at DE, who PFF says had the most valuable season as a true freshmen since 2014, would be on this list, but we’re limiting it to one player per team.
Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State
Big Marv (6-foot-5, 311 pounds) is built like an Everglades backwater stump, but, for a nose guard, he moves like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck. He’s doubled or chipped most plays and still wins: His 90.9 Pro Football Focus pass-rush grade among nose guards was second in 2019 only to Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike, who was an overgrown pest in his own right. Wilson won on 16.8% of his pass rush reps, tied for the fifth-highest rate in the country, according to PFF. He’s a top 10 pick in 2021 and has shown why he was one of the most sought-after high school prospects in the country.
Wyatt Davis, OG, Ohio State
The Buckeyes have a couple guys who fit this list, but Davis is the most valuable guard in the country coming back, PFF says, and he didn’t allow a sack on 459 pass block snaps last season. Best of all though, he’s the son of Duane Davis, aka Alvin Mack, the linebacker from the greatest college football movie of all time, “The Program.” Wyatt has snot bubbles running in his DNA, and that makes him one bad son of a badass.
Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Parsons is almost too mainstream for this list because everybody knows him, but damn … the kid can play. After a breakout sophomore season, Parsons will be on every NFL teams’ 2021 draft wish list as visions of LaVar Arrington’s stone-cold leaping stop at the goalline dance in their heads. Only two players had 75-plus tackles and less than 10 missed tackles in 2019, according to PFF, and Parsons was one. He’s a former five-star prospect that has lived up to the billing and then some. He does it all, even the dirty work – PFF tabs him as the top returning run-stopper in the Big Ten.
Brendan Radley-Hines, S, Oklahoma
This cat has that Troy Polamalu feel, and it’s not just the hair. OK, it might be mostly the hair, but both those guys flew around the field and were vicious. Radley-Hines’ ejection in the CFB playoffs against LSU gained him the “dirty” label, but that’s the kind of hitter you want on your side over an entire season. He’s the enforcer in the Sooners’ secondary, but he also ranked third in the nation per PFF last season in yards allowed per slot coverage snap. Note: Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey is also one bad mofo.
Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
Alex Leatherwood or Christian Barmore could easily make this list – all big, bad skull crushers – but Moses is primed for a comeback after missing all of 2019 due to injury. If healthy, he would have been a first-rounder in 2020, but instead he returns to anchor an Alabama defense that churns out NFL talent annually. Moses had 84 tackles and just four misses in 2018. At 6-foot-3, 235, few players cover as much ground and bring the hammer like Moses.
Zamir “Zeus” White, RB, Georgia
His nickname is Zeus for God’s sake. He was the No. 1 running back coming out of high school in 2018 before tearing both knees up within a year. White takes over the coveted role of lead back in Athens, and he’s finally at full strength. He runs like a tank and the elusiveness is nearly back. He’s in PFF’s top five running back list for the 2021 NFL Draft and only got 78 carries in 2019. That should tell you something.
Jackson Carman, OT, Clemson
Big boy, at 6-foot-5, 345, held his own as a first-year starter in 2019 and had an impressive showing against Chase Young in the CFB playoffs. He’s a mauler in the run game and continues to improve in pass pro. If Carman get his hands on you, forget it.
Trey Smith, OG, Tennessee
Apologies to Darian Kinnard at Kentucky, who is the top-graded returning OL in the SEC, but Trey Smith at full strength is the first guy you want with you in the trenches. Smith has been berated by chronic injuries during his career in Knoxville, but if he can get one more full season healthy, he’ll show he’s one of the best in the country. He’s got a mean streak, too, and if Cade Mays receives eligibility after transferring from Georgia, the Vols OL may be the Nasty Boys of college football.
Hamilcar Rashed Jr., OLB, Oregon State
Set the Beavs’ record for sacks in a season last year (14) and led the nation in tackles for loss (22.5). Bad dude with even worse intentions off the edge. You’ve got to love this guy, but he won’t get the attention he deserves.
Honorable mention: JaCoby Stevens, S, LSU; Carlos Besham, DL, Wake Forest; Gregory Rousseau, DL, Miami; Jalen Twyman, DL, Pitt; Kair Elam, S, Florida; Darius Stills, DT, WV; Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern; Dax Hill, S, Michigan, Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas; Jay Tufele, DT, USC; Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington