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College Football's Top 50 Underrated Players for 2019

Lynn Bowden, Kentucky Wildcats Football

Lynn Bowden, Kentucky Wildcats Football

The start of the 2019 college football season is officially 50 days away. With the start of the upcoming season approaching on Aug. 24 and to mark 50 days until kickoff, Athlon Sports decided to pick 50 players we felt were underrated going into the upcoming season. Every college football team has players most would consider underrated. However, defining underrated players is no easy assignment, as that term varies in meaning between fans and experts. In addition to shining a spotlight on some players that are underrated, we wanted to raise the profile of a few Group of 5 standouts to fans on a national level. While some of these names aren't underrated to some fanbases, this list approaches from a national perspective and to point out 50 players that deserve more overall attention going into 2019.

CFB's Top 50 Underrated Players for 2019

Hakeem Adeniji, OT, Kansas

Adeniji has started all 36 games in his career and returns to Lawrence for his senior campaign after earning second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2018.

College Football Rankings: Kansas

Jack Anderson, OL, Texas Tech

Anderson has started every game for the Red Raiders since he stepped onto campus prior to the 2017 campaign. The Texas native should rank among the Big 12’s best linemen this fall.

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Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue

Bailey has started all three years in his Boilermaker career and enters 2019 as one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten. The Ohio native doesn’t get much credit nationally, but he’s accumulated 301 stops (26 for a loss), 12.5 sacks and six interceptions since 2016.

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Raheem Blackshear, RB, Rutgers

Blackshear didn’t have many opportunities a game (12 carries on average) but ran for 586 yards and three scores and caught 44 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. With more balance on offense, a push for All-Big Ten honors is within reach for the junior.

College football rankings: Rutgers

Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky

After a solid freshman season in 2017, Bowden was even better last fall. He emerged as one of the nation’s top all-around players, catching 62 passes for 728 yards and five scores, averaging 21.9 yards on kickoff returns and taking two punts back for a score.

Kentucky football schedule

Shaun Bradley, LB, Temple

Bradley is the anchor for a Temple linebacker unit that should be among the best at the Group of 5 level this season. The New Jersey native collected 85 stops (10 for a loss) in 2017 and delivered another standout year in ’18. He played in all 13 games, recording 78 tackles (four for a loss), one sack and two interceptions.

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Aaron Brewer, C, Texas State

Brewer enters 2019 as one of the Sun Belt’s top centers. He’s started 35 games in San Marcos, and according to Texas State’s sports information department, the senior allowed just one sack last fall.

College Football Rankings: Texas State

Antoine Brooks, S, Maryland

Darnell Savage will be missed in Maryland’s secondary, but coach Mike Locksley still has an All-Big Ten performer in place with Brooks. The Maryland native had a strong junior year, recording 62 tackles (9.5 for a loss), 2.5 sacks, one interception and three pass breakups.

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Myles Bryant, DB, Washington

The Huskies are losing four key members of last year’s standout secondary, but the cupboard isn’t empty for coordinator Jimmy Lake. Bryant has the skill set to play corner or safety and returns to anchor the defensive backfield after recording 61 tackles (4.5 for a loss), 3.5 sacks and six pass breakups in 2018.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Washington

Matt Bushman, TE, BYU

Bushman had to deal with injuries in 2018 but still led the BYU offense in catches (29) and receiving yards (511). As a freshman in 2017, Bushman recorded 520 receiving yards on 49 receptions. He has five touchdown catches over the last two years.

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Cam Bynum, CB, California

Bynum is a big reason why California should have one of the best defensive backfields in the nation this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Bynum’s passer rating when targeted was just 76.1 last season. Additionally, Bynum recorded 48 tackles (2.5 for a loss), picked off two passes and broke up 10 throws.

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Cohl Cabral, C, Arizona State

Cabral started 13 games at left tackle in 2017 but showed off his versatility by sliding to center prior to last season. The California native went on to emerge as one of the Pac-12’s top centers after starting all 13 contests last fall and clearing running lanes for running back Eno Benjamin.

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Ty Chandler, RB, Tennessee

With more consistency up front and opportunities to touch the ball under new coordinator Jim Chaney, Chandler should have a shot at recording 1,000 all-purpose yards. As a sophomore last season, Chandler accounted for 630 yards and four touchdowns (5.5 ypc) on just 115 attempts. He also caught 19 passes for 183 yards.

Tennessee Football Schedule

Alvin Davis, S, Akron

Fans of MACtion know all about Davis. However, the rest of college football should take notice. The Florida native has earned All-MAC honors in back-to-back seasons and enters 2019 with 241 career tackles, five interceptions and three forced fumbles.

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Trey Dishon, DT, Kansas State

Dishon has been a solid performer over the last three years on the interior of Kansas State’s defense. The Kansas native has started 37 games and recorded 65 tackles (10 for a loss) and five sacks.

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Jalen Elliott, S, Notre Dame

Teammate and fellow safety Alohi Gilman was preseason All-American for Athlon Sports, but Elliott shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s made significant strides over the last two years and delivered a breakout 2018 campaign. Elliott recorded 67 stops and four picks, defended 11 passes and forced a fumble as part of Notre Dame’s run to the CFB Playoff.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Notre Dame

Dez Fitzpatrick, WR, Louisville

Fitzpatrick caught 45 passes for 699 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman in 2017 but watched his totals drop (31 receptions for 422 yards) due to inconsistent play at quarterback last year. New coach Scott Satterfield should help the passing game improve this season, allowing Fitzpatrick to push for All-ACC honors as the No. 1 target for the Louisville offense.

College football rankings: Louisville

Reggie Floyd, S, Virginia Tech

With 10 returning starters in place, Virginia Tech’s defense should rebound in 2019. Floyd is one of the few seniors expected to contribute on defense and his leadership should be crucial for coordinator Bud Foster. Floyd had a solid 2018 campaign, recording two interceptions and 88 tackles (9.5 for a loss). He enters 2019 with five career picks.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Virginia Tech

Christopher Fredrick, CB, Syracuse

Fredrick has been a key cog in the development and overall improvement of Syracuse’s secondary the last three years. The Georgia native enters 2019 with 31 consecutive starts and has recorded 121 stops (five for a loss), five interceptions and 13 passes defended since 2016.

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Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR, Liberty

Look for Gandy-Golden to thrive under new coach Hugh Freeze. He’s recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and enters 2019 with 23 career touchdown catches.

College Football Rankings: Liberty

Joe Gaziano, DL, Northwestern

The Big Ten features a deep collection of talent in the trenches this season, and Gaziano is one of the names that deserves a little more attention going into 2019. He’s recorded 25 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles and 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons.

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Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina

With William Sweet off to the NFL, Heck is slated to flip from right tackle to the left side in 2019. The Missouri native has started 22 games over the last two seasons and enters the fall as one of the ACC’s top linemen.

North Carolina Football Schedule 2019

Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State

The Beavers quietly own one of the Pac-12’s top receiving corps for 2019. Hodgins is the No. 1 target for quarterback Jake Luton after grabbing 59 passes for 876 yards and five scores last fall.

College football rankings: Oregon State

Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLA

Holmes – a former five-star prospect – has quietly lived up to the hype in his first two years with the Bruins. The California native has 87 tackles (two for a loss), three picks, 20 passes defended and two forced fumbles in that span.

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Juju Hughes, S, Fresno State

Fresno State led the Mountain West in pass efficiency defense last season and allowed only 15 passing scores over 14 games. Hughes has been a key member of this defense over the last two years, as the California native has posted back-to-back seasons of 70-plus tackles. Additionally, he’s picked off five passes and defended 20 in that span. He should be among the Mountain West’s top defensive backs once again in 2019.

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College Football Rankings: Fresno State

Jason Huntley, RB, New Mexico State

Huntley earned a spot on Athlon’s All-America team for 2019, and his all-around ability is a huge asset for coach Doug Martin. He rushed for 505 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 47 passes for 529 yards and three scores and averaged 27.8 yards per kickoff return (with three touchdowns).

College Football Rankings: New Mexico State

Mustafa Johnson, DE, Colorado

Johnson came to Boulder after spending one season at Modesto Junior College. The California native created plenty of havoc for the Buffaloes, as he collected 57 stops and 8.5 sacks. Johnson’s 15.5 tackles for a loss tied for the most among Pac-12 linemen last fall.

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Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota

If Minnesota gets consistent play from one of its quarterbacks, Johnson should make a run at All-America honors. The Minneapolis native has been one of the Big Ten’s top receivers over the last two years and capped a strong 2018 season (78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 TDs) by earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.

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