With the NCAA’s regular football season over, it’s high time we look at some college athletes who made the most impressive stats in the season. That’s what we have done for the players below. Naturally, they track pretty consistently with the best collegiate athletes out there right now.
If you’re able to bet on the collegiate games that are being played, you should check out Fanduel’s NCAAF betting odds. Next time some of these players take to the field, you can feel safer about betting on their performance.
Let’s start with the offense, the players that turn everybody’s heads during the big game. Going into this season, Bryce Young was at the top of collegiate QB rankings, and for good reason. Don’t worry, he’s coming right up, but for now, we need to talk about Bailey Zappe.
In the 2021 season, Zappe registered 5,967 passing yards while playing for the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. This breaks the most yards established on one season, which was 5,336. Not only that, but Zappe also made 62 TDs, breaking Joe Burrow’s 2019 record of 60 TDs. Of all the players here, he had the most impressive statistical breakout of the 2021 season.
As a promising young quarterback with the Alabama Crimson Tide, many eyes were on Bryce Young since his 2020 debut. As predicted, his sophomore performance saw significant improvement.
While Bailey Zappe stormed ahead, Young led the rest of the NCAA in passing yards with 4,872. He also registered 47 touchdowns. Where Zappe managed a passing rating of 168.9, Young wasn’t far behind with 167.5. As a more consistent player with Crimson Tide credentials, he’s still the favorite at the draft for many.
Lew Nichols III
As for the best running back of the 2021 season, that would be Lew Nichols III of the Central Michigan Chippewas. After putting in 508 yards in his 2020 season, he almost quadrupled that figure through last season’s performance.
Across the season, Nichols managed 1,848 rushing yards to place at #1. He’s no record-setter and he certainly isn’t touching Barry Sanders’ 2,628-yard record, but he is leading collegiate football right now when it comes to rushing yards.
While Nichols was the most effective running back, Jerreth Sterns hit #1 all-season for the wide receiver rankings. This is, in part, because he shares his team with Bailey Zappe – the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
He, or more specifically Zappe, decided to end Sterns’ college career with a bang, taking his last year’s 454 rushing yards and turning it into nearly 2,000 this season. At 1,902, Sterns was agonizingly close to beating Trevor Insley’s all-season NCAA record of 2,060 yards.
Will Anderson Jr.
Our next record-setter is linebacker Will Anderson Jr. for the Crimson Tide. In this season, Anderson sacked so Bryce could pass, racking up many records of his own as a result. The NCAA count sacks in their own special way, by game, so despite some chatter, he did not break the sacking record.
At 17.5 sacks in the season, divided by 15 games, he averaged 1.17. Andre Carter II holds the most sacks in a season record for 15.5 over 13, averaging 1.19. That said, Anderson’s sacking increased tenfold since 2020 and he tied the Crimson Tide at 57 team sacks, tying with Oklahoma State. Nick Saban thinks sacking stats are overrated but we’ll give Anderson some props.
Where physical action is concerned, Chad Muma and Jack Campbell led the NCAA in tackles. They’re not Luke Kuechly but, for the 2021 season, they did better than the rest.
Muma, as a linebacker for the Wyoming Cowboys, successfully made 142 tackles across the season. He made 68 interception yards for an average of 22.7, too. He’s not just leading the Mountain West Conference linebackers, he’s one of the best in the nation.
Close behind Chad Muma is Jack Campbell, at #2 for season tackles. Linebacking for the Iowa Hawkeyes, he played 14 games this season and recorded 140 tackles across them. Even before this season, he was predicted to be a breakout star for the Hawkeyes, which might be the case if this standard of offense keeps up.
Verone McKinley III, JT Woods, Ji’Ayir Brown
To finish, we have the three players who led in interceptions in the 2021 season.
Tied with 6 interceptions, we have Verone McKinley III of the Oregon Ducks, JT Woods of the Baylor Bears, and Ji’Ayir Brown of the Penn State Nittany Lions.
It’s no record (which is 14 for one NCAA season) but these safeties deserve a shoutout for their 2021 performance too.
Those are some of the most impressive stats and breakout performances from the 2021 season. As the 2021 off-season continues and the 2022 season gets closer, we’ll see if some of these younger athletes can manage a consistent performance on the field. The older players will get snapped up by the NFL to join some of the best teams in the world, which will be the ultimate test of their skill.