The opening week slate of college football opened up our eyes to some surprises, some terrific finishes, and some downright beautiful action. The College Football Week 1 Team of the Week aims to showcase the best of the best from our terrific game.
Week 1 College Football Team of the Week | First Team
It’s important to note that the CFN Week 1 College Football Team of the Week awards players based on their impact in their respective games and is not necessarily based on total statistical output.
The strength of competition is accounted for, as is the situation — both time of the game and score. These individual awards are also solely based on a player’s ability on the field and does not look into any future beyond college football.
For Week 1, we’ve included players from teams that have participated in action on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If any players playing through the weekend on Sunday or Monday should outperform a player listed below, the Team of the Week will be updated.
Quarterback: Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
There isn’t a lot more that can be said about Shedeur Sanders’ season-opening performance as the quarterback of the Colorado Buffaloes. In fact, we’ll leave it simple here: Sanders became the first Colorado QB ever to throw for over 500 yards.
Considering the long list of talented quarterbacks in Colorado history, Sanders is well on his way to crafting his own legacy.
Running Back: Kimani Vidal, Troy
Leading the Troy Trojans in both receiving and rushing yards, Kimani Vidal recorded a total of 302 yards of offense on Saturday. The Trojans went as Vidal went, and more often than not, he dominated.
In total, he had 27 touches, averaging a ridiculous 9.9 yards per carry, 27 yards per catch, and 11.2 yards per touch. Vidal hit the ground running, literally, in his 2023 debut.
Running Back: Jaydn Ott, Cal
Showcasing his full skill set, Jaydn Ott put on a clinic for the North Texas defense. Ott has a full arsenal at his disposal in terms of moves, and he put them all on display on Saturday. In total, Ott finished with 20 carries for 188 yards and two scores.
On his long touchdown run, Ott put all those aforementioned skills together, patiently waiting for a hole to open before he burst through a rushing lane and made multiple second-level defenders miss before simply outrunning the rest. It was a dynamic performance for Ott to start the season.
Wide Receiver: Erik Brooks, Fresno State
Doing his best work across the middle of the field, Erik Brooks was a man on a mission against Purdue. Helping to knock off their Power Five, Big Ten foe, Brooks was key to Fresno State’s success on Saturday.
Brooks finished with nine catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns, running away from defenders and catching everything thrown his way. He combined with QB Mikey Keene to help disrupt the debut of new Purdue head coach Ryan Walters by defeating Purdue, 39-35.
Wide Receiver: Ja’Mori Maclin, North Texas
Welcome to the show Ja’Mori Maclin. The North Texas receiver was the benefit of the new-look North Texas offense in a big way on Saturday, and he did it against top-notch competition in Cal.
Maclin showcased his terrific speed and route-running ability with a 4-catch, 122-yard, 2-touchdown performance, and did so against some highly-touted players from Cal’s secondary. Though the game ultimately fell out of their hands, the North Texas offense could be a force to be reckoned with in 2023.
Wide Receiver: Tre Harris, Ole Miss
Playing Mercer isn’t quite an indication of your skill level for the Ole Miss Rebels. However, Tre Harris scored three touchdowns in the first three minutes of action, his first minutes of action for the Rebels.
Harris showcased his skill set, both at the catch point and after the catch, finishing the day with six catches for 133 yards and four scores. The former Louisiana Tech standout made his name known on the national stage in a big way.
Tight End: Benjamin Yurosek, Stanford
On Friday night, late-night viewers were treated to our first looks at the new Stanford offense under Troy Taylor. While we had unknowns about the quarterback situation, we all knew who Benjamin Yurosek is. And in Week 1, he didn’t disappoint.
The nimble tight end — who may as well be a wide receiver — hauled in a game-high nine catches and 138 yards. His touchdown was a difference maker and Yurosek won all over the field with his nifty routes and strong hands.
Flex Offense: Dylan Edwards, Colorado
Among all the talk about Travis Hunter, Shedeur Sanders, and Coach Prime, it was the fabulous true freshman Dylan Edwards who made the most believers for Colorado on Saturday. Edwards was unstoppable against TCU, scoring four total touchdowns and proving he himself is must-watch TV.
Edwards toted the rock just six times but scored on the ground and finished with 24 yards. However, he was at his best through the air, as he was able to find space and burn defenders left and right. Edwards turned five receptions into 135 yards and three scores in a performance for the ages.
Offensive Tackle: Keydrell Lewis, UL-Monroe
A come-from-behind victory for the ages, the UL-Monroe Warhawks were paced by a terrific second half of action on offense. Keydrell Lewis was certainly integral in that effort, making his presence felt in the rushing game most.
Lewis was seen moving defenders from the first into the second level and dumping defenders back into one another on multiple plays as he cleared the way for multiple big rushing plays in the victory. The Warhawks ran for 207 yards against Army’s stout defensive front, thanks in large part to Lewis.
Offensive Guard: Jack Bailey, Colorado
The Colorado offensive line was integral in the Buffaloes’ success against TCU. And for Jake Bailey on the inside, it was a terrific outing with multiple highlight-reel plays.
Picking up blitzing linebackers in pass protection or moving from the first to the second level with ease in the ground game, Bailey was powerful and light on his feet all at the same time.
Center: Van Wells, Colorado
A big day from your quarterback is going to be made possible by their offensive line and the Buffs sport two players here. The second of whom is Van Wells, the man in the middle. Terrific in all facets, it was Wells who continually set the tone against some talented TCU defensive linemen, a big reason for the Horned Frogs’ defensive success in 2022.
Offensive Guard: Christian Haynes, UConn
The UConn Huskies almost pulled off quite the upset against NC State in some midweek action to start Week 1. Had they done so, you could’ve looked directly at the performance of Christian Haynes as a big reason why.
Haynes was a violent puller in the run game for the Huskies, spotted on multiple occasions coming across the formation and clearing rushing lanes. He was also terrific in pass sets and hardly out of position anywhere on the field. Haynes is easily one of the top senior interior linemen in the game.
Offensive Tackle: Brey Walker, Texas State
The big man who came over from Oklahoma made his presence felt in Game 1 with Texas State as Brey Walker was dominant for the Bobcats against Baylor. Walker, a massive man at 6’7″, 350 pounds, paved the way for the rushing attack and kept clean pockets for TJ Finley in pass protection.
Walker was integral in goal-to-go situations just as he was in open-field positions. His work clearing lanes in the rushing game was impressive.
Travis Hunter: Travis Hunter, WR/CB, Colorado
You’ll notice this isn’t a place that usually sees a player listed. And you’ll also notice that this position is simply listed “Travis Hunter.” That’s how good Travis Hunter is.
Sandwiched in between the offensive players and defensive standouts, Hunter gets his own position listed on our Team of the Week. Hunter recorded 11 catches for 119 yards and grabbed an interception and three total tackles on defense.
He played over 110 snaps and was a force on seemingly every rep. A star wasn’t born against TCU, he was discovered by the national audience who hadn’t seen Hunter’s high school or Jackson State tape, but putting this kind of performance on the field against TCU is certainly something different.
EDGE Defender: Laiatu Latu, UCLA
Turning it on when they really needed him to, Laiatu Latu heated up down the stretch for UCLA. After last year’s 10-sack performance, Latu picked back up where he left off in his 2023 debut.
Latu brought down two sacks as he was constantly forcing Grayson McCall up in the pocket and kept him uncomfortable. In fact, it was certainly due to the pressure consistently in his face that this was McCall’s first ever multi-interception game.
Defensive Interior: Michael Mason, Coastal Carolina
What a game it was up the middle for Michael Mason and the Chants’ defense. While they couldn’t quite pull off the upset, it was Mason who routinely was featured in the backfield and forcing errant throws from either of the UCLA quarterbacks.
Mason finished with seven tackles on the day and a half sack that he shared with Allen Henry. He was terrific in all facets and made his presence felt all over the game.
Defensive Interior: Kori Roberson, SMU
It wasn’t just the pick-six from Kori Roberson that landed him his spot on the Team of the Week. But that certainly helped. The SMU pass rush was relentless on Saturday against Louisiana Tech and the interior presence from Roberson was integral to their success.
His efforts were rewarded when he crashed the pocket and got his hands in the passing lane, tipping the ball almost to himself before sprinting 16 yards for a touchdown. In what was an athletically impressive play, Roberson stole the show on the defensive front in what was a dominant game from the Mustangs’ front.
EDGE Defender: Kaimon Rucker, North Carolina
What a performance it was for The Butcher himself as Kaimon Rucker dominated of the edge for North Carolina. Rucker ripped through any South Carolina lineman in front of him, finishing the game with two sacks and 5.5. tackles for loss.
Rucker set the edge in the run game just as impressively and was a physical force with his pass-rushing skills. The North Carolina defense limited the Gamecocks to a net total of negative yardage on the ground, thanks largely to Rucker and his counterpart on the Team of the Week, Cedric Gray.
Linebacker: Shae Suiaunoa, Wyoming
After a breakout performance last season, Shae Suiaunoa carried that momentum over to the debut of the 2023 season. The Wyoming Cowboys pulled off the massive upset over Big 12 foe Texas Tech in double overtime, with Suiaunoa leading the defensive charge.
Suiaunoa finished with 12 total tackles, including a tackle for loss as he patrolled the middle of the field with near perfection. Wyoming limited Texas Tech’s offense well for most of the game and Suiaunoa was the reason why, as he excelled in coverage and run defense as well as spying Tyler Shough.
Linebacker: Jerome Jolly Jr., Liberty
The Liberty Flames defense was literally on fire against Bowling Green. Grabbing five interceptions as a unit, Jerome Jolly Jr. secured two of them himself.
Jolly patrolled the middle of the field brilliantly, securing six total tackles in the process, but it was his coverage prowess that earned him the spot here. The linebackers for Liberty disrupted the short area throwing lanes and all but took out the backs in the run game in what was a dominant performance in head coach Jamey Chadwell’s first game with the team.
Linebacker: Cedric Gray, North Carolina
If, for some reason, a Gamecock got by Rucker on the edge, Cedric Gray was there to clean up against South Carolina. The North Carolina linebacker flew around the field and led the team with nine total tackles.
He was a menace in the backfield all night long for South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler, recording 1.5 sacks and a handful of other pressures or forced incompletions to round out his impressive season debut.
Flex Defense: Shawn Holton, Texas State
The Texas State Bobcats took over Waco and knocked off northern rivals in an upset special from Week 1. Texas State’s defense was key to the victory, and Shawn Holton simply took over as the game went along.
An end-zone interception cut off a chance for Baylor to cut the game to within one score midway through the fourth quarter as he jumped on a pass behind the intended receiver. Holton then knocked the ball out of a scrambling Sawyer Robertson’s hands, channeling his inner Charles Tillman, providing a clear teaching tape moment for younger defensive backs.
Cornerback: Jakob Robinson, BYU
In pitching their first shutout since 2012, the BYU Cougars received an inspired performance from their cornerback Jakob Robinson. Grabbing two interceptions off Sam Houston QB Keegan Shoemaker, Robinson shut down two different scoring attempts by himself for the Cougars.
Robinson also showcased his ability to close like a safety in the open field early in the game as he truly flew all over the field on Saturday night. It was a dominant performance by the BYU defense and Robinson led the charge.
Cornerback: Joshua Eaton, Texas State
What a day it was on the outside for Joshua Eaton and Texas State. It was an upset for the ages when Texas State traveled to Waco to knock off Big 12 foe Baylor, and they did it with a complete game in all facets.
Eaton locked down in coverage on the outside, forcing multiple incompletions in his wake. He ripped balls out, batted them away, and simply locked down in coverage. Eaton was also a force against the run for the Bobcats.
Cornerback: Josh DeBerry, Texas A&M
In an absolutely dominant debut with his new team, Josh DeBerry was all over the field for the Aggies. Leading the Texas A&M defense with 10 total tackles, DeBerry also grabbed a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, and an interception.
The former Boston College cornerback stood out against New Mexico, locking down all game long on the outside and being a force around the line of scrimmage all the same.
Safety: Tyler Nubin, Minnesota
It was early in the week, but Tyler Nubin reminded everyone why he’s one of the best safeties in the country. Nubin recorded two interceptions, one in the end zone before the half that shut down a Nebraska scoring opportunity, and the other that simply shut down Nebraska in general.
Nubin patrolled the field and recorded three total tackles as well, firmly placing his name in the ring as the top safety in the country.
Safety: Clayton Isbell, Coastal Carolina
Single-handedly keeping the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the game, Clayton Isbell recorded a whopping three interceptions against UCLA. What a performance it was, one of those picks may have been gifted to him, but the simple fact remained: Isbell was in such great position on seemingly every rep and it paid dividends, big time.
Isbell, playing his first game with Coastal, nabbed his picks on both quarterbacks for the Bruins, and came up big in big-time moments. Most notably, his end-zone interception off Dante Moore shut down a scoring opportunity for UCLA that would’ve put the game nearly out of reach in the fourth quarter.
Placekicker: Brock Travelstead, Louisville
Back on Friday, the Louisville Cardinals needed a dramatic fourth quarter to come from behind and beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Inside their 16-point fourth quarter were four Brock Travelstead points as the Cardinals’ kicker was perfect on the evening.
Travelstead nailed field goals from 22, 30, 33, and 38 yards out while he was perfect on three extra-point attempts.
Punter: Thomas Leo, Louisiana
As the going got tough early on for Louisiana, they turned to their punter Thomas Leo. Though he was forced into action on 6 attempts against their FCS opponent, Northwestern State, Leo made the most of his opportunities.
In total, Leo drilled five of his six punts inside Northwestern State’s 20-yard line and nearly had another one inside the 20 to boot.
Kick Returner: Hamze El-Zayat, Eastern Michigan
The Eastern Michigan Eagles were rolling early on and Hamze El-Zayat was credited with multiple big-time plays on special teams. In addition to a dramatic 96-yard kick return touchdown, El-Zayat also recorded a crucial special teams tackle and almost broke a punt return for six.
El-Zayat’s kick return touchdown was the highlight of the game, however. He broke free through the middle before patiently waiting for his blocking to clear and bursting up the left side. A brilliant side step of a defender along the sidelines was all he needed after that as he pushed the Eagles lead to 24 points early in the second quarter.
Punt Returner: Gavin Freeman, Oklahoma
The human highlight reel himself, Gavin Freeman gave a gritty performance on the end of Arkansas State punts in the blowout for the Sooners. Freeman bobbed and weaved, dodged and juked, and scored on a miraculous 82-yard touchdown that left fans in awe.
Freeman tacked on a touchdown in the receiving end but his punt return prowess this week was the best across the nation.
Week 1 College Football Team of the Week | Second Team
- QB: Michael Penix Jr., Washington
- RB: Marcus Carroll, Georgia State
- RB: Jalen Buckley, Western Michigan
- WR: Marquis Shoulders, Tulsa
- WR: KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Penn State
- WR: Deion Burks, Purdue
- TE: Corey Dyches, Maryland
- FLEX: Jalen McMillan, Washington
- OT: Quinn Carroll, Minnesota
- G: Tellek Lockette, UL-Monroe
- C: Dylan McMahon, NC State
- G: J.D. Duplain, Michigan State
- OT: Frank Crum, Wyoming
- EDGE: David Bailey, Stanford
- EDGE: Antwaun Powell-Ryland, Virginia Tech
- IDL: Elijah Roberts, SMU
- IDL: Patrick Jenkins, Tulane
- LB: Cal Haladay, Michigan State
- LB: Tyrice Knight, UTEP
- LB: Corey Platt Jr., Tulane
- DB: Cody Jones, Georgia State
- DB: Cole Bishop, Utah
- DB: Jeremiah Cooper, Iowa State
- DB: Reddy Steward, Troy
- DB: Jay Stanley, Southern Miss
- FLEX: Miles Scott, Illinois
- K: Valentino Ambrosio, Tulane
- P: Sam Candotti, Boston College
- KR: Tyrone Tracy Jr., Purdue
- PR: Jordan Watkins, Ole Miss
Week 1 College Football Team of the Week | Third Team
- QB: TJ Finley, Texas State
- RB: Rasheen Ali, Marshall
- RB: Isaiah Ifanse, Cal
- WR: Rome Odunze, Washington
- WR: Joey Hobert, Texas State
- WR: Sam Pinckney, Coastal Carolina
- TE: RJ Maryland, SMU
- FLEX: Emory Jones, Cincinnati
- OT: Valentin Senn, UConn
- G: Javion Cohen, Miami (FL)
- C: Matt Lee, Miami (FL)
- G: Spencer Holstage, UCLA
- OT: Zuri Henry, UTEP
- EDGE: Owen Porter, Marshall
- EDGE: Johnny Walker Jr., Missouri
- IDL: Kahlil Saunders, Kentucky
- IDL: Tyler Baron, Tennessee
- LB: Logan Taylor, Hawaii
- LB: Bryce Houston, Ohio
- LB: Dillon Thieneman, Purdue
- DB: Jaden Hicks, Washington State
- DB: Jeremiah Wilson, Syracuse
- DB: Jaylin Simpson, Auburn
- DB: Justin Walley, Minnesota
- DB: Kobe Singleton, Liberty
- FLEX: Ja’Terious Evans, UL-Monroe
- K: Alex McPherson, Auburn
- P: Tom Foley, Northern Illinois
- KR: Jaylon Jackson, Eastern Michigan
- PR: Keionte Scott, Auburn
Week 1 College Football Team of the Week | Honorable Mention
- QB: Cardell Williams, Tulsa; Caleb Williams, USC
- RB: Deion Hankins, UTEP
- RB: LJ Johnson Jr., SMU
- WR: Troy Franklin, Oregon
- WR: Jamari Thrash, Louisville
- WR: Roman Wilson, Michigan
- TE: Cameron Hite, Wake Forest
- FLEX: Bucky Irving, Oregon
- LB: Kyle Moretti, Central Michigan
- LB: Yvandy Rigby, Temple
- LB: Brad Spence, Arkansas
- DB: Tywan Francis, Temple
- DB: Shilo Sanders, Colorado
- DB: Myles Slusher, Colorado
- DB: Clarence Lewis, Notre Dame
- DB: Caleb Downs, Alabama
- FLEX: Curtis Jacobs, Penn State
- K: Alex Raynor, Kentucky
- P: Tory Taylor, Iowa
- KR: Kobe Johnson, Colorado State
- PR: Dee Williams, Tennessee