College football Week 1 delivered. There’s simply no other way of putting it. Nestled somewhere between sensational shocks and seriously one-sided shutouts came some superb standout performances that were almost beyond superlatives. We’ll sum some up, however, as we crown the top college football players with our Week 1 College Football Players of the Week.
Week 1 College Football Players of the Week
Following an action-packed Thursday to Saturday slate, we felt it would be remiss not to celebrate the success of the top college football players we’ve seen so far in Week 1. However, we also know there are still four games to come and if anyone outperforms in those games, we’ll update our Week 1 College Football Players of the Week accordingly.
Quarterback of the Week: Shedeur Sanders, Colorado
Deion Sanders warned us in December that under his rule, the Colorado Buffaloes were coming. That warning came to fruition in dramatic style during a Week 1 win over TCU that was not only the best game of the entire five-day slate but could be the best game of the season. The Colorado team boasted many of the top college football players, but Shedeur Sanders topped them all.
Facing question marks over his transition from FCS Jackson State to the Power Five level, Sanders answered them swiftly, decisively, and dangerously on Saturday afternoon. Throwing for 510 yards and four touchdowns, he completed 38 of 47 attempts. The occasion didn’t faze him as he routinely and surgically diced open the TCU defense in an eye-popping display.
Honorable mentions: Caleb Williams, USC; Drake Maye, North Carolina; Michael Penix Jr., Washington; Michael Pratt, Tulane; Mikey Keene, Fresno State
Offensive Player of the Week: Erik Brooks, WR, Fresno State
While national attention focused on events in Fort Worth, Fresno State and Purdue played out a barnstorming battle of back and forth that wasn’t settled until less than a minute remained on the clock in the fourth quarter. Having stamped his authority on the game from the get-go, Bulldogs WR Erik Brooks established himself as one of the top college football players in Week 1.
Emerging as the Jalen Moreno-Cropper-esque receiving threat for Fresno State, Brooks snagged nine receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. He flashed speed, route-running nuance, and routinely left the man tasked with halting his progress grasping at thin air. There were lots of statistically gaudy offensive performances in Week 1, but none had the same game-changing impact that Brooks did.
Honorable mentions: Travis Hunter, WR, Colorado; Benjamin Yurosek, TE, Stanford; Marcus Carroll, RB, Georgia State; Jalen Buckley, RB, Western Michigan; Jaydn Ott, RB, Cal
Defensive Player of the Week: Kaimon Rucker, EDGE, North Carolina
It was a close-fought contest for the top college football player on the defensive side of the ball for Week 1, with several worthy candidates. However, the magnitude of the game and the ferocity with which North Carolina edge Kaimon Rucker terrorized his opposition offense earned him the nod as the Defensive Player of the Week over Tulane d-lineman Patrick Johnson.
Rucker was constantly in the backfield as the Tar Heels turned over SEC opponent and in-state rival South Carolina. Spencer Rattler had no time to operate as number 25 consistently penetrated the Gamecock offensive line, resulting in a final stat line that included eight total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks. Speed, power, pursuit, Rucker displayed his full toolbox.
Honorable mentions: Patrick Jenkins, DL, Tulane; Tyler Nubin, DB, Minnesota; Cole Bishop, DB, Utah; Abdul Carter, LB, Penn State; Travis Hunter, DB, Colorado. Josh DeBerry, CB, Texas A&M. Jakob Robinson, DB, BYU.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Hamze El-Zayat, PR, Eastern Michigan
There were a plethora of special teams standouts in college football Week 1, but one Friday night performance stands out amongst the top college football players. Eastern Michigan’s Hamze El-Zayat was a multi-functional force for the Eagles as they opened their campaign with a win over HBCU program Howard in Ypsilanti.
El-Zayat made his impact early, taking a punt 29 yards to give the Eagles great opening field position. Following Howard’s first score of the game, he took a kickoff return 96 yards to the house, scoring Eastern Michigan’s final touchdown of the game. Meanwhile, the senior WR almost made his presence felt with a booming special teams tackle that thwarted a Howard return.
Honorable mentions: Joshua Karty, K, Stanford; Dragan Kesich, K, Minnesota; Tyler Perkins, P, Iowa State; Gavin Freeman, PR, Oklahoma
Freshman Player of the Week: Dylan Edwards, RB, Colorado
College football debuts don’t get much better than the performance that Dylan Edwards turned in for the Buffaloes in Week 1. There were some routes run out of the backfield that he’d like back, and a fumble might have blotted his copybook a little, but the young Colorado back was a dominant and game-changing force in the Buffs win over TCU in Week 1.
A multi-faceted force, Edwards returned a kickoff, took six carries, and reeled in six receptions. He put his 100m speed to devastating use time and time again as he consistently escaped a shell-shocked Horned Frogs defense. The true freshman took his rushing carries for 24 yards and a score while leading the team with 135 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Sensational.
Honorable mentions: Jaden Rashada, QB, Arizona State; Zachariah Branch, WR, USC; Dante Moore, QB, UCLA.