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Ranking College Football's Best Baseball Players In 2022



College football unofficially begins its season this weekend, bringing with it all the usual pageantry and excitement of fall Saturdays.

For college baseball fans, there are several two-sport athletes to follow on the gridiron this fall. Clemson’s Will Taylor tops the list for the second straight year and there’s no shortage of intriguing players from around the country.

Here are the top 20 baseball players in college football to watch this fall. Not everyone on this list plays baseball in college but most do and all undeniably have the talent to be college baseball stars.

1. Will Taylor, Clemson

Taylor last year was the highest-ranked prep draft prospect (No. 21) to go undrafted and end up in college. At Clemson, he is playing outfield and wide receiver and made a quick impact as a freshman in both sports, though he was limited by a torn ACL last October. He played five football games, mostly on special teams, before his injury. He missed most of the spring before returning to the diamond in May and playing 13 games for the Tigers. He went 13-for-50 with a home run and stolen base.

2. Jay Woolfolk, Virginia

Woolfolk was a standout baseball and football player in high school and was honored as the MaxPreps Virginia male athlete of the year in June 2021. He continued to excel as a two-sport athlete as a freshman. In the fall, he appeared in five games, starting one, at quarterback. He became the first true freshman quarterback to start a game for the Cavaliers since 1977. On the diamond, he became one of UVA’s top relievers and his 28 appearances were tied for the team lead. He was a Freshman All-American after going 3-0, 2.87 with 55 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. The righthander has an exciting three-pitch arsenal on the mound and his athleticism plays well in both sports.

3. Brody Brecht, Iowa

Brecht was ranked as the No. 100 draft prospect as a righthander in 2021 and also was a four-star wide receiver prospect according to 247Sports. A thumb injury in training camp for football set him back last fall and he redshirted. He was back in action in the spring, however, and made waves as he ran his fastball up to 100 mph. He went 1-4, 3.18 with 44 strikeouts and 25 walks in 22.2 innings, mostly pitching in relief. His control is still an issue—in addition to the 25 walks, he hit two batters and threw 10 wild pitches—but his fastball-slider combination and athleticism give him high-end upside. Brecht has again been dinged up in training camp but is expected to play a role in the offense this fall.

4. Sam Horn, Missouri

Horn came to Missouri this summer to much fanfare as both a baseball and football prospect. He ranked No. 106 in the draft class as a righthander and was rated as a four-star quarterback. Horn has plenty of upside on the mound with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and three promising offspeed offerings. He’s also a good infielder and a switch-hitter. But Horn is a highly anticipated recruit for Missouri football and seen as the potential future for the Tigers. He’s starting the season as a backup, but has earned praise from coach Eli Drinkwitz for his play in training camp.

5. JonJon Vaughns, UCLA

Vaughns has premium athleticism and has put that on display at UCLA as a linebacker and outfielder. He’s played in all 19 of the Bruins’ football games over the last two years and has made 31 tackles. On the diamond, he started 33 games this spring and hit .192/.408/.346 with three home runs. He enters the fall as a starting linebacker for the Bruins and could again play a big role for the baseball team this spring.

6. John Rhys Plumlee, Central Florida

Plumlee started his college career at Mississippi, where he put his premium speed to use as a quarterback and outfielder. He transferred after last fall to UCF and will enter the season as the Knights starting quarterback. Because he transferred in January, he was not able to play baseball last spring by NCAA rule. He’s expected to get back on the diamond this spring, however. In 2021, he made 18 starts and appeared in 47 games for Ole Miss, hitting .267/.416/.383 with seven stolen bases. He’s still a bit raw but is a dynamic athlete.

7. Jack Lausch, Northwestern

Lausch was a two-sport star in high school and was initially committed to Notre Dame to play both baseball and football. He only had a walk-on football offer, however, so when Northwestern offered him a scholarship as a quarterback, he changed his commitment. He has plenty of upside on the diamond as an outfielder and ranked No. 212 in the 2022 draft class. He has a compact swing, a good approach at the plate and power potential in his 6-foot-2 frame.

8. Robby Ashford, Auburn

Ashford in high school became just the third player to be invited to the Under Armour All-America Game for both baseball and football, following Kyler Murray and A.J. Brown. His athleticism gives him significant upside in both sports, and he ranked No. 231 in the 2020 draft, but he didn’t see much action in either sport at Oregon before transferring to Auburn. He’ll enter the fall as the Tigers’ backup quarterback but is expected to see action early in the season. His baseball career, however, appears to be over.

9. Blake Shapen, Baylor

Shapen was one of the top two-sport athletes in the 2020 class and ranked No. 371 in the draft class. After redshirting as a freshman, Shapen broke out late in the season after Baylor’s starting quarterback was injured. He led the Bears to a win in the Big 12 championship game and enters this fall as the starting quarterback. Shapen’s athleticism plays well at shortstop and he was an Under Armor All-American in baseball during high school, but he hasn’t gotten a chance to show those skills in college.

10. Joey Velazquez, Michigan

Initially committed to Ohio State to play baseball, Velazquez ended up on the other side of the rivalry when Michigan offered him an opportunity to play football as well. He’s played a limited role as a linebacker but has gotten more action as an outfielder. His athleticism plays well on the diamond, and he has a strong lefthanded swing. Last spring, he hit .277/.370/.660 with eight doubles and five home runs in 32 games.

11. Randon Jernigan, Georgia

Jernigan was a two-sport star in high school but gave up football when he went to Georgia. He’s played four years for the Bulldogs, appearing in 108 games. He hit .242/.346/.292 with 16 stolen bases and played standout defense in the outfield. Last spring, he returned to his football roots and joined the Bulldogs on the gridiron. He joined the reigning national champions as a wide receiver.

12. Tywone Malone, Mississippi

Malone has a unique profile as a defensive end and first baseman. He is listed at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds and was the top-rated football recruit in New Jersey in the 2021 class. He was limited to just one football game last fall due to a knee injury and saw limited action with the Rebels in the spring, though he did go 4-for-9 with two home runs and a walk. He has prodigious power on the diamond and could develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter.

Andrew Checketts Courtesy Of Ucsb

College Podcast: Clubhouse Conversation With UCSB's Andrew Checketts

Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by UC Santa Barbara coach Andrew Checketts in the latest Clubhouse Conversation.

13. D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson

Uiagalelei last fall took over at quarterback for Clemson from Trevor Lawrence, the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was the top quarterback recruit in the 2020 class and has long been focused on football, but he previously showed significant upside on the diamond as a righthander. He didn’t play much baseball at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif., but he showed enough to impress coach Don Barbara, who starred at Long Beach State and went on to coach in college for more than a decade.

"If (Uiagalelei had) gotten to pitch with us for a full season, there's no doubt in my mind he'd have been a first-round draft pick," Barbara told ESPN.

Uiagalelei has run his fastball into the low 90s and is listed at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, so it’s easy to see the upside, but at this point his future is as a quarterback.

14. Stone Blanton, South Carolina

Blanton, a freshman, was initially committed to Mississippi State to play baseball before settling on South Carolina to play both sports. He played in the Under Armor All-America Game in football and comes to Columbia as a four-star linebacker. He’s planning to play outfield for the Gamecocks as well and his big, physical frame, athleticism and raw power make him a prototypical corner outfielder.

15. Thayer Thomas, North Carolina State

Thomas came to NC State as a football walk-on and in the spring of 2018 earned a scholarship following his first season with the program. He’s become a solid wide receiver and punt returner for the Wolfpack and last season ranked second on the team with 51 receptions. Thomas played one season of baseball for NC State, hitting .222/.364/.500 in 14 games in 2019. Following that season, he was drafted in the 33rd round by the Red Sox but did not sign.

16. Trevon Flowers, Tennessee

Flowers was originally committed to play baseball at Kentucky but came back to football in his senior year of high school and played well enough to land with Tennessee as a three-star recruit as a defensive back. Flowers is a three-year starter and last year recorded two interceptions. On the diamond, Flowers was a plus runner with good hands on the infield and a good approach at the plate. But he has been just a football player for the Vols.

17. Jaren Hall, Brigham Young

Hall initially went to BYU in 2018 to play quarterback, but soon wanted to return to his roots as a two-sport athlete. He was in 2019 able to join the baseball team as an outfielder and hit .235/.375/.373 with two home runs in 32 games over the 2019-20 seasons. He hasn’t played baseball since, however, as he’s become BYU’s starting quarterback. He last season threw for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns and added 307 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. BYU starts the fall ranked No. 25.

18. Cam’Ron McCoy, Eastern Michigan

McCoy was rated as a three-star quarterback out of high school and his powerful right arm also plays well on the mound. After starting his college career last fall at Cincinnati (where he didn’t appear in a game), he transferred to Eastern Michigan. As a freshman this spring at EMU, he made four appearances (one start) and struck out three in 3.1 innings. His fastball gets into the low 90s but, like many young pitchers, he needs to improve his control.

19. Devin Neal, Kansas

Neal was a highly rated running back and outfielder as a high schooler in Kansas and wanted to play both sports in college, leading him to KU. On the football field last year as a freshman, he ran for 707 yards and eight touchdowns and started eight games. He also played in seven games on the diamond and, while he went 0-for-6, he did walk three times and steal a base. His athleticism and bat speed stand out on the diamond.

20. Levi Gazarek, Bowling Green State

Gazarek has been a big contributor for the Falcons both in baseball and football. He last fall started 10 games as a tight end for BG and made 10 catches for 88 yards. On the diamond, he’s an imposing righthander at a listed 6-foot-4, 249 pounds. He made 16 appearances (five starts) last spring, going 2-3, 7.90 in 42.1 innings.

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