Sports Illustrated is currently counting down the top 100 players in college football. They started the countdown this past Monday and have made it halfway, up to no. 51. Two current Utes were named in the first fifty players listed, kicker Andy Phillips and defensive tackle Lowell Lotuleilei. Considering Andy Phillips is an All-American caliber kicker and Lotuleilei is arguably the best player on the defense, it seems possible these will be the only two Utah players to make the list.
SI lists Andy Phillips at no. 64. This puts him ahead of some notable players such as Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, OK State quarterback Mason Rudolph, and UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes to name a few. Why does a kicker get ranked ahead of some of these players that see the field more? For starters Phillips is a two time All-Pac-12 selection with a career 84% kicking percentage. On top of that you could argue Phillips has won as many games with his leg for Utah as some of those other players. SI lists Phillips as the nation's "most established kicker". Not too shabby for a former skier...
Coming just two slots ahead of Phillips at no. 62 is Lowell Lotulelei. Best known nationally for being the younger brother of Star, Lowell has made a name for himself the past two years as the anchor of a fierce Utah defensive line. Having started 18 games in his career and coming off a great season that saw him record 26 tackles, 5 TFL and 1 sack Lotulelei seems poised for an All-America type season.
Is Lotulelei valued too low by SI though? So far he is the highest rated defensive tackle on the list coming in above Florida's Caleb Brantley at no. 93 and LSU's Devon Godchaux at no. 90. While his stats aren't eye popping, he plays a somewhat thankless position on the interior of the line, often taking on double teams and creating the initial push against the opposing team's offensive line. While he may not get visible stats for his role, he is responsible for opening up lanes for the linebackers and defensive ends like Kylie Fitts and Hunter Dimick to get through. He is the heart of the best defensive line in the Pac-12.
With only 50 players remaining on this list and Utah with so much turnover amongst the starters, Utah may not get another name on the list. Some that deserve recognition however would be J.J. Dielman, Kylie Fitts and Marcus Williams. I wouldn't value any of them higher than Lotulelei however, so it will be interesting to see if SI has a different opinion.
Are there any other players you think deserve mention among college's top 100? Let us know in the comments.