College Football Analysis

2023 NFL Draft Declaration Deadline: Best Players Returning to College

Blake Corum

With the underclassmen declaration deadline passing on Monday, it’s time to look at some of the best players who are returning to school for the 2023 season. 

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Top 5 Players Returning to School

1. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan

Corum was one of the biggest breakout stars of the 2022 college football season. In 12 games, he finished with 1,463 rushing yards, 5.9 yards per carry and 18 rushing touchdowns. 

On the back of Corum’s rushing prowess, Michigan started the season 11-0. However, the junior suffered a knee injury on Nov. 19 against Illinois, which caused him to play limited snaps in Michigan’s win against Ohio State on Nov. 26. 

He then missed the Big Ten Championship against Purdue and Michigan’s College Football Playoff loss against TCU. 

Corum is having surgery on his meniscus in the offseason, which is a good enough reason for him to return to Michigan for one more season. He’ll join quarterback J.J. McCarthy in the backfield once again, as Michigan looks for a third-straight CFP appearance in 2023. 

Sep 17, 2022; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Nicholas Singleton (10) celebrates with offensive lineman Olumuyiwa Fashanu (74) after scoring a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

2. Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Fashanu was one of the first big-name draft prospects to announce he was staying in school for another year. Following a strong third season with the Nittany Lions in 2022, he was regarded as one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the class. 

The 6-foot-6, 308-pound Fashanu made eight starts at left tackle in 2022 after making just one start the year before. He was named second-team All-Big Ten by conference coaches and third-team by the media. 

Fashanu’s return should stabilize the Nittany Lions’ offensive line looking to help build off the team’s 11-win season, which included a victory in the Rose Bowl. 

3. Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina

Rattler’s draft stock has been all over the map the past few years, which could be one reason he decided to return to school. 

Once regarded as a potential top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Rattler was benched and lost his job at Oklahoma to Caleb Williams, and then transferred to South Carolina before the 2022 season. 

He enjoyed a somewhat resurgent season under South Carolina coach Shane Beamer, completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 3,026 yards, 18 passing touchdowns and 12 interceptions. 

During the Gamecocks’ final five games of the season, he threw for 13 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions. His performance allowed South Carolina to upset Tennessee and Clemson in back-to-back weeks. Both teams were ranked inside the top 10 at the time. 

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix looks to pass as the No. 9 Oregon Ducks take on the No. 21 Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Ncaa Football Uo Vs Osu Rivalry Game University Of Oregon At Oregon State Syndication The Register Guard

4. Bo Nix, Oregon, Quarterback

Nix is another Power Five quarterback and former transfer returning to school for 2023. The former Auburn QB transferred to Oregon before the 2022 season and set career highs in completion percentage, passing yards and passing touchdowns. 

He finished with a 71.9 completion percentage, 3,593 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also added 510 yards on the ground and 14 rushing touchdowns. 

Oregon finished 10-3 this past season and defeated the North Carolina in the Holiday Bowl.

5. Jared Verse, DE, Florida State

Verse was regarded by some as a potential top-15 pick before his decision to return to Florida State. He was ranked 45th on The 33rd Team’s initial top-100 rankings, released before Monday’s underclassmen declaration deadline.

Verse transferred to Florida State prior to the 2022 season from Albany, where he appeared in 15 games and still managed to record 14.5 sacks. However, Verse played in all 12 of Florida State’s this season and recorded nine sacks and 47 total tackles.

Verse’s pass rush helped the Seminoles finish 10-3 and end the season on a six-game winning streak. He joins quarterback Jordan Travis, wide receiver Johnny Wilson, wide receiver Mycah Pittman and linebacker Tatum Bethune as prominent Florida State players returning to school.

Honorable Mention

  • Rome Odunze, WR, Washington
  • Layden Robinson, iOL, Texas A&M
  • Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State
  • Zion Tupuola-Fetui, DE, Washington
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