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Three Mississippi college football players named to Top 100 list

(Photos from OleMissFB, HailStateFB, and SouthernMissFB on X/Twitter)

Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins, Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers, and Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr. were named Top 100 college players by ESPN ahead of the 2023 season. 

As we continue the countdown to kickoff for the 2023 College Football season, ESPN has released its preseason ranking of the Top 100 players. These rankings were based on head-to-head voting among ESPN’s college sports journalists.

Mississippi has three names featured on the list, one from each of the state’s Division 1 programs.

For Ole Miss, running back Quinshon Judkins placed just outside of the Top 20 at number 22. Mississippi State’s Will Rogers, the senior quarterback, came in at number 36, while Southern Miss do-it-all running back Frank Gore Jr., whose father was a star running back in the NFL, was ranked as the 100th best player in the country.

Let’s take a look at how and why these three standouts earned their spot in the rankings and what they have to build towards this season. 

22. Quinshon Judkins, RB, Ole Miss

Judkins exploded onto the college football scene last year as a freshman, having a monster season for the Rebels. The three star prospect out of Alabama earned the job in camp last summer and proved that decision correct in the 2022 season.

Judkins tallied a whopping 1,567 yards and 16 touchdowns, both good enough for school single-season records. He ended the year in the national Top 10 for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns. His historic season ranked as the second best freshman running back season in the SEC, trailing only the legendary Herschel Walker. Judkins tallied the most yards by a freshman back since 2017 – 11th most all time among the Power 5. The legendary season has translated into lots of hype heading into 2023.

Judkins moved up almost thirty spots from his ranking last year on the ESPN list. The star running back has also earned All-American and All-SEC nods and has seen his name pop up on various award watch lists, including the Heisman.

Judkins figures to be a huge part of the Ole Miss offense in 2023, and it will be interesting to see if he can top last year’s numbers in another season with Lane Kiffin and the Rebels. If he can, it will mean not only national recognition for Judkins but huge success for Ole Miss. 

36. Will Rogers, QB, Mississippi State

Will Rogers has become the face of Mississippi State’s football program. The senior quarterback was a perfect fit in the “air raid” offense that the late Mike Leach brought to Starkville. The Brandon native has made 32 straight starts and has become one of the most decorated QBs in SEC history. Rogers already stands alone as the only SEC quarterback in history to reach 1,000 completions, and his 10,689 yards and 82 career touchdowns are both Mississippi State records. Last season, Rogers captained the Bulldogs to a 9-4 season and a finish ranked in the Top 25. He threw for 3,974 yards and 35 touchdowns with a near 70% completion percentage.

Heading into 2023, Rogers figures to be one of the best quarterbacks in not only the SEC but all of college football. Although the offense will look different for Mississippi State this season under new Head Coach Zach Arnett, Rogers’ experience should help him adjust to a new system and build a productive offense. New Offensive Coordinator Kevin Barbay has expressed excitement about working with Rogers, and Mississippi State fans hope that the two will bring success to Starkville in 2023.

Like his counterpart on this list, Quinshon Judkins, Rogers has also received a lot of preseason hype and is on national award watch lists. He will be a big part of the Bulldog’s fortunes on the gridiron this season. 

100. Frank Gore Jr., RB, Southern Mississippi 

Frank Gore Jr. has quietly had a great career in Hattiesburg. As NFL fans may recognize, Gore Jr. is the son of Frank Gore, who had a legendary career as a back in the NFL. The similarities to his father don’t stop at the name, as Gore Jr. seems to have the same skills out of the backfield as his dad.

In 2022, he tallied over six yards per carry and eleven yards per catch, which were among the nation’s best per attempt numbers. This translated into over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns, helping lead Southern Miss to a 7-6 record and their first bowl win since 2016. In fact, Gore Jr. set an FBS bowl record with 329 yards on 21 carries against Rice. 

Heading into 2023, Gore Jr. will be looking to continue to build off of his solid career, and more offensive stability in the backfield at quarterback should help him out. The Golden Eagles retooled their roster through the transfer portal this offseason, which should take some of the pressure of Gore Jr., who has at times served as the team’s best quarterback option from the wildcat formation. Head Coach Will Hall seems to have the program headed in the right direction, which bodes well for Gore Jr., the Golden Eagles, and their fans in Hattiesburg.


Judkins, Rogers, and Gore Jr. are some of the top college football players in Mississippi heading into the 2023 season. All in all, these three names are among many who will be dazzling fans on the gridiron this fall in the Magnolia State and beyond. Fans across the state are hoping that these three can elevate their programs to the next level of success, and it won’t be long until we get to see what they can do. 

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