Power Ranking the 50 Best Depth Charts in College Football
With spring practices now concluding, it is time to look at the depth charts of teams across college football and rank the 50 best depth charts in the country.
Now that national signing day has passed and the start of the season is still four months away, this is the time of the year when college football tends to take a back seat.
We are certainly not going to let that happen.
While the deepest teams are not always the best teams, it definitely does not hurt to have a wealth of talent throughout the roster.
Here are the 50 deepest teams in college football heading into the 2013 season.
Here are five teams that did not quite make the list, but are still deeper than more than half the teams in the country.
West Virginia Mountaineers: Even with the amount of talent lost, particularly at the skill positions, there is still enough talent coming back, particularly at the running-back position.
North Carolina State Wolfpack: While it will be tough to replace quarterback Mike Glennon, the front seven on defense is almost entirely intact, and that should bode well for the Wolfpack.
San Diego State Aztecs: With 20 starters returning, the Aztecs have a shot to make some noise in 2013. After winning nine games last season, this squad could reach double digits and then some in 2013.
Central Florida Knights: Most of the depth here lies with the skill-position players. The defensive line is also intact. Replacing the offensive line will be the big issue here.
California Golden Bears: Even though they only won three games last year, the Golden Bears have a lot of youth at wide receiver and seven starters return on defense.
No. 50 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech did not have a top recruiting class, but that is typically the case during a transition year between coaches.
Still, the class ranked No. 51.
While there is some depth coming in, what new head coach Kliff Kingsbury has coming back allows the Red Raiders to crack the list at No. 50.
The depth begins at the quarterback position with newcomer Davis Webb set to battle it out with Michael Brewer.
Eight starters return on defense and there is some depth there as well.
No. 49 Auburn Tigers
Even though Auburn only won three games last season, new head coach Gus Malzahn is bringing depth to the program already.
He brought in the No. 13 recruiting class, and the Tigers appear headed in the right direction.
It might take some time, but there is developing depth everywhere on the roster. Almost all of it is freshmen and sophomores, so it might take some time.
The main issue here could come with the quarterback position, as there are still a lot of questions as to who is going to be running the show for the Tigers come August.
No. 48 Fresno State Bulldogs
Even though the Fresno State recruiting class is not on par with most of the others, there is a lot of talent coming back on this team, including star quarterback Derek Carr.
Carr will lead the way, but replacing running back Robbie Rouse is going to be the biggest challenge.
Where the depth lies here is with the wide receivers, led by Davante Adams. The offensive line will have to replace two starters.
Defense is a different story with eight starters returning, and most of the depth is along the defensive line where virtually everybody is coming back.
Look for the depth of this defense to wear teams out in the Mountain West Conference this season.
No. 47 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Geogia Tech is another team that did not have a recruiting class it is accustomed to, but there is enough talent coming back to compete in the ACC.
There are 17 starters back, and that should help Georgia Tech improve on its 7-7 record from a season ago.
Vad Lee will take over for Tevin Washington at the quarterback position, and the Yellow Jackets should not miss a beat there.
One of the strengths on the team is a linebacking corps that returns four starters. The entire defense should be much improved this coming season, and head coach Paul Johnson will have more talent than he has had the past few years.
No. 46 Baylor Bears
Baylor head coach Art Briles put together a solid recruiting class, ranking No. 27, and with what he has coming back offensively, this team could be a load on the offensive side of the ball.
Seven starters return on defense, and if Bryce Petty can step in at the quarterback position for Nick Florence, the offense might be just as good as it was last year.
The depth at running back is unmatched almost anywhere in the country with Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.
There are also three starters back on the offensive line to help lead the rushing attack for the Bears.
No. 45 BYU Cougars
Most of the depth at BYU comes from experience and players deciding to stick around.
Leading the way is one of the best linebackers in the country in Kyle Van Noy. He will be joined by star wide receiver Cody Hoffman.
Hoffman is not the only threat down the field for the Cougars. Fellow wide receiver JD Falslev has the potential to have a breakout season.
The strength of the offense, however might be the ground game. With three offensive linemen coming back along with running back Jamaal Williams, the ground game could be very effective.
The recruiting class for BYU was not quite what the Cougars might have been looking for, however.
No. 44 Arizona Wildcats
The loss of quarterback Matt Scott is certainly going to hurt, but the return of star running back Ka'Deem Carey will help ease the blow. Carey is one of the best players in the country, and led the nation in rushing yards last season.
The Arizona recruiting class ranked No. 45 in the country.
That will help add some depth. The defense will be the deepest group on the field with all 11 starters coming back as well as nearly everybody on the two-deep.
If the group had played a little better last season, Arizona would be much higher on this list.
No. 43 Kansas State Wildcats
It is not common for Kansas State to put together high-level recruiting classes, and the 2013 group was no different.
But, head coach Bill Snyder still has plenty coming back to once again to be a factor in the Big 12.
With Collin Klein gone, the Wildcats will have to fill a huge void at quarterback. All five starters are back on the offensive line, along with running back John Hubert.
The secondary is also deep and very talented. The biggest question with the exception of Klein is the front seven. All the linebackers and defensive linemen will need to be replaced.
No. 42 Northern Illinois
It is no secret that Northern Illinois did not have a recruiting class on par with the big boys, but the return of quarterback Jordan Lynch, along with a lot of other starters on both sides of the ball gives this team a huge advantage against almost every other team in the MAC.
The biggest loss could be head coach Dave Doeren who left for the North Carolina State job.
The entire offensive line returns to protect Lynch, along with running back Akeem Daniels.
Defense will be a completely different story, as most of the starters are gone. The secondary is where the biggest losses occurred.
No. 41 Mississippi State
Mississippi State put together a top-25 recruiting class, and that is the best way to add some depth to the roster.
The Bulldogs will have a lot of skill-position players to replace, but will have plenty of depth along the offensive line to help those skill players out.
There is a lot to replace in the secondary, but the linebacker group will be one of the strengths on defense.
The play of quarterback Tyler Russell will be one of the keys to the season for the Bulldogs.
No. 40 Boise State Broncos
The Boise State recruiting class was filled with three-star recruits, and that is perfect for head coach Chris Petersen.
With quarterback Joe Southwick coming back, the offense will likely be improved. There are some offensive linemen to replace along with running back D.J. Harper.
Where the depth will lie for this squad is along the defensive line. Names like Sam Ukwuachu, Demarcus Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, along with a few others, will help anchor what should be another solid defense.
It should be another double-digit win season for the Broncos.
No. 39 Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham is back for his second season, and he has a top-40 recruiting class coming in.
There is developing depth everywhere on the field, including quarterback, with the emergence of Taylor Kelly and also Michael Eubank. There are eight starters back on offense, but some key skill players will need to be replaced.
No question that the strength of the team is the defensive line. Led by Will Sutton, this group could be the best in the Pac-12, with everybody coming back and a wealth of depth.
Most of the secondary returns. That group was the best in the Pac-12 last season.
No. 38 Northwestern Wildcats
Very few teams in the country were bigger surprises last season than the Northwestern Wildcats.
The team won 10 games and should be just as talented in 2013.
Led by running back Venric Mark, head coach Pat Fitzgerald has a wealth of talent returning.
There is plenty of depth at the quarterback position with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian returning along with eight offensive starters.
Where there might be issues is along the offensive line, with three starters having to be replaced.
The Wildcats' recruiting class was ranked No. 52, much better than Northwestern has grown accustomed to over the years.
No. 37 Cincinnati Bearcats
Cincinnati put together another 10-win season in 2012. New head coach Tommy Tuberville should bring some changes to the program, but there is a lot of experienced depth on the roster.
Quarterbacks Brendon Kay and Munchie Legaux will battle for the starting job.
On defense, there are some holes along the line, but a lot of young players are ready to step up.
Linebacker Greg Blair might be the best in the Big East, and the secondary should be very talented once again.
The wide receivers are very deep, and there is versatility everywhere with running back Ralph David Abernathy IV having the ability to do a little bit of everything.
No. 36 Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia struggled to a four-win campaign in 2012, and head coach Mike London managed to compile the No. 29 recruiting class, helping to add to the depth of this program.
The strength as far as the depth is concerned for this team is the secondary. All four starters are back, and they produced very well last year. Expect them to be even better in 2013.
The starting quarterback job will likely go to Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. He has a wealth of wide receivers to try to get the ball to, and four returning starters along the offensive line to help protect him.
Look for this team to improve slightly on the four wins from a season ago.
No. 35 Vanderbilt Commodores
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has certainly turned the program around, and his No. 26 recruiting class in 2013 will help with the depth.
The depth here lies at wide receiver. The group is led by Jordan Matthews. Matthews is one of the best wide receivers in the country, and will be the key to the offense with running back Zac Stacy now gone.
On defense, the strength of the team will likely be the secondary.
If Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels can give the Commodores solid play at quarterback, it will be another excellent year for Vanderbilt.
No. 34 Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin always has plenty of depth at running back, and 2013 is no different.
Led by James White and Melvin Gordon, this unit will once again be the strength of the team, even with Montee Ball gone.
The offensive line will again be very deep as will the defensive line.
Even with a new head coach, the recruiting class was ranked No. 40 in the country and should help add a little bit of depth to the program.
No. 33 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
While the Rutgers defense has been the strength of the team in recent years, this season the offense will be where the depth lies.
There is plenty of veteran leadership, and the offensive line, with four starters back, might be the key to that offense.
Quarterback Gary Nova will now be handing the ball to running back Savon Huggins.
There is a hole to fill at wide receiver with the departure of Mark Harrison, but head coach Kyle Flood has put together a recruiting class ranked No. 49 in the nation.
No. 32 Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee lost virtually all of its skill-position players from last season, including quarterback Tyler Bray and wide receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.
There is plenty of depth along the offensive line with four starters coming back to anchor a group that was one of the best in the country last season.
On defense, linebacker A.J. Johnson might be one of the tops in the country at his position.
The recruiting class under first-year head coach Butch Jones came in at No. 24 in the country. That will likely only get better in the coming years.
No. 31 North Carolina Tar Heels
The loss of stud running back Giovani Bernard early to the NFL will certainly hurt, but the return of quarterback Bryn Renner definitely adds to the depth of this team.
Along the offensive line, there is plenty of depth, size and talent with some key players coming back.
Where the most depth lies is in the secondary. Star free safety Tre Boston will return along with cornerbacks Jabari Price and Darien Rankin.
The Tar Heels have a chance to improve on last season's 8-4 record.
No. 30 Missouri Tigers
The health of quarterback James Franklin will be a key to the season for the Tigers. The skill-position players to go along with him also return.
Among those players is running back Henry Josey who missed last season with an injury.
Stud wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham will also be much better entering his sophomore season. Along with Green-Beckham, the rest of the receiving corps is returning.
On defense, there are some key contributors to replace, including Sheldon Richardson.
There are some players ready to step up. One is Kony Ealy. He has the potential to be one of the best defensive ends in the country over the next few seasons.
No. 29 Arkansas Razorbacks
The depth for Arkansas all starts up front along the offensive line. There are four starters coming back, and they will help pave the way for new running back Jonathan Williams.
It will be the same story on defense with the front seven being the strength of the team. There are five starters coming back in that group.
New head coach Bret Bielema will need to work on the secondary that returns virtually everybody. The group struggled mightily last year.
Even though he just arrived at Arkansas, Bielema still put together a recruiting class that ranked No. 23 in the country. No doubt that will also help out with the depth of the Razorbacks in 2013.
No. 28 Michigan State Spartans
If not for a few players on offense leaving early for the NFL draft, Michigan State might be a little higher on the list.
With that being said, there is still a lot of experience and depth coming back.
On defense, eight starters return, including talent at all three positions.
Perhaps the key to the season for head coach Mark Dantonio will be finding a way to replace running back Le'Veon Bell.
A recruiting class that ranked No. 36 overall will add some depth to Dantonio's squad.
No. 27 Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State could be a team that contends for the Pac-12 title, and a lot of that is because of the depth on the roster.
There are 18 starters coming back, and a big battle will take place between Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz for the quarterback position.
Defensive end Scott Crichton is one of the best in the country at getting to the quarterback.
The secondary will only have to replace cornerback Jordan Poyer. Everybody else is back, and there is plenty of depth behind the starters.
No. 26 Louisville Cardinals
Louisville might be a bit overrated heading into the season, but there is still plenty of depth for head coach Charlie Strong and his squad.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a stud, and he will have plenty of depth at wide receiver to throw the ball to.
The strength of the team will be the defense. There are 10 starters coming back, and the group was already solid last year.
Look for big things from a Cardinals team that is easily the team to beat in the Big East.
No. 25 TCU Horned Frogs
No. 24 Penn State Nittany Lions
No. 23 Miami Hurricanes
No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys
No. 21 Ole Miss Rebels
No. 20 Stanford Cardinal
Even though Stanford will likely be ranked much higher in the polls when the season begins, the Cardinal does not have as much depth as the teams in front of it on the list.
Replacing running back Stepfan Taylor and tight end Zach Ertz will not be easy, but quarterback will certainly be a strength.
There is also plenty of depth in the secondary for the Cardinal, and linebacker never seems to be a problem.
What hurt Stanford was a recruiting class that ranked No. 50.
Only time will tell if that will come back to haunt the Cardinal down the road.
No. 19 Washington Huskies
Washington did not have a good year in 2012, but with an excellent recruiting class coming in and some talented players coming back at the skill positions, it cracks the top 20 on the list.
Quarterback Keith Price returns for his senior season, and junior running back Bishop Sankey burst onto the scene for the Huskies last year.
One of the other strengths as far as depth is concerned is along the offensive line.
The Huskies also made some noise on national signing day with a top-20 class.
No doubt there is enough depth here to have a bounce-back year in 2013.
No. 18 Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer is no stranger to excellent recruiting classes, and his 2013 group was no different, coming in at No. 21 overall.
Even though the team struggled last season, the return of quarterback Logan Thomas certainly helps.
The interior of the offensive line will be deep and very talented.
On defense, the secondary will once again be one of the strengths of the team along with a defensive line that could wreak havoc on opposing offenses in 2013.
No. 17 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska proved just how deep it was at running back in 2012 when starter Rex Burkhead went down with an injury, as backup Ameer Abdullah filled in nicely.
Quarterback Taylor Martinez will return for his senior season, but one area where depth might be an issue is protecting Martinez along the offensive line.
Perhaps the deepest position on the field is wide receiver. The Cornhuskers are two-deep at all three wide receiver positions.
Seven four-star recruits and a top-25 class will certainly add to the depth of this team in 2013 and beyond.
No. 16 Texas Longhorns
The Texas Longhorns almost always have a very talented recruiting class, and 2013 was no different. The group finished No. 17.
With plenty coming back on the defensive side of the ball, there is no shortage of talent for the Longhorns there, particularly along the defensive line with Jackson Jeffcoat leading the charge. Even though the secondary will not be quite as strong, the front seven should be better than it was last year.
On offense, the quarterback position will continue to b a question, but running back features a bevy of talented players for head coach Mack Brown to choose from.
No. 15 UCLA Bruins
The depth for UCLA starts with the quarterback position, and with Brett Hundley coming back for his sophomore season, it will be stronger than it has been in quite some time.
With four offensive linemen coming back, including three that were freshmen last year, there is plenty of depth to go around at this position.
The running-back position will be a little bit of a different story, however, as Johnathan Franklin has graduated.
What bumps UCLA even higher up the list is a recruiting class that finished No. 9.
It is hard to argue with 18 4-star recruits. Not a bad showing on national signing day for head coach Jim Mora Jr. and the Bruins.
No. 14 Clemson Tigers
Clemson has depth all over the field, but particularly on offense. The return of quarterback Tajh Boyd will do wonders for the Tigers. Even though DeAndre Hopkins departed early for the NFL draft, the wide- receiver position will still be solid, led by Sammy Watkins.
There is young talent at the running-back spot, but former starter Andre Ellington has moved on, and there is a lot of unproven talent under him.
The depth along the offensive line is excellent as well.
Signing day was also good to the Tigers, as Clemson inked five-star recruit MacKensie Alexander, rated the No. 4 cornerback in the nation.
The class also cracked the top 15, which will add to the depth down the line.
No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks
We all know how much talent South Carolina had on the field last season. In 2013, that group will be just as deep and possibly better than last year.
The Gamecocks were a very experienced bunch last year, particularly on offense, but will be even more seasoned in 2013.
Both quarterbacks return, and the depth at wide receiver will be there once again.
Of course, we all know just how talented the defensive line is, beginning with Jadeveon Clowney.
Head coach Steve Spurrier secured a solid class, but nothing quite like some of the other SEC schools. Still, finishing in the top 20 as far as recruiting goes is nothing to be ashamed of.
No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners
There is no question that Oklahoma lost a ton of talent from its 2012 team, but as usual, Bob Stoops has plenty of depth to work with.
Unlike a lot of other Oklahoma teams, the 2013 squad will be extremely young. There is a chance that there will only be a few seniors starting on each side of the ball.
The youth of the team can be found along the defensive line and throughout the secondary.
Oklahoma added to the depth in the secondary with the signing of safeties Hatari Byrd and Ahmad Thomas as well as cornerback L.J. Moore.
Defensive end D.J. Ward could also contribute immediately.
No. 11 Oregon Ducks
Oregon has plenty of depth coming back, but what keeps the Ducks just outside of the top 10 is a recruiting class that did not end up as high as anticipated.
The Ducks finished No. 19 in the nation, only securing 19 commitments.
As always, the depth at running back will be as good or better than almost any team in the country with De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshal returning and some very talented recruits joining them.
Throw in five-star recruit Thomas Tyner, and the Ducks will be dominant for years to come at running back.
The transfer of quarterback Bryan Bennett no doubt hurts the depth here.
No. 10 USC Trojans
Even though USC did not show it on the field, the Trojans have top-10 talent when it comes to depth, despite scholarship penalties.
There are former five-star recruits all over the field for USC, but the Trojans have not been able to put it all together.
Quarterback could be an issue, but the wide-receiver spot is as deep as any group in the nation.
Throw in another very talented recruiting class, and the Trojans have some of the best depth in the country.
When it comes to top-heavy talent, few teams in the country possess what USC does, despite everything that has happened with the program in recent years.
No. 9 Michigan Wolverines
Michigan and head coach Brady Hoke quietly put together another outstanding recruiting class, and that will only add to the talent and depth of this program.
The Wolverines' class finished fifth, and Hoke continues to show he is one of the best recruiters in the country.
The running-back position might be a bit of a question mark, and the receivers leave something to be desired, but the Wolverines are very deep along the offensive line, particularly with the return of tackle Taylor Lewan.
On defense, the Wolverines have a strong secondary to back up a linebacker group that is one of the best in the Big Ten.
No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
For Notre Dame, the depth is virtually everywhere on the field, beginning at quarterback.
Both Everett Golson and Tommy Rees are back in what should be a year with no quarterback controversy.
With Cierre Wood leaving early for the NFL draft, running back might be a position of question, and tight end could also be an issue.
Other than that, the group appears solid at the other spots.
The depth does not end with the offense, as the defensive line will once again be one of the best in the country. The return of Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt makes this group formidable yet again.
Brian Kelly finally got the national signing day results he was looking for with a three five-star recruits and 17 four-star commitments.
No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs
Not many thought it possible that quarterback Aaron Murray would return for his senior season, but when he did Georgia quickly became a national-title contender.
The depth for this team starts at running back, with two very talented sophomores in line to get the bulk of the carries. Both Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall excelled last season as freshmen and will be even better in 2013.
There is some talent to replace on the defensive side of the ball, but an excellent recruiting class will certainly help with that.
Head coach Mark Richt is bringing in 12 four-star recruits just on the defensive side of the ball.
Look out for the Georgia defense in the years to come.
No. 6 Florida State Seminoles
With the exception of the very talented SEC, there has not been a team in the country with as much depth as the Seminoles over the past half decade.
In 2013, the Seminoles had another top-10 recruiting class and enough talent already on the roster to go with it.
A pair of five-star recruits could make an impact as outside linebacker Matthew Thomas is one of the highest-rated players in the country, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey should be able to play meaningful snaps as well.
Even though quarterback EJ Manuel is gone, as well as some talent on defense, the Seminoles still return plenty of talent at running back as well as an offensive line that was very young last year.
No. 5 Florida Gators
Florida head coach Will Muschamp is quickly building a program in Gainesville.
He put together one of the best recruiting classes in the country on national signing day, and if quarterback Jeff Driskel could develop, this team could be a national-championship contender.
There was a time on national signing day when Florida had a shot to finish with the top class in the country. That did not happen, but the group still finished No. 4.
The defense is where most of the depth for the Gators lies. When a cornerback like Loucheiz Purifoy can move to wide receiver, there is definitely some depth in the secondary. The group was young and talented in 2012. Look for them to be a little more experienced and even better in 2013.
No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has made the program a national-title contender in only one year.
A top 10 recruiting class in 2013 will go a long way toward helping the depth and talent in the program.
Led by Johnny Manziel, the quarterback position is very talented. With the wide receivers that are coming in, Manziel will have plenty of targets in 2013 and beyond.
The defense should also be deeper and improved this year.
Sumlin secured quite a talent on national signing day in four-star wide receiver JaQuay Williams. Williams is one of the best players in the country, and could be a huge target for Manziel in 2013.
Who might be an even bigger target is five-star wideout Ricky Seals-Jones. Jones is rated the No. 23 player in the high school class and will also likely contribute immediately.
Not many teams in the country have as much young depth as the Aggies do, particularly at wide receiver.
No. 3 LSU Tigers
LSU is one of the deepest teams in the country nearly every year, and the 2013 season will be no different.
With one of the best recruiting classes in the country and an improved quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, this team will be ultra-talented once again.
Even though the Tigers lost 10 players early to the NFL draft, there is still enough coming back to contend for a national championship.
With Spencer Ware and Michal Ford leaving early for the NFL draft, most would think the running-back position would be a question. That is not the case, with three talented backs returning—Alfred Blue, Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
It has not taken Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer long to build a very deep squad at Ohio State.
It all begins at quarterback with starter Braxton Miller returning along with backup Kenny Guiton. At running back, the Buckeyes have everybody back, including Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall and Rod Smith. Wide receiver will be a strength as well.
On defense, the secondary will be excellent, led by Bradley Roby and C.J. Barnett. While there is some talent to replace along the defensive line, the group features some very exciting sophomores ready to come into their own, including Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.
Throw in the second-best recruiting class in the nation, and the Buckeyes should be near the top of the national rankings for quite some time.
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
Early departures for the NFL draft and graduating some very talented seniors means nothing to head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
There is enough depth everywhere to replace those who left early for the NFL draft, and Saban put together the top recruiting class in the country.
On offense, wide receiver will be a strength with Amari Cooper. Running back will also be a strength as T.J. Yeldon leads a talented group. Of course, quarterback AJ McCarron returns for his senior season with a chance to be on four national championship squads.
The defense, led by coordinator Kirby Smart, lost a ton of talent, but that is what everybody said after the 2011 season, and we all know how that turned out.
The linebacker group, led by C.J. Mosley is perhaps the best in the nation.
Adding to the depth is the best recruiting class in the nation as Saban struck gold once again with six five-star commitments, per 247Sports.com, on national signing day.
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