Ranking the Fastest Players in College Football in 2017

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2017

Ranking the Fastest Players in College Football in 2017

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

    College football is full of speed. It cannot be taught, but every program covets the elite trait. Several teams will have the opportunity to put that speed on display in 2017.

    In the interest of objectivity, the list is limited to players who have been officially timed. Consequently, 40-yard dash times passed along from offseason work are not applicable because—while generally usefulthey are not reliable.

    Thanks to the guiding hands of the Track & Field Results Reporting System and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, we have official times for some of the sport's fastest athletes in the 60- and 100-meter sprints. When available, the 60-meter time is preferred.

    Many of the players listed are relative unknowns, but a few speedsters have carved out notable roles on their football teams.

Honorable Mentions

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    Not everyone can appear on the list or has a quantifiable time. But these players, certainly among many others, can fly.

    • Akron WR Anthony Young
    • Alabama WR Xavian Marks
    • Cal WR Demetris Robertson
    • Florida WR Antonio Callaway
    • Florida State RB Amir Rasul
    • Houston RB Patrick Carr
    • Michigan WR Eddie McDoom
    • Mississippi State DB Brandon Bryant
    • Ohio State DB Denzel Ward
    • Oklahoma State WR James Washington
    • Oregon WR Charles Nelson
    • Oregon RB Taj Griffin
    • TCU WR KaVontae Turpin
    • Tennessee DB Evan Berry
    • Texas WR Devin Duvernay
    • Texas WR John Burt
    • Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
    • USC RB Ronald Jones II

Cameron Echols-Luper, Arkansas State

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    Michael Chang/Getty Images

    Top time: 6.89 in 60-meter dash

    Cameron Echols-Luper has only competed in the long jump at Arkansas State, but he ran sprints before transferring from TCU.

    During the 2015 indoor season, Echols-Luper qualified for the 60-meter finals at the Texas A&M Aggie Invitational. His preliminary time of 6.89 seconds edged that 6.94 run in the finals.

    Echols-Luper caught 26 passes for 407 yards and one touchdown for the Red Wolves last season.

Tavien Feaster, Clemson

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    Top time: 6.88 in 60-meter dash

    One of Clemson's prized recruits in 2016, Tavien Feaster has made an immediate impact on both the track and football field.

    The running back recorded his fastest time at the Tiger Paw Invitational, though Feaster's 60-meter dash at the ACC Championships was merely one-hundredth of a second (6.89) slower.

    As a freshman on the national title-winning team, he handled 37 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Feaster added seven kick returns with a 20.1-yard average.

Tony Brown, Alabama

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    Top time: 6.82 in 60-meter dash

    Tony Brown spent most of his first two seasons at Alabama contributing as a reserve or on special teams, but he held a significant role on the track team.

    At the 2015 Vanderbilt Indoor Invitational, he finished sixth in the 60-meter dash finals. He matched that standing in the 110-meter hurdle finals at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

    Brown enters his senior year with 58 career tackles, including 4.5 for loss, and two interceptions.

Isaiah Brandt-Sims

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    Top time: 6.81 in 60-meter dash

    While Stanford football is best known for power and physicality, Isaiah Brandt-Sims provides a little bit of speed.

    The wide receiver has competed in the 60-, 100- and 200-meter dashes throughout his college career, laying down a top time of 6.81 seconds in the 60 and 10.53 in the 100.

    After the departures of Michael Rector and Francis Owusu, Brandt-Sims—who has two career receptions for 24 yards—has a great opportunity to join the rotation this season.

Dominic Davis, USC

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Top time: 6.78 in 60-meter dash

    Much of the offseason attention USC has already and will receive is because of quarterback Sam Darnold. However, a talented backfield should not be overlooked.

    Dominic Davis provides some speed for the back end of the unit, having ripped off a 6.78-second 60-meter run last year. Plus, he helped the 4x100 relay team win the 2016 Trojan Invitational.

    Through two seasons with USC, Davis has tallied 332 yards on 48 offensive touches. He'll have a chance to become that backup next season, though reprising a third-string role is more likely.

Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame

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    Top time: 6.77 in 60-meter dash

    Although injuries pushed Troy Pride Jr. into the cornerback rotation as a freshman possibly before coaches wanted to, Notre Dame's track team has no problem sending him out.

    Highlighted by a first-place finish in the 60-meter run at the 2017 Alex Wilson Invitational, Pride made regular appearances in the finals during the indoor season. He also was eighth in the ACC Championships.

    Pride managed 12 tackles last season. A larger role isn't assured because Nick Watkins and Shaun Crawford will return from injury, but Pride is a notable piece of Notre Dame's future.

Kirk Merritt, Texas A&M

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    Top time: 6.77 in 60-meter dash

    Kirk Merritt watched from the sideline in 2016 after transferring from Oregon to Texas A&M. Before arriving in College Station, though, the wide receiver made his presence felt in Eugene.

    His 102 all-purpose yards as a freshman are a sidebar to the track accomplishments. Merritt qualified for the 60-meter finals at the Razorback Invitational, Husky Classic and MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships. He was a member of Oregon's 4x100 relay team, too.

    Merritt will likely be called upon to hold a leading role in 2017 because the Aggies need to replace Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and the aptly-named Speedy Noil.

Kwadarrius Smith, Akron

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    Top time: 6.75 in 60-meter dash

    Kwadarrius Smith hasn't posted major numbers on the football field, but he's tough to beat in a straight line.

    A key member of Akron's track team, Smith has twice finished third in 60-meter dash finals at the MAC Indoor Track and Field Championships. The wide receiver took first place at the 2016 Zips Invitational, 2017 Akron/Kent State Dual and 2017 Zips Invitational.

    Smith, who grabbed six passes for 147 yards and one touchdown last year, looks likely to join the rotation next season.

Kendall Sheffield, Ohio State

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    Top time: 6.74 in 60-meter dash

    A member of Alabama's 2015 championship football team, Kendall Sheffield decided to leave Tuscaloosa after the season. He spent a year at Blinn College before signing with Ohio State in 2017.

    Sheffield also briefly ran track for the Crimson Tide, finishing second in a 60-meter preliminary run at the New Mexico Classic. It tied for the fifth-fastest time of the prelims.

    The Buckeyes may count on Sheffield immediately, since starting corners Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore both declared early for the NFL draft. At worst, Sheffield will be expected to contribute as a top backup in 2017.

James Clark, Ohio State

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Top time: 6.73 in 60-meter dash

    A 60-meter specialist, James Clark's greatest impact in Columbus has occurred between the skinny white lines.

    He placed ninth in the finals at the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2016 and won the 2017 Buckeye Tune-Up with a personal best of 6.73 seconds.

    Clark is one of several options battling for snaps on Ohio State's unproven receiving corps, but he should at least see the field on special teams. Last year, he managed six receptions for 47 yards and also chipped in a pair of tackles.

Tony Brooks-James, Oregon

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Top time: 6.71 in 60-meter dash

    Oregon rose to football prominence by hoarding and showcasing speed. It should come as no surprise the Ducks have several players included on recent lists, and Tony Brooks-James is the latest.

    The running back has qualified for three 60-meter indoor finals and four 100-meter outdoor finals, also participating on Oregon's 4x100-meter relay team.

    Royce Freeman stands atop the depth chart, but Brooks-James has impressed in two seasons with the football team. He's accrued 1,059 rushing yards with an impressive average just shy of eight per carry, scoring a total of 13 touchdowns.

Nyheim Hines, North Carolina State

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    Top time: 6.71 in 60-meter dash

    It doesn't matter if we're talking about football or track; Nyheim Hines' career trajectory is promising.

    He's posted a pair of sixth-place finishes in 60-meter runs at the ACC Championships and been a member of a conference-winning 4x100-meter relay team.

    After a freshman season in which Hines piled up 1,419 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, he collected 43 catches for 525 yards last year. Hines also averaged 24.4 yards on 32 kick returns.

Winston Lee, Syracuse

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Top time: 6.68 in 60-meter dash

    Winston Lee walked on to the Syracuse football team, but he's doing plenty of running for the track squad.

    During the 2017 indoor season, Lee won the 60-meter at the Villanova Open, Crimson Elite and Deneault Memorial. He also finished fourth at the ACC Championships.

    Lee appeared in three games as a sophomore, making his first career tackle in the season opener. Syracuse may continue to use Lee on special teams next year.

Tyrell Johnson, Arizona

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    Top time: 6.66 in 60-meter dash

    Arizona desperately needed a running back in 2016, so the team moved Tyrell Johnson from wide receiver. He didn't occupy a massive role, but Johnson provided useful depth for the Wildcats.

    That's relatively similar to Johnson’s track career, which was brief yet successful. Two years ago, he finished fifth in the 60-meter dash at the MPSF Indoor Track and Field Championships and third in the 100-meter dash at the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships.

    Johnson averaged 5.1 yards per carry in limited work last season. In 36 career appearances, he's accumulated 1,626 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns.

Donte Jackson, LSU

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    Top time: 6.63 in 60-meter dash

    Not only is Donte Jackson the fastest player in college football, LSU's track team is benefiting from the cornerback's speed.

    In three career 60-meter finals, he’s placed third (2016 LSU Twilight), second (2017 New Mexico Classic) and eighth (2017 SEC Championships).

    He gathered 26 tackles and one interception as a freshman before earning a starting role and tallying 39 stops, two picks and eight pass breakups last year. Jackson will be an essential piece of the LSU secondary in 2017.


    Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.