|Ed Szczepanski / USA TODAY Sports|
|Stanford OLB Trent Murphy (left) and DE Ben Gardner (right) have made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks.|
College football has been overtaken by the spread offense. This has led to many fans around the country believing that "physical football" is a thing of the past. That is a false conclusion.
While the pace, formations and play diagrams have changed over the years, college football is still a physical game, played by physical players. I've spent some time identifying the five most physical players in college football. Before you ask, no, I didn't forget about Jadeveon Clowney. I can assure you he will be at the top of my list of the five most explosive players in college football. Stay tuned for that one.
In the meantime, here are the five most physical players in college football today:
Florida OG Jon Halapio
Halapio is a nasty football player, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. He has outstanding upper and lower strength and he is a violent finisher. In the run game, he locks on with his powerful hands and uses his leg-drive to wash defenders down the line of scrimmage before depositing them on the ground. In the pass game, he loves to utilize the snatch move. He sets wide, grabs the defender's chest and pulls them face first into the ground. He has the ideal temperament for an interior offensive lineman.
Georgia RB Todd Gurley
Gurley has enormous size and is an extremely violent running back. His size, combined with his excellent speed, pad level and leg drive allow him to plow through tacklers on a consistent basis. The scary thing is, he was only a freshman in 2012 and figures to get much stronger and even more physical in 2013.
Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III
Nix is an ideal 3-4 nose tackle because of his body type and power base. His physicality is best displayed when he utilizes his bull rush in the passing game. He shoots his hands quickly and puts his opponent on skates, consistently pushing them right into the lap of the quarterback. He's also a very physical run defender. He's capable of dominating a single defender or holding his ground vs. a double-team.
Top senior guards/centersGil Brandt rates Baylor's Cyril Richardson among the top senior interior offensive linemen in college football.
Baylor OG Cyril Richardson
Richardson plays a very physical brand of football in a Baylor offense that is often identified as a "finesse" system. He weighs more than 340 pounds and uses that size and power to maul defenders in the run game. He has unbelievably strong hands to torque and turn defenders at the point of attack. He also does a nice job of running his feet after his initial contact, which allows him to create a lot of movement at the line of scrimmage. He has a very firm, powerful base in pass protection.
Stanford DE Ben Gardner and OLB Trent Murphy
Gardner and Murphy lead one of the most physical defensive squads in all of college football. They are both violent and powerful defenders. Gardner plays much bigger than his listed weight of 275 pounds. He uses a nasty punch to jolt offensive linemen before aggressively shedding and getting to the football. Murphy uses a multitude of physical moves to consistently annihilate tight ends in both the run and pass game. A few of his favorites: grab/pull, chop or pure bull rush.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.