With all the conferences back in action, we have seen more than 9,400 college football players log a snap in the 2020 season. Some have performed better than expectations, some have met expectations -- whether they were high or low -- and some have fallen short of expectations. Here, we are going to focus on the first bunch because who doesn't love to see unexpected breakouts?
Using PFF's advanced database and unique play-by-play grading, we ranked the top 20 breakout players of the 2020 season as we head into Week 11.
Note: This list was not formed based solely on difference in grade from 2019 to 2020. True freshmen were excluded.
1. QB Zach Wilson, BYU
2019 PFF grade: 76.2 (52nd of 140)
2020 PFF grade: 93.6 (third of 113)
It's clear that injuries hindered Wilson's success at the start of his collegiate career. He suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder in high school, which bothered him as a freshman in 2018 and resulted in surgery prior to his 2019 season. In 2019, Wilson injured his throwing hand a few weeks into the season, and that caused him to miss four games. In his nine starts, Wilson displayed requisite accuracy underneath center, but he couldn't get anything cooking downfield.
This year, however, has been a completely different story. Wilson has been pinpoint accurate to all levels of the field and has proven to be one of the best downfield passers in college football. He trails only Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence in passing grade on throws of more than 10-plus air yards and ranks first in percentage of such throws resulting in a quarterback-fault incompletion. Wilson has firmly established himself as one of the premier quarterbacks in college football.