Smith played three years at Meade High School in Maryland before moving back to his home state of South Carolina to play at Westwood High School for his senior season. The top 150 overall recruit nationally redshirted his first season with the Gamecocks (making seven tackles in three games) before starting three times in eight appearances in 2020, tying for the team lead with two interceptions despite missing two games due to injury (also posting 16 tackles and two pass breakups). Smith ranked ninth in the FBS with 1.3 passes defensed per game as a sophomore (three interceptions, 11 pass breakups), playing in 11 games with seven starts (41 tackles, 2.5 for loss) after missing fall camp because he had foot surgery. He started nine of 11 games played in 2022 (27 tackles, one for loss, one interception, five pass breakups), missing time after reportedly suffering a concussion; he also opted out of South Carolina's appearance in the Gator Bowl. -- by Chad Reuter
Devon Achane (pronounced duh-vaughn A-chain) was the Houston Touchdown Club Offensive Player of the Year as a senior at Fort Bend Marshall High School before signing with A&M. He played in eight games as a reserve his first year at College Station (43-364-8.5, four TDs rushing; 5-97-19.4, one TD receiving), topping off the season by winning the Orange Bowl Most Outstanding Player award with 140 yards and two scores on the ground in the team's win over North Carolina. Though Achane only started one of 12 games played in 2021, he led the FBS with 7.0 yards per carry and garnered the team's Offensive Skill and Most Impactful Special Teams Player Awards (130-910, nine TDs rushing; 24-261-10.9, one TD receiving; 9-301-33.4, one TD kick returns). He missed two games with a foot injury in 2022 but still led the Aggies in rushing (196-1,102-5.6, eight TDs in 10 starts) and contributed as a receiver (36-196-5.4, three TDs) and kick returner (11-312-28.4, one TD) on his way to first-team All-SEC honors as a running back and all-purpose player. Achane ran indoor and outdoor track for Texas A&M and was part of an All-American 4x100-meter relay team in 2021 and won the 60-meter dash at the 2022 Don Kirby Open (6.63 seconds). -- by Chad Reuter
Higgins started one game in his true freshman (no receptions in 12 appearances) and sophomore seasons (15-176-11.7 in six games). He then became a focus of the offense in 2021, starting nine of 10 games played (45-500-11.1, four TDs). The following year, he led the Cardinal with 59 receptions (704 yards, 11.9 per) and scored twice in 12 starts, receiving honorable mention All-Pac-12 Conference platitudes. -- by Chad Reuter
Hayes is the son of two former Central Michigan athletes -- his father, Mike, played football and his mother, Sue, is in the school's Hall of Fame as a basketball player. Hayes excelled as a two-time all-state football player, conference basketball player of the year and baseball pitcher of the year during his time at Traverse City West High School. He matriculated to Michigan, starting two of 12 games played at left tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Hayes started two games at left tackle in 2020 before starting all 14 games at that spot in 2021, garnering second-team All-Big Ten Conference accolades and helping the Wolverines' offensive line win the Joe Moore Award as the country's top unit. The line won that award again in 2022, as Hayes repeated his second-team all-conference performance starting 12 games at left tackle. -- by Chad Reuter
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