Week 3 of the college football season produced star performances from players across the country as the characters and storylines of the 2022 campaign continued to emerge amid another crazy weekend of action. Some who shined on the big stage this past week could turn out to be one-hit wonders, but there were also some familiar faces and potential Heisman Trophy candidates who stood out on the big stage.
One of the beauties of the sport is its wide breadth of characters; that gamut runs from five-star prospects who are locks to be selected in the NFL Draft to former walk-ons and transfers who are making the most of whatever opportunities they could find. Things were no different this past week as a diverse group of players stole the show in big victories for their teams.
As the season progresses into late September, we're revisiting the Star Power Index for the second time this season to see who is shining the brightest. This isn't a Heisman Trophy watch list or a ranking of earnings potential based on players' name, image and likeness, nor is it an NFL mock draft. There are plenty of places to find those things.
This is a rundown of players who are maximizing their platform -- be it for quality performance or other reasons -- to stand out as stars in the sport.
College Football Star Power Index
Samson Evans, Eastern Michigan running back
Samson Evans logged no statistics in his first two seasons at Iowa while struggling to find the field as a reserve running back and receiver. Over the past two seasons at Eastern Michigan, the former three-star prospect played as a backup and finished the 2021 season as the Eagles' third-leading rusher. On Saturday, the fifth-year player turned in a breakout performance for the ages as EMU stunned Arizona State 30-21 to usher in the end of Herm Edwards' tenure at ASU. Evans tallied 258 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries as he surpassed 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
Notebook: On a night when ASU was a presumptively strong favorite to control the line of scrimmage, Eastern Michigan’s Samson Evans bum-rushed his way to a career-high 258 yards on the ground behind a dominant offensive line performance.— Noah Furtado (@_noahfurtado) September 18, 2022
The breakdown:https://t.co/QUVJV5zB3L pic.twitter.com/9crThOaWSK
Michael Penix Jr., Washington quarterback
It was fair to wonder if the Indiana transfer had much left in the tank after a series of injuries derailed his once-promising run in the Big Ten. Through three games, however, the 2022 season is tracking to be the best of Penix's five-year career. His 397 yards and four touchdowns in the Huskies 39-28 win over Michigan State on Saturday earned him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors and vaulted Washington to No. 18 in the AP Top 25. Reuniting with former Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, who is now in his first season as Huskies head coach, appears to have unlocked the greatness seen in Penix's game earlier in his career. Washington does not play USC in the regular season, meaning last week's win over the Spartans may go down as the Huskies' most-watched game of the season -- and Penix delivered on the big stage.
His name is Michael Penix Jr. He is him.— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) September 18, 2022
📱 https://t.co/MyEI9vbxPJ@UW_Football | #Pac12FB pic.twitter.com/aeVue6lM3b
Nick Singleton, Penn State running back
In a narrow 28-20 win over Auburn last season, Penn State won in spite of its running game as the Nittany Lions totaled just 84 yards on the ground while their top back was held to 2.4 yards per carry. In last week's rematch at Auburn, the Nittany Lions won because of their ground game, racking up 245 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a 41-12 statement victory. Five-star freshman Nick Singleton led the attack with 124 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries, which included a 53-yarder (seen below) and a 38-yard scoring run that slammed the door on Auburn in the fourth quarter. His 334 rushing yards for the season are the most for any PSU running back through three games since Larry Johnson in 2002. The Nittany Lions ranked 118th in rushing offense last season, but with Singleton playing at this level, Penn State is going to look a lot more like the program that won 11 games three times in a four-year span between 2016-19 than the one that struggled to an 11-11 record over the past two years.
True freshman Nick Singleton after this 54-yard TD:— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 17, 2022
2 TD pic.twitter.com/f0x2ozmuq9
Anthony Richardson, Florida quarterback
Richardson appeared in this season's debut Star Power Index after his heroic performance in Florida's season-opening win over then-No. 7 Utah. Now, two weeks later, he's registering on the SPI for unflattering reasons after struggling in UF's loss to Kentucky in Week 2 and last week's ugly 31-28 win over South Florida. The redshirt sophomore is 24 of 53 for 255 yards with four interceptions and no touchdown passes in the last two games, and the spotlight is about to get bright again. The No. 20 Gators play at No. 11 Tennessee in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week on Saturday, and Richardson will be huge part of the game's narrative, for better or worse. His talent is obvious, and few players are more important to the success of a nationally relevant team than Richardson. Which direction it goes from here will be among the SEC's top storylines in the weeks to come.
Johnny Wilson, Florida State wide receiver
Florida State faces a long road ahead with five of its final nine games against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25. But the Seminoles are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2015 largely because of Johnny Wilson's emergence at receiver. The 6-foot-7 Arizona State transfer flashed his breakout potential with four catches for 111 yards in FSU's first two games, but Wilson truly emerged as a hero on Friday night with seven grabs for 149 yards and two scores as the injury-decimated Seminoles gutted out a 35-31 win at Louisville. Wilson corralled a game-tying score early in the fourth quarter and put the Seminoles ahead for good a few minutes later with a ridiculous, toe-tapping touchdown grab in the back corner of the end zone. Both scores came from the arm of backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who had supreme confidence in Wilson's ability. In three games, Wilson has nearly surpassed his yardage total from two seasons at ASU.
JOHNNY WILSON, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/Uk5UIghbGg— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 17, 2022
Brock Bowers, Georgia tight end
It's unfair to Brock Bowers that he won't be eligible for the NFL Draft until 2024. No. 1 Georgia's sophomore tight end probably would have been ready after his standout freshman campaign, and he's already proving to be unstoppable in his second college season. Not only did the Bulldogs use him as a traditional target in the receiving game during a 48-7 win at South Carolina, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken deployed him as an athlete in the open field on jet sweep pitches and a reverse touchdown run. Bowers totaled three touchdowns -- two receiving and one rushing. Bowers' 6-yard touchdown grab over Gamecocks defensive back O'Donnell Fortune with 11:25 left in the second quarter required a ridiculous combination of hands, athleticism and coordination. It also put Georgia up 21-0 and removed any doubt that the Dawgs were on their way to a convincing victory.
𝐏𝐒𝐀 🗣— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) September 17, 2022
Brock Bowers is 𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒆 👏@GeorgiaFootball x @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/WnXLnn8Xe8
Will Anderson Jr., Alabama linebacker
To win the Heisman as a defensive player, you're going to need a few lucky breaks and a couple of big-time highlights that can help you separate from the pack. Alabama EDGE rusher Will Anderson cashed in on both fronts in the Crimson Tide's 63-7 rout of Louisiana-Monroe last week as he scored the first touchdown of his career. Anderson pulled down a deflected Charlie Rodgers pass and rumbled 25 yards for the score that put the Crimson Tide ahead 14-0. In reality, the play required little high-level skill. But in practicality, it caught the nation's attention during a game that otherwise might have gone entirely overlooekd as Alabama enjoyed a drama-free day. Expect to see Anderson's pick six highlight multiple times this season.
TAKE IT TO THE 🏡— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) September 17, 2022