The college football season begins on Sept. 2 for 12 of the 13 FBS teams in the state of Texas. The lone exception in the Lone Star State is UTEP, which face Jacksonville State in Week 0 to begin Conference USA play.
As we approach the start of another season, we’ll countdown the 50-most important players in college football. We’ll go one-by-one until Sept. 1 as we enter the top 20.
No. 7: SMU QB Preston Stone
A four-star recruit from Parish Episcopal in Dallas, Stone spurned Power Five offers to stay close to home and help the Mustangs return to national prominence. He committed in the 2021 cycle as a national top 150 player and one of the top 15 quarterbacks in the country. While at Episcopal, Stone won back-to-back TAPPS Division I State Championships. He posted over 13,000 career passing yards and 145 touchdowns as a prep star.
Stone took a redshirt in 2021, seeing action in three games. He played in six games last year, including one start before an injury ended his campaign. Stone was 28 of 48 for 388 yards and two scores through the air. He also added 63 yards and two rushing touchdowns on the ground.
Stone was recruited by now head coach Rhett Lashlee when he was the offensive coordinator for Sonny Dykes. In 2023, Lashlee finally gets to unleash his protegee onto the American Athletic Conference. SMU likes to throw the football – a lot. The Mustangs ranked seventh in the nation and first in the state of Texas at the FBS ranks with 316.7 yards passing per game in 2022. They were 10th in the nation with 513 passing attempts. Stone is the unquestioned QB1 heading into 2023 and it is up to him to lead the offense.
SMU is poised for a big 2023 season. The new-look AAC is wide open, and the Mustangs don’t play the two betting favorites – Tulane and UTSA – in the regular season. A 10-win regular season is possible, which is something SMU has only accomplished once (2019) since the Death Penalty in the early 1980s. Stone’s ability to step in for Tanner Mordecai and continue the success through the air is crucial for SMU’s success. The offense is also without leading receiver Rashee Rice, who is now in the NFL, so Stone has his work cut out for him.
Previous: No. 8, Houston WR Matthew Golden
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