Regular season football is back! Not in the NFL mind you, but in college football.
This Saturday, the 2023 college season kicks off with ‘Week 0,’ when a handful of teams get their season started before the full start of Week 1 next weekend. This upcoming season is a big one for the sport. A number of changes, including a 12-team playoff format and significant conference realignment, will begin in 2024, making this the last season the sport will hold a certainly level of familiarity for many fans for some time.
Now, I understand all of that is lost on most people in the Sports Hub’s readership demographic. College football isn’t exactly the biggest stage to New England sports fans.
One reason people around here often say they aren’t interested in college football is they don’t have any rooting interest. It’s been over 15 years since Boston College was relevant, and UMass hasn’t won more than a single game in a season since 2018 and hasn’t been over .500 since 2010, when they were still playing at the FCS level. UConn broke a six-year bowl drought last year, and apparently nobody scrolls far enough down the scores to get to Holy Cross’ recent FCS success.
Still, there are ways to get into college football beyond the local schools. One that relates to a team I know a lot of people in the area care about – the New England Patriots.
— How Malik Cunningham is already acting like an NFL veteran
— Mac Jones speaks about ‘following’ Tom Brady in New England
— Patriots come away from chippy joint practice with Packers with multiple injuries
Every year when the NFL Draft rolls around, so many Patriots fans find themselves playing catch-up. For the many who don’t watch college football, all of the names in the draft are brand new when the NFL Combine pops on the calendar in late February.
Want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to draft talk this year (and have some fun watching football while doing it)? Simple, watch the players play in college. To help, I’ve put together a very early list of some logical Patriots draft targets I’ll be watching this season, position-by-position.
Again, this is a very early list. Draft projections mentioned will likely change over the course of the next few months, and there are some underclassmen included who could decide to go back to school (but I tried to pick players who are logical candidates to declare early). Still, as much as their performance will impact their draft stock in 2023, these are named I expect to be tied to the Patriots one way or the other leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft.
That being said, let’s start with a position we’re going to wait a little big to really dig into this year…