By the time the next EA Sports College Football Video Game is released, we’ll all be a few years older.
That’s what we found out Wednesday night when Matt Brown of Extra Points shared an internal memo from the video game company that notes the new college football game is scheduled to be released in July of 2023.
According to internal documentation from CLC that I obtained via Open Records request, the CLC told FBS institutions that EA Sports intends to release the new video game in “July of 2023”.
— Matt Brown (@MattBrownEP) March 11, 2021
Yes, that’s roughly 2.5 years from now, though after the February announcement that the game would be returning, that seems like something worth waiting for. By the time 2023 rolls around, it will have been 10 years since EA Sports released a college football video game. Michigan QB Denard Robinson was on the cover when the 2014 version of the game was released in the summer of 2013.
There’s a chance that when it’s released in 2023, it’ll be a group of college stars like Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson and others who grace the cover after they never got that opportunity. What remains to be seen with the potential name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation changes is whether a current college athlete could grace the cover instead of one who already left for the NFL.
According to The Athletic, the list of schools that will not participate in the return of the game is:
That list could grow. Perhaps those schools change their stances. Whatever the case, we’ll eliminate those schools from the discussion today, which is: Who will be on the cover when the game returns?
Let’s assume that it would need to be a player who already left the college ranks. Yeah, that rules out Arch Manning. I know. Crazy it is to think that Manning won’t be eligible to declare for the NFL Draft until 2026. He’ll actually be an incoming freshman if the game is released in July of 2023 as Brown reported.
The bizarre thing is if it were open to college players, the youngest a potential cover guy (for the 2023 release) would be someone who is currently a sophomore, and they’d have to be a 5th-year senior. Basically, it would be like Mayfield going into 2017.
But most likely is that someone who enrolled in 2020 will be featured on the cover. That means the next cover guy could very well be someone who just finished their freshman season. Someone like Spencer Rattler or Sam Howell wouldn’t make sense because if they enter the 2022 NFL Draft, they’ll be over a year removed from playing college ball. If those guys stay for the 2022 season? They suddenly vault to the top of the list.
For now, though, these are the most likely candidates to grace the cover of the 2023 game:
There’s a chance that if there was a 2015 version of the game (released in 2014) that A.J. McCarron would’ve been on the cover. Well, who are we kidding? Johnny Manziel would’ve been the guy. And if there were a 2021 version of the game (released in 2020), it seems likely that Tua Tagovailoa would’ve had a chance but Burrow would’ve been more likely to make the cover. For all we know, Mac Jones could’ve been the guy with a 2022 game (released in 2021).
Why do I bring that up? Because there’s an alternate universe in which Young could’ve been yet another Alabama quarterback gracing the cover. Instead, he’d be the first Alabama quarterback to ever get that honor. Mark Ingram was on the cover in 2012, and Shaun Alexander was that guy in 2001, but Young would be the first Crimson Tide signal-caller to do that.
He’s as good a candidate as any because of when he enrolled (2020) and when he’d be draft-eligible (2023). Had Steve Sarkisian stuck around, Young would be an even more obvious name. Of course, it’s hard to say someone without a college start is an obvious choice to be the face of the sport, essentially. But clearly, the potential of the rocket-armed signal-caller isn’t lacking.
Bryce Young was the top QB recruit in the country last year.
He just threw his first collegiate TD pass 💪 @_bryce_young @AlabamaFTBL
(via @SECNetwork) pic.twitter.com/r6pr4Sczzl
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 21, 2020
Young has a ways to go compared to some of the other more established players on this list. Nobody would be surprised to see him become a star for the next 2 years en route to a video game cover.
This is admittedly where the list starts. Uiagalelei makes the most sense given what we saw from him in relief of Trevor Lawrence as a true freshman. There’s a reason he’s already getting Heisman Trophy buzz. In those 2 starts while Lawrence was sidelined with a positive COVID result, Uiagalelei averaged 391 passing yards on 9.2 yards per attempt. Like fellow 5-star 2020 quarterback Young, the potential for Uiagalelei is through the roof.
He has 2 years to cement himself as one of the household names in the sport. While the masses might continue to butcher his last name like Tagovailoa, he could still become a 2-time All-American, Heisman winner and first-round draft pick with a face as recognizable as any in the sport. That’s cover stuff.
You had me at “Ryan Day’s starting quarterback.” So far, that’s been a pretty solid thing. Go ask Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields, who put up arguably the 2 best individual seasons for a quarterback in Big Ten history. Stroud isn’t a lock to win the starting job with Jack Miller and Kyle McCord also vying for the opportunity to replace Fields.
But there’s a reason Stroud was added as the second quarterback in the Buckeyes’ 2020 class. He took off at Elite 11, and his national ranking soared from 3-star recruit to nearly 5-star status. Like with the 2 other elite 2020 quarterback recruits on this list, the experience so far is limited. Stroud played 8 snaps in 3 games as a true freshman during a bizarre 2020 season. That did include this impressive 48-yard touchdown run against Michigan State:
Hello, C.J. Stroud pic.twitter.com/nN10btRyNG
— Buckeye Sports Bulletin (@Buckeye_Sports) December 5, 2020
Despite that display, Stroud is by no means Kyler Murray as a runner. He wasn’t a dual-threat guy as a recruit, but it’s not as if the mobility isn’t lacking. It’s worth noting that the past 3 quarterbacks to make the cover were all dual-threat guys (Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin III, Denard Robinson). Stroud’s best path to getting that honor is still likely the same as it is for all of Day’s quarterbacks — throw for a bunch of yards, win a bunch of games and become an obvious first-round pick.
Ah, yes. We’ve reached the running back portion of the column. If you’re going to be a running back on a video game cover, you need that home run ability. Robinson has that in spades:
Bijan Robinson 75 YARDS TO THE CRIB 💨
7 carries | 140 yards | 3 TDs for the freshman RB and the second half JUST started 💰@Bijan5Robinson (via @CFBONFOX) pic.twitter.com/M9DZf6zmTN
— Overtime (@overtime) December 5, 2020
Say what you want about Texas in the final year of the Tom Herman era. Robinson wasn’t responsible for the Longhorns’ shortcomings. All the guy did was average 8 yards a carry, and in his final 2 games, he racked up 443 scrimmage yards. No big deal. Just a true freshman looking like a 2020 version of Ricky Williams.
Speaking of Williams, he graced the cover back in the day. Robinson is now entering a sophomore season in which his coach is the guy who dialed up all sorts of looks for All-American Najee Harris. Robinson has that kind of upside in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. He should be a household name by the end of … this sentence?
I mean, how perfect would it be if after a decade without the best video game there is, EA Sports returned with a cover guy named “Tank Bigsby.” That sounds like one of those created players. Bigsby, in many ways, is exactly how you’d mold an SEC back. He’s hell to bring down, he can run inside and outside the tackles, and he’s dangerous when he gets to the second level. Pro Football Focus tabbed Bigsby as the No. 1 returning back in America.
Oh, and even they agreed he’s a created player:
Tank Bigsby is a created player in NCAA 14
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) October 10, 2020
As I’ve written throughout the offseason, Bigsby is now getting coached by Mike Bobo, who just drew up the offense that produced Kevin Harris’ breakout season at South Carolina. That was in a 1-dimensional offense that begged for loaded defensive fronts. Even if Bigsby sees loaded defensive fronts in his next 2 years on The Plains, he’s still in position to become a national star.
The Auburn coaching staff raved about him as a true freshman, and they even went so far as to say that they thought he had Heisman Trophy potential. It’s a new coaching staff, but Bigsby is still capable of being that dude in his new offense.
Even casual fans will know the name “Tank Bigsby” for years to come.
I’m one of those people who sets the bar extremely low for receivers making that transition to the next level. Like, when a rookie receiver goes off in the NFL, I’m blown away. The same goes for a college freshman wideout. It’s such a skill-based position, with all the intricacies of getting separation against corners who are bigger, stronger and faster.
That’s my way of saying I was darn impressed with what Boutte did as a true freshman, especially down the stretch. There’s no denying the connection he had with Max Johnson, but no matter who his quarterback is, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he became the next great LSU receiver (that’s actually a thing now). He should have multiple 1,000-yard seasons in his future.
To be a receiver on the cover, you truly have to be dominant. Here’s the list of receivers who cracked the cover:
That’s a darn good list. Boutte would probably need to become a 2-time All-American and win the Biletnikoff as a junior before going into the NFL Draft to be considered.
But I wouldn’t rule that out.
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If the EA Sports College Football Video Game is released in 2023, these 5 (current) players could be on the… – Saturday Down South
By the time the next EA Sports College Football Video Game is released, we’ll all be a few years older.