Analysis: top 5 UNI football players so far this season

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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Another Panther football season is coming to an end as only three games remain this season.

As the No. 5 Panthers near the tail end of the season, it’s time to rank the five best Panther football players so far this season.

QB Will McElvain

First on the list, hands down is redshirt freshman quarterback Will McElvain. McElvain overcame many challenges coming into this season.

The Panthers were in need of a standout QB this season as last season it seemed difficult for one or the other QB to remain consistent throughout the season.

Nine games into the season, the Des Moines native has led the Panthers to a 6-3 record, while remaining undefeated at home. McElvain has racked up 1,948 yards through the air and 236 on the ground.  The agile QB is looking to have a bright career in the Purple and Gold the next three years after walking on to the team.

WR Isaiah Weston

Coming in at number two is wide receiver Isaiah Weston. Weston is putting up career numbers after missing last season with a torn ACL. The redshirt sophomore has already posted 924 receiving yards (sixth in the nation), including a career high of 189 against South Dakota, leading all Panthers with over 100 yards per game.

Weston, a Minneapolis native, is also making a name for himself nationally as he is ranked second in the FCS for yards per reception with 24.97. He is also tied for second nationally with ten touchdowns.

RB Tyler Hoosman

Leading the Panther rushing attack is Tyler Hoosman. In the beginning of the season, Hoosman did not see much action as the running back position was up for grabs, but he hit the ground running since he took the starting job. The Plainfield, Ill., native has improved from 205 yards last season, recording 380 yards on the ground along with four touchdowns.

DE Elerson Smith

The pass rush is led by Elerson Smith at the defensive end spot. Smith played in every game last season recording 7.5 sacks. He has seen stark improvements this season, racking up 10 sacks and 39 total tackles, 14.5 of which were for a loss.

“When you put him in the weight room, you know, he doesn’t look like a guy that’s  going to go in there and outlift [Jared] Brinkman, but there are some lifts that he is that strong,” head coach Mark Farley said. 

“He just knows how to put it all together […] his coordination and timing of leveraging people is really what makes him a different kind of player.”

DT Jared Brinkman

Anchoring the defensive line alongside Smith is Jared Brinkman. The Iowa City native totaled 31 total tackles in his first two seasons at UNI, but is looking to surpass double that by the end of the season as he currently has 54 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. 

Brinkman often flies under the radar in the middle of the D-line, but he consistently takes on double teams and still has put up six sacks so far this season.

Keep a lookout for these standouts as the fifth-ranked Panthers pursue a run to the playoffs.

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