Skip to main content

Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2022 Rankings | NFL Draft 2023 Punt Returner Rankings

Ranking College Football’s best Punt Returners of the NCAA 2022-2023 season and the 2023 NFL Draft

Image

By admin | February 4, 2023

The competitive advantage of College Football can come down to one play that changes the momentum and even the potential outcome of the game.

One play that has that type of potential to flip the field position and even lead to direct points is the punt return. While all eyes are on top tier positions such as the quarterback, defensive end, safety, or wide receiver, the punt returner is one that is often overlooked.

That said, the list of the top punt returners landing on the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2023 Rankings is loaded with talent including a few stars who also are stars on either the offensive or defensive side of the football.

Headlining the list of the top punt returners in all of College Football over the course of the 2022 NCAA Football season is the Alabama Crimson Tide standout defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry.

McKinstry who was a former five-star recruit ranked among College Football’s top defensive backs as well as the best punt returner during his sophomore season.

Joining McKinstry on the list of the top punt returners include Derius Davis of the TCU Horned Frogs, Anthony Gould of the Oregon State Beavers, Eric Garror of the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns, and Nikko Remigio of the Fresno State Bulldogs. Here is a look at the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2023 Rankings.

Honorable Mention

Robert Ferrel

School: Washington State Cougars

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

Just missing the top 10 on the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Washington State Cougars senior wide receiver and punt returner Robert Ferrel.

Ferrel who is from Sparks, Nevada rounded out a solid career with the Cougars as a wide receiver while also posting two strong seasons as the team’s primary punt returner.

The Cougars senior finished the 2022 NCAA Football season with 19 punts returned from 205 yards after posting 167 yards as a sophomore last season.

Natrone Brooks

School: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

Another player just missing the top punt returners list is the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles defensive back and punt returner Natrone Brooks.

Brooks finished the 2022 NCAA Football season for the Golden Eagles ranked 10th in punt returns with 222 yards on 18 total punt returns.

In addition to those numbers, Brooks ranked 7th among all punt returners averaging 12.3 yards per return and is only one of ten players to average double digit return yards on each punt return this season.

Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football

10. Smoke Harris

School: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

NFL Draft Status: Returning to Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in 2023

Landing at number 10 on the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs punt returner and wide receiver Smoke Harris.

Harris, who is from Louisiana, has been actively busy as the team’s primary punt returner over the past two seasons posting 42 returns over that stretch to go along with 431 return yards.

This includes finishing this past season with 20 punt returns for 236 yards while finishing ranked 6th in all of College Football while averaging 12.4 yards per punt return.

9. Jeremiah Hunter

School: California Bears

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

On the offensive side of the football Jeremiah Hunter of the California Bears is as good as any wide receiver while having solid size, speed, and athletic abilities to be a pure game changer. 

That was on full display this season as the Bears junior wide receiver racked up 965 yards on 60 catches and five touchdown grabs.

However, as good as he is as a wide receiver, he is just as good as a punt returner after finishing the season ranked 9th in College Football averaging 10.7 yards per return.

In addition to the 10.7 yards per return mark, Hunter posted 19 returns for 203 yards over the course of the 2022 football season.

8. Jha’Quan Jackson

School: Tulane Green Wave

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

The Tulane Green Wave are coming off an impressive 2022 NCAA Football season that included the team picking up a key 46-45 win over the USC Trojans within the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. 

One of the team’s key weapons all season was their talented wide receiver and punt returner Jha’Quan Jackson.

Jackson, who has averaged at least 15 punts per season over the past three seasons finished with a career high 21 returns this season for 213 yards and one 90-yard punt return for a touchdown.

7. Zavion Thomas

School: Mississippi State Bulldogs

NFL Draft Status: Returning to Mississippi State Bulldogs in 2023

When it comes to talented punt returners the Mississippi State Bulldogs punt returner Zavion Thomas ranks among the tops of that list.

Thomas, who finished the season averaging the 5th most yards per punt return made the most of his returns while posting just 15 returns over 11 games this season.

The talented freshman made a key impact on the team’s special team’s performance while finishing the season with one 63-yard punt return touchdown and 202 punt return yards.

6. Devaughn Vele

School: Utah Utes

NFL Draft Status: Returning to Utah Utes in 2023

One punt returner returning to College Football in 2023 is the Utah Utes wide receiver and punt returner Devaughn Vele.

Vele, who is coming off his best season as a wide receiver, also put together a strong punt return season after taking over full time return duties during the College Football season in 2022. Vele finished the season with 26 punt returns for 246 yards while averaging 9.5 yards per punt return.

5. Nikko Remigio

School: Fresno State Bulldogs

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

Rounding out the top five punt returners on the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Fresno State Bulldogs star returner Nikko Remigio.

One of the most electric plays in football is the kick return or punt return for touchdown. One player who took not one but two punt returns for a touchdown over the course of the 2023 NCAA Football season Remigio.

The Bulldogs senior finished the season with 259 punt return yards on 13 returns while also returning those two punts for a touchdown. Remigio is one of four players to return two punt returns for a touchdown in 2022.

4. Eric Garror

School: Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

In at number four among the best punt returners in College Football is the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns standout punt returner and cornerback Eric Garror.

Garror finished the 2022 NCAA Football season ranked 3rd among all punt returners while averaging 15.1 yards per punt return on 26 total punt returns.

The Ragin Cajuns cornerback finished the season with a career high 392 punt returns while also being one of four players to return two punts for a touchdown.

Garror finishes his career with at least 20 punt returns in each of his four seasons playing College Football while also posting at least 139 yards.

3. Derius Davis

School: TCU Horned Frogs

NFL Draft Status: 2023 NFL Draft

One College Football player to land as both a top tier punt returner as well as a top tier kick returner is Derius Davis. Davis, who ranks among one of the best return specialists in all of College Football put together a stellar season for the TCU Horned Frogs in 2022.

Davis finished the season with two punt return touchdowns, 268 punt return yards, and a 14.9 average punt return mark. Davis ranks 4th among punt returners with his 14.9 mark while also ranking 4th in total punt return yards.

2. Anthony Gould

School: Oregon State Beavers

NFL Draft Status: Returning to Oregon State Beavers in 2023

The Oregon State Beavers punt return was all over the field for the team as one of the most explosive punt returners in football.

Anthony Gould, who is also a strong wide receiver, put together a solid sophomore season for the Beavers both in the passing game as well as in the return game.

Gould finished the season with 256 punt return yards on 14 punt returns while also scoring two touchdowns on those 14 punt returns.

1. Kool-Aid McKinstry

School: Alabama Crimson Tide

NFL Draft Status: Returning to Alabama Crimson Tide in 2023

In at number one on the list of the Top 10 College Football Punt Returners 2022 Rankings list is Kool-Aid McKinstry from the Alabama Crimson Tide.

McKinstry finished the 2022 season ranked 2nd in all of College Football with 332 punt return yards and 2nd in punt return yards with 15.8 yards per punt return.

The Crimson Tide punt returner also finished the season as one of the best defensive backs in all of College Football.

How would you rank the Punt Returners in the 2022-2023 BCS season? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power Rankings 

Related Links:

Leave a comment

Players Count 10
  1. Eric Garror

    Punt Ret.
  2. Nikko Remigio

    Punt Ret.
  3. Devaughn Vele

    Punt Ret.
  4. Zavion Thomas

    Punt Ret.
  5. Jha’Quan Jackson

    Punt Ret.
  6. Jeremiah Hunter

    Punt Ret.
  7. Smoke Harris

    Punt Ret.
  8. Natrone Brooks

    Punt Ret.
  9. Robert Ferrel

    Punt Ret.
  10. Kool-Aid McKinstry

    Punt Ret.
Selected Players

Top 10 NHL Black Hockey Players 2022 Rankings

“Hockey is for Everyone” In this edition of the Fan...

February 5, 2022

Top 10 NFL Outside Linebackers of All Time Rankings

The defensive side of the football is built with a...

October 20, 2021

Top 10 Outside Linebackers in NFL 2021 Rankings

When we look at outside linebackers in the NFL we...

August 27, 2021

Top 10 NFL Best Middle Linebackers of All Time Rankings

Before we get into the Best Middle Linebackers of All...

October 23, 2021

Thank you

Your email has been successfully subscribed.

Who wins between Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia

Devin Haney - 1 Votes

Ryan Garcia - 0 Votes

Total Voters: 1

Loading ... Loading ...

Mobile For an optimal experience please
rotate your device to portrait mode