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Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2023 Rankings

Ranking the best Punt Returners in College Football for the 2023 NCAA season as Daequan Hardy of Penn State Nittany Lions leads the way


By admin | May 3, 2024

The game of football is loaded with action all over the field from the opening kickoff to each play on both sides of the football to game winning field goals. Another action-packed play that can be a game changer for any team around college football is the punt return. In a blink of an eye, the best punt returners in college football can flip field position if not take the return for a touchdown. As you look at the Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2023 Rankings list, each of these talented returners are game changers who have the talent to make a big play anytime the ball is in their hands.

One of those talented punt returners is the Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Daequan Hardy. While Hardy is a true game changer on the defensive side of the ball, his return game ranks among the best in the country while currently sitting as the only punt returner in the country with two punt return touchdowns on the season.

Other top punt returners in college football joining Hardy is Ainias Smith of the Texas A&M Aggies, Zachariah Branch of the USC Trojans, Dee Williams of the Tennessee Volunteers, and Isaiah Sategna of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Here is a look at the Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2023 Rankings:

Honorable Mention

Jacob De Jesus

School: UNLV Rebels

Position: Wide Receiver

Just missing the Top 10 NCAAF Punt Returners 2023 Rankings list is the UNLV Rebels wide receiver and punt returner Jacob De Jesus. De Jesus, who currently ranks 22nd in college football while posting 130 punt return yards, is as dynamic as any returner in the game.

Despite ranking 22nd on the season, the Rebels wide receiver has been able to rack up 130 yards on just eight total punt returns compared to the 14 of the other 21 returners who have posted at least 12 returns on the season.

Nonetheless De Jesus has been brilliant, ranking fifth among all returners with at least five punt returns while averaging 16.3 yards per return this season.

Henry Rutledge

School: Charlotte 49ers

Position: Running Back

Another talented returner is the Charlotte 49ers running back Henry Rutledge who might not get the same recognition as other top returners based on the small school he currently plays for.

Nonetheless it is hard to look past his success this season after posting 112 punt return yards on seven returns while taking one of those returns 46 yards for a touchdown.

The sophomore running back has the speed and physical tools to become one of the best returners in the country both as a punt returner as well as a kick returner. 

Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2023 Rankings

10. Tory Horton

School: Colorado State Rams

Position: Wide Receiver

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 NCAAF Punt Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Colorado State Rams talented wide receiver Tory Horton.

Horton, who is as dynamic as any wide receiver in college football, is also as talented as any returner in the country. The senior wide receiver has already posted 738 receiving yards and six touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball.

Meanwhile within the returns game, Horton has racked up 137 returns on nine attempts this season while also posting one punt return for a touchdown. This marks the second straight season the Rams returner returned a punt for a touchdown.

9. Tucker Holloway

School: Virginia Tech Hokies

Position: Wide Receiver

As you look around at the best punt returners in the country the Virginia Tech Hokies sophomore wide receiver is well worth a mention. Currently Holloway ranks sixth among returners with at least five punt returns while averaging 16 yards per return.

Despite having not returned a punt for a touchdown this season, Holloway continues to average strong returns while posting 224 return yards on 14 total punt returns this season.

As the Hokies sophomore receiver continues to build chemistry in the return game, look for him to continue to make big time returns each week.

8. Myles Price

School: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Position: Wide Receiver

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have been known for their explosive offensive attack over the years with talented playmaking wide receivers.

One of those talented receivers this season is Myles Price who has been effective in the team’s passing attack while pulling in 33 catches this season for 331 yards with four touchdown receptions.

In addition, his playmaking abilities don’t stop they’re as the senior receiver has posted 168 return yards on nine total returns this season while being nearly a step away from taking one to the end zone on each of his returns this season. 

7. Keon Coleman

School: Florida State Seminoles

Position: Wide Receiver

When you start to look around at the hottest teams in college football, the Florida State Seminoles rank among that group after rolling to seven straight wins to start the season.

One key member of the Seminoles team that continues to make plays both in the passing game as well as in the return game is the talented junior receiver Keon Coleman. Coleman, who has pulled in seven touchdown grabs to start the season, is a playmaker who has the ability to make a play anytime the football is in his hands.

This includes within the punt return game as he has racked up 174 punt return yards while ranking ninth among all returners in total return yards.

6. Cooper DeJean

School: Iowa Hawkeyes

Position: Defensive Back

Entering the last weekend of October 2023, the Iowa Hawkeyes punt returner and defensive back Cooper DeJean has ranked among the best punt returners in the game.

Over his first 18 punt returns this season, DeJean has posted 221 total yards while also returning one of those 18 punts for a touchdown.

As the season continues to roll along, look for DeJean to continue to make plays in the return game as well as on the defensive side of the football where he has posted two interceptions and three pass defenses to start the season.

5. Dee Williams

School: Tennessee Volunteers

Position: Defensive Back

Rounding out the Top 5 on the Top 10 NCAAF Punt Returners 2023 Rankings is the Tennessee Volunteers defensive back and punt returner Dee Williams.

The Volunteers senior who has handled most of the punt returning duties has been strong this season averaging 16.3 yards per return while returning one of his 12 punt returns for a touchdown. On those 12 punt returns, Williams has posted 195 yards while being a threat for the Volunteers to return a punt for a touchdown. 

4. Isaiah Sategna

School: Arkansas Razorbacks

Position: Wide Receiver

One punt returner who might not be as well-known as some of the other top punt returners is the Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver and punt returner Isaiah Sategna. Much of that has to do with Sategna being just a freshman.

The hometown wide receiver from Fayetteville, Arkansas currently ranks 12th in college football with 164 over his first 10 career punt returns of his young college football career. In addition, the talented speedy wide receiver returned his first career punt return of his young college football career.

3. Ainias Smith

School: Texas A&M Aggies

Position: Wide Receiver

The top three punt returners in all of college football are equally as impressive while having a ton of talent to make a play each time the football touches their hand.

In the end only one player can land atop the list of the best punt returners. Nonetheless the Texas A&M wide receiver currently sits second in all of college football while posting 263 punt return yards over 15 total punt returns.

In addition to the total yards, Smith also ranks second behind Zachariah Branch with a 17.5 yards per return average while also sitting tied for second with one punt return for a touchdown this season.

2. Zachariah Branch

School: USC Trojans

Position: Wide Receiver

Arriving on campus with the USC Trojans, the former five-star recruit was one of the most talked about freshman in college football this season.

As Branch slowly becomes part of the Trojans passing attack this season as well as into future seasons, the Las Vegas Nevada native has not disappointed within the return game this season while ranking among the best in the game.

The Trojans wide receiver currently leads all wide receivers while averaging 21.6 yards per return over 14 total punt returns this season. In addition, Branch also leads the country with 303 punt return yards while also adding one punt return for a touchdown. The future is bright for this talented playmaker including his potential in the NFL as a star returner.

1. Daequan Hardy

School: Penn State Nittany Lions

Position: Cornerback

In at number one on the Top 10 Best Punt Returners in College Football 2023 Rankings list Daequan Hardy of the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Hardy is as good a returner as any in college football while sitting atop as the only player in college football with two punt returns returned for a touchdown this season.

While Hardy has only seen four punts this season many teams elect to avoid punting his way which has limited his overall yards and potential for more return touchdowns. To go along with the two return touchdowns, Hardy has added 144 punt return yards and an average 36 yards per return this season. 

How would you rank the Best Punt Returners in College Football for the 2023-2024 BCS season? Rank below to be added in the NCAA Power RankingsEzoic

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