November has arrived, and the Heisman Trophy race is coming into focus with quarterbacks Hendon Hooker from Tennessee and C.J. Stroud from Ohio State leading the way. In fact, every player with odds of 40-1 or better to win the Heisman, as of Tuesday at Caesars Sportsbook, has been featured at least once in the Star Power Index this season.
But the beauty of college football is that it's not just about a select handful of household names. Being a "star" in college football means taking advantage of the moment when your name is called. That is why Utah walk-on quarterback Bryson Barnes is featured this week. There are 131 FBS teams, each with 85 scholarships to hand out. But even in a sport with thousands of scholarship players, walk-ons can still find their way to prominent roles.
So, on the heels of Week 9 action and with Week 10 quickly approaching, let's take a look at who is shining brightest in college football.
The College Football Star Power Index isn't a Heisman Trophy watch list or a ranking of NIL earnings potential, nor is it an NFL mock draft. There are plenty of places to find those. This is a rundown of players who are maximizing their platform -- be it for quality performance or other reasons -- to stand out as the biggest names in the sport, whether that be just for a moment or for an entire career.
College Football Star Power Index
J.T. Tuimoloau, Ohio State defensive end
It's time to start talking about Ohio State's defense, and the conversation begins with Tuimoloau. The sophomore defensive end won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors after a ridiculous performance in the Buckeyes' 44-30 win at Penn State. He was a nightmare for Sean Clifford, sacking the Penn State QB twice and intercepting him the same amount. He stripped the football loose and recovered it on one of those sacks and returned one of the interceptions for a game-clinching touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Simply put, Tuimoloau was a one-man demolition crew in Ohio State's biggest road game of the season.
The Buckeyes rank No. 6 nationally in total defense after finishing last season tied for 59th. It's been a collective effort under first-year coordinator Jim Knowles, but Tuimoloau is the attention-grabber. As the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2021, his elite potential has long been apparent. Now, it is showing up on the field in huge moments for the Buckeyes.
Brock Bowers, Georgia tight end
Bowers isn't going to win the Heisman, but he may be the best player on the nation's No. 1 team. The sophomore tight end won SEC co-Offensive Player of the Week after racking up a career-high 154 yards receiving with a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 42-20 win over Florida. His 73-yard touchdown reception on a tip-drill play required a ridiculous combination of concentration and luck. With 31 receptions for a team-high 547 yards and three touchdowns, Bowers' numbers are solid. What sticks out, though, is his playmaking ability and versatility at a position not typically associated with outright athleticism. Bowers lines up anywhere and everywhere for the Bulldogs, and has three rushing touchdowns on his resume. He can outrun some defensive backs, go up and grab a contested pass or bulldoze defenders over the middle of the field.
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken's use of Bowers is creative and commendable, but it is fun to imagine how productive Bowers might be in a pass-happy system for a team with fewer weapons that played some closer games. There are a lot of mouths to feed on this Georgia offense and a lot of blowout victories that keep the Dawgs from needing to play their stars a crazy number of snaps. Under different circumstances, Bowers would be a Heisman contender. As it is, he is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the sport.
Quinshon Judkins, Ole Miss running back
Judkins is up to No. 10 nationally in yards rushing per game with 115.1 after shredding Texas A&M for a career-high 205 yards in Ole Miss' 31-28 road win. The freshman has surpassed 100 yards in five of the last six games while emerging as the Rebels' lead back, even with another star in Zach Evans joining him in the backfield. The only SEC running back to surpass 1,000 yards rushing faster as a freshman was Emmitt Smith in 1987.
As Kiffin pointed out in a tweet after the Texas A&M game, it makes sense now why he spent so much time pursuing Judkins, who was considered only a three-star prospect out of Pike Road High School in rural Alabama.
Bryson Barnes, Utah quarterback
Barnes introduced himself to the nation last season when he stepped in for Cameron Rising late in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl and led the Utes on a game-tying touchdown drive. Utah ultimately lost that game against Ohio State, but the experience seemed to serve Barnes well last week.
The sophomore walk-on from a pig farm in rural Beaver County, Utah, stepped in with Rising out once again and helped deliver a 21-17 victory at Washington State to keep the Utes in the Pac-12 title hunt. Barnes threw for 175 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions while also running for 51 yards as the Utes played without two of their top running backs.
Pig farms have long been undervalued as factories of Power Five quarterbacks. Perhaps Barnes' play will remove the stigma.
Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State running back
The Deuce got loose for Kansas State in a 48-0 thrashing of Oklahoma State that vaulted the Wildcats to solo possession of second-place in the Big 12 standings. Vaughn ran for 158 yards on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns -- one rushing and one receiving -- in the game. Vaughn has gone over 100 yards five times this season, and if he does so against Texas this week, will surpass 1,000 yards rushing for a second consecutive season. The elusive 5-foot-6 speedster is ridiculous in space, and is a big reason why the Wildcats have an inside track to reach the Big 12 Championship Game.