2023 Independent Team: Who is Back/ Who is Lost for 2024?

The deadline for players declaring for the NFL draft is complete. The Portal is closed. Freshmen signing days are over. I have gone thru the roster of every All-Star game and noted all the players that are playing and marked them as gone. I am a little over two months into this year’s magazine which is a 6.5-month process. By the time I finish talking to the coaches I will have every player move captured. The extra Covid year is still the wild card here. Every player with college eligibility is not necessarily going to return as some will just leave football. Each of my All-conference blogs highlights the players that are coming back and the players not highlighted are gone. There is a slight chance that I missed on a player or two coming or going. If you look over this list and know that someone I have marked as returning is gone or vice versa, please either tweet at me @philsteele042 or mail Todd@philsteele.com. This is in preparation for the page 28 of the magazine which is the All-Conference points returning and lost. With that said here is the Independents List of my All Conference players from last year and which ones are returning and which ones are gone.

The list of Independent teams becomes smaller every year. Last year it was down to just four teams and this year Army moves to the American Conference so there are only three current independent teams. You may be too young to remember but in 1980 there were actually 30 teams that were classified as Independents. At the end of 1980 Pitt was #2 AP, Florida St was #5, Penn State was #8, Notre Dame was #9 and Miami Florida was #18. Some of the other Independent teams were Southern Miss (9-3), Navy (8-4), South Carolina (8-4), Virginia Tech (8-4), Boston College (7-4), Rutgers (7-4), Tulane (7-5), West Virginia (6-6), Louisville (5-6), Syracuse (5-6) and Georgia Tech (1-9-1, yes they had ties back then).

There are 60 players who earned all Independent last year and 29 of the 60 return so just one away from 50%. Naturally Notre Dame dominates the list with 24 players, and they return 12 of the 24. UConn and UMass both earned positive points at +14 with UConn having 8 of 14 back and UMass 6 of 10. These numbers may change by the time the magazine goes to the press in June.

Here is this year’s list and the players that are highlighted in yellow are the players returning and if they are not highlighted then they are gone.

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