College Stars Become an Instant Hit in 2023


Caleb Williams, Zachariah Branch, Quinn Ewers and Michael Penix Jr. have been nothing short of marvelous for their respective programs during the early weeks of the 2023 college football season. Their dominant performances are highlighted with cards in the Panini Instant collection.

In Southern California, Williams and Branch have put on start-studded efforts for USC in the opening phase of the season.

The dynamic duo absolutely showed out in the Trojans’ season-opening win over San Jose State. Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, came out firing with four touchdown passes. Branch, the five-star freshman, introduced his versatility to the college football world with 58 receiving yards, a touchdown grab and an electric 96-yard kickoff return for a TD in his first game.

USC’s star quarterback kept things rolling the next week by torching Nevada for 319 yards and five touchdowns, the first on a hookup with Branch.

Then Stanford had trouble stopping the Trojans’ terrific tandem. Williams was absolutely surgical, completing 19-of-21 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Branch continued to reinforce his status as a legit threat on special teams with a 75-yard punt-return touchdown, giving him at least one score in each of his first three outings. His play earned him Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Williams currently has 878 aerial yards, 12 touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 78.6 percent of his passes. He also found the end zone once with his legs.

In Austin, Ewers is cooking up something special. The Texas sophomore quarterback burned Rice with 260 passing yards, three touchdowns and a rushing score in Week 1. In Week 2, the dazzling field general went off for 349 yards and three touchdowns to help the Longhorns pull off a shocker, a 34-24 upset over No. 3 Alabama on the road.

His performance against the Crimson Tide caught the attention of the whole college football landscape and earned him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, the Maxwell Player of the Week, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback of the Week and the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week.

His 609 yards and six touchdown tosses in two weeks have him in the early conversations for the Heisman, and Longhorns fans are believing this is their year.

Penix has been sensational in Seattle for Washington. The star signal-caller opened the season with a 450-yard, five-touchdown outing to lead the Huskies to a 56-18 win over Boise State. He followed by hitting Tulsa for 409 yards and three touchdowns in a 43-10 rout.

As a 2022 junior, he broke into the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy vote. With two extraordinary performances to start the 2023 season, Penix is well on his way to earning an invite to New York as a finalist.

As these four young stars continue to rock the college football landscape, be on the lookout — we should see more of them in the Panini Instant collection soon.

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