Category Archives: Pigskin Paul

PIGSKIN’S 2016 NFL ALL-ROOKIE ROSTER

The regular season is all but over and it’s time, IMO, to take a look back at the Rookies who stood out in 2016 around the NFL.Not just a starting lineup, but an actual roster of top first year men. I fact, I’d go so far as to say I’d like to see this roster face off in the Pro Bowl against a roster of vets.

QB DAK PRESCOTT/DALLAS, CARSON WENTZ/PHILLY
RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT/DALLAS, JORDAN HOWARD/CHI, ROB KELLEY/WASH
FB DEREK WATT/SD
WR MIKE THOMAS/NO, STERLING SHEPARD/NYG, TAJAE SHARP/TENN
TE HUNTER HENRY/SD, TYLER HIGBEE/LAR
OL JACK CONKLIN/TENN, TAYLOR DECKER/DET, GRAHAM GLASGOW/DET, JOE HAEG/INDY, RONNIE STANLEY/BALT, JOE THUNEY/NE, LAREMY TUNSIL/MIA, CODY WHITEHAIR/CHI

DL JOEY BOSA/SD, JAVON HARGRAVE/PITT, CHRIS JONES/KC, YANNICK NGAKOUE/JAX, NOAH SPENCE/TB, JIHAD WARD/OAK, ADOLPHUS WASHINGTON/BUF
LB DeVONDRE CAMPBELL/ATL, DEION JONES/ATL, DARRON LEE/NYJ, BLAKE MARTINEZ/GB
CB JAMES BRADBERRY/CARO, VERNON HARGREAVES/TB, JALEN RAMSEY/JAX, TAVON YOUNG/BALT
S SEAN DAVIS/PITT, KEANU NEAL/ATL, JUSTIN SIMMONS/DEN

P RILEY DIXON/DEN, DREW KASER/SD
K WILL LUTZ/NO
RS TYREEK HILL/KC

Head Coach ADAM GASE/MIA

Overall Rookie of the Year: DAK PRESCOTT/QB/COWBOYS!

BOWL WATCH Dec. 30th

Rolling along toward the big time games we come across out first real match up in the Orange Bowl, but first let’s check everything on the 30th.

GEORGIA (7-5) Vs. Texas Christian (6-6); LIBERTY BOWL; NOON PM ET; ESPN … Somewhat down years for both programs in 2016. But both teams have solid talent and look to be better in 2017. The future for UGA begins with Frosh QB/JACOB EASON #10, who is clearly the best QB in Athens since MATTHEW STAFFORD. Expect UGA to pound the ball with the best pair of RB in college ball, who should be reasonably healthy for this contest: NICK CHUBB/#27 & SONY MICHEL #1. Can a very young Defense handle a dynamic TCU Offense? The TCU O improved as the season progressed with transfer KENNY HILL #7 at QB. On D watch for the Horned Frogs senior bookend DE CARRAWAY & McFARLAND, who can both pass rush and drop into zone coverage to confuse a young QB like EASON. Players to watch:

GEORGIA                                                                                TEXAS CHRISTIAN
#20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200                                         #21 KYLE HICKS/RB 5’10/200 JR
#54 BRANDON KUBENOW/OC 6’3/296                              #30 DENZEL JOHNSON/S 6’2/205
#72 TYLER CATALINA/OT 6’5/303                                       #40 JAMES McFARLAND/DE 6’3/255
#73 GREG PYKE/OT 6’6/313                                                   #94 JOSH CARRAWAY/DE 6’4/250

NORTH CAROLINA (8-4) Vs. STANFORD (9-3); SUN Bowl; 2 PM ET; CBS … Look it’s an actual bowl game that is not on an ESPN Network station. Pretty amazing ain’t it. And it should actually be a pretty good quality game with lots of pro prospects to watch. UNC is led by QB/MITCH TRUBISKY, who some think will be the first QB drafted if he declares for the 2017 Draft. Lack of a top notch QB is actually the key issue that kept Stanford from making more noise in the PAC-12 this past season. Sad note is that CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY is bypassing this one to get ready for Combine and NFL Draft. Based on his absence I’d put my $ on the Tar Heels if i was a betting man. UNC will try to open this up into a track meet, while Stanford will attempt to play smash-mouth on both sides of the ball. Players to watch:

NORTH CAROLINA                                                             STANFORD
#2 DES LAWRENCE/CB 6’1/185                                             #3 MICHAEL RECTOR/WR 6’1/185
#3 RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS 5’10/185                                  #10 ZACH HOFFPAUIR/S 6’1/197 ?INJ
#10 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB 6’3/220 JR                               #24 DALLAS LLOYD/SS 6’2/213
#71 JON HECK/OT 6’6/300                                                    #34 PETE KALAMBAYA/OLB 6’3/245
#68 LUKE CROWLEY/OC 6’3/290                                        #57 JOHNNY CASPERS/OG 6’4/296
#84 BUG HOWARD/WR 6’5/210                                           #99 LUKE KAUMATULA/DE 6’7/295
#90 NAZAIR JONES/DT 6’5/295 RSO

TENNESSEE (8-4) Vs. NEBRASKA (9-3); MUSIC CITY Bowl; 3:30 PM ET; ESPN … Another interesting match-up of contrasting styles of play. The Huskers like to play D and run the clock with a balanced offense which eventually relies on pounding the rock and shortening the game. The VOLS have been defensively challenged and that has cost them some late game comebacks by opponents. In their defense the VOLS have been plagued by injuries all over the roster. QB DOBBS could decide this contest with a clutch late drive. Keep your eyes peeled for
#6 KAMARA, who is a human highlight film with the ball in his hands. Many Tennessee followers expect him to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. Expect the VOLS to win a tight contest. Players to watch:

TENNESSEE                                                                          NEBRASKA
#6 ALVIN KAMARA/RB 5’10/215 JR                                    #1 JORDAN WESTERKAMP/WR 6’0/200
#9 DEREK BARNETT/DE/ER 6’3/257 JR                          #11 CATHAN CARTER/TE 6’4/240
#11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207                                         #25 NATE GERRY/SS 6’2/210 ?INJ
#23 CAMERON SUTTON/CB 5’11/186                                 #34 TERRELL NEWBY/RB 5-10/200
#24 TODD KELLY/FS 5’11/208 JR                                       #52 JOSH BANDERAS/LB 6’3/240
#50 COREY VEREEN/DE 6’2/249                                       #55 KEVIN MAURICE/DT 6’5/300

SOUTH ALABAMA (6-6) Vs. AIR FORCE (9-3); ARIZONA Bowl; 5:30 PM ET; NO NATIONAL TV … Welcome to the Nothing Bowl that you might have to watch on your laptop, tablet or phone…. if you care. These are two competitive teams and it may actually be a tight battle, but I look for the Falcons to soar. NO. 8 for the AIR FORCE gets my NAME OF THE YEAR.

SOUTH ALABAMA                                                            AIR FORCE
#12 GERALD EVERETT/TE 6’4/240                                  #8 WESTON STEELHAMMER/SS 6’2/200
#72 CURTIS WILLIAMS/OT 6’5/308                                 #9 KALEN ROBINETTE/WR 6’4/215

MICHIGAN (10-2) Vs. FLORIDA STATE (9-3); ORANGE BOWL; 8 PM ET; ESPN … Now for the feature bout of the evening! Both teams had their moments in the sun, as well as some letdown games. Two of the best players in the country will be featured on he field at the same time in this contest. With FSU on Offense RB/DALVIN COOK WILL lead the charge, while All-Athlete JABRILL PEPPERS/OLB #5 tries to contain him. FSU is it’s usual wide open O, while MICHIGAN under HC HARBAUGH tries to pound his opponents into the ground. The amount of talent on the field at any given time will be overwhelming to your eyeballs. This is a nail-biter toss up contest in my eyes. South Florida will be rocking on this evening. Players to watch:

MICHIGAN                                                                         FLORIDA STATE
#4 DE’VEON SMITH/RB 5’11/228                                      #4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR
#5 JABRILL PEPPERS/OLB 6’1/208 RSO                       #15 TRAVIS RUDOLPH/WR 6’1/190 JR
#26 JOURDAN LEWIS/CB 5’10/175                                 #18 RO’DERRICK HOSKINS/ILB 6’2/245
#33 TACO CHARLTON/DE 6’6/285                                 #27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’0/181
#43 CHRIS WORMLEY/DL 6’5/303                                #29 NATE ANDREWS/S 6’0/210 INJ
#78 ERIC MAGNUSON/OT 6’6/305                                 #44 DeMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/273
#82 AMARA DARKWA/WR 6’2/215                                 #72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330
#86 JEHU CHESSON/WR 6’3/200                                  #77 RODERICK JOHNSON/OT 6’7/307 JR
#88 JAKE BUTT/TE 6’6/250

BOWL WATCH; WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28th

PITTSBURGH (8-4) Vs. NORTHWESTERN (6-6); PINSTRIPE Bowl; 2 PM ET; ESPN … The Wildcats are a feisty bunch under HC PAT FITZGERALD. They started the season slowly, but played some really solid ball to end the year at .500. The play a bit of Offense and a bunch of Defense. But they are likely to be outclassed in this contest by a PITT team that has rolled up points in bunches, especially late in the season. Comeback POY JAMES CONNER has improved steadily all season and earned himself a /RB/# returned from his victory over cancer to excel both as a runner and receiver. He has already declared his intention to go pro after this game. Meanwhile senior QB/PETERMAN #4 has improved all season and even got an invite to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. I expect the Wildcats to hang with the Panthers for a while, but are likely to pull away in the second half. Players to watch:

PITTSBURGH                                                                   NORTHWESTERN
#5 EJUAN PRICE/DE/ER 6’0/250                                    #90 C.J. ROBBINS/DE 6’5/300
#24 JAMES CONNER/RB 6’2/230 JR                                #7 IFEADI ODENIGBO/DE 6’3/250
#53 DORIAN JOHNSON/OG 6’5/300                                #1 ANTHONY WALKER/LB 6’1/235 JR
#54 TYQUAN JARRETT/DT 6’3/335                                #21 JUSTIN JACKSON/RB 5’11/190 JR
#69 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT 6’6/300                              #76 ERIC OLSON/OT 6’6/295
#83 SCOTT ORNDOFF/TE 6’5/265                                   #80 AUSTIN CARR/WR 6’1/195
#4 NATHAN PETERMAN/QB 6’2/225

WEST VIRGINIA (10-2) Vs. MIAMI (F) (8-4); RUSSELL ATHLETIC Bowl; 5:30 PM ET; ESPN …  The Mountaineers are probably the most under-appreciated teams in the country, with their double digit win total. THat may be due in large part to laying an egg, at home, in their big game with Oklahoma on their home field.But the team is well balanced and may have most of their RB group healthy for this contest. Their OL is very solid with several pro prospects as you will see below. Their D has also shined at times and is led by their pro prospect CB/RASUL DOUGLAS. MIAMI may be playing with BRAD KAAYA @ QB for the final time. He’s started since Day 1 as a frosh, and would be a Top 4 QB prospect if he comes out early. He and STACY COLEY/WR are a dynamic duo. WVU looks to have the depth and talent to prevail in the long haul. Players to watch:

WEST VIRGINIA                                                              MIAMI
#6 DAIKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205                                     #2 JOE YEARBY/RB 5’9/207 JR
#7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’10/215                                         #3 STACY COLEY/WR 6’1/195
#13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208                                    #6 JAMAL CARTER/S 6’1/209
#49 DARIEN HOWARD/DT 6’1/300                                 #15 BRAD KAAYA/QB 6’4/210 JR
#57 ADAM PANKEY/OG 6’5/315                                        #26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS/S 6’2/208
#65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295                                    #29 CORN ELDER/CB 5’10/178
#97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275                          #63 DANNY ISADORA/OG 6’4/310
…                                                                                                  #86 DAVID NJOKU/TE/6’4/245/RSO

UTAH (8-4) Vs. INDIANA (6-6); FOSTER FARMS Bowl; 8:30 PM ET; ESPN … This one looks like a major mismatch on paper. The talent advantage clearly goes to the UTES, and on top of that INDIANA HC KEVIN WILSON was forced to resign by the school administration last month. Watch for Utah RB/JOE WALKER/#, who “retired” back in September, and then was talked into retuning when injuries decimated the RB corps. He’s been a 200-yard per game rusher since his return. IU as a solid OL, led by DAN FEENEY/#67, the consensus top OG prospect for 2017, but he can’t block everybody at once. I expect a double-digit Win for the UTES. Players to watch:

UTAH                                                                                        INDIANA

#20 MARCUS WILLIAMS/S 6’1/195 JR                                #4 RICKY JONES/WR/RS 5’10/184
#29 JOE WILLIAMS/RB 5’11/205                                         #44 MARCUS OLIVER/ILB 6’1/235 JR
#49 HUNTER DIMICK/DE 6’3/272                                      #67 DAN FEENEY/OG 6’4/305
#52 SAM TEVI/OT 6’6/305                                                     #77 DIMITRIC CAMIEL/OT 6’7/310
#72 GARRETT BOLES/OT 6’6/296 JR

TEXAS A&M (8-4) Vs. KANSAS STATE (8-4); TEXAS Bowl; 9 PM ET; ESPN … I have great respect for HC BILL SNYDER of K-State, but not all 8-4 teams are created equal. A&M faced a tough SEC schedule on a weekly basis, while the Wildcats basically beat no one with an overall winning record. SNYDER will likely keep his team in this with a conservative game plan relying on the opponent to make a few mistakes, while his troops protect the ball. That will work for a while until super star MYLES GARRETT/DE/#15 leads the A&M Defense in pressuring any/all K-State QBs into mistakes. GARRETT may be healthier than he has been since September for this one, which is bad news for the Wildcats. A&M also has big play potential on Offense with receivers REYNOLDS/SEALS-JONES/KIRK all able break the big play. QB/TREVOR KNIGHT/#8 should be fairly healthy and able to lead the Offense. A&M will likely pull away from State for a convincing win. Players to watch:

TEXAS A&M                                                                         KANSAS STATE
#9 RICKY SEALS-JONES/WR 6’5/240 JR                         #6 DEANTE BURTON/WR 6’2/205
#10 DAESHON HALL/DE 6’6/270                                       #9 ELIJAH LEE/LB 6’3/220 JR
#11 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR 6’4/190                                    #10 DONNIE STARKS/CB 6’0/180
#14 JUSTIN EVANS/S 6’1/195                                              #22 DANTE BARNETT/FS 6’1/195
#15 MYLES GARRETT/DE/ER 6’5/265 JR                       #24 CHARLES JONES/RB 5’10/206
#33 SHAAN WASHINGTON/LB 6’3/235                          #75 JORDAN WILLIS/DE 6’5/260
#65 AVERY GENNESY/OT 6’5/310

Who Caught My Eye Bowl Watch

It’s our last chance to see prospects in live game action as the Bowl season trudges on. In some cases the games are bereft of serious prospects to thumbnail because almost 150 were done during the regular season play. But in some cases there are also previously injured players who are returning to action. On the downside the new trend of players skipping their final collegiate game to head for Performance Camps, but those numbers are small, at least for now. Anyway here are some guys who have literally caught my eye already.

DANIEL BUSHKILL/OT/SAN DIEGO STATE 6’5/270 #71 Watch for this guys name at the Combine and during All-Star Game action. He was their second string TE going into Spring ball in 2016. But the coaching staff switched him to OT. By October I was starting to hear his name being whispered as a legit pro prospect at his new position. Sure enough, he looked fundamentally sound in their Las Vegas Bowl win. My eyes say he is of course far from a finished product at his new spot, but I also saw enough to think he has long range potential. Believe it or not I thought he looked better in pass pro, than trying to run block. He is reportedly up to 270 lbs, and clearly is trying to adjust to his new body. He still looks lean and fit though. What he currently lacks in strength is compensated for, in part, by his athleticism. He may become a very intriguing late round prospect.

DAKOTA COX/LB/NEW MEXICO 6’0/231 #49 Sorry to say I had little opportunity and even less viewing time to watch New Mexico play this past season. So watching the New Mexico Bowl was my first/last chance to watch the team carefully. Congrats to Bob Davie for reviving a dormant football program, by the way. The most impressive player to my eyes was LB/COX for the Lobos. He displayed nice athleticism and football savvy. He’s a good tackler and pursues til the whistle. I was impressed with his ability to handle his responsibilities in pass coverage situations. At times he looked to me like a jumbo SS playing in the box. At the end of the day his stat sheet showed me what I thought I saw from him was legit. He was credited with 10 tackles (to lead his team) including 1.5 TFL. He also clearly had several PBU. If he can further develop his current skill set he may have a career in the NFL as a back-up, sub-package & Special Teams player. He might be draftable, albeit late.

MARCUS COX/RB/APPALACHIAN STATE 5’10/200 #14 COX lost his starting/feature RB job to JALEN MOORE this past season, but with MOORE nicked up throughout the Camellia Bowl it was COX who flashed his old skills that allowed him to gain over 1400 yards rushing in 2015. On the day he carried the ball 22 times for 143 yards and 1 TD. I’m not sure how straight-line fast he is, but he has great burst and can really pick up those feet and put them down, as we used to say a quarter century ago. He gets lots of yards after contact due to his balance and forward lean running style. I would think that this effort has put some shine back into his game as a legit possible third day draftee. He also caught two short passes, which will be a major consideration when looking at his overall value. This guy is the kind of quick hitting runner, with the balance and burst to gain yardage through NFL size creases in opponents DL. He’s fighting to make himself draftable and his performance in workouts and hopefully an All-Star game will be critical in the coming months.

SAMSON EBUKAM/DE/OLB/E. WASHINGTON 6’3/240 #3 The long range prospects for EBUKAM are very good because he plays with high energy and looks to be a natural as an edge rusher. But he clearly faces the challenge of adapting to life standing up as an OLB. No question about his athleticism however. Against Youngstown, he got caught up in the wash way too often when trying to set the edge or collapse on running plays inside the tackles. His eagerness to rush the passer also resulted in his being pushed way too far past the QB to actually affect the play. But his quickness and balance are excellent when targeting the QB in the pocket area. He had a 2nd Quarter sack as well as a deflected pass. I felt he was held on multiple occasions during the game, especially in pass-pro. I think it is safe to say that he is fairly raw, but possesses the athleticism and energy to refine his game under pro coaching, and could be RBOERT MATHIS player as a pro. He has to be drafted, likely in the middle rounds.

ANTONIO GARCIA/OT/TROY 6’7/302 #53 Most NFL personnel people think this is one of the weakest OT groups this decade. This will be especially true if a handful of the top juniors don’t declare for inclusion in the 2017 Draft. When such a situation presents itself the talent scouts dig a little deeper looking for potential gems. Go back a few years when a guy named ERIC FISHER from the MAC had a really solid Senior Bowl and vaulted up to being the first pick in the entire Draft. I’m not projecting that for GARCIA, an actual senior, but his name is rising and he recently was named to the Senior Bowl roster for late January. Coincidentally, he was in Mobile Friday night for the Dollar General Bowl affording yours truly his first chance to see him in action. We are talking the real deal here folks with strong Top 100 potential. He has some work to do in strengthening his run blocking, but the whole package is there. He’s a long, lean athlete with great feet. He’s as quick off the snap in pass-pro as anyone I have seen this year. He’s clearly a natural knee-bender who almost looks like a training film for form with fully bent knees, a straight vertical upper body and extended arms waiting to repel pass rushers. He uses agile feet to mirror defenders handily. He looks like he needs to work on a stronger initial hand punch to jolt defenders. He also needs to beef up in his upper body. He’s barely over 300 lbs. right now and should/could easily slide up to 315/320 if it’s muscle. He also showed a tendency to try to cut-block defenders on running plays. I do NOT like that technique in taller, athletic linemen. The bottom line is that he is really good, and looks to have major upside. He should emerge as a starting OT in the League in a few years, and I look forward to watching him a the Senior Bowl next month.

COOPER KUPP/WR/E. WASHINGTON 6’2/215 #10 KUPP seemed to be the top rated FCS prospect going into the 2016 season. After watching him play in the semi-final loss to Youngstown State I can see why. This guy is a polished player and a good athlete. Though he is not a speedster, he had enough speed to get open deep on several occasions. And to his credit on those occasions he had to pull up to wait for under-thrown balls, then battle with defenders to make the catch. And catch them he did. He showed excellent hands on a single digit temperature day. He made a nifty one-handed catch of an errant throw in the second quarter. He was double teamed from the start of the game and still finished the day with 10 catches for 180 yards and 2 TD. He also showed the physical strength to win contested throws and break tackles. I think he will bring the same ability to an NFL team as that of ERIC DECKER of the JETS. Luckily, we will see much more of him in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. A good showing there, and posting some solid numbers at the Combine could push him to the cusp of Round 1, IMO.

HENRY LANGI/LB/DE/BYU 6’3/249 #16 This do-everything defender may be a riser as we get into All-Star game action and Combine/Pro Day workouts. BYU had a Top 10 rushing Defense this season and the versatile LONGI played a big part in that work. He split time this season as a LB, and a pass-rusher with his hand on the ground. He is not a superior athlete, but he is a highly productive player with a clearly high FBI. He absolutely covered the field in BYU’s win over Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl. He was dropping into coverage, rushing the passer and, of course, stuffing the Cowboys rushing attack. He finished the night with 16 tackles, to match his uniform number, including 1 TFL. He’s big enough to take on blockers and runners at the point of attack, but also does an excellent job dropping into shallow/medium coverage. Watch for his name in the next 4 months. I just have a notion he will make some noise as a fairly early 3rd Day draftee prospect.

NICK MULLENS/QB/SOUTHERN MISS 6’1/195 #9 Anther gunslinger is coming out of Southern Miss, but let’s be real and dispense with any pretense of FAVRE comparisons. At best he may have potential to stick on some team as a developmental 3rd QB. Which means he’s likely to go undrafted, but… He can move around and sling the ball downfield. In the near home game New Orleans Bowl MULLENS was a one man army in crunch time situations. He finished the game going 25/40- 62.5%- 346 yards- 2TD- 1 INT. He did not dominate the game totally with 2 turnovers to his name (1 INT, 1 Fumble), but he was the field general who did what needed to be done more often than not. The 2016 NFL Draft featured 15 QB being drafted. I don’t expect a new record this next April, but if it gets close he’ll be among those getting late consideration. Right now I would say he’s most likely an URFA.

CALVIN MUNSON/ILB/SAN DIEGO STATE 6’1/240 #54 In the last 3 seasons MUNSON has never failed to start a game for the Aztecs D. He has played both inside and outside in their schemes. I think he’s best suited as an ILB in a base 3-4 scheme at the next level. His lack of length will be less obvious on the inside, IMO. But he shows the whole package despite not exactly being a great athletic specimen. How about if we say he’s a smart, hard nosed football player. He was decidedly the leader of the Aztecs D with his play in the Las Vegas Bowl. By the end of the evening he had recorded 8 tackles, including 1 Sack and 1 TFL. Then as a finishing touch to the evening he sealed his team’s victory with an INT in the late 4th Quarter. He’s a high rev motor guy with a high FBI. He should be outstanding Special Teams player immediately for his pro team. Given his skill set what appeals most to me is his ability to diagnose the pass and effectively drop into short area coverage. His resume’ says he gets a few Picks every season. His pro potential may exceed his athleticism.

STORM NORTON/OT/TOLEDO 6’7/306 #74 I am not going to proclaim NORTON as a top prospect, but I do see him as being draftable. His play can best be described as steady. He more than held his own in the Camellia Bowl against an aggressive APP State Defense. I liked his work best in pass-pro in this contest, but he was adequate with his run blocking, especially to his side of the field. He had a tendency to go for cut blocks on running plays away from him, which in general I feel is an ugly look for guys his size. He looked to me to have a strong, effective arm extension and hand punch. He also showed a pretty good/quick first step backwards in pass-pro. Like most really big bodies he is likely to be challenged at the next level by fast/quick edge rushers, and primarily for that reason I think he is a possible late round draftee at this stage in his play.

JORDAN REID/WR/OHIO 6’3/210 #12 REID turned out to be the go-to guy for the Ohio Offense in the Dollar General Bowl Friday night. He ran solid routes, and showed dependable hands. He was also to gain some significant yards after the catch with his strength and good field vision. He can catch in a crowd and his size makes him a natural red zone threat on jump balls. He became the teams big playmaker against TROY finishing the night with 12 catches for 162 yards and 1TD. Speed, or lack thereof, may be the biggest concern for Personnel People heading into Draft evaluation season, but his size and hands will earn him points. Most NFL receiving groups show balance between pure speed, quickness, size and a few other factors. For a team lacking a big guy to work the middle and run over defenders after the catch REID should start generating interest in later rounds. If not in the states, he should generate some scouting interest from CFL talent scouts.

2016 FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Time to give this a whirl, pre-Bowl season. Luckily we now have a Final Four to look forward to in January. But until that process rolls around, here is how I rank teams heading into the Bowl Season.

1) ALABAMA 13-0 Really! Any questions here?

2) CLEMSON 12-1 May not have rolled over many opponents, but had enough to keep winning.
3) OHIO STATE 11-1 One hiccup game and perfection was down the drain. Wait til next year.
4) WASHINGTON 12-1 Great young team that could be better in 2017 if junior stars stay around.

5) PENN STATE 11-2 Just think, even in 2015 some were doubting FRANKLIN was the right man.
6) OKLAHOMA 10-2 It’s been a trying year for the D, but the O is top notch.
7) MICHIGAN 10-2 The team seemed to wear down late, but lots of talent on campus.
8) WEST VIRGINIA 10-2 Solid team, which laid a big bad egg against Oklahoma at home.
9) WISCONSIN 10-3 A surprisingly successful season for a team racked by injuries.
10) SOUTHERN CAL 9-3 Coaching Staff chose the wrong QB at start of season, but is now rolling.

11) WESTERN MICHIGAN 13-0 I can’t put an undefeated team lower than this. Keep rowing guys!

12) LOUISVILLE 9-3
13) COLORADO 10-3
14) FLORIDA STATE 9-3
15) OKLAHOMA STATE 9-3
16) STANFORD 9-3
17) HOUSTON 9-3
18) SOUTH FLORIDA 10-2
19) TEMPLE 10-3
20) WESTERN KENTUCKY 10-3
21) NAVY 9-3* One more game to play vs. ARMY
22) VIRGINIA TECH 9-4
23) BOISE STATE 10-2
24) SAN DIEGO STATE 10-3
25) FLORIDA 8-4

At least a half-dozen teams are poised to crash these rankings with impressive work while Bowling For Dollars.

PIGSKIN

Who Caught My Eye Week 14

This pretty much wraps up our weekly prospect thumbnails of the week since the 2016 College football season is now over. But wait, in a couple of weeks the Bowl season gets underway and will provide us with more prospect play to review.

TARELL BASHAM/DE/OHIO 6’4/265 OHIO #93 There may be almost as many questions about BASHAM’s pro potential as their are actual positives. He has been a reliable player for FRANK SOLICH at Ohio, and has some nice pass-rush moves, not to mention a very high rev motor. He tries to set the edge against the run, but he’s pretty lean. So an immediate question is whether he can pack on 10 or more pounds and hold up in a pro 4-3 scheme. He had a solid effort in the MAC Championship game against Western Michigan, being credited with 5 tackles, including 1 TFL & 1/2 Sack. To his credit I would also estimate another 3 QBH as he and his teammates on D forced WMU QB/ZACH TERRELL to play under pressure all night and have his most mediocre performance of the season. With a Bowl game still to play BASHAM has 10 1/2 Sacks on the season. I expect him to be a Saturday Draftee. He is committed to the Senior Bowl and I will be curious to see how they work with him in practice with a possible OLB job in mind.

RUEBEN FOSTER/ILB/ALABAMA 6’1/240 #10 In the 2015 season ‘Bama’s Alpha Dog of Defense was REGGIE RAGLAND, who has moved on to the pro game. In 2016 another ILB, FOSTER has taken over the lead dog role for the Tide D. FOSTER is a savvy, instinctive, high FBI player who holds the unit together. During the Tides 13 game roll to the SEC title, FOSTER racked a total of 94 tackles. He is slightly undersized by NFL standards bit he is certainly big enough to play ILB in a base 3-4 scheme. In the anti-climactic SEC title game with Florida he amassed 11 tackles, including 2.5 TFL and 2 Sacks. I don’t expect him to be taken in Round 1, but if he makes it to Round 3 some NFL team likely gets a steal. If he has to wait his turn at a starting job, I would project he will star on multiple Special Teams units. Don’t expect him to rock the Combine in his underwear. I could picture him as a slightly lesser version of MOSLEY of the RAVENS, in an NFL Defense.

MATT GESICKI/TE/PENN STATE 6’6/255 #88 JR Just like the Penn State team overall GESICKI really blossomed during the surprisingly successful 2016 season for the Nittany Lions. He’s a full sized guy, who is a solid inline blocker. But he has also shown that he has the perhaps surprising speed to get separation downfield, as well as excellent hands to make catches. He is also almost acrobatic on the sidelines and in the red zone. His 1st Quarter TD catch of 33 yards in the end zone broke the early game dominance of the Badgers. For the game he had 3 catches for 58 yards and 1 TD. On the season, he pulled in 47 catches for 668 yards and 4 TD. That’s a solid 14.2 ypc for a 255-pounder. My gut says he’s staying in school for another season, but I would also expect that he will have voices in his ear telling him he can be a Top 5 TE if he comes out now. Those voices might be correct. After a couple of recent years of relatively few full-sized TE prospects, his presence might be welcomed by the 3rd Round for some NFL teams without a young TE on their roster.

FORREST LAMP/OG/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’3/300 2016 was LAMP’s 3rd straight season as a starting OT for the Hilltoppers. He has developed as both a run blocker and a pass protector in the wide open WKU offense. He is quick off the snap of the ball and easily gets to second level blocks. He has a strong upper body, with a devastating hand punch. He put several defenders on their butts with his explosive hand punch, in the win over LA TECH that I watched. He is projected by most to be moving inside at the next level, because he is only about 6’3 and has less than ideal arm length. In reality that may make him one of the top 5 OG prospects, because he has shown more than enough athleticism to play well at LT the past 2 seasons. He looks to be a natural knee bender who fires out to get to second level blocks. His initial role in the NFL may be as a 3-4 position backup on a game day roster. He has accepted an invitation to appear in the 2017 Senior Bowl game in Mobile. Can’t wait. Could he be the next JOE HAEG to emerge there against the big boy competition?!

JOE MIXON/RB/OKLAHOMA 6’1/225 #25 RSO I am surprised I don’t see MIXON on more prospect sheets since he is indeed Draft eligible, after sitting out the 2014 college season for qualifying reasons. MIXON has been almost the perfect compliment to SAMAJE PERINE in the Sooners running attack. While PERINE pounds opponents’ Defenses, MIXON is the big play waiting to happen. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield. The big instate W over Oklahoma State was a great example of his value and multiple skills. PERINE was carrying the ball and the day as the Sooners pulled ahead in the 3rd Quarter. But then he got nicked and went to the locker room for repairs. In comes MIXON and immediately breaks off a 79 TD run, winding his way through the entire State D. For the game MIXON carried 11 times for 99 yards and that TD. He also caught 2 balls for 19 yards and another TD. On the season MIXON now has 1183 yards rushing, at 7.0 ypc and 8 TD. He also has 32 catches for 449 yards and 5 TD. I do NOT see him as the new ADRIAN PETERSON, but he’s damn close. I hate to say it SOONER fans, but I could see you losing both PERINE & MIXON to the 2017 Draft. I would guess MIXON would be a monster in underwear at the Combine. Athletically, I’d see him as a First Rounder if he comes out early.

TAYWON TAYLOR/WR/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’1/190 #2 This guy is close to being a first rounder IMO. Chances are a Senior Bowl appearance and his Combine work will decide that. But I have little doubt that his combination of speed, good hands and elusiveness after the catch will add up to an immediate role as a top 3 receiver on an NFL roster. He’s not one of the “big” receivers, but he will work the middle of the field and will bounce off contact in the secondary, picking up significant after the catch yardage. He had a typical day, for him, in the Conference USA Championship Game victory for the Hilltoppers. He caught 7 balls, for 194 yards and 2 TD. On the season he posted 89 catches for 1586 yards and 16 TD, in 13 games. That yielded a yards/catch average of 17.8, making it 3 years in a row of over 17 yards per catch. He has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. he should show well there, and in Indy.

TRENT TAYLOR/WR/LOUISIANA TECH 5’8/178 #5 It has become much more common place in the NFL these days to have a smaller framed guy like TRENT on their roster to compliment a team’s full sized WRs. TAYLOR is as quick as a hiccup, and just as fearless. He did not handle return work this season, but I can envision him as a potential Punt Returner with his quickness and explosiveness. He was Mr. Reliable in the Championship game against WKU, hauling in 11 balls for 108 yards. For the 2016 season he has totaled 124 caches for 1570 yards and 10 TD. Happily for those of us wondering how he potentially fits against the truly big boy defenses he is currently listed as a Senior Bowl attendee. We can dredge up names like WLEKER, AMENDOLA and more, but more smurf guys have slipped away quietly than succeeded as pros. Let’s just say right now that to my eyes TRENT has more than a few of the qualities the League seeks, and should be draftable, albeit late.

ANTHONY WALES/RB/WESTERN KENTUCKY 5’10/195 #20 I watched the final two games (sans Bowl season) of the season for the WKU team and came away the most impressed with the productivity of WALES. This dual purpose back may not have the size to tote the rock 20 times per game as a pro, but he has the versatility to see a lot of action in a RB rotation. He gained 1376 yards rushing on the season, at an average of 6.8 ypc. He also found the end zone 28 times, including 24 on the ground. He was indeed a workhorse in the Conference championship game touching the ball 41 times while rushing for 209 yards and 4 TD, plus catching 5 balls for another TD. He’s not a speed burner, but is light on his feet and can get to the corner. He also picks his running lanes well between the tackles for tough inside yards. His cutback moves are swift and decisive. Good balance allows him to get significant yards after contact. It will be a gross oversight if he’s not at the Combine and an All-Star game.

T.J. WATT/OLB/WISCONSIN 6’5/247 #42 JR Will the supply of players to the NFL from the WATT family never end? Not any time soon, and that’s a good thing for the pro talent pool. T.J. is the next in line and if not for some injury issues during his stay in Madison this guy would have been garnering more serious pub prior to this season. He’s not J.J. on a pure talent basis, but he certainly has enough ability and the high rev energy level that J.J. and DEREK have displayed, to be highly sought after in the 2017 Draft if he declares. He shows natural pass-rush ability and has a long frame. He and VINCE BIEGEL could arguably be the best pair of OLB in college football this year. WATT had 4 tackles, including 1/2 TFL and 1 Sack, and 2 QBH in the Big Ten championship game. He was close to recording sacks on multiple additional occasions. He is above average in coverage, although he was caught in man-coverage on a RB out of the backfield, which resulted in a Penn State TD. The other issue on this day was that TRACE McSORLEY/QB may be more dangerous on the run than when he stays in the pocket. But WATT had a very solid Junior season, and certainly has to be considered as a possible early entry for the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s a Top 100 prospect.

College Football Preview Week 14

Except for ARMY/NAVY this is the weekend for the final games of the 2016 season. We have a mix of Conference Championship games as well as the wrap up of the Big 12 regular schedule.

LOUISIANA TECH (8-4) @ WESTERN KENTUCKY (9-3) by 8; C-USA Title Game NOON/ET ESPN … Two well known names in the world of college football are building some perennial winning programs with SKIP HOLTZ coaching TECH and the BROHM Brothers running the WKU program. Both teams are best known for their offensive prowess this season. So therefore let me project that whichever team’s Defense can step up and make a few stops and create a couple of turnovers is likely to emerge victorious. Sounds like an Arena Football match-up doesn’t it?! Great little match-up between the Conference’s top two wideouts with the battling TAYLORs in action. If you are a gambler at heart contact your Vegas sports book and bet the OVER for total catches on the game by the two TAYLORs combined. This should make for exciting viewing unless you are a football purist who expects Defenses to show up. I think WKU has a decided edge in this one. Prospects to watch:

LOUISIANA TECH                                                                 WESTERN KENTUCKY
#5 TRENT TAYLOR/WR/RS 5’8/178                                    #2 TAYWAN TAYLOR/WR 6’1/195
#7 XAVIER WOODS/S 5’11/188                                            #20 ANTHONY WALES/RB 5’10/195
#5 DALTON SANTOS/ILB 6’2/257                                       #31 BRANDEN LESTON/S 6’3/205
#75 DARRELL BROWN/OT 6’4/300                                   #76 FORREST LAMP/G/T 6’4/300

#1 CARLOS HENDERSON/WR/5-11, 195/JR

#14 RYAN HIGGINS/QB/6-2, 215

OKLAHOMA STATE (9-2) by 3 @ OKLAHOMA (9-2) 12:30PM/ET FOX … One more time I will say Oklahoma State should be 10-1 – and very much in the discussion to be in the CFP playoff because of that loss that shouldn’t have been early in the year against Central Michigan – but let’s leave it at that. The Sooners lack of Defense has been appalling at times for a major football program this season, injuries or not. State appears to have developed into a nicely balanced team that can run and throw, as well as play respectable Defense at times. But their D will be tested severely by the Sooners RB combo of PERINE & MIXON, who could both be in the NFL next year. It’s also a great college QB match-up with RUDOLPH for State, and MAYFIELD for Oklahoma. In-state rivalries are usually something special to watch, and this one shapes up that way. I’ll go for State despite being on the road. Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA STATE                                                         OKLAHOMA
#2 MASON RUDOLPH/QB 6’5/235 JR                               #6 CURTIS MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212/JR
#13 JORDAN STERNS/S 6’0/200                                        #5 GENO LEWIS/WR 6’1/200
#47 BLAKE JARWIN/TE 6’5/246                                       #11 DEDE WESTBROOK/WR/RS 6’0/170
#28 JAMES WASHINGTON/WR 6’0/205 JR                  #32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’10/234 JR
#96 VINCENT TAYLOR/DT 6’3/310 JR                             #13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210
#77 VICTOR SALAKO/OT 6’6/330                                     #26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233
#40 DEVANTE AVERETTE/LB 5’11/240                          #25 JOE MIXON/RB 6’1/225 RSO

BAYLOR (6-5) @ WEST VIRGINIA (9-2) by 4 3:30/ET FS1 … Baylor has come unhinged in the second half of the season, since the injury to SETH RUSSELL forced them to start a Frosh at the QB spot. The Mountaineers were one of my dark horse teams for much of the year, but they really laid an egg in their big showdown game at home with Oklahoma. They get one more shot here to win an important game at home. I can’t see them imploding again in this one. We might have a great pro prospect match-up in this game especially of WR/CANNON is matched up against the nation’s Interception leader CB/DOUGLAS. If RB/JUSTIN CRAWFORD has a big day I would expect WVU to control the tempo and thusly the scoreboard. Prospects to watch:

BAYLOR                                                                                    WEST VIRGINIA 
#9 K.D. CANNON/WR 6’0/180 JR                                       #6 DAIKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205
#32 SHOCK LINWOOD/RB 5’9/200                                  #25 JUSTIN CRAWFORD/RB 6’0/200 JR
#55 KYLE FULLER/OC 6’5/315                                           #65 TERYY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295
#17 SETH RUSSELL/QB 6’3/220 INJ                                #97 NOBLE NWACHKWU/DE 6’2/275
#28 ORION STEWART/S 6’2/200                                      #49 DARIEN HOWARD/DT 6’1/297
#9 RYAN REID/CB 5’11/190                                                  #13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208

CLEMSON (10-1) by 6 vs. VIRGINIA TECH (8-3); ACC Title Game; 8PM/ET ABC … Clemson seems to have lost some luster this season by not dominating very many games, but don’t underrate them. The talent mother lode is real for the Tigers. Could it be their Coach’s motor mouth has distracted them at times? Be clear that DESHAUN WATSON/QB wants to win and put up big numbers in a year when another ACC QB names JACKSON has stolen the spotlight. TECH has had an almost seamless transition from BEAMER to FUENTES, and has improved all season. Two of the Top 10 WR prospects will be on display in this one with WILLIAMS for Clemson, and FORD for Tech lighting up the opposing secondaries, which are quite good for both teams. But TECH had best be on their game from the onset, or this could get ugly. CLEMSON has the horses to wear teams down, while TECH is a bit thin this season. I’ll take the Tigers to win and advance to the Final Four. Prospects to watch:

CLEMSON                                                                            VIRGINIA TECH
#4 DESHAUN WATSON/QB 6’2/210 JR                            #1 ISAIAH FORD/WR 6’2/190 JR
#7 MIKE WILLIAMS/WR 6’4/220 JR                                 #7 BUCKY HODGES/TE 6’7/245 JR
#9 WAYNE GALLMAN/RB 6’0/215 JR                              #45 SAM ROGERS/FB 5’10/228
#16 JORDAN LEGGETT/TE 6’5/255                                    #4 KEN EKANEM/DE/ER 6’3/255
#10 BEN BOULWARE/ILB 5’11/240                                   #19 CHUCK CLARK/SS 6’1/205
#18 JADAR JOHNSON/S 6’1/205                                       #60 WOODY BARON/DL 6’1/275
#25 CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB 6’1/195                        #95 NIGEL WILLIAMS/DT 6’4/295
#94 CARLOS WATKINS/DT 6’3/300

Enjoy! Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE WEEK 13

DANIEL CARLSON/PK/AUBURN 6’4/215 #38 JR It is not very often that I look to Kicker underclassmen as prospects for declaring early for the NFL Draft, but after watching CARLSON again this season I think he is as close to being a dominant player at the position as we can get right now. And for way too many NFL teams, even in this era of wide open offenses, the ability of their Kicker to convert on more than 75% of his FG is critical to several potential wins per season. CARLSON has one of the smoothest kicking motions of anyone I have seen in recent memory. He has accuracy as well as power. He stood out again in the Iron Bowl hitting on 4 of 5 attempts, with his only miss being from 50+ yards out. In fact for the season he is now 9 of 13 from 50-yards or more. That’s 69%, which many current day kickers barely top on all attempts. It should also be noted that he has the leg strength to kick-off into and thru the end zone. I have no info indicating he’s thinking of leaving school early, but I will also note that he is a 3.66 GPA who already has his degree in Finance. He might be draftable in the Top 100 if he does come out.

TACO CHARLTON/DE/MICHIGAN 6’6/275 #33 TACO is another of Michigan’s seniors who reinvented themselves with the arrival of HC JIM HARBAUGH last year. And he really impressed with his work in the big showdown game with Ohio State last weekend. He appeared on camera, chasing the ball constantly. Officially he had 9 tackles, including 3 TFL, 2.5 of them for sacks. He has incredibly long arms and legs. I can’t wait to see his hand and wing span at the Combine. He looked to be battling cramps during the second half of the big game last Saturday, but he kept getting back on the field and making plays through the pain. He shows natural pass rush ability and is starting to use his length to intimidate and block the vision and throwing lanes of opposing QB. Based on his development this season I would suspect that he has more upside to be tapped at the pro level. A good All-Star game performance and some eye-popping numbers at the Combine could easily get him into the top 3 Rounds of the 2017 Draft. He has a CLOWNEY look in pads.

D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB/TEXAS 6’0/238 #33 JR FOREMAN has exploded for the Longhorns over the past two seasons. To put it frankly he has looked a lot like a former Longhorns RB named EARL CAMPBELL. He can run through, over and around tacklers. He should make a strong short yardage runner as a pro and a guy who can accumulate multiple 20 yard runs for his team. He topped 2,000-yards behind a very average OL this season. Why come back for his senior campaign? Another coaching staff change and the wear and tear of another season on his body cannot logically be making him lean toward another season in Austin. He’s already a late first rounder IMO, and I doubt that gets any higher even if he runs for another 2000 yards next season in college. Come on down D’ONTA, and start getting paid for the beating your body is absorbing. By the way, despite the Longhorns passing their brains off in the 2nd half against TCU, trying to keep up on the scoreboard, FREEMAN finished the day with 165 yards on 31 caries. And believe me if you didn’t watch the game, he earned most of those yards on effort and power, behind a mediocre OL blocking effort.

JADAR JOHNSON/S/CLEMSON 6’0/210 #18 Here is another guy who tickles my fancy. He had a whopping 2 starts during his first 3 seasons with the Tigers. Then when multiple juniors in the secondary defected to the 2016 Draft, JOHNSON got his chance, and made the most of it. He clearly won a starting job last Spring and August. He’s not an elite player, but showed he is better than average this season. He was a major part of a strong Clemson defensive effort that shut down the Gamecocks in a 56-7 victory. He tallied 3 tackles with 1.5 of them being TFL. He also made a nice downfield INT, giving him 5 picks for his first full season as a starter. I can guarantee you that he should also make a solid Special Teams performer as a pro. He has enough athleticism and more than enough “want-to” to go out there and knock heads covering kicks and punts. Chances are good at this point that he will be a late Draftee.

ERIK MAGNUSON/OT/MICHIGAN 6’6/305 #78 Believe it or not even the top college football teams (except for maybe that Saban team) are full of nothing but 5-Star recruits. There are lots of less heralded high school players who dot college rosters. ERIC MAGNUSON has worked his tail off and made himself a solid OT, who has a solid chance to be a mid-Round Draft Pick in 2017. He has flourished in the Jim Harbaugh offense the past two seasons where the run and pass are balanced leaning slightly more to the run. He has a nice long frame and stays on his feet well. His biggest weakness shows when he must try to keep up with speed rushers. But that is partly why he’s over on the right, not the QB’s blind side. He held up well overall in the Ohio State game. He was able to engage and control some Buckeye DE, which is a deep talent position for OSU. He shows good and active hand usage overall. He displayed some excellent seal blocks down on the goal line. I’d look for him somewhere in the Round 5-6 area with a decent chance to fight for a starting RT job in a few years, with some intense OL coaching at the next level.

PAT MAHOMES/QB/TEXAS TECH 6’3/230 #5 JR I present another name in our seemingly endless search to find an NFL QB candidate worthy of early selection in the 2017 Draft. The first thing in his favor is that his dad pitched in the Major Leagues for almost a decade. You know me and the gene pool theory. He has been the highlight of TECH HC KINGSBURY’s program. TECH can’t recruit enough athletes to play Offense and Defense, so most games are a shootout and scoring fest. They beat Baylor last weekend by the score of 54-35. MAHOMES has thrown for over 5,000 yards this season, with one game left to play. Go check your NCAA record books folks. Against Baylor MAHOMES was 30/46- 65%- 586 yards- 6 TD- 0 INT. He can throw it long or short with a better than average arm. His throwing fundamentals and footwork require some serious refinement for the NFL, but the natural talent is there. Luckily he has good size because he’s constantly throwing under pressure. On several occasions I was fearful he was out for the game, but he got up and kept on throwing. You can call him a product of a system, but he’s mastered it and looks to me to have solid pro potential. If the NFL shuns him he could be a record setter in the CFL. I can’t see him returning to college for 2017.

DREW MORGAN/WR/ARKANSAS 6’0/195 #80 You could almost put MORGAN’s picture in the football dictionary next to the definition of possession receiver at this point in time. Going into the Mizzou game MORGAN had 56 receptions on the year and 35 of them had resulted in first downs. That clearly indicates to me a receiver who runs good patterns and gets the needed yardage on those routes. He can gain some yardage after the catch, but that’s not his strong point. He had a typical game effort against the Tigers with 6 catches for 54 yards. I counted 3 of those 6 receptions being good for first downs, by the way. He is also known for his reliable hands and ability to work the sideline as an ally against defenders. He’s tough as nails, although it does concern me the number of hits he takes which cause him to leave the field for at least a few plays. Will he be a constant target of concussion protocol watch dogs at the next level? I would also expect him to find several niches on Special Teams units to secure a pro career. Another middle round draftee in my book.

JALEN MYRICK/CB/MINNESOTA 5’10/205 #5 Last season the Golden Gophers sent both of their starting CB to the NFL in MURRAY & BODDY-CALHOUN. But not to fear in 2016, because MYRICK was ready and waiting to step up and seize a full-time job. He is a solid cover Corner who plays the ball well in the air and can deliver a solid blow to would-be receivers with his compact, 205 lb. frame. He also handles his coverage business really well all across the field. He was part of a great defensive effort agains the Badgers last Saturday, when the Minnesota Defense kept the team in the lead, until a hobbled starting QB MITCH LEIDNER started throwing picks in crunch time. MYRICK finished his day with 6 tackles and several PBU. He reminded me a great deal of MURRAY and his play last season. He’s a tough guy, who plays hard, fast and smart. It may be a struggle for him to earn a starting CB job in the NFL, but he should be able to handle sub-package roles and could excel on Special Teams. Right now I’d say he deserves a late round Draft selection.

JABRIL PEPPERS/LB/SS/MICHIGAN 6’1/208 #5 RSO Most of the talk surrounding PEPPERS this season has centered around whether or not he could parlay his multiple skill set into a strong Heisman Trophy run. HC HARBAUGH has used PEPPERS in almost every imaginable role, including at QB this season. But I am more concerned about what his pro potential is. In my mind he has not used him at his most likely NFL spot as a SS. Ignoring his work on Offense and in return work, PEPPERS had 67 tackles on the season, including 4 sacks, as an OLB. In the showdown game with the Buckeyes, PEPPERS totaled 7 tackles and recorded his first career INT on a deflected ball. Perhaps his primary playing position of OLB this year is in part predicated on his lack of ball hawking ability in the secondary. He clearly is an elite athlete but there are not very many full-time LB who weigh just under 210 lbs., in the NFL. If he declares for the 2017 Draft (which I think he will) it will be interesting to see what position group he is listed in for the Combine. I would guess that he will work out with both the DB & LB group. For those confused about his Draft status, he was red shirted with an injury as a true frosh, so even tho 2016 was his second season on the field he meets the 3-years beyond HS rule regarding the Draft. I would find it hard to believe he does not have a bright pro future ahead of him, but…

ETHAN POCIC/OC/LSU 6’7/310 #77 AFter watching all or part of over 100 college games this season, POCIC is probably my choice as the best all-around OC prospect for the 2017 Draft. He could become the tallest OC in the NFL, but his height never seemed to be a detriment to his play at LSU. He is a natural knee bender and plays with decent pad level for his size. He is also experienced enough, with 36 career starts, to make line calls and direct traffic in the trenches. His long arms serve him well in pass-pro where he ties up would-be pocket collapsers trying to push right up the middle of the field to his QB. He spends little time on the ground, unless he’s being cut-blocked, in which case he tends to just lay on the DL doing so. In the run game, he shows no difficulty getting to second level blocks quickly. I have no doubt he’s a Top 100 prospect, and a Day 2 Draftee.

RYAN RAMCZYK/OT/WISCONSIN 6’6/309 #65 If you are looking for a fascinating back story google up info on RAMCZYK who took quite a circuitous route to the starting LT job for the Badgers. And he has done so well in his first season actually on the playing field for the Badgers that there is growing speculation that he could come out for the 2017 NFL Draft and be Friday Draft selection. The big guy, has exceptional feet for his size, as well as long, strong arms to push defenders away from his body and out of the pocket area. He is functionally strong and may only get bigger and stronger. Several of my contacts up in Badger Country told me in September to watch out for this guy. AFter a redshirt season n Madison working in the weight room and with the varsity in practice, he grabbed hold of the starting LT job and excelled. Sure enough he’s impressed everyone in a surprisingly strong season for the Badgers as a team. If he returns for a senior season he will be perhaps the highest ranked OT on Draftnik Big Boards next September. If not he’ll be fighting for a starting job in the NFL next summer.

FRED STEVENSON/FB/FLORIDA STATE 6’1/240 #23 IN this dying age of the FB as a full-time football position there are still teams around the NFL that want and nee one on their roster. I laugh at teams that e=bemoan their lack of a Red Zone running game, but don’t have a legit FB on their roster. Just before FSU brought in a guy named DALVIN COOK, they had a guy named KARLOS WILLIAMS, who was built like a FB and really blossomed as a RB, including a promising but brief pro career with the BILLS. His demise had more to do with off-field and personalty issues than lack of talent. Several FSU coaches have been quite vocal that STEVENSON could gain 100-yards per game if they needed him at RB. We got a glimpse of that in the Florida game when STEVENSON took 1 of his 2 carries to the house on a weaving run of 27 yards. He is also known to have reliable hands and run good routes on the rare occasions when he is thrown to. Most importantly for his position, he is a stout blocker, especially in the run game. He’s also the perfect specimen for Special Teams duty. He has already been announced to appear at the Senior Bowl venue next January, which will tell us even more about his pro potential as NFL coaches put him through his paces. Having a solid week in Mobile could put him in a strong position to be drafted next April.

COLLEGE MATCH-UPS WEEK 13

Time to give you a preview of some of the game match-ups on what is often referred to as rivalry weekend in College Football. This is the last full schedule week in the 2016 season. Amazing how the past 3 months have flown by. Another amazing season, with perhaps a few surprises left for this weekend.

TOLEDO (9-2) @ WESTERN MICHIGAN by 3 (11-0); Friday; 5 PM ET ESPN2
I find the MAC to be one of he most dynamic conferences in FBS football. This game is a good example of why. Both teams have dynamic offenses with a little defense thrown in for good measure. Plus there is a ton at stake in this game as the winner goes to the conference title game next week against 8-4 Ohio. There is even more on the line for WMU as the Broncos likely will be in line for the non-Power 5 conference spot in the Cotton Bowl if they can win out. This may be as good of a draft eligible QB matchup as you will see this year. The undefeated BRONCOS are led by senior ZACH TERRELL, who has developed nicely during his 45 starts in Kalamazoo. Toledo’s LOGAN WOODSIDE/#11, a junior, will likely return to school for 2017 and be a top 10 QB nationwide. HC P.J. FLECK of WMU is considered one of the bright young coaches in the nation, and may be a hot job interview for some very big programs come January. I consider COREY DAVIS/WMU #84 to be the top senior wideout for the 2017 Draft. Toledo’s RB/KAREEM HUNT/#3 may just be the top senior RB in the country as well. Don’t miss this game if you luv College Football. Prospects to watch:

TOLEDO                                                                              WESTERN MICHIGAN
#3 KAREEM HUNT/RB 5’11/225                                    #1 KEION ADAMS/ER 6’2/245
#23 DeJUAN ROGERS/FS 6’0/190                               #11 ZACH TERRELL/QB 6’2/205
#44 JAYLEN COLEMAN/LB 6’0/235                           #72 TAYLOR MOTON/OT 6’5/328
#74 STORM NORTON/OT 6’7/306                               #68 DAVID CURLE/DT 6’3/303
#80 MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE 6’5/270                         #83 MICHAEL HENRY/WR 5’11/189
#91 TREYVON HESTER/DT 6’3/300 INJ                   #84 COREY DAVIS/WR 6’3/210

AUBURN (8-3) @ ALABAMA (11-0) by 8; Saturday; 3:30 PM ET; CBS
One last chance for an SEC team to ruin the Tides perfect conference mark, before next weekend’s the conference championship game against Florida. I look for Auburn to keep this contest tight, with their tough and deep defense, at least for about 3 quarters. The Tigers running game must control the temp and the clock, and avoid turnovers. A fully healthy SEAN WHITE/QB/#13 would help that cause. But this ‘Bama D has a bully mentality, with an incredibly athletic frosh QB in JALEN HURTS who just gets better every game. I expect the Crimson Tide D to bust this open with some turnovers in the second half. But a big edge to Auburn if it comes down to a long FG in the end. Auburn’s CARLSON has a big, accurate leg. He’s special enough to be a possible Top 100 draftee if he comes out early. Prospects to watch:

AUBURN                                                                          ALABAMA
#1 MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT 6’4/305                        #10 REUBEN FOSTER/ILB 6’1/240
#15 JOSHUA HOSLEY/CB 5’11/198                               #22 RYAN ANDERSON/ER 6’2/252
#23 JONATHAN FORD/SS 6’0/203                              #54 DALVIN TOMLINSON/DT 6’3/307
#38 DANIEL CARLSON/K 6’4/213 JR                          #56 TIM WILLIAMS/OLB 6’4/237
#55 CARL LAWSON/DE/ER 6’2/257 JR                      #74 CAM ROBINSON/OT 6’5/325 JR
#63 ALEX KOZAN/OG 6’4/300                                     #88 O.J. HOWARD/TE 6’6/248
#94 DEVAROE LAWRENCE/DT 6’2/290                    #93 JONATHAN ALLEN/DE 6’3/295
……                                                                                          #26 MARLON HUMPHREY/CB/6-0, 200/RSO
……                                                                                          #4 EDDIE JACKSON/SS/6-0, 195

UTAH (8-3) @ COLORADO (9-2) by 2; Saturday; 7:30 PM ET; FOX
Fascinating storyline in mountain country where 9th-ranked Buffaloes can go from worst to first in the Pac-12 South as a win against the Utes sends Colorado to the conference championship game against somebody from the state of Washington just a year after the Buffs were 1-8 and dead last in the league play. The pressure is really on Colorado though as a loss means USC, which finished league play at 7-2 and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Colorado, advances to the conference title game. The key to me in this game is how healthy SEFO LIUFAU/QB/#13 is for the BUFFS, and whether or not the Colorado D can contain RB/JOE WILLIAMS/#28 who has been running wild since his return to the team from his self-imposed exile just after mid-season. If the game is indeed tight you might have to give UTAH the advantage with their PK/ANDY PHILLIPS being one of the best in the country. It’s nice to see a couple of really good teams that normally play under the radar getting a prime time Saturday night slot to display their wares. If this comes close to the COLORADO/WAZZOO showdown last weekend for excitement then you are in for a treat if you watch. Prospects to watch:

UTAH                                                                               COLORADO
#20 MARCUS WILLIAMS/S 6’1/195 JR                      #4 CHIDOBE AWUZIE/CB 6’0/205
#28 JOE WILLIAMS/RB 5’11/205                                #9 TEDRIC THOMPSON/S 6’0/205
#39 ANDY PHILLIPS/K 5’10/210                               #13 SEFO LIUFAU/QB 6’4/230
#49 HUNTER DIMICK/DE 6’3/275                           #55 JOSH TUPOU/DT 6’3/330
#53 SAM TEVI/OT 6’6/305                                           #81 SEAN IRWIN/TE 6’3/255
#93 LOWELL LOTULELEI/DT 6’2/310 JR              #98 JIMMIE GILBERT/OLB 6’5/228

FLORIDA (8-2) @ FLORIDA STATE by 5 (8-3); Saturday; 8 PM ET; ABC
Not much at stake here except bragging rights as the GATORS have already clinched an SEC East title despite a noticeable lack of offense, while the Seminoles are out of it with three losses. However, all the players know each other and in Florida bragging rights mean something. Despite winning the SEC East, Florida has struggled to put points on the board, but just wait another year or two when HC JIM McELWAIN gets that O in gear with his recruits. On the other side of things there is a lot of talk around the sunshine state that FSU HC JIMBO FISHER may find overtures from LSU too good to pass up. But for now he is guiding a very young, but talented team led by an explosive young man named DALVIN COOK, who could very well be the first RB taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watch for the Seminoles to go deep and try to exploit missing SS MARCUS MAYE, out with injury. Expect a lot of running by both teams, while they wait for their defenses to create some turnovers. I will take the Seminoles at home. Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA                                                                   FLORIDA STATE
#30 DeANDRE GOOLSBY/TE 6’4/245 JR              #4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR
#31 JALEN TABOR/CB 6’1/191 JR                          #15 TRAVIS RUDOLPH/WR 6’1/190 JR
#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244 INJ                #27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’1/185
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                            #29 NATE ANDREWS/S 6’0/210 INJ
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                      #44 DEMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/275
#94 BRYAN COX/DE 6’3/268                                  #72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330

Who Caught My Eye Week 12

DANTE BARNETT/S/KANSAS STATE 6’1/195 #22 Team leader who lost his 2015 season to a shoulder injury in Sept. He was 2nd Team All Big-12 back in 2014. Is back looking as good as ever. He is a fine all-around player who is effective in coverage and is aggressive in run support. He’s always around or on his way to the ball. Seldom fooled in his play reads. He gave up a 2nd Quarter TD pass even tho he had good coverage on the receiver. The QB for Baylor threw his receiver open with a ball to the outside, while BARNETT had coverage to the inside of the field.But BARNETT got revenge later on when he grabbed an INT to stop Baylor’s last chance to tie up the game. He returned that INT 48-yards, and K-State ran out the clock for HC Bill Snyder’s 199th coaching Win. For the game BARNETT had 4 tackles and the INT. Without a doubt BARNETT will make a fine Special Teams player at the pro level while he develops into a sub-package role player in a secondary. If his medical checks out at Combine he should be a late round draftee.

K.D. CANNON/WR/BAYLOR 6’0/180 #9 JR This young man has that special “it” factor about him that is best described as explosive. He displays good hands and can make grabs away from his body if the throw is a bit errant. He displays excellent body control and flexibility. His rhythm has been disrupted some the last two seasons as Baylor has been shuffling at their QB position because of injuries to SETH RUSSELL. True frosh ZACH SMITH was throwing to CANNON against K-State. I am curious to see what his 40-time is if he comes out and attends the Combine. With 2 games left in the season CANNON has 56 receptions, only 2 short of his career best. Against K-State he caught 9 balls for 91 yards, but could not crack the end zone. Given all the strife within the Baylor football program over the past year plus I would be surprised if CANNON did not come out, and secure a place in the 2nd or 3rd Round.

JAMAL CARTER/S/MIAMI (F) 6’1/210 #6 Overall things are looking pretty positive for the MIami football program in year one of he MARK RICHT era. And CARTER would appear to be one of the reasons for it, as well as being a recipient of the positive vibes of the RICHT coaching staff. CARTER looks to be a bit more free to rely on his reads and instincts under DC MANNY DIAZ. The Hurricanes victory over NC STate, on the road, was a clear indicator of CARTER’s new role. He split his time quite evenly between pass coverage responsibilities, while still having a big role in run defense where his size and hard hitting style work to his advantage. At the end of the day CARTER had 10 total Tackles in the Win, which included a shared TFL. CARTER made several significant plays that the officiating crew did not give him credit for. In the second quarter CARTER made a strip tackle on a screen play, which the Hurricanes recovered. The officials called it an incomplete pass. Not so sure I agreed on that call. While protecting the lead in the late 3rd Quarter CARTER went high to tip a pass back into the end zone to a teammate for an INT. His foot appeared to just touch the sideline negating the play. IMO, these plays both clearly indicated a high FBI on CARTER’s part as well as the athleticism to make things happen. His toughness on the field would also indicate to me that NFL Special Teams would be an added asset to his playing tool kit. I see CARTER as being a late round Pick not just another left over URFA.

JUSTN CRAWFORD/RB/WEST VIRGINIA 5’11/200 #25 JR Now before you jump all over me to ask how I can thumbnail a JC transfer, who wasn’t even starting until injuries hit the RB corps at WVU, understand please his situation. The clock is ticking on his life, and has been harsh at times to date. He already has a family to feed, and has shown plenty of talent in his short tenure with the Mountaineers. With injuries to the two guys ahead of him CRAWFORD became the man in this contest and really answered the call. By the end of the day, as WVU recovered from a miserable first half, CRAWFORD had carried the ball 24 times for 331 yards. He showed good burst, field vision and the balance to get yards after contact time after time. He is also pretty strong for his size. On the season (with 2 games left to play) CRAWFORD has 930 rushing yards, @ 7.6 ypc. He has 4 100-yard rushing games. Assuming another 2 healthy, strong games, plus a Bowl appearance he may approach 1500 total yards rushing. He’s already traveled a long and tough journey to get where he is. Why would he not think about heading for the NFL and the kind of money to support his actual family? It may sound crazy, but I see something special here, and a real “hardship” situation. I’d draft him in Round 3 for my team, unless a problem showed up at the Combine. Sorry Mountaineer fans, but in this case I would support one and done.

JOSHUA DOBBS/QB/TENNESSEE 6’3/207 #11 And away we go again, with another great athlete and an exceptional team leader, who just may be lacking a bit in the necessities to become an NFL QB. The VOLS have been derailed this season in large part due to extensive injuries to key players, especially on Defense. But heading into last weekends home game with MIZZOU the team was 7-3 and still had a chance to win the SEC East title, until FLORIDA beat LSU that is. Deservedly, DOBBS got a standing ovation when introduced on Senior Day. The VOLS defense could not stop Mizzou all day, but DOBBS did his best LAMARR JACKSON impression and helped the Offense put up 63 points. On the day, the multi-talented DOBBS posted these stats: Passing 15/22- 68%- 223 yards- 3TD- 0 INT; Rushing 10 carries, 190 yards, 2 TD. And yet, put me near the front of the line of doubters as to his prospects to be an NFL QB. His throwing mechanics are TEBOW-esque at times and his throwing accuracy has not allowed him to top 60% his last two years, as The Main Man. He also seems unsure of what he reads in a Defense at times, which causes him to make his throws too late at times. He can extend plays and commands the huddle and the locker room, without trying to dominate teammates. I fear that his lean frame, and propensity to take off with the football, will land him on IR on a regular basis as a pro. Can he be a multiple position player, and emergency third string QB? That may indeed be his future, although if willing to serve an apprenticeship in the CFL, who knows what he might look like coming back to the NFL in 3-4 seasons? I hope he takes a slot at the Senior Bowl under pro coaching for a week.

JAKE ELLIOTT/K/MEMPHIS 5’10/165 #46 Nobody at the NFL level wants to pin too much hope on college kicking prospects coming into the league and taking over their PK job. In fact the vast majority of NFL Kickers went undrafted. But every team needs a good one, so the search must go on. ELLIOTT just might be the first PK drafted in 2017. He wasn’t asked to perform heroics against Cincinnati, but he was perfect on the night going 4/4 on XP and hitting 2 of 2 FG. Despite his relatively diminutive size he has a strong leg. He can regularly reach the end zone with his kick-offs. And he’s more accurate on long distance FG than intermediate ones. He is 81.8% on 18 of 22 FG this season. But interestingly, he is 2/3 from 50+ yards, and 9/10 from 40+ yards. Those kind of numbers will get you drafted. He’s a cool customer and has the confidence of his coaches and teammates, that he will make big kicks and win them some games, late. He has totaled 102 points in 11 games so far this season. Watch for his name on Draft Saturday.

LUKE FALK/QB/WASHINGTON STATE 6’4/215 #4 JR As the season has worn on more QB prospects than not have fallen a bit in the evaluation process. One who has risen as his team has played well, is FALK for the Air-Leach attack in Pullman, WA. FALK is a former walk-on but don’t let that fool you. He was a well known HS talent, who got caught up in last minute recruiting shuffles. He is flourishing for LEACH, and showing NFL scouts that he has many desirable pro attributes. His stats in the big showdown with Colorado were not exceptional, but I am gong to make a couple excuses for him. I think the Buffalos have one of the best defensive secondaries in the country. I also felt the State OL gave up way too much pocket pressure around FALK. FALK played without his top target in RIVER CRACRAFT, and it took a while for his receivers to pick up their play. I counted 4 drops in the first two Cougar possessions. I saw a guy who locates his throws well the vast majority of the time. He also throws a nice catchable ball, despite the drops. He clearly takes time to go through his throw progressions and targets the right receiver much of the time. He can make all the throws, though some of his deep ones were a bit errant on this day. In the end he passed for 26/53- 49%- 325 yards- 3 TD- 1 INT. If FALK decides to come out I think he will be considered one of the Top 2-3 QB prospects. His interview work at the Combine will be critical, as pro personnel people try to gauge how his processing of the LEACH Offensive scheme could translate to the NFL.

KYLE FULLER/OC/BAYLOR 6’5/315 #55 There has been a bit of a trend in the NFL recently to concentrate more on technique and FBI at the OC slot. But there is nothing wrong with a big hulking strong guy at the position, especially for match-ups with teams that run a 3-4 scheme and have monsters like WILFORK & BRANDON WILLIAMS manning the Nose/0-gap slots. FULLER fits that role as a solid, big based body who can move in a limited area and understands the mental aspects of pass protection. FULLER stays on his feet and is always watchful of help situations he can involve himself in. He keeps his head on a swivel and can move straight ahead to help out at the second level. I saw him be asked to pull on several occasions against K-State and that was a challenge to him. He is adept at both run blocking and pass-pro because despite what some people envision when you mention the Baylor offense, they try to establish the run first, then pass whenever possible. FULLER should be an early Saturday Pick, who could develop into an NL starter in time. He may also be able to back-up at all three INT OL spots.

BRAD KAAYA/QB/MIAMI (F) 6’4/215 #15 JR I think we are all still trying to identify the top couple of QB prospects for the 2017 Draft. There are a good number of projects, a few of whom will likely become pro starters someday, but I sure don’t see the GOFF/WENTZ guys to take over the top of the Draft. Then again at this time last year I said that about both of them. KAAYA has been a starter for the Hurricanes since arriving on campus. The game with NC State was his 36th consecutive career start, even though when he takes his helmet off he still looks like a rosy cheeked frosh to me. Under some serious pressure from the Wolfpack D, KAAYA passed 22/38- 58%- 286 yards- 0 TD- 0 INT on the game. After some risky forced throws into coverage in the first quarter he throttled it back and let his running game and Defense control the game. He shows a nice, catchable ball, with a quick release. He’s not a big scrambler, but is athletic enough to extend plays. He holds his ground in the pocket under pressure. His passing numbers were hurt on multiple occasions by penalties committed by his OL, which called back significant completions. His mechanics are OK and improving. In fact here is the deal to me. New Miami HC MARK RICHT has his finger prints all over KAAYA’s play right now. That can only help the young man. If he stays another year with RICHT tutoring him, he might turn into a Top 10 Draft PIck for 2018. If he comes out I’d take him by late Round 1 if I needed a young QB for my franchise to develop.

ARTHUR MAULET/CB/MEMPHIS 5’11/190 #8 We are pretty late into another football season, and most of the tires have been kicked when it comes to the usual, known prospects. It is indeed a pleasure to unearth an additional talent this late in the process. So a big thank you goes out from Pigskin Paul to ex-NFLer COREY CHAVOUS, who does color analyst work and is a devoted Draftnik in his post-NFL days. I watched the Memphis/Cincinnati game last week and my ears perked up when I heard CHAVOUS talking about the play and pro-potential of CB/MAULET, who was not on my watch list, or anybody else’s as far as I know. I paid attention and agree with CHAVOUS. This guy has nice size and can cover as well as tackle in the open field. He owns the sideline. He uses excellent footwork, and fluid hip action to stay with receivers through their cuts. He is aggressive fighting off blocks from receivers, and had himself 10 tackles for the game. In the 3rd Quarter, he fought thru a TE block at the line-of-scrimmage and recorded a TFL on the Cincy RB. He looks to have a very high FBI in anticipating routes and diagnosing the overall action around him. He looked to me in this game like a “shut down Corner”. It’s only a snapshot of one game, but this guy deserves some attention and an invite to a January All-Star Game!

CONOR McDERMOTT/OT/UCLA 6’8/310 #68 A former Mr. Basketball in HS back in Tennessee. He now roams the football field as a very smart and athletic LT for the Bruins. He’s built for today’s NFL game, where precision passing attacks rule the field. He has decent functional strength, though certainly not overpowering, with very good foot action. His arms are very long and he fends off defenders, and steers them away from the ball. To me he looks like this year’s version of JASON SPRIGGS/IU, who was a second day draftee of the Packers after entering college with a basketball background. I especially like the fact that he doesn’t jump up at the snap of the ball. He keeps his feet moving and appears to be a natural knee bender. I am also impressed that after his first blocking assignment is over he is usually looking for another block to make. If he can somehow bulk up a bit in a pro weight room, then so be it, but he has the athleticism and attitude to get the job done. He did his part in helping an undermanned (because of injury) UCLA team hang with the Trojans into the second half of play.

TAKKARIST McKINLEY/DE/ER/UCLA 6’2/265 #98 It’s kind of hard not to root for TAK as he finishes up his senior season with the Bruins. He had a tough upbringing and had to take long route, which led him into the JUCO routes. But HC JIM MORA will tell you what a great job he has done for the Bruins and what a fine young man he is. He also happens to have one of the most sought after football skills in the NFL these days: that of an edge rusher. Entering the Southern Cal game TAK had recorded 18 TFL, including 10 sacks during the 2016 season. He beat LT/CHAD WHEELER on multiple occasions and despite not officially getting a Sack on the night, he had 3 QBH by my count. He officially had 4 tackles for the game, but he was an irritant all game long, and only the mobility of USC QB DARNOLD kept him from ringing up several sacks. He’s a bit light in the pants to truly set the edge as a DE, but there is speculation that he will run somewhere in the 4.5/40 range. Given his intensity and effort if that speed guesstimate turns out to be accurate I wouldn’t bet against him being able to adapt to a stand-up OLB slot in an NFL 3-4 base scheme. He’s a very good athlete with long legs and arms. He’s also a young man who realizes what a great opportunity football may afford him in his life ahead. This young man has more than enough “want-to” to make his mark as a pro.

TEDRIC THOMPSON/S/COLORADO 6’0/205 #9 THOMPSON is one of the best performers, on a top notch Colordao defense, which has had a resurgent season at 9-2 after the big home win over Washington State. He and teammate CB/CHIDOBE AWUZIE, may both be Top 100 Draftees next Spring. Led by these two aces COLORADO held LUKE FALK/QB (see above) to under 50% passing last Saturday. THOMPSON is solid and explosive to the ball & receivers. Overall, he’s a sure tackler and a tough dude. He is a much better cover guy than the majority of S in the college game, and currently ranks 3rd on his team in tackles. He finished 4th on the team in tackles last season with 63. With 26 seconds left to play THOMPSON sealed the deal with an INT. He also had several PBU (I counted 3) on the day and was credited with 5 total tackles. This is an all-around performer, who dies not shy away from the action in either the run or pass game.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL Rankings #4 11/20/2016

Down to the nitty gritty folks with most top teams having 2 games left, which includes Conference Championships in the neXt few weeks. Hell, we’ll be watching Bowl Games in early December, but those games won’t include the teams below, or at least they shouldn’t. Here we go again…

1) ALABAMA 11-0 Is it just me, or is this getting boring. They should apply to be an NFL expansion franchise.

2) CLEMSON 10-1 They have stumbled a few times this year, but they look stronger than the Big Ten’s best right now to me.

3) OHIO STATE 10-1 Some weeks they look mediocre, but we all know better than that.

4) MICHIGAN 10-1 This crew seems to be losing some juice, plus they haven’t had to win much on the road… yet.

5) OKLAHOMA STATE 9-2 Actually 10-1, with the big in-state showdown on tap with the Sooners. One of the best balanced teams in the country that can win with D or O.

6) WASHINGTON 10-1 Still a top notch young team in my opinion. How can you fault them for losing to the SAM DARNOLD Trojans?!

7) WISCONSIN 9-2 We’ve known all year how good their Defense is, and now they are scoring points in bunches.

8) OKLAHOMA 9-2 The big one is coming up (see above) but this team is tough to handle on Offense despite a mediocre, at best, Defense.

9) LOUISVILLE 9-2 This team is somewhat undisciplined and the OL is pretty bad. But LAMAR JACKSON/QB is still very special, and still has my Heisman vote.

10) COLORADO 9-2 A special team and a special year in Boulder. If LIUFAU can stay whole they can win a couple more games. May have the best secondary in the country.

11) SOUTHERN CAL 8-3 I can’t put them higher with 3 losses, but AD (After Darnold) they are almost unbeatable over 60 minutes. Watch out for this crew.

12) WESTERN MICHIGAN 11-0 This is as high as I can go given their level of competition, but undefeated is still undefeated. Big MAC showdown this week with Toledo @ 9-2!

13) BOISE STATE 10-1 It’s the Mountain West, but they have beaten 2 PAC 12 tams, plus BYU. Solid all around team with tough finale against the Air Force on the road.

14) FLORIDA 8-2 They may yet lose to FSU in the finale, but just think how good this team will be in a couple seasons when McELWAIN develops an Offense, which he will.

15) PENN STATE 9-2 I am still skeptical of their Offense, or lack thereof, but JAMES FRANKLIN is building his program and they will beat you with D and Special Teams.

16) HOUSTON 9-2 GREG WARD looks healthy again, and if all the talk about HC HERMAN to TEXAS isn’t too big of a distraction, a couple more wins might be in their immediate future.

17) NAVY 8-2 Nobody wants to play this disciplined, hard running option team.

18) TEXAS A&M 8-3 They have stumbled and are without TREVOR KNIGHT/QB, but they still have some star players on both sides of the ball.

19) WEST VIRGINIA 8-2 They came out over-hyped for their big home showdown with Oklahoma and laid an egg. Can DANA settle them down to Win 2 more games, that they should on paper?

20) STANFORD 8-3 They have righted the ship and McCAFFREY is healthy., and gaining crazy yards. After they bury RICE they will be a feared Bowl opponent.

21) NEBRASKA 9-2
22) FLORIDA STATE 8-3
23) UTAH 8-3
24) WYOMING 8-3
25) WASHINGTON STATE 8-3

That’s it for this week.

Pigskin

College Game Previews Week 12

OKLAHOMA STATE (8-2) by 5 @ TCU (5-4); NOON ET; FS1
State should be 9-1, but for officiating blunders and TCU lost 2 of its games by 3 points. TCU can stay in this one thanks in great part to having home field, and the improved QB play of KENNY HILL. But the fighting GUNDY’s are well balanced, have a top notch QB in MASON RUDOLPH and are tough as nails. Both teams can both run and pass, and play some tough D. If State wins they face a showdown for the championship of both the Big 12 and the state of Oklahoma, when they play the Sooners in 2 weeks. There is also a goodly amount of potential NFL talent to watch. Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA STATE                                                   TCU
#2 MASON RUDOLPH/QB 6’5/235 JR                      #21 KYLE HICKS/RB 5’10/200 JR
#28 JAMES WASHINGTON/WR 6’/208 JR            #94 JOSH CARRAWAY/DE/ER 6’4/250
#47 BLAKE JARWIN/TE 6’5/248                               #95 AARON CURRY/DT 6’2/280
#40 DEVANTE AVERETTE/ILB 5’11/230                #40 JAMES McFARLAND/DE/O 6’3/255
#6 ASHTON LAMPKIN/CB 6’0/190                          #30 DENZEL JOHNSON/SS 6’2/205
#13 JORDAN STERNS/S 6’0/200

WASHINGTON STATE (8-2) @ COLORADO (8-2) BY 2; 3:30 ET; FOX
Raise your hand if you suspected early last September that this would be a featured showdown game in the PAC-12 come November. All you liars with your hands up please leave the room. Both of these teams are legit and could end up in the New Years Bowl groupings. After starting 0-2 MIKE LEACH righted the ship and his team has won 8 straight and now currently lead the conference’s northern division. Junior QB LUKE FALK is gaining steam and could actually end up in Heisman consideration if he puts up big passing numbers in the final two games. Unfortunately, Falk will be missing one of his favorite targets in RIVER CRACRAFT who blew out a knee last weekend against CAL, but will have Gabe Marks who last week became the Pac-12’s all-time leading receiver. Colorado, which is in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South division, has been an even bigger surprise this year with multi-dimensional SEFO LIUFAU/QB leading the offense and a stout D which has held 5 opponents to 10 or less points this season. It warms the cockles of my heart to see two surprise teams like this have success this season. I’ll take the home team, but if FALK stays hot watch out. Prospects to watch:

WASHINGTON STATE                                                  COLORADO
#4 LUKE FALK/QB 6’4/215 JR                                           #13 SEFO LIUFAU/QB 6’4/230
#9 GABE MARKS/WR 6’0/188                                           #81 SEAN IRWIN/TE 6’3/255
#92 ROBERT BARBER/DT 6’3/309                                  #55 JOSH TUPPOU/NT 6’3/330
#18 SHALOM LUANI/FS 6’0/198                                      #98 JIMMIE GILBERT/OLB 6’5/225
#47 PEYTON PELLUER/LB 6’0/229 JR                            #4 CHIDOBE AWUZIE/CB 6’0/205
#58 RILEY SORENSON/OC 6’4/327                                   #9 TETRIC THOMPSON/SS 6’0/205
#76 CODY O’CONNELL/OG/6-7/355/JR

OKLAHOMA (8-2) @ WEST VIRGINIA (8-1) BY 3; 8 PM ET; ABC
Unapologetically, I will take the home team, the Mountaineers, in what amounts to an elimination game in the Big XII. I feel that WVU simply has a better balanced team this year and the Sooners D has been all but MIA this season. The cold night air in the mountains of West Virginia are not going to help the Sooners much either. Bobby Stoops has rallied his troops after a 1-2 start, but those losses were to HOUSTON and OHIO STATE. WVA surprised more than a few folks last week by going to Austin and beating a sound Longhorn team. IF West Virginia can get past this one they have a solid chance to survive the season with 1 loss, which should put them in the Top 10. This game should be intense and highly competitive. Hard to tell what kind of mood the Sooners locker room will be in after DE/CHARLES WALKER’s program defection to prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA                                                                         WEST VIRGINIA
#6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212                                       #7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’11/220
#32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’11/234 JR                                #6 DAKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/204
#5 GENO LEWIS/WR 6’1/201                                               #65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295
#11 DEDE WESTBROOK/WR 6’0/170                                #57 ADAM PANKEY/OG/T 6’5/316
#26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233                                       #97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275
#13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210                                         #13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208

SOUTHERN CAL (7-3) by @ UCLA (4-6); 10:30 PM ET; ESPN
Due to injuries UCLA has had a dismal season. But they have been competitive even in some of their losses. Plus, let us not forget that this is a SoCal rivalry with lots of talent on hand. Most of all it’s about a Trojans team that has risen like a rocket with the installation of RS Frosh QB Sam Darnold/#14. The kid who looks like a left coast LI’l ABNER has been unbeatable as their starter for the past month plus. Minus their super soph QB/JOSH ROSEN the Bruins are struggling to find a rhythm, but this series history is full of upset wins and it would be a big deal for pride and recruiting if JIM MORA’s troops could rally past USC. Not this time! A potentially great match-up within the game for you Draftniks to watch could be Edge-rusher McKINLEY/#98 of UCLA going up against the Trojans OT tandem of BANNER/373 & WHEELER/#72. Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA                                               UCLA
#22 JUSTIN DAVIS/RB 6’1/195                                               #32 NATE IESE/FB/TE 6’3/250
#1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215                                       #68 CONOR McDERMOTT/OT 6’8/310
#9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR                     #47 EDDIE VANDERDOES/DT 6’3/305
#73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/340                                            #98 TAKKARIST McKINLEY/DE/ER 6’2/265
#72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300                                         #9 MARCUS RIOS/CB 5’11/195
#2 ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR                         #10 FABIAN MOREAU/CB 6’0/200
#22 LEON McQUAY/FS 6’1/190                                                #3 RANDALL GOFORTH/S 5’10 190

Enjoy your college football day.

Pigskin

College Match-ups Week 11

BAYLOR (6-2) @ OKLAHOMA (7-2) by 3; NOON/ET ABC
Reality and distraction have hit the Baylor program, along with the tougher part of their schedule. OKLAHOMA has bounced back from a 1-2 start to seemingly right the ship. This is a critical game in the final month schedule gauntlet that the Big 12 puts it’s teams through. I will take the Sooners at home, but their lack of Defense worries me against QB/SETH RUSSELL, who I feel is one of the best QB in the nation. Expect fireworks, especially in the second half. Unless RB/PERINE is healthy there aren’t a ton of Draft prospects to watch here. So if you watch this one, just put down your scouting pad and enjoy the action of a good college match-up. Prospects to watch:

BAYLOR                                                                      OKLAHOMA
#17 SETH RUSSELL/QB 6’3/220                               #6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212
#9 K.D. CANNON/WR 6’0/180 JR                           #32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’10/233 JR
#55 KYLE FULLER/OC 6’5/315                                 #11 DeDe WESTBROOK/WR/RS 6’0/175
#9 RYAN REID/CB 5’11/190                                      #26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233
#28 ORION STEWART/S 6’2/200                            #13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210

WEST VIRGINIA (7-1) @ TEXAS (5-4) by 4; NOON/ET FS1
THE LONGHORNS have shown signs of life since losing to the two OKlahoma teams early in October. Not that they want to hear it, but CHARLIE STRONG’s players may be playing out the season to save their coach’s job. As long as D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB can pound out another 150+-yards TEXAS has a solid chance to win at home. WVU is a better team than many give them credit for, IMO, but they are vulnerable at the QB slot. At this time of year in close contests I really favor the home team, so give me Texas in a back and forth battle. Prospects to watch:

WEST VIRGINIA                                                       TEXAS
#7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’10/215                                #18 TYRONE SWOOPES/ATH 6’4/254
#6 DALIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205                               #33 D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB 6’0/238 JR
#65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295                             #76 KENT PERKINS/OG 6’5/320
#97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275                   #93 PAUL BOYETTE/DT 6’3/315
#13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/2078                          #40 NAASHON HUGHES/LB 6’4/239

LSU (5-3) by 3 @ ARKANSAS (6-3); 7PM/ET ESPN
The ‘Bama game was not the Win that Coach O needed to have a solid chance to lose the interim tag at the end of the season. But the next 3 are. If his team struggles down the stretch he’s probably out and the search is on. The D is stout, but the O is still poor overall. The Razorbacks are a big physical team, which LSU must beat with their team speed. I say they get it done somehow and the coaching watch continues in the Bayou. Lots of good talent to watch if you’re a Draftnik. Prospects to watch:

LSU                                                                                ARKANSAS
#7 LEONARD FOURNETTE/RB 6’1/230 JR          #80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’0/195
#83 TRAVIN DURAL/WR 6’2/205                             #4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218
#77 ETHAN POCIC/OC6’7/310                                  #83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255
#92 LEWIS NEAL/DE/ER 6’2/265                           #48 DEATRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280
#52 KENDELL BECKWITH/ILB 6’2/252                 #51 BROOKS ELLIS/ILB 6’2/248
#18 TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE/CB 5’11/191                  #37 TOBY BAKER/P 6’3/212
#33 JAMAL ADAMS/S 6’1/211 JR

SOUTHERN CAL (6-3) by 4 @ WASHINGTON (9-0); 7:30 PM ET; FOX
This is the really big one of the day, and if you have been watching Southern Cal since freshman SAM DARNOLD/#14 tool over as their starting QB, the Trojans have been cooking with gas, as my dad used to say. I respect the Huskies with JAKE BROWNING/QB/#3 at the helm, but they are now in the apparently jinxed No. 4 Play-Off spot, which means they may be doomed to lose this one. You Draft watchers will have to use your imagination with the Huskies who are relatively young, but the Trojans could be out there with 3 First Rounders for 2017 assuming WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER and CB ADOREE JACKSON/2 both declare for early entry. In fact, both of those guys should be locked into really intriguing one-on-one match-ups against the Huskies as UDUB has a quality corner of its own in junior CB SIDNEY JONES, while USC’s Jackson could be involved in a good one with emerging junior WR JOHN ROSS, one of the fastest players in the country.  This should be very high level entertainment for your viewing pleasure. And it’s not a really late time slot for a PAC-12 game. Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN CAL                                                            WASHINGTON
#1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215                                #15 DARRELL DANIELS/TE 6’4/240
#9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR              #11 ETHAN QUALLS/DT 6’1/320 JR
#73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/350                                       #5 JOE MATHIS/DE 6’2/255
#72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300                                #20 KEVIN KING/CB 6’3/190
#2 ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR                 #32 BUDDA BAKER/S 5’10/185 JR
#48 TYLER McNAMARA/TE/6-5, 245                             #1  JOHN ROSS/WR/5-11, 190/JR
#22 LEON McQUAY/SS/6-1, 205                                      #50 VITA VEA/DT/6-4, 335/RSO
…                                                                                                #26 SIDNEY JONES/CB/6-0, 185/JR
…                                                                                                 #36 AZEEM VICTOR/ILB/6-3, 230/JR

Dig in folks the number of undefeateds is dwindling with a chance or two for more changes this weekend.

Pigskin

Who Caught My Eye Week 10

Ouch, Week 10 already in the books for the 2016 college football season. That hurts. That being said, the only positive side is that we’re only a touch away from two months until SHRINE GAME & SENIOR BOWL weeks… also known as Pigskin Paul’s Festivus Celebrations. Now for some players that got my attention in last week’s action.

JAMAL ADAMS/S/LSU 6’0/210 #33 JR An exciting prospect who some of his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU. But ADAMS is a full sized thumper who already has better cover skills than TROY HAIR ever did IMO. Those coaches were primarily referring to his ability to cover the field and make big plays. But he is more disciplined player who can cover receivers downfield. He was outstanding against ‘Bama, which only managed 10 points against LSU. ADAMS has a high FBI and is considered a team leader. He jumped a throw on Alabama’s first possession and gave them a chance to draw first blood in the Red Zone. His offensive mates came up short. Late in the 1st Quarter, ADAMS downed a Punt inside the ‘Bama 5-yard line, on the Special Teams punt coverage unit. For the game he totaled 6 tackles, 1 TFL & 1 INT. I would expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft, and be the first true S taken, maybe even ahead of any of the CB prospects.

MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT/AUBURN 6’4/305 #1 I’ve had my eye on ADAMS since the 2014 season. His length and overall size make him look like a potential star. But he just doesn’t play with the fire or hustle often enough to be an impact player. It looked like he was progressing last season under DC WILL MUSCHAMP, but with WILL departed to South Carolina as head man, I see ADAMS out there taking up space much of the time. I feel like I see him way too often jogging along the line of scrimmage “in pursuit” of the ball as it moves away from his side of the field. But he very seldom gets to the ball carrier, unless the play is right at him. He fails to stay low off the snap and rises up to make a big blocking target for the OL. In the W over Vandy, he had 2 tackles, and 2 QBH. His appearance makes me think he should have another couple of tackles and perhaps a sack to add to that stat line. His apparent lackadaisical attitude tells me he will not be a Top 100 prospect, and may be a player who never lives up to his potential.

PHARAOH BROWN/TE/OREGON 6’6/245 #85 Two seasons ago as a Soph, BROWN was part of the high-flying DUCKS Offense under the direction of MARCUS MARIOTA, BROWN was voted first team PAC-12. His leg injury that cost him all of 2015 was pretty horrific and many questioned his return to the football wars. But here he is in 2016 looking almost as dynamic as his previous self and seemingly getting healthier and more productive every week. It’s been a tough season for the Ducks and in their effort to keep up with a surging USC team BROWN hauled in 5 catches for 30-yards and a TD. BROWN has a pretty lean body and I doubt he will ever be much of an inline blocking TE, but today’s NFL features more than a few long, lean pass catching TE, who are almost as fast at getting downfield as their WR counterparts. If he’s not dinged up, I would expect BROWN to get invited to an All-Star venue. But probably more important to his potential pro career will be his days at he Combine including the medical component, interview process and on-field measurables. A healthy, enthusiastic BROWN could make an interesting addition for a team like the CARDINALS, whose HC BRUCE ARIANS, collects TE as a hobby. Or in Green Bay, where a downfield threat at TE for AARON RODGERS could be just what the football doctor ordered.

ZACH CUNINGHAM/ILB/VANDERBILT 6’4/230 #41 JR Yep, add CUNINGHAM to the list of tackling machines playing LB in college these days, but don’t stop there in analyzing his pro potential. More than a few of his plays are impactful on the game’s outcome, and he’s one of the key components of a resurgent Vandy program. In 2015 he led the Commodores in tackles with 103. Vandy slugged it out with a solid Auburn team last weekend and CUNINGHAM was a major player in their tough defensive effort. He finished the contest with 9 tackles. He also appeared to have created a key fumble in the 3rd Quarter, but a questionable replay overrule wiped that play out. Earlier in the 1st Quarter he was Johnny-on-the-spot with a fumble recovery. He saved his best heroics for late in the day. With 1:41 left to play, and Auburn trying to stretch a 23-16 lead to 2 scores, he leaped high over the interior OL and blocked a FG to give Vandy one last shot to score. He’s a long, lean athlete who I think will play outside in a 4-3 scheme, or perhaps inside in a 3-4 ala RYAN SHAZIER. I expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft and be a first rounder. This elite athlete is also a great performer out on the grass.

KAREEM HUNT/RB/TOLEDO 5’11/225 #3 HUNT may be one of the most underrated prospects for the 2017 Draft. Its likely because he plays in the MAC, where many defenses are suspect to scouts. It could also be that he’s not a big guy with dazzling physical skill sets. But what he is, is a multi-purpose R who can get tough yards, catches well out in space and can pass-pro better than most RG coming out of college. The Rockets are blessed to have 3 quality RB in this year’s rotation so HUNT must share touches. But in the clutch this is their go-to guy. He has excellent balance which in great part accounts for his ability to get yards after first contact. He also has a nice spin move, which combined with his balance allows him to gain more yards if tacklers don’t wrap him up. As of their most recent game with Ohio, HUNT had over 700 carries in his Toledo career with only 1 recorded fumble, which he recovered. Can you think of an NFL Coach that won’t be impressed with that stat?! In the loss to Ohio, HUNT did his usual best to secure a Rockets victory with 17 carries, for 136 yards and a TD. He also had 2 receptions for an additional 21 yards. I believe he will make a very solid No 2 RB as a pro, and should be drafted early in Round 4 if not a bit earlier.

OBI MELIFONWI/FS/UCONN 6’3/216 #20 OBI is one of the prettiest athletes you will ever see in uniform and pads. He looks like the son of a Greek God came down to play with the mortals. And his production is super-human as well. This guy is gonna “rock it” at the Combine next Feb. He plays his deep S slot with great anticipation, FBI and execution. He had an average game for himself with 9 total tackles. He totaled 88 for the 2015 season. When you consider how feeble the UCONN offense is you appreciate the work of OBI and his mates even more. This guy was responsible for keeping 2 TD off the board by Temple, with two red zone Picks. The 2nd Quarter INT was made at the Huskies 1-yard line to stop a drive, while the 4th Quarter Pick was made in the UCONN end zone. If you have never seen MELIFONWI in action take the time to watch one of his final two games. And stay tuned, I will be shocked if he’s not in Mobile for Senior Bowl week. We’re talking a 2nd Round Draftee here, who his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU in his impactful play. But this guy is a full sized model of he Steelers great.

JOSIAH PRICE/TE/MICHIGAN STATE 6’4/260 #82 The 2016 Draft was almost bereft of prospects at the TE position. This year PRICE is in the middle tier of a much better group. He’s a full service TE who can block and catch the ball. I have seen him make some very acrobatic catches this season, for a pretty poor Spartans club. In the disappointing loss to Illinois PRICE pulled in 6 balls for 65 yards. He shows good hands and has some elevation to contend for jump ball throws. His good body flexibility makes his catch radius appealing to his QB. Will get a few yards after the catch with a spin move, and can run over smaller DB, but he’s not eluding or outrunning anyone in the secondary. Because of his ability to do everything you want as an inline TE, he can stay on the field for 4-downs. For an NFL team that needs a back-up TE I could see PRICE being an early Day 3 Draftee.

HASSON REDDICK/OLB/ER/TEMPLE 6’1/230 #7 I spent almost a quarter cursing my luck that REDDICK was not playing in this game against UCONN for the Owls. Then I realized that he was out there, but with a new number for his senior campaign. You see HC MATT RUHLE has a tradition that the team votes for the hardest working players to get all the single digit numbers and REDDICK was voted one of those guys, so his number 58 turned into 7. Sure enough once I got that straight there was REDDICK flying around the field and exerting QB pressure with his pass rush ability and speed. He’s technically a DE, but they do move him around. He will face the difficult transition to OLB, but while he learns his craft he will certainly make someone an effective speed/edge rusher for passing downs, not to mention a likely Special Teams standout. By games end the stats for No. 7 did indeed look like those of old No. 58. He tallied 8 tackles, which included 1 sack, 1 QBH and 1.5 TFL, in helping the Owls D pitch a shutout of UCONN. REDDICK will face that challenge of converting to a stand-up player, but I think the Combine will give every indication he has the athleticism to do so.

MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE/TOLEDO 6’5/260 #80 In this day and age late bloomers are few and far between. But ROBERTS may just be the real deal. He only caught 21 balls in 2015 playing part time. But he has emerged big time this season. He is not only a weapon for QB/LOGAN WOODSIDE, but a downfield threat given his speed and huge catching radius. Word is that last spring when NFL personnel people visited Toledo for a Pro Day, ROBERTS was one of the juniors allowed to participate. Eyes popped when they put the tape to his hands and measured 12″. That is perhaps the largest hand spread ever measured by NFL folks. And he uses those big mitts well. His huge frame presents a dynamic catch radius that any QB would be glad to throw to. Against Ohio he caught 4 balls for 54 yards and a TD. His TD catch was a gorgeous sideline, goal line catch in double coverage. He needs to improve his run blocking, but he’s not terrible by any means. Expect him at an All-Star venue and he looks like one of those guys who could absolutely be a star at the Combine. I truly believe he has a shot to crack a Top 100 prospect ranking by April. If you are a true Draftnik, make yourself a note to keep watching for his name in Draft talk over the coming months.

ZACH TERRELL/QB/WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’2/205 #11 What makes TERELL so enticing is his high FBI and ability to play within his limitations. He’s a decent athlete, with an average arm. He’s clearly a big part of his team’s being undefeated after humbling Ball State 52-20 last week. ZACH went 23/34- 367 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT for that game. He makes very good decisions and can extend plays outside the pocket. He is even athletic enough to tuck the ball and gain valuable yards at times. The total package that he represents just screams out, to me at least, that he may make a very solid NFL back-up QB. Every time his name comes up in Draft talk, his high FBI is always mentioned. He makes good decisions and few mistakes. That kind of discussion is quite common for pro back-up potential QB. The only real question in my mind is whether he gets drafted late of will have to sign as an URFA. Remember we had a record number of QB draftees in the 2016 Draft, most of them on Draft Saturday. Either way I look for him to make an NFL team next Summer.

CHRIS WORMLEY/DL/MICHIGAN 6’5/303 #43 I was so impressed with the solid, heady play of WORMLEY that I profiled him as a guy who would come out for the 2016 Draft. And to the delight of Wolverine fans he stayed in school to be part of the HARBAUGH magic that is now Michigan. He is a long, gifted player who may be best suited to play the 5-Technique in an NFL scheme. He’s not a speed rusher but has decent quickness and gets to the ball. He’s very versatile and would be a good scheme fit for a team like the PACKERS, who use their DL in multiple formations and roles. In fact he reminds me of a longer version of DEAN LOWRY, who the PACK drafted this year out of Northwestern. Potential Pro Bowler… No. But a very useful, versatile player who could be a big boost to an NFL DL.

College Football Rankings #3

1) ALABAMA 9-0 PPP#7
2) CLEMSON 9-0 PPP#5
3) MICHIGAN 9-0 PPP#4
4) WASHINGTON 9-0 PPP#4
5) LOUISVILLE 8-1 PPP#3
6) OHIO STATE 8-1 PPP#6
7) WEST VIRGINIA 7-1 PPP#3
8) AUBURN 7-2 PPP#3
9) OKLAHOMA STATE 7-2 PPP#4
10) WISCONSIN 7-2 PPP#4
11) WESTERN MICHIGAN 9-0 PPP#2
12) NORTH CAROLINA 7-2 PPP#4
13) OKLAHOMA 7-2 PPP#3
14) VIRGINIA TECH 7-2 PPP#3
15) WASHINGTON STATE 7-2 PPP#3
15) BOISE STATE 8-1 PPP#4

The PPP# is a tool I use for my rankings. The number to the right indicates the number of teams with .500 or better records each rated team has beaten. Therefore, ALABAMA has beaten 7 opponents who were at .500 or better without their Loss to Alabama. It’s my strength of schedule calculator, so to speak.

Pigskin

College Matchups Prospect Preview Week 10

Always a melancholy feeling when I start typing in double digit numbers to identify the week in the college season. We are now down the home stretch to anther College Football season, that I just couldn’t wait to get started, seemingly not that long ago at all. The hilite of the week of course has #1 ranked Alabama playing at LSU later tonight, but there are also some decent, competitive match-ups earlier today which also feature some pretty significant 2017 draft prospects. Enjoy!

PITTSBURGH (5-3) by 4 @ MIAMI (F) (4-4) 12:30/ET ACC NETWORK
The PANTHERS have a healthy dose of above average to really good 2017 pro prospects. And they have played a pretty tough schedule to date. Miami came out of the gate really fast at 4-0 but injuries and a tough schedule of their own have caught up with them. The Hurricanes have one of the top passing combos in the country in QB/BRAD KAAYA and WR/STACY COLEY. PITT features cancer survivor JAMES CONNER running behind an NFL size, and in most cases talent level, OL. Even though he is size challenged PITT DE/EJUAN PRICE is a TFL/Sack demon for the Panthers. I will give the nod to PITT based on overall talent, but it is a home game for he Hurricanes so don’t count them out.

PITTSBURGH                                                                       MIAMI

#5 EJUAN PRICE/ER/DE 6’0/250                                        #3 STACY COLEY/WR 6’1/195
#24 JAMES CONNER/RB 6’2/230 JR                                  #6 JAMAL CARTER/S 6’1/209
#53 DORIAN JOHNSON/OG 6’5/300                                 #15 BRAD KAAYA/QB 6’4/210 JR
#54 TYRIQUE JARRETT/DT 6’3/340                                 #26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS/S 6’2/208
#69 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT 6’6/300                                 #63 DANNY ISADORA/OG 6’4/310
#83 SCOTT ORNDOFF/TE 6’5/265

FLORIDA (6-1) by 3 @ ARKANSAS (5-3); 3:30/ET CBS
Once again HC JIM McELWAIN is winning with a lot if defense and smoke and mirrors on Offense. Other than the 38 points they gave up to Tennessee in their only loss the Gators have not allowed more than 14 points to any other opponent. Once Coach Jim gets another couple of recruiting classes under his belt, which I assume would include a top notch QB prospect, the Gators could become as dominant in the SEC East as ‘Bama has become in the West. Florida goes 4-deep at RB with underclassmen, and some very explosive, young wideouts. We could probably call Florida DB-U. TEEZ TABOR/CB & MATCUS MAYE/S are both ticketed for the NFL in 2017. Arkansas is a big physical team, with a well rounded run/pass attack Offense, but too many holes on D. QB/AUSTIN ALLEN/#8 has been a pleasant surprise replacing his brother BRANDON as the starter. And his receiving corps are all likely to make NFL rosters in the next two years. Expect a low scoring affair with the old formula of least turnovers making the GATORS prevail. This will be very physical folks!

FLORIDA                                                                               ARKANSAS
#20 MARCUS MAYE/S 6’0/207                                            #4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218
#31 JALEN TABOR/CB 6’0/191 JR                                     #48 DEATRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280
#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244                                    #70 DAN SKIPPER/OT 6’10/326
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                                        #80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’1/180
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                                   #83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255

OREGON (3-5) @ SOUTHERN CAL (5-3) by 5; 7PM/ET ESPN
His name is SAM DARNOLD/#14 and he’s the next great PAC-!2 QB for the Trojans. After a 1-3 start to the season under MAX BROWNE’s leadership, HC CLAY HELTON went to the RS Frosh and the team has gone 4-0 since then regularly lighting it up for 40+ points per game. Expect more of that against a very weak DUCKS D, which new DC BRADY HOKE needs to fix for 2017. SMITH-SCHUSTER & ROGERS may be one of the best WR tandems in the nation. ROYCE FREEMAN has had an up and down season running the ball, with much of the issue seemingly being a weak OL. But Oregon has some skill position tools to work with and can score with their true Frosh QB JUSTIN HERBERT improving weekly. This should be a very high scoring West Coast shootout. I’ll take the Trojans, but…

OREGON                                                                         SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

#1 AARON SPRINGS/CB 5’11/205                                  #1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215
#7 DARREN CARRINGTON/WR 6’2/195 JR               #9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR
#21 ROYCE FREEMAN/RB 5’11/230 JR                        #2 ADOREE JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR
#81 EVAN BAYLIS/TE 6’6/250                                      #72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300
#85 PHARAOH BROWN/TE 6’6/245                           #73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/340

NEBRASKA (7-1) @ OHIO STATE (7-1) by 10; 8PM/ET ABC
Both teams are 7-1, but that is where the comparables end. The inexperienced Buckeyes are still growing as a team, while the Huskers will be hard pressed to keep winning with a roster that has maxed out it’s ability getting to 7-1. I think the Buckeyes will have this game in hand by halftime. J.T. BARRETT/QB/#16 has been an on-again, off-again Heisman candidate and he needs some big numbers in this game to reassert himself after two straight mediocre efforts. It would be an understatement to say HC URBAN MEYER will have his team ready to roll as they pint toward Michigan at the end of the month. MIKE RILEY and his staff have really done a fine job getting their team to this point, but the carriage is about to become a pumpkin again.

NEBRASKA                                                                      OHIO STATE

#34 TERRELL NEWBY/RB 5’10/200                              #5 RAEKWON McMILLAN/ILB 6’2/240 JR
#84 SAM COTTON/TE 6’5/250                                        #8 GAREON CONLEY/CB 6’0/195 JR
#25 NATHAN GERRY/SS 6’2/210                                  #54 BILLY PRICE/OG 6’4/315 JR
#52 JOSH BANDERAS/LB 6’3/240                                #59 TYQUAN LEWIS/DE 6’4/260 JR
#55 KEVIN MAURICE/DT 6’3/300                                #65 PAT ELFEIN/OC 6’3/300
…                                                                                              #16 JT BARRETT/QB/6-2/225/JR
…                                                                                               #2 MARSHON LATTIMORE/CB/6-0/195/RSO
…                                                                                             #24 MALIK HOOKER/6-2/205/RSO

#1 Alabama (8-0) and #13 LSU (5-2); 8:00 PM ET; CBS … This game had all the potential to be THE game of the year in college football, but a couple of tough losses by LSU have taken some of the luster of the contest. At the same time, though, the question around college football is “can anybody beat Alabama?” and with LSU at home in front of what is arguably the most raucous crowd in the country, this could very well be test. Certainly, NFL scouts will be there in droves; indeed, there is absolutely no reason for any team not to have reps in Baton Rouge on Saturday night as these may be the two most talented overall teams in all college. Indeed, the only reason that LSU also isn’t undefeated is that for whatever reason the Bayou Tigers just have not been able to find a decent college QB to complete the picture. Otherwise, the numbers tell the tale. Each team has a pair of players currently ranked in the top 10 on the GBN Big Board and 7 of our top 17 prospects will be playing in this game. Overall, Alabama has 8 players in the top 100, while LSU has seven; for the record no other team has more than 6.

For the record, Alabama’s two ten prospects are DE Jonathan Allen and junior LT Cam Robinson, while star RB Len Fournette, who appears to be getting closer to 100% after struggling through the first half of the campaign with a nagging injury, along with junior FS Jamal Adams represent LSU in the top ten. At the same time, Alabama has as many as four other guys with legit top 20 grades including redshirt sophomore CB Marlon Humphrey, OLB Tim Williams, one of the most explosive edge rusher in the country, MLB Reuben Foster, and TE O.J. Howard, all of whom rate as one of the 1-2 prospects at their respective positions, while SS Eddie Jackson, OLB Ryan Anderson, and 5T DE Da’Shawn Hand have top 100 potential.

While Alabama could dominate this year’s opening round, LSU could be the leader of the second-day pack as the Tigers feature as many as a half a dozen second or third round prospects including WRs Malachi Dupree and Travin Dural, C Ethan Pocic, CB Tra’Davious White, ILB Kendell Beckwith and junior DT Davon Godchaux. And for future reference check out emerging LSU sophomore DE Arden Key (#49, 6-5, 235) who has all the look of a possible top 5 in 2018.

ALABAMA                                                           LSU

#74  OT  Cam Robinson, 6-5, 330, JR                   #7  RB  Len Fournette, 6-0, 230, JR
#50  OG Alphonse Taylor, 6-5, 345                     #15  WR Malachi Dupree, 6-2,1 90, JR
#88  TE  OJ Howard, 6-5, 245                              #83 WR Travin Dural, 6-1, 205
#93  DE  Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 295                        #77   C   Ethan Pocic, 6-6, 310
#9  DE  Da’Shawn Hand, 6-3, 280                       #76  OG Josh Boutte, 6-4, 345
#54  DE  Dalvin Tomlinson, 6-3, 305                   # 92 DE  Lewis Neal, 6-2, 265
#10  MLB Reuben Foster, 6-1, 240                      #57  DT  Davon Godchaux, 6-3, 300, JR
#56  LB Tim Williams, 6-3, 240                           #52 LB  Kendell Beckwith, 6-1, 255
#22  LB  Ryan Anderson, 6-2, 255                       #18 CB Tra’Davious White, 5-10, 195
#26  CB  Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 200, RSO        #33  FS  Jamal Adams, 6-0, 210
#4    SS   Eddie Jackson, 6-0, 195
#99  PK  Adam Griffith, 5-10, 195
#15   P    JK Scott, 6-5, 200, JR

Enjoy your Saturday football folks. Within weeks we’ll be bemoaning the end of the season again.

Who Caught My Eye Week 9

RODNEY ADAMS/WR/SOUTH FLORIDA 6’1/190 #87 This guy doesn’t put up huge catch numbers because he plays in an Offense where the QB is their best run option. So passing plays quickly turn into running plays when QB/FLOWERS takes off. But when you watch him for a whole game, as I did against NAVY his size and smooth running style make me think he has large upside for the pro game. Because the team runs so much he has become a very solid downfield blocker for his QB and fellow receivers. Against NAVY he caught 7 balls for 54 yards. He is also known his hurdling ability when tacklers go too low to tackle him. Even tho a reverse that he took for 35 yards was called back on a holding call, his speed and elusiveness was in plain view for all to see. He should make a nice local addition for the Shrine Game, and may raise some eyebrows at the Combine. THis man could develop into a more productive pro than he has been as a collegian.

JAMES CONNER/RB/PITT 6’2/230 JR #24 Everyone in the world of football knows the story of CONNER’s battle with cancer that caused him to miss the almost the entire 2015 season, as well as knee issues. He was declared cancer-free this past May and he has returned to the field with a vengeance. He’s a bit lighter than previously, but he still runs strong and hard, perhaps just a bit faster. He has a knack for finding openings to run through and has very good balance, thus gaining considerable yards after contact. He also looks to improved as a receiver since his return, which only enhances his value for the pro game. In an exciting game last Thursday against VA TECH, CONNER was a big weapon for the Panthers. For the evening he rushed 19 times for 141 yards and 3 TD. There will be medical concerns to get past relative to his cancer history, but at the very least I would expect some NFL team to take him in the 4th Round at the latest, if he continues his current efforts. I clearly expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft, having lost a full year in 2015. His background makes him a clear potential locker room leader at any level of play.

RASUL DOUGLAS/CB/WEST VIRGINIA 6’2/208 #13 I do not recall seeing DOUGLAS’ name on any early prospect lists last summer. But this incredibly gifted athlete has really looked solid this season for the Mountaineers. His size catches your eye first. Than watching him fly around the field and breaking up throws in coverage really impresses. Against Oklahoma State he had at least 3 PBU that I made note of. And he’s not hesitant to lay the lumber on potential receivers. He has recorded 3 INT through the first 7 games of the 2016 season. He seems to have great ball awareness, looking more like the receiver than the defender on some of QB/RUDOLPH’s throws last weekend. I am thinking that he will get invited to either the Senior Bowl or Shrine venue come January. I also hope he’s at the Combine, because he looks like the kind of athlete who could simply blow that venue up. Consider him a rising senior prospect.

ISIAH FORD/WR/VA TECH 6’2/190 JR #1 From what I have seen of FORD in 4 Tech games I have watched this season, this guy should be one of the top underclassmen wideouts to declare for the 2017 Draft and supplement a mediocre senior group at WR. FORD really showed what he’s made up in the close win over PITT. FORD grabbed 75 balls in 2015 and that was with mediocre QB play overall. Enter JC QB JEROD EVANS, with superior athletic skill and a big time arm for 2016. Even though EVANS spread the ball around vs. PITT, FORD was clearly his favorite target, with 10 CATCHES for 143 yards and 1 TD. FORD also also gained 26 yards on a reverse play. FORD has the speed to get deep and the size and strength to win contested throws. He shows acrobatic ability in wrestling away the ball from defenders on some of those lofted throws. He shows very good hands as well. With his 4th Quarter TD catch FORD became Tech’s career D catch leader with 23. Here’s betting he’ll get a few more in their final 4 games, plus Bowling work. THat combination of a high FBI, speed and athleticism could make him a First Round candidate next April if he comes out.

NATE GERRY/SS/NEBRASKA 5’2/220 #25 This savvy vet is a big hitter, with some basic cover skills. He’s been the leader of the Huskers’ both on Defense and Special Teams for several seasons. He’s a prime example of what is referred to as an in-the-box S. He led the team in tackles with 79 during the 2015 season. Despite a close loss to the Badgers last Saturday to end the team’s unbeaten streak, GERRY did his part with 7 tackles as well as 2 big INT. What he lacks in elite athleticism, he makes up for with FBI, hustle and high energy effort. What kind of pro he might be is a bit up in the air, but he will be drafted on Day 3, and will be tough for some team not to keep on their roster. What you see is what you get from GERRY, though in today’s NFL he may have to curb some of his launch-tackle propensity.

DORIAN JOHNSON/OG/PITT 6’5/300 #53 I have actually been keeping an eye peeled on the work of PITT OT/ADAM BISNOWATY. I still think ADAM is a legit prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft, by the middle of the 1st Quarter my eyes were glued to JOHNSON lat week. What an exceptional looking athlete for an interior OL. He shows excellent footwork and is smooth in his movement, almost as if he’s skating around the field. Incredibly quick off the snap and into the second level for downfield blocking assignments. They used him constantly to pull out for wide plays away from his side of the field. And he had no difficulty getting to his block. He also shows great balance to stay on his feet and ready for more contact. He executed a n almost perfect seal block to open a huge hole for JAMES CONNER to score through in the 3rd Quarter. He is functionally strong but does not overpower DL opponents. His best pro fit by far should be in a precision passing attack, which will give him the best chance to utilize his athleticism. THis is clearly a Top 100 prospect.

NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE/WEST VIRGINIA 6’2/275 #97 The 6-1 Mountaineers are having a really good season in great part because their Defense has stepped up and kept most of their games from being weekly shootouts. The 37 points they gave up last week is the exception to their pattern this season, and it cost them their first loss. The leader up front on D this year has been NWACHUKWU, who is their veteran leader and is working on a 3-year starting streak. He may be much better suited for an NFL 4-3 defensive scheme than his current 3-4 role. He is a bit light, but his quickness and speed are his best weapons. He provides some pass rush and will pursue from sideline to sideline. He’s one of those guys who just has a nose for the football, and can complete the play when he gets to it. He does have some pass-rush ability and might crack double figure sack totals for the 2016 season. Some tea,ms might see him as a solid OLB prospect with the loss of a few pounds. He should be a solid Pick for some team by Round 4 or 5 next April. Looking forward to seeing more of him in action at All-STar venues in January.

TYLER ORLOSKY/OC/WEST VIRGINIA 6’4/295 #65 ORLOSKY is about to log his 40th collegiate start, and right now he’s in consideration as one of the Top 4 OC prospects for the 2017 Draft. He fits in the category of flexible, athletic pivot men. He has good functional strength, but is not the blocky muscle man that PAT ELFEIN is at Ohio State. ORLOSKY relies on athleticism, especially foot quickness, and technique to get the job done. Against Oklahoma State he had his hands full with a group of 300 LB.+ interior DL, led by top prospect VINCENT TAYLOR (see below). But despite a few pocket collapses he more than held his own. His size could be an issue at the pro level, especially against those burly Nose Tackles, but I would concur with other Draftniks that he is also likely to start for a decade as a pro. especially for a team that features a precision passing offensive scheme. I’d look for him in Round 3 next April, unless he comes up short at the Combine.

VINCENT TAYLOR/DT/OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/310 #96 JR In most scouting circles, TAYLOR was considered a solid starter who would use the 2016 season to set himself up for a big year in 2017, in a push for elevated Draft status in 2018. Instead TAYLOR has exploded this season to be a dominant force at the line of scrimmage for the Cowboys. I have watched 3 Okie State games this Fall and TAYLOR has been a major force in every one of them. He refuses to stay blocked and also has shown good quickness for his size and body frame. He has been elite at collapsing opponent passing pockets, and some of that pressure has actually come when he has looped to the outside. He is adept at using his hands and arm strength to push around blockers, at times actually walking them back into their own QB. To add to his value he’s shown a propensity to pressure and/or block some place kicks. I’ve heard some talk of him playing the Nose at the next level, but I think he’s best suited for a base 4-3 scheme, with enough quickness to even play DE in Red Zone situations. To me he’s clearly a Top 100 draftee if he declares to come out early.

DeMARCUS WALKER/DE/FLORIDA STATE 6’3/275 #44 I disagree with those who see WALKER as a big time impact defender with First Round potential. I have watched 4 FSU games this season, including the Loss to Clemson last weekend and I have come away with a ton of respect for WALKER as a hard working, high energy player. He may lead the Seminoles D in snaps played if he keeps up his current pace. Against Clemson he was out on the field til the final whistle blew, but couldn’t quite disrupt QB/WATSON enough back in that pocket. He should also post double-digit sacks on the season, but I would not classify him as an elite pass rusher. He has been playing both inside and out this year along their DL. Despite trying hard, it’s not hard for him to get caught up in the trash when working inside at 275 lbs.. He shows some nice spin move action on the edge, but often doesn’t have the speed or quickness to get to the QB before the ball is released. It looks to me like he is not truly explosive off the snap. WALKER could play for my team, but I’m not drafting him any earlier than Round 3.

JAMES WASHINGTON/WR/OKLAHOMA STATE 6’0/205 #28 JR Another of the talented Junior wideouts that the NFL will be counting on to enter the 2017 Draft and boost the skill position talent pool. He’s the best all-around wideout at Oklahoma State since a guy named DEZ BRYANT, IMO. He has nice size and good speed. If he shows that his speed is elite at the Combine he could have a shot at Round 1 next April. Under HC Mike Gundy the Cowboys spread the ball around and try to balance the passing attack with a solid running game. Therefore you don’t see many games when WASHINGTON catches 15 balls. But he usually ends up as the teams top guy. Last week in the game with West Virginia, WASHINGTON caught 6 balls for 117 yards and 0 TD. He can catch in traffic or he can blow by the secondary and get deep. He had a 2nd quarter drop, which was almost a shock given his reliable hands. He is also not afraid to work the middle and take the hits if that is what the defense is giving. His speed and balance aid him in gaining yards-after-catch. In 2015 he caught 53 balls and averaged over 20-ypc. He’ll surpass that catch total this year, though his average per catch will drop a bit.

Who Caught My Eye Week 8

RYAN ANDERSON/ER/LB/ALABAMA #22 6’2/253 Much of what I have to say about ANDERSON as a prospect is similar to what I have said previously about TIM WILLIAMS his Alabama teammate. His two biggest attributes are ball pursuit and pass-rush pressure both of which he does with extreme speed and energy for a guy his size. I’m still not sure whether he has potential to stand up in a 3-4 scheme as an OLB, or will need to be a 4-3 scheme pass rush specialist. Either way I see him as a 3rd Rounder for next year’s Draft. He’s incredibly explosive at the snap of the ball. He was just too quick, and at times too strong, for an average A&M OL to handle. His stats for the game were 4 Tackles, 3TFL, 1 FF & 1 QBH. But he was a constant irritant who had to be accounted for on every snap. He has a thick, strong body which inflicts pain and damage when he gets to the ball. He’d be a feature defender on a team with less talent. In comparison to WILLIAMS, I think Anderson is actually a bit more productive in college, but does not have the athletic skills package that WILLIAMS brings to the field. Here’s hoping he shows up for the Senior Bowl in January, because I’d luv to see how a pro coaching staff would work with him.

LEONARD FOURNETTE/RB/LSU #7 6’1/235 JR Any time FOURNETTE is healthy (and he wasn’t even 100% vs. Ole Miss) he’s going to get a ton of yards and your attention. He’s a big bulldozing back, who also accelerates to speedster status once into a secondary. Ole Miss is one of the worst teams in D1 at stopping the run, and it made for a bad match-up for them against FOURNETTE. A solid LSU OL opened some major holes which FOURNETTE used to great advantage rushing only 16 times, while gaining 284 yards and scoring 3 TD. His TD runs measured 59, 76 & 78 yards. He can break tackles and has a nice stiff-arm. Now for the bad news… he is not the prototypical RB for today’s NFL, where maybe 6-8 teams are looking for a power running game practitioner. He can catch dump-off screen throws, but that’s about it as a receiver. He reminds me of HERSCHEL WALKER, in that he’s basically a straight line runner who must have interior holes to run through. He does not have the cutting ability of an ADRIAN PETERSON. I project he’ll go in Round 1, but most fans are going to be surprised when it’s not in the Top 10 Picks. But this was a great game effort on his part coming back from that early season ankle injury last weekend.

KEON HATCHER/WR/ARKANSAS #4 6’2/218 HATCHER missed most of the 2015 season and was a bit under the radar getting back on the field this year for the Razorbacks. He has steadily gotten back into his groove and is once again a key weapon for the team. His game is running good patterns and shielding defenders from the ball to make catches. Can get you some YAC, but is not a true deep threat. He shows better than average catching ability. Despite the team getting spanked by Auburn HATCHER did his part to keep the Arkansas offense moving, with 7 catches for 81 yards. I am projecting that he will generate interest from some NFL teams for Rounds 4/5 next April, and will have a solid chance to emerge as a No. 3/4 wideout, with a chance to really make his mark on Special Teams because of his size and athleticism. His Draft stock is rising right now with NFL Personnel people.

O.J. HOWARD/TE/ALABAMA #88 6’6/245 Seems like HOWARD has been at Alabama for about a decade, but it has only been 4 years. He’s been a contributor since his frosh season and has improved every season. He is a now a very solid blocker and makes a receiving target who is hard to miss at 6’6. He gets used sporadically as a receiving target in the ‘Bama offense, depending upon the opponent and type of game underway. He may go several weeks in a row with only 1-2 catches per, and then be a major target, like last week against A&M. He was looked to often last weekend and responded, as he usually does, with 8 catches for 70 yards and a TD. He’s a bit stiff so doesn’t gain a lot after the catch, but he shows reliable hands and looks to have a high FBI. Should make an excellent Red Zone performer as a pro, with solid blocking ability and a long frame, with a very large receiving radius. Probably the best all-around TE prospect for the 2017 Draft. He reminds me of BUBBA FRANKS, and could be a late First Rounder.

JALEEL JOHNSON/DT/IOWA #67 6’4/310 I had no intention of thumb-nailing JALEEL, when I grabbed my notebook for this showdown with Wisconsin. I respect JOHNSON, but had not regarded him as anything special going into this contest with UW. But by halftime it was clear he might be the best performer out on the field on this day. His forte’ is anchoring the middle of the Hawkeyes DL, whether in a 3-4 as the Nose, or 4-3 alignment. He shows very good strength and balance. He stays low and plays with very good leverage. But he also can beat his blocker and great penetration to the opponents side of the line of scrimmage. He shows exceptional strength, that compares with some DT I have watched that weigh 10-20 lbs. more than him. In an amazing display for an interior lineman he recorded sacks on 2 consecutive plays late in the 3rd Quarter against the Badgers. For the game he recorded 4 tackles, including those 2 sacks. But he did much more all day long helping to hold RB/CLEMENTS to under 3-yds per carry, except for one long run in the 4th Quarter. He looks like a Top 100 player to my eyes after watching him carefully in this game.

GUNNER KIEL/QB/CINCINNATI #11 6’4/215 The forgotten man. The JEFF GEORGE of his generation. Both statements might apply handily to this former 5-star Notre Dame recruit. He has bounced around and though he had a nice season in 2015 for Cincy, when not injured, he ended up in HC TUBERVILLE’s dog house this off-season. He was demoted to 3rd string and told to straighten up his attitude as a teammate and competitor. Word is he complied and when the two guys ahead of him went down Coach Tubs put him back out on the field a couple of weeks ago. Last week against East Carolina KEIL got the start and acquitted himself well in a Cincinnati victory. KEIL went 23/40- 58%- 348 yards- 4 YTD- 0 INT. That’s quite a solid performance, especially when you consider that the Bearcats Offense is challenged by a completely rebuilt WR corps this season, with their top 3 guys from 2015 in the NFL. The next question is whether or not KEIL keeps the starting job when others get healthy. Most folks will tell you that his arm is not his issue, it’s his head. With the urgency of need for NFL level QB I still have to believe some NFL team will have him on their roster next Summer, unless he implodes during the interview process next Spring. I’d like to see the Shrine Game send him an invite.

DESMOND KING/DB/IOWA #14 5’11/203 IOWA has had a very solid track record of sending DB to the NFL during the FERENTZ coaching regime. KING looked like one of their best ever in 2015 when he racked up 8 INT along with 13 PBU. He also posted 72 tackles. Many were surprised when he elected to return to school for a senior campaign. Another season doesn’t always add to a player’s value however. Especially relative to INT, which are often the residue just of luck as they are of hard work. Through half of this season his numbers are down to 1 INT and his draft stock is drifting, if not falling. He’s a good all around player who can do it all out on the grass, including serving as a very good Return Specialist. But I have a bad feeling from watching him again last week against Wisconsin, that his forty-time at Indy is going to have many teams talking about him as a S. Nothing wrong with that, but it won’t get him drafted and paid at the highest level. He had a nice game with a whopping 12 tackles, and a fumble recovery in the loss to the Badgers. But he was beaten on several occasions in coverage, including two by Badger TEs who out-quicked him for big plays. To be blunt I don’t think he’s a much better athlete than MICAH HYDE, another ex-Hawkeye playing in sub-packages for the Packers. I will label him a 2nd/3rd Rounder with his best NFL starting opportunity to be as a FS.

SAM ROGERS/FB/VIRGINIA TECH #45 5’10/228 ROGERS chances of actually being drafted next Spring are realistically not much better than 50/50. But he deserves to be thumb-nailed because of all the little things he can do for a team, and what a nice upgrade he could be for some team in the bottom quarter of their roster. TECH had a key game at home last week against Miami. The team needed to bounce back from an upset loss at Syracuse. They did so, and ROGERS was a big part of that victory. He looked exactly like the Swiss Army knife we’ve come to expect him to be. He was his usual strong presence on Special Teams, but a much bigger part of the Offense than he is most weeks. ROGERS caught two balls in this one and in the 2nd Quarter he took a short toss and zigged and zagged his way to a 52-yard gain getting the ball inside the Miami 10-yard line. In the 3rd Quarter he actually threw a pass for a 13-yard TD. He caught another pass later in the game and was his usual self, doing the ordinary things like blocking from scrimmage and covering punts on Special Teams. He looks like a solid addition to some NFL roster, and might get an invite to an All-Star game. We’ll get an idea how serious his Draft chances are when we see if he’s invited to the Combine.

SHAAN WASHINGTON/OLB/TEXAS A&M #33 6’3/235 I’ve watched A&M, and SEAN WASHINGTON, 3 times in the past month. And I cannot believe the guy isn’t more of a household name on Prospect watch lists. After all, it’s not like he came from nowhere, after notching 81 tackles in 2015 and has been seeing regular reps since his true freshman season in College Station. Through 7 games this season he leads the team in tackles with 56. He has nice size for an OLB spot in the pro game, and should grade out pretty nicely with his drill numbers at the Combine. He runs smoothly and covers a lot of ground. He timed some nice blitzes to pressure QB/HURTS a few times. He also shows good mobility in back-pedaling into position to defend the shallow middle of the field against the pass. I thought he as all over the field against ‘Bama, and sure enough he led the team with 11 tackles, including 1/2 TFL and 1 QBH. We won’t dwell on the fact that he committed a roughing the passer foul in the 3rd Quarter with hands to HURTS face. To add one more aspect to his value and versatility he also excels on Special Teams coverage units. He made an outstanding open field tackle on a punt return early in the 4th Quarter. In summation he does an awful lot of little things to help his team every game. If he’s not a Top 100 prospect he certainly should he highly sought after guy in Round 4, when the final day of the draft rolls around.

DAVIS WEBB/QB/CAL #7 6’5/225 WEBB sat the bench at Texas Tech once PAT MAHOMES got to campus. No shame in that though. After seemingly stating his intention to attend multiple schools as a graduate transfer, he ended up at CAL taking over for JARED GOFF in Sonny Dykes wide open attack offense. And he hasn’t missed a beat, putting up GOFF kind of numbers. Last week he guided CAL to a 52-49 victory over Oregon as they upped their record to 4-3 in what was labeled a big rebuilding year without GOFF, the first pick in the NFL Draft by the RAMS. Against the Ducks WEBB was 42/61- 69%- 325 yards- 5 TD- 0 INT. The tall, big handed WEBB has been quite the gunslinger for the Golden Bears all season. Yes, a lot of his throws could be classified as dink and dunk, but he has also shown nice touch on some long throws and seems to be reading the field quite effectively in choosing his targets. He’s also doing all this in light of the fact that when GOFF left town so did CAL’s 6 top receivers from last season. WEBB seems to be doing a fine job nurturing a whole mess of young, inexperienced receivers. He looks to be in control of the huddle (when they have one) and interacts quite a bit with his teammates on the sidelines. He seems to have been a very quick study in mastering DYKES’ offensive scheme. I have to think that he’s a legit pro prospect, albeit a few rounds later than GOFF. Hoping to see WEBB at a Star Game come January.

Pigskin

2016 College Football Rankings #3

1) ALABAMA 8-0 Still look like the best, head and shoulders above the rest.
2) MICHIGAN 7-0 Cruising toward showdown game with now imperfect Buckeyes.
3) WASHINGTON 7-0 The young Huskies look like the best of the Left Coast teams.
4) CLEMSON 7-0 Better be ready to be better on Offense or FSU could bite them.
5) LOUISVILLE 6-1 Can’t get sloppy waiting for Clemson to lose.
6) BAYLOR 6-0 The gantlet part of their schedule is looming after soft first half.
7) WEST VIRGINIA 6-0 Has looked like a solid, well rounded team… so far.
8) NEBRASKA 7-0 If they carry undefeated record out of Mad Town BIG 10 West is theirs.
9) BOISE STATE 7-0 The little school that could must stay on task.
10) OHIO STATE 6-1 THey need to find their Offense and win out, especially against Michigan.
11) TEXAS A&M 6-1 They must bounce back strong, because there’s no shame in losing to ‘BAMA.
12) UTAH 7-1 They look better than ever with JOE WILLIAMS/RB back but vs. Washington?!
13) FLORIDA STATE 5-2 Tough task… beat CLemson, or write off 2016 as a disappointment.
14) WISCONSIN 5-2 Have survived tough schedule, but that O must give them more vs. Nebraska.
15) W. MICHIGAN 8-0 A well balanced MAC team can still climb. Showdown with Toledo still looming.

That’s my Top 15 for now, with some very large showdowns looming this weekend: WASHINGTON @ UTAH, NEBRASKA @ WISCONSIN & CLEMSON @ FLORIDA STATE. Look at those games carefully. All the higher rated teams must win on the road.
I also bid adieu to HOUSTON & OLE MISS who both lost last weekend and no longer figure in the Top 10 hunt for this season. Better luck next year fellas.
One more big win this weekend for the following and their stick could jump up: FLORIDA 5-1.

Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE Weeks 5 & 6

Now that Hurricane Matthew has ended his unwelcome visit to Florida I am getting back on track and giving you 2 weeks of thumbnails in one column. I have indicated in each instance what game performance I am referring to.

BEN BOULWARE/ILB/CLEMSON #10 5’11/235 Another example of a less than ideal athlete who is too hard core of a ‘baller to be ignored. Just look at the tape from Clemson’s big W over Louisville. If you don’t have time to watch let me tell you his stat line for that game. 18, yes 18, Tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, Fumble recovery. I don’t care what size he is he can play for my team any day. He makes up for a lack of height and foot speed with a very high FBI and unbelievable energy level. He is also tough as nails and hurts people with his hard hits. Gotta be a great locker room influence as well. I’d draft him in Round 4 without hesitation.

EVAN ENGRAM/TE/H-B/OLE MISS #17 6’3/227 It’s still not clearly defined where his game will translate to as a pro, from a positional perspective. But it is clear that he is a smart, hard working player who is a good athlete. He’s not really fast enough to be a full-time WR, and not big enough to be an inline TE. But he can flat out catch, and gain extra yards. He’s a very good leaper and will win most high-point battles for catches. He has been CHAD KELLY’s go-to guy the past two seasons. Despite team losses he has come up big in the Rebels two biggest contests of the season so far. He had 9 catch games against both Florida State and Alabama. In today’s pass happy NFL there will be a spot for him in multiple roles on Offense. He may be athletic enough to really impress at the Combine and push his stock upward.

JORDAN EVANS/LB/OKLAHOMA #26 6’2/233 EVen though it wasn’t pretty at times the victory last week over Texas might just serve as a springboard to a more successful second half of the season for the 3-2 Sooners. One of their leaders on D is EVANS, who can do it all. He may play inside or outside in the pros depending upon base schemes/ But his biggest potential pro attribute is that he is effective at dropping into coverage. He is also active as a zone blitzer and spends a good deal of time on opponents’ side of the line of scrimmage. Against Texas EVANS was credited with 10 tackles, 1 1/2TFL & 1/2 sack. He appears to be a smart player with multiple skills. He was the team’s leading returning tackler with 83 in 2015. Given his athleticism he should make an interesting project for some NFL team next year, with immediate dividends yielded on Special Teams units. Looks mid-Round draftable to me.

JON HECK/OT/UNC #71 6’7/300 Notes from game action vs. VA Tech. Son of former NFLer ANDY HECK. JON is not quite the athlete his dad was, but has been a solid starter for Tar Heels since his frosh year. He has good size and excellent length, but looks like a RT to me, which is his college position. He is agile, but not terribly quick afoot. He shows fairly active hand and arm use in pass pro and shows good quickness off the snap. Can get to second level blocks quickly in run game. Let’s call him a good prospect, with lots of useful playing experience at high level of competition. IMO, he looks very similar to JOHN THEUS out of UGA last year, who did make the 49’ers roster this year. I’d plug him somewhere between Rounds 4 & 5.

JOHN JOHNSON/FS/BOSTON COLLEGE #9 6’0/200 THis guy looks to me to be almost the spitting image of JASON SIMMONS, who was drafted coming out of BC this past April. He plays the run and pass equally well, and never gives up on a play. He had 63 tackles and 3 INT in 2015 for the Eagles. He put up a valiant effort in a beat down by Clemson last week with 4 tackles and a fumble recovery. But the BC D kept them in the game into the 2nd half, when their hapless Offense sputtered, then completely shut down. I expect more of the same from BC on the second half of the season, so to some extent JOHNSON’s pro prospects may be decided at the Combine and All-STar games come January. A former CB, JOHNSON serves as the squad’s defensive signal caller from his S spot.

SAMAJE PERINE/RB/OKLAHOMA JR #32 5’10/235 PERINE was a revelation as a true freshman with over 1300 rushing yards. He topped the 1300-yard mark again as a soph. Behind a mediocre OL this season he has come on strong after a modest start. In the big win over Texas last Saturday he carried the Sooners on his broad shoulders with 214 yards on 35 carries, 6.1 ypc, and 2 very important TDs. The front seven of the Longhorns is a talented group to post those numbers against. He reminds me quite a bit of Jerome Bettis as a tough inside runner, who often dishes out more punishment than he takes. He runs through, and occasionally around defenders, showing good balance to pick up those yards after contact. He also shows good initial burst to and through creases in the Defense. Gets dinged up because of his style of running, but usually bounces back after a bit of rest and medical attention on the sidelines. Expect him to come out for the 2017 Draft, and be very attractive to an NFL team that likes a power running game. Looks like a Round 2 guy to me.

CAM ROBINSON/OT/ALABAMA JR #74 6’6/325 May just be the best overall OT in college football who is Draft eligible in 2017. He has monster size and decent mobility to go with it. He really does remind me of D.J. FLUKER, when he was at Alabama. He is a good pass protector, but will probably have some issues with the elite speed rushers in the NFL. Once he gets rolling secondary defenders look for a place to hide. Early in the Arkansas game he pulled all the way from LT to block on the right side of the formation. He got there before the RB although he was off-balance when he attempted to execute a block on the LB. Spent a little more time on the ground than I want from my elite LT. I jotted down a note at one point as he missed a second level block despite getting to his man. A play later though he shot off the snap of the ball and executed a devastating seal block on a LB. The talent is clearly there and he should start for a long time as a pro. If ‘Bama wins another national title expect him to start making big bucks as a pro by leaving school a year early. A sure thing 1st Rounder.

JORDAN STERNS/S/OKLAHOMA STATE #13 6’0/200 There seems to be a shortage of elite S prospects for most Drafts, and I think a big part of the reason or that is that so much is expected of today’s S. STRENS looks to have all the tools to excel as a pro. In 2015 he was credited with 108 tackles and 2 INT. He covers a lot of ground and has good ball skills, in addition to be a heavy hitting tackler. He was one of the big play stars against Texas 2 weeks ago. In the 3rd Quarter he had a red zone INT at the Cowboys 15 yard line to end a Longhorns drive. Later in the 3rd Q, he diagnosed the play and had a TFL to foil a Texas 2-point conversion attempt. He is a solid team leader, on and off the field. Looks to have a very high FBI. On my Big Board he’s a Top 100 senior prospect, who we should see in detail at the Senior Bowl.

CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB/CLEMSON #25 6’1/200 I have mixed emotions about this player short term, but he has the ability to start in the NFL with extra coaching. In games against both Louisville and B.C. he could have been called for multiple PI and holding penalties because he’s grabby and not as subtle about it as he thinks he is. I expect him to have the same penalty issues early in his pro career as TRAE WAYNES, who seems to be improving in his technique this year. He has nice size and likes to throw himself around the field and be physical. He is willing in run support, and also plays Special Teams coverage units. He also has shown some ball skills and is able to locate the ball for INT on a regular basis. He had 5 Picks and 9 PBU in 2015. He surely should end up a Top 100 prospect for the 2017 Draft.

JAHAD THOMAS/RB/RS/TEMPLE #5 5’10/188 Certainly he’s a bit small to be your No. 1 RB option at the pro level, but he can do so many things that he should make a nice change of pace guy for today’s NFL. He is fast (though not a blazer) and strong for his size. He rushed for over 1200 yards and 17 TD last season, as well as catching 22 balls. To illustrate his versatility and productivity let’s go back to Temple’s battle with Memphis. He rushed for 37 yards and caught 6 balls for 121 yards. One of those catches as a 61 yard catch and run TD. He also had a 37 yard Punt Return in that contest. He has that explosive, jitter-bug running style with the ball in his hands. Lots of tacklers are left grasping at air when he gets in the open field. There will be no interest in him from teams who want their RB group to all be over 200 lbs., but plenty of teams will luv his versatility. We should see him in Mobile or St Pete come January.

NOEL THOMAS/WR/UCONN #5 6’1/200 Some players fly under the radar primarily because of the team they play for. NOEL may fit that scenario as UCONN struggles to achieve competitive respectability. This past weekend they had a solid upset win over Cincinnati. The Huskies have had a solid defense pretty much since their entry into D1 football. Bt scoring has often been a challenge. THOMAS has emerged as a legit prospect after a 54 catch season in 2015. This year he has actually led the nation in catches for a few weeks. He rang the bell again last weekend with 9 catches for 135 yards and 1 TD. His long gain was 62 yards. He’s not a burner, but has good size and reliable hands. He runs solid patterns and gets yards after the catch if the throw is placed properly. He is also not afraid to work the middle and will make catches in a crowd. He’s also considered a fiery competitor. I like what I see in him and though I doubt he cracks the Top 100 as a prospect he surely in draftable, likely in the middle rounds.

GREG WARD/QB/HOUSTON #1 5’11/185 Here we go again, with a superior athlete, who is a natural born leader, but has very questionable size for the NFL. WARD has a very high FBI and displays pretty good throwing accuracy. But I do NOT see him as the next RUSSELL WILSON in the NFL.He’s about 20 lbs. lighter than WILSON and doesn’t seem to have 10″+ hands. I’ve watched 5 Houston games this season and he has starred in each one. Against a tough UCONN D two weeks ago he was superlative in all aspects of play. He passed for 389 yards and 3 TD, on 32/38, 84% completion percentage. When he needed he tucked the ball and scooted 12 times or 65 yards and another TD. THat’s what he does just about every week. He was even playing in that contest with an injured throwing arm that required training staff attention between every Houston possession. He has WILSON speed and elusiveness to keep plays alive. He’s gonna be tough for teams to pass on. I’d say expect middle rounds as a multi-purpose athlete for some creative offensive team. IMO, he could star in the CFL as a QB. I’d advise you to watch a Cougars game soon and catch this guy in action. You’ll likely be impressed.

JAMAAL WILLIAMS/RB/BYU #21 6’2/220 Expectations were high when WILLIAMS signed on with BYU, but injuries and personal issues derailed his past two seasons. He’s back for a senior year and is displaying the running ability experts always felt he had. He has an excellent combination of size and speed, actually reminding me a bit of ARIAN FOSTER in those regards. He rang the bell in a high scoring shootout with MAC Conference power TOLEDO. In that game he carried the ball for 286 yards and 5 TD. He ran through, around and past defenders all game long. He combines good field vision with quick cut and explosion through defenses. Just to prove it was no fluke he came back last week against Michigan State with 30 carries for 163 yards and 2 TD. With injuries to guys like FOURNETTE & McCAFFREY the door is wide open for WILLIAMS to post big numbers for the balance of the season and boost his Draft stock.

TIM WILLIAMS/OLB/ALABAMA #56 6’4/237 I am a sucker for full sized, athletic athletes in football uniforms. Mark me down for a man-crush on WILLIAMs. He does not ring the bell with big stat numbers, in great part because of the talent level of his teammates. There are only so many tackles to go around folks. But watching him in action as ‘Bama rolled over a solid Arkansas team was pure delight. WILLIAMS was a highlight reel star in the contest. He owned a couple of possessions in the 2nd Quarter. First he parlayed a fumble into a scoop and score on his part from 25 yards out. He also showed speed, and a great inside spin move to sack QB/AUSTIN ALLEN in that quarter as well. He also added a QBH in that quarter. This guy is likely to blow up the Combine and hopefully will show his wares in Mobile as well. Looks like a First Rounder to me. He can do it all!

That’s a wrap for my post-hurricane coverage. I hope to get back into a normal schedule this weekend.

Pigskin

2016 College Football Rankings #2

Believe it or not, the majority of D1 schools, whoops FBS, are half way through their regular season schedule. So let’s take a look at my updated rankings. This is the version in which i pay homage to the teams that are still undefeated. They get the top rankings one last time regardless of their strength of schedule.

1) ALABAMA 6-0 Just what the SEC needed was for SABAN to find a star frosh to play QB.
2) OHIO STATE 5-0 All those talented young players now have experience as starters.
3) CLEMSON 6-0 QB/WATSON seems to be getting into a groove; too bad ACC.
4) MICHIGAN 6-0 This team is rolling, and finally had a road game, winning 78-0.
5) TEXAS A&M 6-0 The Aggies are rolling and TREVOR KNIGHT/QB is leading the way Mr. Stoops.
6) WASHINGTON 6-0 The Huskies are kicking ass and taking names with a young, athletic team.
7) BAYLOR 5-0 Not quite as strong as last year’s team, but are playing with attitude.
8) NEBRASKA 5-0 With only Ohio State/Wisconsin road games looming this looks like 10-Wins.
9) BOISE STATE 5-0 Quietly off to another fine start in the no-respect Mountain West.
10) WEST VIRGINIA 4-0 Best balanced team HOLGORSEN has had but schedule now gets tougher.
11) WESTERN MICHIGAN 6-0 Look to be headed for a big showdown with Toledo next month.

12) LOUISVILLE 4-1 The schedule looks like they can run table the rest of the way & climb.
13) HOUSTON 5-1 Not expecting another slip-up B4 showdown with Louisville next month.
14) TENNESSEE 5-1 Maybe they will tighten things up after their turnovers were insurmountable.
15) WISCONSIN 4-1 Key to their season now boils down to Ohio State this weekend in Madtown.

Honorable Mention: NAVY 4-1; VIRGINIA TECH 4-1; UTAH 5-1; ARIZONA STATE 5-1

That’s it for now folks. I’ll post an update in two weeks, and I expect some serious changes, but not the the top of the rankings.

Pigskin

WEEK 5 College Game Previews

We’ve now reached the sweet spot of the weekly college schedule with most teams playing conference opponents almost every week. The TV scheduling people have seemingly saved the best game for last this week as you will see below.

TENNESSEE @ GEORGIA by 3; Saturday; 3:30/ET; CBS
A big SEC showdown with the happy circumstance for a “must win” Bulldogs squad, who need to bounce back from their loss at Ole Miss last week. The VOLS are still undefeated after some tough early season games. Their Offense has shown signs of life, but their OL has made it a challenge for QB/DOBBS get a passing game in gear consistently. UGA RB NICK CHUBB is banged up again and how healthy he will really be to tote the rock in this contest is up in the air as game time approaches. I am projecting Frosh QB/JACOB EASON to break out in this contest, especially if CB/CAM SUTTON is MIA again for the VOLS secondary. So give me UGA at home with their young QB having a big game. Prospects to watch:

TENNESSEE                                                                    GEORGIA
#11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207                                    #72 TONY CATALINA/OT 6’5/305
#1 JALEN HURD/RB 6’4/240 JR                                     #73 GREG PYKE/OT 6’6/313
#21 JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN/LB 6’0/225                    #27 NICK CHUBB/RB 5’10/225 JR
#23 CAM SUTTON/CB/RS 5’11/185                                  #42 TIM KIMBROUGH/LB 6’0/226
#24 TODD KELLY/S 5’11/208 JR                                      #20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200

WISCONSIN @ MICHIGAN by 10 3:30/ET ABC
Showdown time, Big 10 style. After a convincing win over Michigan State last weekend the Badgers now get to travel into Ann Arbor. Not Good! The Wolverines are as hot as a smoking gun and I expect them to keep up the pounding that they have been inflicting on opponents so far this season. Their smallest margin of victory has been their 17 point W over Colorado. It should be noted that this is their 5th straight home game to open the season. They need to bank all the wins they can before they hit the road. UW is one of the biggest surprise undefeated teams in the nation. But all good things must end and that will be the name of the game for the highly competitive BADGERS. By the way the Wolverine have 3 senior receivers (2 WR/TE) who are all fighting for places in the Top 100 Draft Prospect lists. Then, of course, UM’s best prospect is redshirt sophomore OLB/S Jabrill Peppers, who is getting some legit top 5 consideration. Prospects to watch:

WISCONSIN                                                                          MICHIGAN
#47 VINCE BIEGEL/OLB 5’4/245                                          #88 JAKE BUTT/TE 6’6/250
#6 COREY CLEMENT/RB 5’11/215                                         #86 JEHU CHESSON/WR 6’3/200
#23 DAVE OGUNBOWALE/RB 5’11/217                                #82 AMARA DARBOH/WR 6’2/215
#8 SOJOURN SHELTON/CB 5’9/175                                      #26 JOURDAN LEWIS/CB 5’10/175
#42 T.J. WATT/OLB 6’4/257 JR                                                 #5 JABRILL PEPPERS/LB/RS 6’1/210
#15 ROBERT WHEELWRIGHT/WR 6’3/205                        #43 CHRIS WORMLEY/DE 6’5/303

OKLAHOMA by 3 @ TCU SAT 5PM/ET FOX
After a hugely disappointing 1-2 start to the season BOBBY STOOPS got exactly what he and his staff needed last week in the form of a BYE. I am of the opinion that things will have been adjusted and put in place so that his team is ready to start the season over and run the table. If they can defeat TCU on the road their schedule says they have a chance. TCU is 3-1, but that one L was in against their only meaningful opponent to date, Arkansas. KENNY HILL/QB has been cooking lately and now needs to step it up against another top notch opponent. There should be a high level of urgency from both teams in this contest, which can make for a tight exciting contest. Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA                                                                            TEXAS CHRISTIAN

#26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233                                            #94 JOSH CARRAWAY/DE 6’4/250
#5 GENO LEWIS/WR 6’1/201                                                   #20 DEANTE’ GRAY/WR 5’10/175
#6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212                                          #30 DENZEL JOHNSON/S 6’2/215
#13 AHMAD THOMAS/FS 6’1/210 #                                        #40 JAMES McFARLAND/DE 6’3/250
#11 DEDE WESTBROOK/WR 6’0/170

LOUISVILLE @ CLEMSON by 4 8PM/ET ABC
The showdown of the first month of the 2016 season could be this contest. Two undefeateds with aspirations for Final Four spots featuring a matchup of the two most exciting QB in college football. LAMAR JACKSON/QB for Louisville has actually out produced DeSHAUN WATSON to date, but that could change. JACKSON is a more explosive runner, but WATSON has developed into a better passer for the time being. The wild card in this game could turn out to be a big play CARDINALS defense, which by far has the most star power of the two rosters. The CLEMSON OL matching up against the Louisville front 7 could be the true key in this one. I’m giving it to the home team, but I sure wouldn’t be betting any money on this match-up. Prospects to watch:

LOUISVILLE                                                                              CLEMSON
#97 DEANGELO BROWN/DT 6’0/308                                      #10 BEN BOULWARE/ILB 5’11/240
#92 DeVONTE FIELDS/DE 6’4/245                                           #16 JODAN LEGGETT/TE 6’5/255
#25 JOHN HARVEY-CLEMONS/LB 6’5/230                           #25 CORDERA TENKERSLEY/CB 6’1/195
#55 KEITH KELSEY/LB 6’1/230                                                 #94 CARLOS WATKINS/DT 6’3/300
#17 JAMES QUICK/WR 6’1/191                                                     #4 DeSHAUN WATSON/QB 6’2/210 JR
#2 JAMARI STAPLES/WR 6’4/195                                               #7 MIKE WILLIAMS/WR 6’4/220 RS/JR

Enjoy your football weekend and make sure you have your eyes glued to that ACC showdown Saturday on ABC!

Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE Week 4

KENDELL BECKWITH/ILB/LSU #52 6’3/247 Another tackling machine from the LSU program, but in this case he’s a full sized ILB. Second leading tackler on the 2015 team, 2nd to NFL draftee DEION JONES. He looks to be well on his way to leading the team in tackles this season. He was all over the field in the loss to Auburn, ending up with a dozen tackles. He plays sideline to sideline, but is especially adept at meeting runners at the line-of-scrimmage. Is a big hitter similar IMO to REGGIE RAGLAND, formerly Alabama. For his size, he has good range to cover the middle of the field on shallow throws. He should also rattle some bones at the pro level on Special Teams. Like JONES, I would expect him to be a possible 2nd Rounder.

BREON BORDERS/CB/DUKE #31 6’0/175 Unfortunately the first thing you notice about BORDERS is his slight build. But when you watch him in action he plays a solid full game, including tackling in run support as well as out in the open field. He has cover skills that fit a zone scheme quite well. In the big DUKE “upset” of Notre Dame he played his usual all-around game. He was in on 5 Tackles, forced a fumble (which he recovered) and had 3 pass break-ups. He might be a late round draft pick, but if not he will be a highly sought after URFA. And my guess is he will be a tough late cut for some team next Training Camp/Preseason.

BRYAN COX/DE/FLORIDA #94 6’3/269 He is indeed the son of former NFL star of the same name. He has a mean streak in him and is tough as nails. He left the game against Tennessee with a leg issue, but later returned to action. He’s not a strict speed edge-rusher, but has some serious pass rush skills. He had 3.5 sacks and 6 QBH last season, playing in a very deep DL rotation, and looks to be poised to improve on those numbers with additional playing time in 2016. Even though he is slightly short of ideal size to hold the edge he uses his strength and toughness to hold up against the run. He must be blocked at the snap or will find his way to the ball. A good all around DE for an NFL 4-3 scheme. Likely to be a rotational player. I like his toughness and effort, and of course his genes.

ZAY JONES/WR/EAST CAROLINA #7 6’1/197 Seems hard to believe that a guy who finished 2015 with 98 receptions could be under the radar, but JONES seems to be to many folks. He clearly has the speed to go deep. He is a very good target, with exceptional ball skills and good hands. He will catch dump off throws all day long and stretch the catch into first downs with his elusive run after the catch ability. Early in the VA TECH game he had a beautiful one-handed grab, battling a defender along the sideline. The play went for 34-yards but was called back by a holding penalty against the ECU OL. High FBI, which showed when he turned defender on a poor 3rd quarter throw, and prevented an INT. On the day he caught 10 balls, for 115 yards. ECU looks like a .500 team this year, which will cost JONES some exposure, but watch for him at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
His versatile game reminds me a lot of a bit bigger STARLING SHARPE when he was in college.

TODD KELLY/FS/TENNESSEE #24 5’11/208 I realize that KELLY is only a junior and I was not excited about him as a prospect until I watched the VOLS break their losing streak to Florida last weekend. He’s the best all-around S I have seen on the field for Tennessee since a guy named ERIC BERRY played there. He was all over the field against the Gators with 5 tackles, but seemed to be around the ball on almost every play. He also grabbed himself an INT, and of course he was the guy who covered a FLA onside kick to pretty much wrap up the game with 4:17 remaining. He is also known as a team leader out on the field of playas well as being a locker room leader and very high character guy. He is currently wearing #24 as his uniform number in tribute to a Tennessee HS player who was gunned down protecting several teem girls during gang violence. In his spare time he has attended several games to watch that player’s younger brother perform. This is a man before his time and if he comes out early at the end of this season I’d certainly be scouting him heavily.

GEORGE KITTLE/TE/IOWA #46 6’4/246 Full sized, multi-skill TE are not the vogue in college football these days. Many teams are more likely to insert an extra OL into their goal line offense than a solid TE. KITLE fits into that scenario as a prospect IMO. Other than lacking true downfield speed, he blocks well and has good hands. He also shows the ability to run through and over DB once he catches the ball. But the Hawkeyes just don’t feature their TE slot very often. He had 2 catches for 56 yards in the Hawkeyes squeaker 14-7 win over Rutgers. I think KITTLE has a chance to emerge as a solid player at the NFL level. Now that Iowa’s top wideout, MATT VANDEBERG, is out for the season they may be forced to go to KITTLE more often. If so watch for him to step it up and excel. I am looking forward to watching him ply his wares at the Senior Bowl in January.

JORDAN LEGGETT/TE/CLEMSON #16 6’5/255 The TE is not used as a target a lot in the Clemson Offense, but LEGGETT shows enough athleticism to make me think he may have a better career as a productive TE in the NFL than he has during his career in college. He runs well and has reliable hands. He’s a willing blocker and should get better. He seems to glide around the field as a receiver. We were told that he would targeted more in the game against GA TECH, but after a fast start the team went back to it’s WR group most of the time. LEGGETT finished the day with 4 catches, for 31 yards and a first quarter TD. He’s the team’s best TE since DWAYNE ALLEN, and to my eyes has the potential to be more of a receiving threat in the NFL.

GREG PYKE/OG/GEORGIA #73 6’6/315 PYKE has moved outside to OT this season, after settling in at OG last season. He’s holding his own out there but his limited mobility and choppy footwork are clearly best suited inside and that is how NFL Personnel people will judge him. He’s a strong guy and a hard worker. Playing in the UGA Offense means he’s used to both run and pass blocking and will likely not miss a beat going to an NFL team. Since he is not expected to win an NFL starting job right away his position versatility may make him a valuable multiple position back-up. In the loss to Ole Miss he left the game with a leg injury. Luckily for the Bulldogs he sucked it up and was back on the field holding his own in the second half. There are a good number of former GEORGIA OL in the NFL and I expect PYKE to rank as a solid mid-rounder for next April’s Draft.

SETH RUSSELL/QB/BAYLOR #17 6’3/220 RUSSELL is off to a solid start in leading the Bears to a 4-0 mark this September. He’s coming back off a chipped bone in his neck that caused him to lose most of the 2015 season. But he shows no ill effects from the injury so far this season. He’s a stout guy, built along the lines of MATTHEW STAFFORD. He doesn’t have STAFFORD’s cannon arm, but he can throw a decent deep ball. He reads the field well and has the mobility to extend plays outside the pocket. He can also take off and run the ball when receivers are covered or the pocket collapses behind a relatively inexperienced OL. Flying a bit under the radar this season Baylor has piled up some hefty point totals and a heady QB is a big part of that. After a lightning/game delay RUSSELL pretty much carved up a solid Oklahoma State defense. He passed for 387 yards, going 18/28, 64%, 3 TD and 1 INT. He also tucked the ball under his arm 10 times and rushed for 65 yards. He’s a very different player and athlete, but I think he’s every bit as much of a pro prospect as BRYCE PETTY was, who he replaced at QB for the Bears.

DAN SKIPPER/OT/ARKANSAS #70 6’10/319 I have watched Arkansas in 3 of their first 4 games. And even though really long, tall OT are not all the vogue at the pro level this former basketballer has good mobility and can run a bit. He’s handling things well at LT, but I could see him out at RT as a pro. He’s never going to be able to play at a low pad level, but for his height he does pretty well. He also uses his long arms well to ward off defenders. He keeps his feet under his pads in pass pro and moves more like a guy 6’6. SKIPPER brings a bonus skill to his game on Special Teams. He has developed a knack for using his length to block kicks. He is on the verge of setting an NCAA record with a handful of additional blocks in the remainder of this season. In essence, I have watched him play consistently well this year, and I think he is a valid mid-round prospect.

RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS/NORTH CAROLINA #3 5’10/185 This guy has been busting returns since he showed up on campus as a frosh. He started the game against PITT with a 54-yard Punt Return, which unfortunately was negated by penalty. But on this day his big contributions came as a receiver, a role in which he has improved his skills every season. He was the star of the late game drive that netted UNC a shootout victory. For the whole game he pulled in 16 catches, for 208 yards and a TD. He has the quickness to get open from the slot, but he also has the pure speed to take the top off of the secondary, which guys like EDELMAN & WELKER have never had. He’s about the same size now as he was coming into college, but most NFL teams have at least one smaller guy on their to balance out their receiving corps. Watch for SWITZER to wrap up a mid-round draft spot when he blazes his 40-time at the Combine next February.

Pigskin

PIGSKIN’S COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 15

Believe it or not, many college football teams are 1/3 of their way through the 2016 regular season already. Since most of the coming weeks games will land on October 1st it seems like time for me to post my first rankings of the 2016 season. Since we have a relatively small game sample size I am limiting this first list to 15 teams.

1) ALABAMA 4-0 Same old, same old.
2) OHIO STATE 3-0 Et tu URBAN?!
3) LOUISVILLE 4-0 PETRINO rises from his own ashes.
4) CLEMSON 4-0 Too good not to be here, but not playing top level yet.
5) MICHIGAN 4-0 The Fighting Harbaughs look for real to me.
6) TEXAS A&M 4-0 This ain’t their first 4-0 start under SUMLIN.
7) HOUSTON 4-0 TOM HERMAN could be the next “great one” & Big 12 better expand now.
8) TENNESSEE 4-0 Not in top gear yet, but they have survived a tough opening schedule.
9) STANFORD 3-0 Their overall style can be boring, but they are rock solid. Time will tell.
10) WISCONSIN 4-0 DITTO above!
11) WASHINGTON 4-0 The hot, sexy team with no senior-itis to worry about.
12) FLORIDA STATE 3-1 Ran into buzz saw in Louisville, but this young team will improve.
13) UTAH 4-0 Not convinced they have horses for long haul, but what a start.
14) NEBRASKA 4-0 DITTO above!
15) BAYLOR 4-0 Nice to see HC JIM GROBE finally lead a talent laden roster.

We’ll look at this list in a couple more weeks. Expect changes.

Pigskin

College Football Week 4

Saturday Sept 24 NOON ESPN
GEORGIA @ OLE MISS by 5
I truly believe that Ole Miss is the better overall team in this one, but I do have concerns about whether they can bounce back again from a loss to a Top 10 team with a superior effort. They may have too many injuries already to compete against top teams every week that their SEC schedule requires. Ole Miss will also be pitted against one of the top frosh QB in the country in JACOB EASON. But I do think QB/CHAD KELLY has the moxie to raise his team up again. The Rebels have to find some sort of running game to balance out their offense, while the D has got to contain the UGA running attack featuring CHUBB/MICHEL. I’ll take Ole Miss to bounce back again, but will not be shocked at all if the Bulldogs win on the road. Prospects to watch:

GEORGIA                                                                          MISSISSIPPI

#27 NICK CHUBB/RB 5’10/225 JR                                  #1 TONY BRIDGES/CB 6’0/185
#81 REGGIE DAVIS/WR 6’0/170                                   #10 CHAD KELLY/QB 6’2/215
#42 TIM KIMBROUGH/LB 6’0.226                               #12 TONY CONNER/S 6’0/215
#17 EVAN ENGRAM/TE 6’3/235                                    #20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200
#93 D.J. JONES/DT 6’0/324                                            #73 GREG PYKE/OT 6’6/313

Saturday Sept 24 3:30 CBS
FLORIDA @ TENNESSEE by 3
I wanna pick Florida in this contest to make it 12 straight versus the Vols, but the Gators will using back-up QB/AUSTIN APPLEBY to steer an already mediocre Offense. However, the Gators’ D is tough as usual and TENNESSEE has looked downright anemic at times on offense. This could be a snoozer for those who like scoring; indeed, the best pro prospects on both side of the ball – CB Teez Tabor for the Gators and UT DE Derek Barnett, a couple of juniors with 1st round talent for 2017 – play defense. The VOLS, though, have enough talent to post some points, at least on paper. But they have looked like a team stuck in the mud so far this September. Logic says UT QB/JOSHUA DOBBS will lead the O out of their doldrums sometime soon. It had better be this weekend or they may get shut out by the Gators D. Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA                                                                          TENNESSEE

#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244                                #11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207
#94 BRYAN COX/DE 6’3/268                                            #1 JALEN HURD/RB 6’2/240 JR
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                                    #21 JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN/LB 6’0/225
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                                #9  DEREK BARNETT/DE/6-3/260/JR
#20 MARCUS MAYE/S 6’0/207                                       #50 COREY VEREEN/DE 6’2/249
#31 TEEZ TABOR/CB/6-0/200/JR

Saturday Sept 24 8PM/ET ABC
STANFORD @ UCLA by 5
Okay, so its still September, but this game has all the earmarks of a preview of the conference championship game in December. This is especially a big chance for the Bruins to demonstrate that they are not just paper tigers in a “soft” PAC-12. STANFORD is by far the most physical team in the conference. And the Cardinal gets just enough Offense to win so far, led by all-purpose O weapon CHRIS McCAFFREY, who is a threat to break things open every time he touches the ball. Opposing defenses have been keying on McCAFFREY and his numbers so far are modest, at least by his lofty Heisman type standards, but most college football watchers feel a breakout performance is eminent. BRUINS QB/JOSH ROSEN is off to a mediocre start after his outstanding frosh season in 2015. But part of his issues can be traced to an almost completely overhauled group of skill position players to work with. He too, should get better as the season goes on. My thinking here is that when you combine home field advantage with better overall team speed UCLA may be able to outscore Stanford by game end. Prospects to watch:

STANFORD                                                                           UCLA
#67 JOHNNY CASPERS/OG 6’4/296                                   #3 RANDALL GOFORTH/S 5’10/190
#10 ZACH HOFFPAUIR/FS 6’0/197                                   #68 CONOR McDERMOTT/OT 6’9/310
#99 LUKE KAUMATULE/DE 6’7/295                                #10 FABIAN MOREAU/CB 6’0/200
#29 DALLAS LLOYD/SS 6’2/213                                         #32 NATE IESE/TE 6’3/250
#5 CHRIS McCAFFREY/RB/RS 6’0/202 JR                     #47 EDDIE VANDERDOES/DT 6’3/305 JR
#3 MICHAEL RECTOR/WR 6’1/185

Saturday Sept 24 Arlington, TX 9PM ESPN
ARKANSAS by 5 @ TEXAS A&M
I am of the belief that the Aggies may regret giving up a home game to play in Jerry’s World. In the meantime the Razorbacks look to be coming around overall as new QB/AUSTIN ALLEN gets more comfortable. Hogs’ head guy BRET BIELEMA may be the “mouth that roared” but he also knows fundamental football and how to coach it. The key matchup here is likely to be the Arkansas OL trying to protect ALLEN from the fearsome pass rush of DEs MYLES GARRETT and DAESHON HALL at the DE slots. Indeed, from a pure draft perspective, watching Garrett, arguably the top prospect overall for the 2017 draft, and Hall go against massive 6-10 Hogs’ RT DAN SKIPPER may be the best one-on-one watching of the weekend. Also keep an eye on A&M FS Justin Evans who is one of the hot draft commodities around these days. Indeed, lots of talent and teams that can both put up points in bunches should make for an exciting time under the Big Top.

ARKANSAS                                                                         TEXAS A&M
#51 BROOKS ELLIS/LB 6’2/248                                          #14 JUSTIN EVANS/FS 6’1/195
#4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218                                       #15 MYLES GARRETT/DE 6’5/262 JR
#80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’0/195                                     #10 DAESHON HALL/DE 6’6/260
#70 DAN SKIPPER/OT 6’10/326                                         #65 AVERY GENNESY/OT 6’5/310
#83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255                                 #11 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR 6’4/190
#48 DIETRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280                                      #33 SHAAN WASHINGTON/LB 6’3/235

Enjoy the action folks and be sure to check the entire weekend’s slate of games. This is an upside weekend for quality game action.

Pigskin