NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
WHO TO WATCH IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL THIS WEEKEND
Pretty good schedule to kick off the first week of the 2014 season with a number of really good inter-conference games between ranked teams; there are also at least a couple of games featuring match-ups of top-rated draft classes for next May's lottery.
And it starts early Saturday evening when #16 Clemson plays at #12 Georgia in their annual shoot-out at 5:30 PM ET on ESPN. Both teams are breaking in new QBs with Tajh Boyd and Aaron Murray off to the NFL. And that could shift the focus to the running game and defenses for both teams. If it comes down to that figure Georgia has the edge as the Bulldogs feature one of the best 1-2 punches in the country at the position in juniors Todd Gurley (#3, 6-0, 230) who many consider to be the top prospect in the country at the position, and Keith Marshall (#4, 5-10, 220), who for good measure just may be the best backup RB in the country. The Dawgs also have a couple of top 100 type prospects on defense including MLB Ramik Wilson (#51, 6-1, 235) and junior OLB Jordan Jenkins (#59, 6-2, 245), while CB Damian Swann (5, 5-10, 180), DE Ray Drew (#47, 6-4, 275), WLB Amarlo Herrera (#52, 6-1, 245) and SS Corey Moore (#39, -1, 215) are later round candidates. Same for veteran QB Hutson Mason (#14, 6-3, 205), who takes over the offense from Murray, WR Michael Bennett (#82, 62, 205) and C David Andrews (#61, 6-2, 295).
This game could also feature the week's best individual match-up when Bulldogs' junior LT John Theus (#6-5, 300) goes up against star Clemson DE Vic Beasley (#3, 6-2, 225), the leading returning sacker in big-time college football who has top 10-15 potential for the upcoming draft. However, while he plays mostly with his hand on the ground for the Tigers, Beasley isn't all that big and likely will have to make the switch to OLB at the next level, although there are plenty of 3-4 teams that would love to add his speed and motor to their outside pass rush. Beasley, though, is the Tigers only bona fide prospect for 2015, although veterans such as WR Adam Humphries (#13, 5-10, 190), DE Corey Crawford (#93, 6-5, 270), and MLB Stephone Anthony (#42, 6-1, 235) are decent later round or free agent prospects.
There is also a potentially very interesting SEC-Big 10 battle when LSU plays Wisconsin at 9 PM ET on ESPN. And speaking of running the ball, expect both the Badgers and Tigers to lean heavily on their ground game in this one. Wisconsin, for example, will try and slow down the Tigers by running star RB Mel Gordon (#25, 6-0, 210), who could ultimately challenge UGA's Gurley for the top grade at the position, to the right, to the left, up the middle, with a little around the end tossed in for effect! Gordon will run behind a typically huge Wisconsin OL anchored by huge RT Rob Havenstien (#78, 6-7, 335), although junior LT Tyler Marz (#61, 6-5, 325) is probably the unit's best overall prospect.
LSU also has a story at RB as this game marks the college
debut of true freshman RB Leonard Fournette (#7, 6-0, 230), the most
celebrated recruit at the position to come into the college ranks in a
while. Unfortunately, Fournette won't be draft eligible until 2017.
That won't keep any scouts away, though, as LSU also has its share of
top prospects for 2015 including G/T La'el Collins (70, 6-5, 315) and
junior FS Jalen Mills (#28, 6-0, 190), while wide-body junior OG Vadal
Alexander (#74, 6-5, 345) are DE Jermauria Rasco (#59, 6-2, 265) are
solid second-tier types.
The neat thing about the early season games is the chance to see
prospects from teams that don't get on national TV all that often,
going up against Power 5 opponents. That will be the case when Fresno
State plays at #15 Southern California on FOX at 7:30 PM ET. That will
give folks a chance to watch FSU safety Derron Smith (#13, 5-11, 200)
and 5-Tech DE Tyeler Davison (#92, 6-2, 305), two of the better
prospects in the country at their respective positions.