What Caught My Eye Week 13, 2021

November 30, 2021

The big news of this past week in college football, at least on the field, truly had to be JIM HARBAUGH, and Michigan, finally beating Ohio State.  No matter what anyone in the Wolverines’ Football Program says, that is one huge gorilla off of their back. Coach BO can rest easy, for now, up in football heaven. They played the game in their traditional smash-mouth style.  Now stay focused gang, IOWA is not as deep in talent as you are, but they are fundamentally sound and will pound right back at you. I am projecting a low-scoring game with both teams pounding away with their run games.

On the other hand, Ohio State Head Coach RYAN DAY really needs to put the magnifying glass on the current Buckeyes recruiting strategy. The Buckeyes Defense looked more like the Oklahoma Defense in this contest, and through much of the 2021 season. They need to recruit more beef along the defensive front, including defenders with a bit more fire in their bellies. Recent Buckeyes teams have had some issues stopping the run when they play top teams. Let this game be a lesson learned, not an ongoing trend for Ohio State defensive units.

A couple of major barn burners around college football. A resilient AUBURN football team, playing without their starting QB BO NIX and their family legacy Placekicker ANDERS CARLSON, took Alabama to overtime and then some before succumbing to a suddenly mortal 2021 Crimson Tide group. The record may not show it overall, but a very good first season for HC Bryan Harsin down on the Alabama Plains.

OKLAHOMA STATE finally got a gorilla off of their backs with a win over bitter in-state rival OKLAHOMA Sooners. It was a case of the 3-Star recruits, beating the 4 & 5-Star recruits. And it was a nail biter as the score should indicate. The news perhaps got even worse for the Sooners faithful on Sunday when we all learned that LINCOLN RILEY was taking his game to Hollywood, or more significantly Southern Cal. He ought to be able to keep some of those West Coast skill position players home.

Other big time names to move around on the College Coaching Carousel were LA/LAFAYETTE young star coach BILY NAPIER, who is heading to Gainesville, to take over the Gators football program. In his four seasons heading up the Ragin’ Cajuns, he just recorded his 3rd straight 10-Win campaign. Within a couple of years, look for this guy to own the fertile State of Florida recruiting process.

So let’s head on down to my Scout’s notebook for the long past weekend:

#1     TYLER BADIE    RB    Missouri   5’9/200     MIZZOU has an average season in almost every aspect of play. They held their own most weeks, upset a couple of clearly better teams and lost to teams they were expected too. But they are not an easy out for most SEC opponents. Last season, LARRY ROUNTREE just missed rushing for 1,000-yards and was drafted by the Chargers. He’s RB3 for them right now. BADIE stepped into the RB1 job for the Tigers and surpassed that magic 1,000-yard mark with 1,604- yards at  6.0 yds per carry. The topper to his standout season was his work in the final game in a 34-17 Loss @ Arkansas. As the game slipped away late, BADIE became the Tigers showpiece. By games end, the hard running BADIE had carried the ball an amazing 41 times for 219 yards, and 1 TD. He is also a nice weapon and receiver for his QB. On the season, he also caught 54 balls for another 330 yards and 4 TD’s. Do your quick math and the young man had 1,934 yards from scrimmage. With a 6-6 record, the team is Bowl eligible. If they play that 13th game, this mighty-might will no doubt surpass the 2,000-yard mark for the season. Given his ability and durability, I would think some team needing depth in their RB room would draft him in Round 6 or 7.

#21    MONTARIC “BUSTER” BROWN    CB  Arkansas   6’1/190     A nice sized athletic CB that shows excellent ball skills as well as a feisty, competitive approach to his game. BROWN put his ball skills to good use this season with 5 INT’s. In fact, his overall stats should give you an idea of how effective he is in coverage situations, with 5 INT’s & 5 PD. He also was credited with 53 tackles, and had 1 FF/1 FR . In games that I have watched this year featuring Arkansas, I also feel safe in saying that he displays a feisty/combative attitude toward receivers that he is charged with covering. I see him as an early Day 3 Draftee that should see the field early in his pro career. It was announced over the weekend that BROWN has accepted an invitation to the 2022 SHRINE Game.

#2   MATT CORRAL  QB   Ole Miss  6’1/205        Another of the “top” QB prospects that I have been holding off on thumb-nailing this season. It seems that on several occasions when I was preparing to evaluate his play, he was banged up and very limited in his running ability. And his movement in and out of the pocket is part of his appeal as a potential pro QB. But unlike SAM HOWELL, he runs as a last option on passing play calls. I had heard CORRAL was reasonably healthy for the Egg Bowl so here we are. I wish he was 2″ taller, and 15 lbs. heavier, but wishing in this case accomplishes nothing. CORRAL looks to have an above average arm. He has improved greatly in extending plays and reading the field for his receivers. Taking off to run in most cases is his last option. I am giving credit for much of that to LANE KIFFIN and his Offensive staff for working with CORRAL. He has nice touch on most throws and will spread the ball around, tho he clearly liked his top target (DRUMMOND double digit catches) in this important contest. He is a capable runner when things open up for a QB run. Ole Miss put up 31 points in this game and counted on their D to control QB/WILL ROGERS from State. When you look at the stats, you realize how effective CORRAL, almost quietly, was: 26/34- 76.5%- 234 yds- 1 YD- 1 INT, 12 rushes- 45 yards- 1 TD. Most impressively for me, CORRAL completed 68.3% of his throws with a TD/INT ratio of 20/4 in the 12 Game schedule. I don’t expect him to be the first player taken in the 2022 Draft (when he officially declares), but his playing style and even his demeanor remind me of a guy named BAKER MAYFIELD, who ain’t bad at all leading an NFL team in Cleveland. He’s a First Rounder, and maybe the first QB taken in the Draft.

#67    CHARLES CROSS    LT    Miss State  6’5/305   Might be the best OT I have scouted this Fall. I realized, just in time, that I had not watched a Mississippi State ballgame this season. So what better time/place to do so than in the Egg Bowl match up with in-state rival Ole Miss. If he declares for inclusion in the 2022 Draft Class, I see him being in some heated Draft Room discussions by scouts over whether he or Evan Neal should be the first OT picked in April. CROSS looks to have all the skills and attitude you want protecting your QB’s blindside. He has excellent foot movement whether back peddling in pass-pro, or charging downfield for 2nd and 3rd level blocks. I saw him get clearly beaten once against Ole Miss, and it was when he and his OG partner collided while trying to contain SAM WILLIAMS (see below) who made a swim move to the inside. He looks well conditioned for his size and still had juice in his blocks in the 4th Quarter. His arms look long enough for an OT, though not vine-like, ala NEAL. Is absolutely tenacious when he locks onto a defender. Plays to the whistle. He, like NEAL, is a serious candidate for a Top 10 Draft slot.

#1    MARTIN EMERSON   CB    Miss State     6’2/200      The more games I watched this season, I began to recognize that the CB position might be one of the most talented position groups in the next Draft. And now that I have finally watched Emerson in action, I count him in as one of the more talented CB’s if he throws his helmet into the ring for Draft inclusion. He’s a big bodied guy who can really run. Because he is physical, and fast, he plays receivers quite aggressively in press-coverage, depending upon make up speed and ball skills to close on the ball once it is in the air. I saw him get beaten twice against Ole Miss, but more often than not, CORRAL took one look to EMERSON’s side of the field and threw the other way. He had 4 Tackles against the Rebels, and they were physical. He still has some refinement needed for his game. The NFL is loaded with receivers that will match his physicality and battle harder than your average collegiate wideout for the ball. But he has the tools. With some pro coaching, he should improve over the first couple years in the League. A Day 2 Draftee to my eyes.

#79    IKEM EKWONU    OT (G)   NC State     6’4/320       Right now, EKWONU is probably not playing his natural pro OL spot. Not too many 6’4 guys playing outside in the NFL, however, if he’s in the 2022 Draft Class, let’s take a close look at his arm length at the Combine. He looked to me like he had a long reach against UNC edge-rushers trying to loop around him. Technically speaking, I am very impressed with his constantly moving footwork in pass-pro. What is undeniable, and I have heard it everywhere in prospect discussions, is that he has a bunch of nasty in his playing style. Not dirty, in my opinion, but he likes to punish opponents when possible. This will fit the desires of most NFL teams, whether he is positioned inside or outside. I like to say he doesn’t just block people, he tries to bury them. He plays strong, and has a wide, solid base. I don’t remember seeing him get rocked by any defenders that he was blocking in the Wolfpack’s big W over UNC last Friday night. If teams don’t overreach too badly for QB come April, I like EKWONU getting a Round 1 Draft call, especially if some teams see him fitting outside at LT.

#72    ABRAHAM LUCAS     LT    Washington State    6’7/320        LUCAS was my 3rd and final OT prospect to get under my magnifying glass for a game. So I recorded the WASHINGTON/WASHINGTON STATE rivalry battle last Saturday night. LUCAS, who developed his college blocking skills in the LEACH passing Offense is one long dude. Not only is he a legit 67′, he also features long legs and long arms. Sadly, he shows a strong tendency to stand up straight quickly after the ball is snapped. This of course limits his leverage and lower body power base. To my surprise he carries those 320 lbs. very well. He even looks a bit lean at that weight, which implies sinewy muscle mass in his frame. Because he stands up so straight it makes him look rather stiff at times, and he is prone to reach too quickly to control his man in pass-pro. He also struggles to get low enough to block defenders at the 2nd level cleanly. I am being a bit critical here, but that is somewhat due to my mind’s eye comparing him to EKWONU & CROSS, who I had already seen in previous game watching this weekend. I figured to find myself a 3rd First Round prospect in LUCAS. That was not to be. LUCAS is still in my Top 100, but in the 3rd Round range. Perhaps a really good, teaching pro OL Coach can  clean up some of these poor habits he currently has. I think some NFL team will get themselves a solid OT, who may have a much higher ceiling if he is willing to learn and work to improve.


#55    DAVID OJABO     DE/ER/OB     Michigan    6’5/250    This guy is crazy athletic, as you can see by my 3-position projection. The point is, he can flat out penetrate and rush the QB, among other talents. He came on like gangbusters this past season, giving Michigan the best pair of pass-rushing DE’s in the nation. He is a long,  lean athlete that should get even stronger in the next few years. HUTCHINSON racked up the big stats against Ohio State, but some of his productivity was as a result of OJABO creating heat from the other side of the DL. With his big 4th Quarter Sack, OJABO reached double digit Sacks, with 10 for the season. He and HUTCHINSON both reached double digit Sacks this season. Just to illustrate how quickly this guy exploded as a standout, he had 1 Tackle to his credit in 2020. However, let me quickly add, that I have spoken to not a soul who worries that his showing this year was an aberration. Most strongly feel that he is just blossoming to his full potential on the football field. If he declares for inclusion in the 2022 NFL Draft, look for him in Round 1.

#85    TREY McBRIDE    TE    Colorado State   6’4/260     Football is a team game. And when you play on a bad team, it is hard to shine individually. But McBRIDE did just that this season on a 9-Loss  team, and still caught 84 balls for 1,008 yards and 1 TD. He is also a solid, though not dominant, blocker in the run game. If he would bend those knees more in his blocking he could bulldoze some of those LB’s he is taking on. As I have stated many times this Fall, the TE group for the 2022 Draft is talented and deep. So when I say I have put McBRIDE in my Top 5, that puts him in position for a Day 2 selection. As an aside, I might end up with 10 TE’s in my TOP 100. McBride has already accepted his invitation to the 2022 Senior Bowl. I look forward to seeing him practice and play with some top tier talent that week in Mobile.

I want to right another apparent wrong here. Back in the Week 8 edition of WCME, I wrote up SAM WILLIAMS, DE/OB/Ole Miss as a sleeper prospect. As the season continued I have to say I have changed my mind. He is not a sleeper. If anything we might say a late bloomer, but WILLIAMS established himself as one of, if not the best overall player, in a vastly improved Ole Miss Defense. Once again in the Egg Bowl he showed up big as a pass rusher and big play maker for the Rebels D. He has moved up to Day Two of the Draft projection for me , and firmly in my Top 100. Great work SAM.



MAX BORGHI   #21   RB  Washington State    5’10/205     Another of these quick, elusive, sure handed RB’s coming out of college these days. And many of them are fitting into schemes with NFL teams as RB3’s.  BORGHI started right away for MIKE LEACH because he could catch a football and make YAC with his shifty moves. He showed up big time last weekend in the W over arch-rival Huskies with 129 yds rushing and 2 TD’s. Could be a Day 3 Draftee, late.

CHANCE CAMPBELL  #44  IB    Ole Miss  6’2/230    Leader of that revived Ole Miss Defense and a top 10 national Tackles leader. In the big W over Miss St. he had 12 T’, 3 solo- 1/2 TFL- 2 QBH’s. With a Bowl game still in his future, he is sitting at 99 tackles for 2021, which includes 6 Sacks blitzing from his LB spot. Could be a 3rd Day Pick who should also help some pro Special Teams units immediately.

DONOVAN JETER    #95     Michigan    6’3/318   He wasn’t even on my radar, but was hard to miss with his hard work along the Wolverines front line.  He was only credited with a couple of stops, but I saw him relentlessly disrupt the backfield with penetration all day long. His size and athleticism supersede his productivity. High potential under the right pro DL Coach?

ZONOVAN “BAM” KNIGHT   #7   RB/KR   N.C. STATE  5’11/210    A versatile, hard charging ball carrier that can catch and return Kicks as well. Powerful, but shows some elusiveness. In big ACC Win over UNC, he ran for 69 yards @ 7.6 ypc, also caught 5 balls for 58 yds. He has the look of a pro RB2.

TAY MARTIN   #1  WR    Oklahoma State   6’3/185    This long target, with good speed and reliable hands, transferred from the LEACH program in Wazoo. Did not stand out in 2020, but blossomed this season. Caught 7 balls for 89 yards and 1 TD against the Sooners, and was their most reliable receiver overall. He has accepted an invite to the SHRINE BOWL.

SCOTT PATCHAN    #1   DE   Colorado State  6’6/265     Former Miami player who transferred to the WAC program. Long frame, with solid beef on his bones. Overall, I thought his performance was good enough to make him draftable. Very long arms & wing span. PATCHAN recorded 11 1/2 Sacks and 3 FF this season for the Rams. He shows natural pass rush ability, which is high demand these days.

TYREKE SMITH    #11     ER/DE   Ohio State   6’3/260     Has been starting recently at DE and cannot stand up and set the edge, as Michigan proved. But he has natural edge-rush moves and quickness. He might be a late round Draftee, or URFA. Also seems injury prone.

It’s getting late in this week’s column, but I cannot overlook the 0-to-60 acceleration speed at which the coaching carousel has heated up. LINCOLN RILEY to Southern Cal, BRIAN KELLY to LSU, SONNY DYKES to TCU. The best of the changes might be the hire of BILLY NAPIER to lead the GATORS. Oklahoma and Notre Dame are now open for hiring, which could trickle down to other schools having vacancies as their guys move on. Don’t get too dizzy folks, you might get hurt falling off the carousel



Post Scripts:

Sad news to add this week with the shooting death of former UCF RB GREG ANDERSON. The young man was shot by his own father after a heated argument in the father’s home.  What kind of man shoots his own son?

Silliest, but plausible rumor of the week that I have seen has Ohio State firing BRIAN DAY (whose team lost to Michigan on Saturday) and bringing URBAN MEYER back to Columbus. MEYER has left his share of coaching jobs, and the gig in Jacksonville is not exactly off to a rousing start, but would Ohio State be that insane. This rumor goes on to project Luke Fickell taking the Notre Dame position, while DAY jumps in to take the Cincinnati job. Wow, this sounds like a Trumpian hire/fire plot!