I guess one of the big stories around college football last weekend was the announcement that LSU had reached a buyout agreement with Head Coach ED ORGERON. There had been hot rumors flying around all season that the LSU Athletic Director, who did NOT hire Coach O, was looking to hand the football program over to someone of his own choosing. Too bad, IMO. LSU is NOT a dominant program year in and year out. The Louisiana recruiting base is a relatively small one, and St. Nick ain’t coming back folks. Coach O sure seemed to bleed purple and gold during his bayou years. And he can still recruit folks. I have heard the long list of names for his replacement this week, just like most of you readers. But a name I thought I would hear a lot of has NOT been hot on the lips of many. That would be Ragin’ Cajun HC BILLY NAPIER, whose team is sitting at 6-1, after a 10-1 season in 2020. BTW, in case you have not seen a copy of the Buyout Agreement for Coach O, rest assured that financially, he should be quite comfortable, receiving payments from LSU for quite some time, though not quite as good as Bobby Bonilla, the former METS player, still collecting an annual check for $1-million.
Tell me that the most surprising team that remains unbeaten isn’t Michigan State, under Head Coach MEL TUCKER. The real meat of their schedule remains to be played with Michigan, Ohio State & Penn State among their final five opponents, but for now, enjoy it Spartans fans.
Were any of you shocked that GEORGIA surrendered 13 points to KENTUCKY, though winning handily?
Looks like, that barring injury, CALEB WILLIAMS is the new starting QB for the Sooners after the big comeback Win over Texas two weekends ago. He led them to victory over TCU last weekend, but with a tough November run against BAYLOR, IOWA ST, and OKLAHOMA ST still to come, it must feel nice having SPENCER RATTLER on the bench in case of a QB emergency… for the time being. Wonder where RATTLER heads after this season. Does the transfer portal lead him to Fansville? If so, bring some DR. PEPPER with you Spencer.
Now let’s go Pro Prospect hunting, shall we…
#5 STEPHEN CARR RB INDIANA 6’/215 Yes, this is the same CARR who shared the ball in the Southern Cal backfield for 4 years. He is now in the IU backfield as a grad transfer and displayed excellent versatility and production in the tough Hoosier loss to Michigan State last Saturday. IU has been struggling to put together an Offense with star QB MICHAEL PENIX out for the year. Transfer TUTTLE needed all the help he could get while trying to fill in. His best friend after this one had to be CARR, who could never quite lay claim, and hold on to, the RB 1 slot for the Trojans. CARR did a bit of everything, touching the ball 23 times from scrimmage. He carried 15 times for 53-yds & 1 TD. He also served well as a safety valve drop-off receiver for TUTTLE with 8 receptions for 43 yards. CARR works hard and shows a multiple skill set. He may not be a speedster, but he runs hard, with some power. He does his best work either running inside, or catching throws out in the flat. He is not an elite prospect by any stretch, but he might get drafted late and be able to carve a versatile role ala BRANDON BOLDEN up in New England. Let’s be optimistic and say he might get a call in Round 7.
#28 BREECE HALL RB Iowa State 6’1/220 For my money, this guy is likely to be the first RB taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. He’s headed for another dominant season of rushing with the ball after racking up over 1500-yds with 21 rushing TD’s in 12 games for the Cyclones in 2020. He’s bulked himself up to a solid 220 lbs. without seeming to lose any of his speed this year. If you watched Iowa State/K-State Saturday, then you saw his talent and value right from the first play of the game when he went 75-yards for a TD to open the action in a 33-20 Iowa State victory. When the game was over, he had 30 carries, for 197 yards and 2 TD’s. And just to show his versatility, he also had 5 catches for 35 more yards. He is a solid combination of size and speed. He also runs with patience after taking the handoff, waiting and watching for his blockers to create that initial crease for him to explode through. He can break the long run, and will bull for a first down on short yardage between his OT’s. Even tho many NFL teams cling to the theory that you don’t need to draft a RB in Round 1, this man will go in Round One, though not Top 10.
#70 ED INGRAM OG LSU. 6’3/315 This big guy reminds a bit of an ex-Bayou Bengal road grader named Damien Lewis, who now starts for Seattle. INGRAM looks even larger than his above numbers would indicate. And indeed plowing inside work for the run game is his forte. But it is not his complete game. In a limited area on the Interior OL, he can also move a bit and is strong enough to control most DL to avoid an inside pocket rush. He will struggle with the quick guys like Aaron Donald, of course, but there aren’t many Donald’s out there to worry about matching up with. Some might disagree with me and ask where the production is from the running game in the current LSU attack. However, after watching a couple of LSU efforts this year, I would say even a good blocker like INGRAM can’t hold his blockers forever if the runner can’t explode through gaps as they open. Back when INGRAM was already earning game starts as a sophomore, I thought I saw really big things for him going forward. He hasn’t quite fulfilled my expectations, but he’s not a bust. He’s a good prospect, and I would expect him to get a draft call early on Day 3.
#26 THEO JACKSON SS Tennessee 6’2/205 I just had to feast my eyes on Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville on Saturday. And though I was looking to eyeball Vols CB prospect ALONTAE TAYLOR, it was another member of their secondary that caught my eye. It was SS JACKSON. JACKSON is a very good athlete and has turned himself into an above average SS. I like his size and apparent athleticism. He runs well, sees the field, finds the ball, and has cover skills to go with some solid tackling ability. Overall, he and his secondary mates covered well all night forcing QB MATT CORRAL to tuck the ball and run way too often for his own health. THEO recorded 9 tackles for the game, 5 of them solo. He may not be a ball-hawk, with 0 INT’s on the season, but he gets to ball, as indicated by his 6 PD in 7 games. He is clearly a player that has developed steadily out on the field during his college career. I would also guess, from watching him move around, that he will test well at the Combine or his Pro Day. He looks fast enough to compete in the pro game. I saw enough from him in this game, as part of a hustling, aggressive Vols Defense, to say he is now in consideration for my Top 300, and a potential late round draft selection.
#51 JAXSON KIRKLAND OT Washington 6’7/315 KIRKLAND made the move from OG to LT in the short 4 Game 2020 Covid season for the Huskies, gaining 1st Team All-PAC 12 honors in his new position. He’s a long drink of water who still has the potential to get better outside. His frame is too easy of a target for getting cut blocked on the IOL. He is best in pass-pro right now, because of his length and mobile footwork. The Huskies are not having their usual good year in 2021. They play tough and are competitive most games, but I can’t see them even sniffing more than a .500 season. Just don’t blame KIRKLAND, or overlook his pro potential. He could use a bit more muscle and sand in his pants, but with the emphasis on the passing game in the NFL, and the need for athleticism and length to slow down edge-rushers, KIRKLAND has the size and athleticism to start, perhaps at LT as a pro. As I watched him against UCLA, I had to remind myself at times, that he’s a novice out at LT right now. However, he’s pretty darn good already, with serious upside if he gets hooked up with a savvy, teaching OL Coach at the next level. Not Round 1 yet (IMO), but at the least, he has to be considered early on Day Two of the 2022 Draft.
#88 CHARLIE KOLAR TE Iowa State 6’6/255 Watching the Cyclones road victory in the Little Apple against K-State, I continue to ponder exactly what I foresee from KOLAR at the next level of football. He is a big target that runs well, and overall shows a good pair of hands. Yes, he still has a few drops or double catches in many games, but he seems to make up for them with some nice catches you might not expect from such a big guy. He also runs pretty well after the catch. He blocks quite effectively and can work inline, or in the slot. HC MATT CAMPBELL always likes to have a deep, talented group of TE’s to throw to, and to block for a strong running game, on his roster. KOLAR was voted All Big-12 1st Team last season. Some of the catches he makes along the sidelines and on crossing patterns are vintage NFL TE efforts. He has surprisingly nimble footwork for such a large guy. And he’s not coming out in short yardage, as he blocks a ton. He had 4 catches for 41 yards against K-State and was a key part of the OL group, as an inline blocker, in clearing the way for RB HALL’s 197-yard rushing day. Solid Day 2 Prospect in a very talented TE group for the 2022 NFL Draft.
#8 KENNY PICKETT QB PITT 6’3/220 PICKETT has been a good college QB that has now started 42 games at QB for the Panthers. The overall quality of his supporting cast has varied during his 5 years at the helm. My early take on his play was that I doubted he’d ever be an NFL QB. I’m still not excited about his pro prospects, but I must admit that he has improved his game with every season that passes. His career completion percentage stands at just over 60%, which is not NFL caliber by current standards. But my biggest concern about his pro prospects was his tendency to collapse under pocket pressure, and his tendency to throw way too many Interceptions, when throwing it up to avoid the sack. To his credit, something seems to have changed so far this season, and his TD/INT ratio has shown marked improvement. For the season, he has 21 TD passes and only 1 INT. I think his stats from the PITT Win over VA TECH last Saturday are illustrative of his game as we see him finish his collegiate career. He was 22/37- 59.5%- 203 yds- 2 TD’s – 0 INT’s. He also ran for 38 yards and 1 more TD. He has the size (see above) and a bit better than average arm strength. How much upside does PICKETT have if he gets with the right pro QB Coach and Offensive system? I am certainly unsure on that count, but I will say he likely gets drafted and I expect to see him in Mobile come February, 2022. So for now, let’s say Day Three as a Draftee.
#94 MATTHEW BUTLER DE Tennessee 6’4/295 I’ve noticed BUTLER in their DL rotation over the past 2 seasons. He’s got a solid body, and can move a bit. He can take the edge with some quickness, and looks like a nice fit for a team using a 3-4 base scheme, at DE. He could also be useful inside in late down, long yardage passing situations. Draftable, late… maybe.
#12 GREG EISWORTH S Iowa State 6’/200 This JUCO transfer has become the leader of the Cyclones secondary, with a high FBI and solid production out on the field. Won’t go til Day 3 because he’s not an elite athlete, but he can play!
#3 XAVIER HENDERSON SS Michigan State 6’1/210 A seasoned, vet leader on the surprising Spartan team. He’s an in-the-box weapon, who finds the ball and punishes runners. Should excel on Special Teams as well.
#7 LUCAS KRULL TE Pitt 6’6/260 Size is his biggest (excuse the pun) attribute when scouts look for his potential. He reminds me a bit of Marcedes Lewis who still plays primarily as a blocking TE, extra OL, in Green Bay into his mid-30’s. Should be on a Training Camp roster whether he’s drafted or not.
#47 MICAH McFADDEN ILB Indiana 6’2/232 Wanna see what a throwback LB looks like, then pull up some video of the IU/Mich St game and watch #47, with a cast on his hand/wrist run all over the field chasing the ball and making 9 tackles, including 1.5 Sacks. He does it every game folks. Gotta be a spot on an NFL roster for him next season.