Who Caught My Eye

September 13, 2019

Getting caught up in Hurricane Dorian’s bizarre visit to the Florida area got me a bit behind the eight ball when it came to the early start-up of the college football season. But I got the note pad out this past weekend and noted some observations on game action and pro prospect performances.

JOE BURROW QB LSU 6’4/216 In the first quarter of their big win over Texas, in Texas, BURROW pretty much looked to me like the same guy I watched in the 2018 season. He played like the best QB option LSU has had in recent years, but nothing special. Good arm, nice size, spins a nice ball. But he looks uneasy in the pocket, and though he can run with the ball he seemed to lack pocket pressure awareness, at least too late to salvage most plays. But by the second quarter, he began to make a few more plays and look more comfortable in general. In the second half it looked like Superman had taken over Burrow’s uniform at halftime. He was whipping the ball all over the field, and eluding pass rush pressure on a regular basis. His throws were mostly accurate and his longer throws were right on target. By the end of that game Burrow was 31/39, 79%, 471 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT. This guy bears watching in the months ahead. I think it is also worth noting that former Saints Coach JOE BARRY is now on the LSU staff working with the QB group in particular. If this is how Burrow responds to NFL level coaching then expect more of the same in upcoming games and for there to be another top tier QB candidate in the Top 100 prospect lists named Joe Burrow. A historic start to the 2019 season for him.

In these top tier games you have to take your eyes away from the elite skill position guys at times and watch other talented players with pro potential. Quite a bit of the high end talent at Texas is in the underclassmen group, which represent TOM HERMAN’s recruiting efforts. But Charlie Strong didn’t leave the cupboard empty. It was a pleasure to watch Interior OL ZACH SHACKELFORD ply his wares along that Longhorns front. He’s listed at 6’4, 305 lbs., but has an extremely wide frame. He also looks quite powerful. He lost very few wrestling matches against a solid LSU DL group, including some one-on-one inside matchups against RASHARD LAWRENCE/DT, himself a solid pro prospect for the 2020 Draft. SHACKELFORD has played both OG and OC for the Longhorns which should hold him in good stead with NFL scouts. He’s a tough, stout player who I found quite fun to watch. He’s just goo old-fashioned country strong.

As I tuned into the LSU/Texas game I had every intention of highlighting Longhorns WR COLLIN JOHNSON, who surprisingly returned to school for his senior season rather than enter the 2019 Draft. He’s going to be a high draftee, and I am sure I will thumbnail him later in the Fall. But in the game with LSU it was a teammate of his, also in the receiver corps who stole the show. DEVIN DUVERNAY, WR, 5’11/210, was the main target who kept Texas coming back against BURROW and LSU. He is another guy who has a RB body, and looks like one after the catch. He showed an uncanny ability to get open and elude tacklers after the catch. I’m not sure what his 40-time is but I saw him outrun some very impressive athletes in that LSU secondary tine after time. His hands looked very dependable, and he looked to be running some pretty precise patterns to gain separation. At the end of the game, he had recorded 12 receptions for 154 yards and 2 TD. Each year we moan and groan over the loss of so many skill position players early to the NFL. But most of the time the guys who step up to replace them emerge as legit prospects in their own right. Add DUVERNAY to that list methinks.

Seems to me that an awful lot of NFL teams are looking for Kickers and Punters every year, even tho many NFL teams are loathe to use a Draft Pick to fill their need. I doubt however that anyone in their right mind would NOT pull the trigger on Texas A&M Punter BRADEN MANN when the 2020 Draft rolls around; perhaps even in the Top 100 Picks. He won the RAY GUY- top Punter award last season when he became the first D1/FBS Punter to average over 50-yards gross for a full season: 51.0 to be exact, with a 44.7 net average per punt. He hits ’em high and far and did so against Clemson last weekend. He punted 6 times in the game fro 269 yards. THat’s 44.8 app, and many would say that was kinda an off night for him. Of his 50 punts last season 19 were placed inside the 20-yard line. He can straight punt or Rugby punt. He is working on his side-spin for those inside the 20 boots. I liken him to MIKE DICKSON from Texas two years ago who Seattle drafted. He is gong to be a big factor in a couple of A&M wins in tight games this season. He will also help an NFL team with kick-offs if they like touchbacks. He’s #34 in your program at 5’11/195.

Pigskin’s got to cut away for this week despite more notes than these 4 players encompass, but herein Central Florida we have to recheck our storm mitigation efforts once again because a Tropical Storm, if not hurricane my be coming close to Central Florida again this weekend. Bye for now.