Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Safeties

Three safeties in the 2017 NFL Draft were selected in the first round. The 2018 draft class should also produce some good safeties that are good enough to be selected early on in the NFL Draft. Here are the best safety prospects playing college football in 2017:

Derwin James, Florida State

James is an elite safety prospect, that will in no doubt be a first round pick if he can stay healthy. He was sidelined for much of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury. He has great size that NFL teams will love at 6’3″ and 211 pounds.

In 14 games played for the Seminoles, James has totaled 102 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, one interception, four passes defended, two forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles. He displays great speed and athleticism, which makes him a unique player.

The Seminoles will play Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida in the 2017 season. He won’t play too many pocket passing quarterbacks, but does have a chance to play a lot of good receivers this season. James can also help slow down some good rushing attacks this season.

Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

While he hasn’t hit the level of a lot of Alabama secondary players yet, Harrison is still a good NFL prospect. He too has good size at 6’3″ and 216 pounds.

Last year, Harrison had 83 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions. While he has the measurables to be a good NFL player, Harrison needs to back up all his potential with some good tape this season.

Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn this season. Harrison will be tested against Auburn’s high-powered offense and good receivers on the rest of the teams.

Armani Watts, Texas A&M

Armani Watts NFL

Armani Watts (Photo by: gridironnow.com)

Watts has been a playmaker for the Aggies ever since he stepped on campus. It is fitting that he will be taken in the first few rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a bit undersized at 5’11” and 200 pounds.

In his career at Texas A&M, Watt has accrued 237 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six interceptions. He has played in a total of 33 games and brings a lot of experience to the table. His best season was in 2015, when he played 13 games. Last year he tore his hamstring against Ole Miss and only ended up playing in eight games. He needs to stay relatively healthy this season to make teams have a vote of confidence in him.

The Aggies play a very difficult schedule in 2017 and their opponents include: UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and LSU. These teams provide a wide variety of assets for Watts to go up against and should allow him to prove himself many more times for NFL scouts.

Jordan Whitehead, Pittsburgh

Jordan Whitehead NFL

Jordan Whitehead (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Another safety prospect that has been starting from his freshman season, Whitehead has been a star for the Panthers. He too is a little undersized at 5’11” and 190 pounds.

As a freshman in 2015, Whitehead had 110 total tackles. He is very physical and able to come up and stop the run, but also demonstrates good range while defending passes. He was lost to the season with an arm injury last year after playing in the first nine games of the season.

The Panthers play a tough schedule that should test Whitehead. Their big games are against: Penn State, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. The biggest games that will impact Whitehead’s draft stock are against Penn State and Oklahoma State, who should have high-scoring offenses.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Cornerbacks

Cornerbacks were a hot commodity in the 2017 NFL Draft and the 2018 NFL Draft could offer some more quality players at the position. Here are the top cornerbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft class as of now:

Adonis Alexander, Virginia Tech

Alexander is one of the bigger corners in this class at 6’3″ and 193 pounds. He needs to add some weight to fill out his frame, but offers great length to shut down some of the taller NFL wide receivers.

He has six career interceptions and 13 passes defended in his two seasons in Blacksburg. While his length and cover skills are good, he needs to make sure he runs a good 40 yard dash time at the 2018 NFL Draft Combine to insure that a team will take him with a high pick.

Virginia Tech will play West Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Pitt. Alexander will face a handful of good receivers against Clemson, including Deon Cain.

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Minkah Fitzpatrick NFL

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Photo by: seccountry.com)

Alabama always has good secondary players, but Fitzpatrick was able to break into the starting lineup as a freshman and hasn’t left. He is 6’1″ and 203 pounds and should follow other Crimson Tide defensive backs who have been selected in the first round.

In is two seasons at Alabama, Fitzpatrick has eight interceptions and 17 passes defended. He has all of the physical tools to make it at the next level, but does need to work on his positioning and technique before he gets to the next level.

Alabama plays Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. When the Crimson Tide play Texas A&M, Fitzpatrick will have to guard Christian Kirk, one of the best receivers in college football. If he is able to shut down Kirk, Fitzpatrick can prove once again that he can shut down NFL-level receivers.

Iman Marshall, USC

Marshall was a highly sought after recruit and has played across from the great Adoree’ Jackson the last two seasons. He is a good corner in his own right and could end up going first round too with a good season. He has decent size at 6’1″ and 200 pounds.

So far at USC, Marshall has six interceptions and 17 passes defended. Marshall does need to work on his run support and tackling ability, but he can cover, which is the most important thing.

This season USC will face Stanford, Texas, Washington State, Utah, Notre Dame and UCLA. The games against UCLA and Washington State will pit Marshall against some of the best quarterbacks in college football, Josh Rosen and Luke Falk.

Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State

McFadden got his first taste of major action in 2016 and showed some great flashes of potential. He has good size standing 6’2″ and 198 pounds, which should help him be one of the first corners selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

He tied for the NCAA lead with eight interceptions in 2016, demonstrating his great ball skills. One of his problems was he totaled only 19 tackles and needs to do better in run support to enhance his draft stock.

The Seminoles will play a lot of big games in 2017 including: Alabama, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida. The games against Clemson and Alabama will give McFadden a chance to go up against Deon Cain and Calvin Ridley, two good receiver prospects.

Jordan Thomas, Oklahoma

Jordan Thomas NFL

Jordan Thomas (Photo by: newsok.com)

When a player seems like he has been around forever, that usually means they have been great. Thomas has tons of experience and will get another full slate of games this season. He is decently big, at 6’0″ and 192 pounds.

Thomas has seven career interceptions and 25 passes defended. He is a physical, cover corner who usually doesn’t have too many balls thrown his way. He did get beat more in 2016 than in 2015, but still had a solid season last year overall.

Oklahoma will play a lot of good offenses this season, which should test Thomas. The Sooners play Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Against Oklahoma State Thomas will have to go up against a great duo in quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington. He will also look to get redemption against Ohio State, who he played badly against in 2016.

Kevin Toliver, LSU

Toliver is another big time recruit that LSU signed to be a part of their great legacy. He has gotten playing time since his freshman year for the Tigers. He had a variety of injuries that held him back last season. At 6’2″ and 193 pounds he has great size and length.

In 18 games played for the Tigers, Toliver has just one interception and six passes defended. Now that he is healthy those numbers will increase drastically. He shows the ability and desire to help in the run game. The biggest key for Toliver is staying healthy long enough to put up good tape in 2017.

LSU plays BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Like other players on this list, his toughest assignments will be against Kirk of Texas A&m and Ridley of Alabama. With a productive season, Toliver can put himself among the top 2018 NFL Draft prospects.

 

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College Quarterbacks Trending Up Coming into The 2017 CFB Season

It’s the dog days of college football. We are a few weeks from removed spring ball and a few weeks away from the start of the summer practice for your favorite team. And every year the same question is posed: Which college quarterbacks are trending up?

By the end of the college football year come back to this article, and see which college quarterbacks stayed calm in the pocket or got sacked. Let’s get into the list:

Jake Bentley- South Carolina

Photo By: Gerry Melendez/ The State

By the end of the SEC year there were three young quarterbacks emerging onto the scene, South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, Georgia’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bentley is on my list because he has proven to me to be a more effective passer than those three in only six games. And Gamecock Central‘s Collyn Taylor agrees with me. When we talked I asked him whose skills are you more confident in between these three and he said Bentley.

“I think I’d be more confident in Bentley’s skills. He was supposed to be in high school last season and came in made some phenomenal throws without a good offensive line. He’s shown he has an SEC caliber arm and can learn on the fly. If he continues to develop like he has been, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference next season,” said Taylor.

Last year, Bentley really only had one bad game. When the Gamecocks visited their upstate rival Clemson, no one played well. But besides that game he shows so much promise.

Coming into the season, he didn’t start but when came in he balled out. The first three weeks Bentley did something USC hasn’t seen since 2014, three wins in a row. Remember, this guy still could have been playing in high school. He started the last seven games and won four of those games. His best game being against the Missouri Tigers. He threw for 254 yards on over 70 percent passing (second game in a row he did it) and two touchdowns.

More than anything he has given USC fans something to believe in. From a pure passing set, he is already one of the best QBs in Gamecock history. With the Gamecocks riding in the “Bentley”, they should be fighting for a SEC East title.

Mason Rudolph- Oklahoma State

Photo By: Sue Ogrocki/ AP

From a university in South Carolina to kid from the Palmetto State, Mason Rudolph has been one of my favorite quarterbacks since I saw him take down 4-Star QB and then-Georgia commit Jacob Park from my high school alma mater, Stratford High.

Last year he backed up his good 2015 campaign with a great 2016 campaign. He increased in completion, attempts, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. And also he had less interceptions down from a 9 in 2015 to only 4 in 2016. He has turned it up and has placed OK State back on the map for more than Mike Gundy telling us he is 40.

Last year his most impressive game had to be when outlasted Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech and won 45-44. He had a higher completion rate and more yards (less attempts) than future first rounder Mahomes. Rudolph finished the game with 395 yards on 71.4 percent passing and a passer rating of 213.5.

He is definitely one of the better quarterbacks Gundy has had in Stillwater but there is still one obstacle in Rudolph’s way: Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma Sooners.

Deondre Francois- Florida State

Photo By: Joe Rondone/ Democrat

From one 10-3 quarterback to another, Deondre Francois had one heck of a start to his collegiate career last year. Freshman Francois jumped out the gate in a neutral site game against of the better college quarterbacks Chad Kelly and came out battered, scarred and victorious.

Even since that first game, fans across the nation could tell he would be special. In one year, he is already the premier quarterback in the ACC. He finished the season with 3350 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also finished the season out strong winning his last five games.

His most impressive game to me, besides the Ole Miss game, was his first trip to Miami against a good talent in Brad Kaaya quarterbacking the Hurricanes. After the halftime break, he came back down 13-3 to rival Miami. In the third quarter, he led his Seminoles down the field twice for two passing touchdowns in consecutive drives. Both drives starting in Seminoles territory.

Last year he won over the fans and his fellow players and this year he has to win some championships. The ACC is his for the taking and if he can win the ACC he will be in the College Football Playoff.

Trace McSorley- Penn State

Photo By: Abby Drey/ Centre Daily Times via AP

Another 10-3 quarterback, Trace McSorley of Penn State. He and coach James Franklin are restoring the winning ways of Penn State. More or less 2016 was McSorley’s “freshman” campaign. In 2015, he only attempted 40 passes. In 2016, he took college football by storm. He finished with 29 touchdowns, 3614 yards and only 8 interceptions. He probably would not like me saying this but he reminds me of the college-Johnny Manziel/Baker Mayfield QB build. All three are short, true dual threat, accurate and flamboyant. They are big time players and I like that about them.

No better game speaks to that then the 2017 Rose Bowl. It was such a beautiful game. Going back and forth, tooth and nail with the USC Trojans on the biggest stage Penn State has been on in a while. Even though he fell short, he impressed many that night. He finished with 254 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. From 11:44 left in the second quarter to 1:55 left in the third quarter, Penn State scored on seven straight possessions. McSorley had all five of his touchdowns in that span.

Many Nittany Lion fans will remember his three interceptions but he had a adjusted QBR of over 70 and a completion rate over 60 in the game as well.

But the quarterback on the other side of this game might be trending even higher than McSorley.

Sam Darnold- Southern California

Photo By: Mark J. Terrill/ AP

The name everyone has been waiting for: Sam Darnold of Southern California. He didn’t start until Week 4. And since Week 4, the Trojans have not taken an L. Darnold led the Trojans to nine straight wins, which is the second longest active winning streak in college football. In that nine game span, only two games were decided by less than 10 points. He finished the season with 3086 yards, 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on over 67 percent passing.

Just like Trace McSorley, his best game was the 2017 Rose Bowl. He had 453 yards passing, five passing touchdowns and one interceptions. His most important passing touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. He drove his team 80 yards down the field in 39 seconds to tie up the game with his fifth passing touchdown. Eventually, Matt Boermeester would hit the 46-yard field goal and win the game.

Coming into his redshirt sophomore year, he is expected to lead the Trojans to their former glory. Also he has the expectations of being the odds on favorite as the best quarterback coming into the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s see if he can keep trending up this season.

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Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Draft Profile

On the third day of Draftmas TGH gave to me! The Chicago Bears Draft Profile! (It makes more sense if you sing it..)

Summary

The Bears had a very underwhelming season in a very tough division. The Vikings, Packers and Lions were all solid teams last year and will probably continue that into next year.

The offseason was an interesting one for the Midway Monsters. They let go of Jay Cutler much to the surprise of no one and they brought in Mike Glennon who seemed to have been forgotten about until this offseason. Personally I think Glennon has a lot to prove and deserves a starting role. We will see if the Bears risk will pay off.

They also strengthened their Wideout core by adding Markus Wheaton, Rueben Randle and Kendall Wright. While all of them have their issues they also all have a lot of talent in completely different ways. Paring them with the surprise in Cameron Meredith and the hopefully healthy Kevin White and this could be one of the more interesting Wide Receiver groups in the NFL.

Lastly they added Prince Amukamara and Quitin Demps to try and shore up their Defensive Backs. While they aren’t big names they still should add some much needed help in the secondary.

Picks and Needs

The Bears have 7 picks in this draft. It is good that they have kept so many and should be able to fill some major holes with them.

First round: (1) No. 3

Second round: (1) No. 36

Third round: (1) No. 67

Fourth round: (2) No. 111, No. 117

Fifth round: (1) No. 147

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 221

Having two fourth round picks should allow Chicago to find some solid depth players. Also while I won’t be looking at trades in this Profile I can definitely see the Bears making some moves up or down in the draft depending on their board.

The worst thing Chicago can do with these picks is pick an early Quarterback or panic and trade up for someone they do not really need.

Here are their needs at Offense:

Left Tackle

Left Guard

Backup Pass Catching Tight End (Preferably one that they can grow)

Now for Defense:

Cornerback

Safety (Either one)

Edge Rushing Defensive End

Inside Linebacker to go along with Trevathan

Targets and Thoughts

I will pick who I think is best for the team just as I did in my other draft profile. There will be no trades and I will be looking at just the first three rounds.

Courtesy of: Youtube.com

First Round:

Pick #3: Jamal Adams SS, LSU

What is not to like about this kid? He is everything you could ask for in a safety and more. Many people believe he might be the safest pick in the draft.

Second Round:

Pick #36: Cordrea Tankersley CB, Clemson

It seems as though his choice to go back for his Senior Year payed off. He won a National Championship and is now one of the best Corners in the draft. It is very possible he could be off the board before the 36th pick but, if he is still here I think the Bears continue adding to their defense.

Third Round:

Pick #67: Roderick Johnson OT, Florida State

At 6’7, 298, Johnson has the size and arm length to be a very productive left tackle. His footwork needs some fine tuning but, he has the potential to be an extremely good asset for the Bears offensive line.

Conclusion

The Bears can add some needed pieces to help them contend in the brutal NFC North. Shoring up the secondary and adding a tackle may not seem like much but, it can go a long way for a team that struggled much of last season. Hopefully Mike Glennon will be the Quarterback they needed.

Thank you for joining us on our third day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Jacksonville Jaguars!

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!

Draftmas Day 1: Cleveland Browns

Draftmas Day 2: San Francisco 49ers

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National Signing Day 2017: ACC and Notre Dame

The ACC had a great year for football, which was capped off by a National Championship for the Clemson Tigers. Now it’s time to move over to see how the ACC Signing Day has gone. This will be throughout Signing Day. Here is how the teams rank:

1. Florida State Seminoles

Signees: 21, 5*: 3, 4*: 13, 3*: 5, Other: 0

The Seminoles have a solid class that should remain in the top ten, if not the top five, in the nation. Their class is headed by their two five-stars who are signed. Cam Akers is considered by some to be the best running back in the whole class and Joshua Kaindoh is also considered the number one defensive end in the class by some. Florida State targeted a lot of skill position players with plenty of running backs and wide receivers in the class, as well as secondary players. They are in the running for one more five-star recruit and many more four-star recruits.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Joshua Kaindoh (5*), RB Cam Akers (5*), DT Marvin Wilson (5*)

2. Clemson Tigers

Signees: 14, 5*: 0, 4*: 11, 3*: 3, Other: 0

Dabo Swinney has a championship and now, likely has a top ten recruiting class. Tee Higgins is the best committed player so far and will remind a lot of Tiger fans of Mike Williams at the wide receiver position. With Higgins, comes a very talented quarterback prospect in Hunter Johnson. The two will look to be the future of Clemson’s offense. Behind them, Clemson made sure to get depth for the trenches, on both the offensive and defensive line. While there are no five-star players considering them, the Tigers do have a lot of four-star prospects who could sign with them.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Hunter Johnson (4*), WR Tee Higgins (4*)

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Signees: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 11, 3*: 10, Other: 0

Notre Dame needs better players after a lackluster 2016 season. They have done a solid job in recruiting so far and are looking to have a top 15 recruiting class. Brock Wright is a very talented tight end and Robert Hainsey is a great offensive guard. Those two recruits are the two best players the Fighting Irish have signed so far. Although the defense was a major problem last year, Notre Dame has a lot of offensive players signed in this class. There are a lot of standout prospects still considering the Irish, so they have a real chance to move up in the recruiting ranks.

Top Prospects Signed: TE Brock Wright (4*), LB Robert Hainsey (4*)

4. Miami Hurricanes

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 13, 3*: 11, Other: 0

Miami has a good recruiting class, in large part due to the number of commitments they already have. Defensive end D.J. Johnson is one of the best in the class and quarterback N’kosi Perry will provide an athletic quarterback as the two best commitments. Behind these players Miami has a very diversified class, as Mark Richt tries to fill the roster with his types of players. Richt has a chance to make this class even better by getting uncommitted players to choose the Hurricanes today.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Jeff Thomas (4*), DE D.J. Johnson (4*)

5. North Carolina Tar Heels

Signees: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 8, 3*: 11, Other: 0

Larry Fedora should have the recruits to feel good about his team again heading into the 2017 season. Billy Ross and Jonah Melton are two good offensive line prospects, while Jake Lawler is a good defensive line prospect. The Tar Heels have a well-rounded class, with plenty of players who still may choose to go to school their.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Billy Ross (4*), DE Jake Lawler (4*)

6. Virginia Tech Hokies

Signees: 26, 5*: 0, 4*: 5, 3*: 19, Other: 2

Justin Fuente has put together a pretty good crop of players for his first full recruiting class. With 27 commitments, they have a deep class. Nathan Proctor is their top recruit and plays outside linebacker. Devon Hunter is also a talented safety recruit. Even though they have a lot of players committed, they have more considering becoming a Hokie.

Top Prospects Signed: LB Nathan Proctor (4*), S Devon Hunter (4*)

7. Louisville Cardinals

Signees: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 13, Other: 1

The Cardinals had an impressive 2016 campaign and need some more talent to help them cap off a season with an ACC Championship. C.J. Avery is a safety who will help out with all of their departures in the secondary. Justin Marshall will be, yet another good target for Lamar Jackson to throw to.

Top Prospects Signed: S C.J. Avery (4*), WR Justin Marshall (4*)

8. Pittsburgh Panthers

Signees: 25, 5*: 0, 4*: 5, 3*: 16, Other: 4

Pittsburgh has a good class for Pat Narduzzi’s second full year of recruiting. The class is led by a great athlete in Paris Ford and a good running back in Todd Sibley. Running back A.J. Davis is confident he can have an instant impact for the Panthers due to being familiar with their blocking schemes. There is a lot of focus on offense in this class, which will be beneficial for Pitt, due to a lot of players moving on to the next level.

Top Prospects Signed: ATH Paris Ford (4*), RB A.J. Davis (4*)

9. Duke Blue Devils

Signees: 23, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 19, Other: 1

David Cutcliffe has done wonders with Duke and now has a chance at a top 40 recruiting class to help him in the future. Jake Marwede will be a tight end that may see the field early for the Blue Devils.  Safety Drew Jordan and outside linebacker Damani Neal will also have a chance to play next season as incoming freshmen. With a lot of good offensive players in the class, Duke should have good depth for Cutcliffe on at least one side of the ball.

Top Prospects Signed: TE Jake Marwede (4*), LB Drew Jordan (4*)

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 4, 3*: 18, Other: 2

Georgia Tech is coming off a bowl win over Kentucky and will be looking to become ACC Title contenders again soon. They focused on mostly defense in this class, but their best player is offensive. Running back Bruce-Jordan Swilling will look to get a lot of touches in the triple option attack.

Top Prospects Signed: CB Jaytlin Askew (4*), RB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (4*)

11. North Carolina State Wolfpack

Signees: 22, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 18, Other: 3

The Wolfpack had a good season last year, but is still looking to make their recruiting class better. Dual-Threat quarterback Matt McKay is their only four-star commitment so far, but he should be a good player at the college level. NC State has several other decent offensive prospects in the class as well.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Matt McKay (4*), LB Louis Acceus (3*)

12. Virginia Cavaliers

Signees: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 19, Other: 5

Bronco Mendenhall has put together a solid first recruiting class for the Cavaliers so far. Two four-star athletes lead the recruiting class in Shawn Smith and Germane Crowell. There are a lot of positions represented, but if the Cavaliers want to compete in the future, they need to get some more players on the offensive line.

Top Prospects Signed: ATH Germane Crowell (4*), ATH Shawn Smith (4*)

13. Syracuse Orange

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 19, Other: 4

Syracuse may rank at 13 in the ACC, for now, but they have an average class nationally. Quarterback Tommy Devito is their only four-star, but can be a program changer as a signal caller. He competed in the elite 11 quarterback camp last summer. The Orange have a lot of solid offensive players in the class, as things currently stand.

Top Prospects Signed: QB Tommy Devito (4*), WR Sharod Johnson (3*)

14. Boston College Eagles

Commitments: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 15, Other: 5

It looks like it will be another year near the bottom of the recruiting ranks for the Eagles. Three-star players C.J. Lewis (QB) and A.J. Dillon (RB) are the best players in the class, but will likely not see the field early on in their careers.

Top Prospects Signed: QB C.J. Lewis (3*), RB A.J. Dillon (3*)

15. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Commitments: 20, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 17, Other: 3

Wake Forest had a good season on the field in 2016, but that didn’t translate to the recruiting trail. It will be hard to sustain success in the ACC with no four-star players in the class. Michael Allen Jr. has a chance to be a productive player for the Demon Deacons at defensive end.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Michael Allen Jr. (3*), WR Sage Surratt (3*)

 

Big Ten Signing Day- Here

Big 12 Signing Day- Here

Pac-12 Signing Day- Here

SEC Signing Day- Here

Why is no one talking about Florida State basketball?

Florida State basketball has put together an impressive tournament resume. The Seminoles are 18-2 and at the top of the ACC (tied with Notre Dame and North Carolina). The last time they made an appearance in the tournament was in 2012. If you recall, Jeremy Lin made his debut with the Knicks and #Linsanity was trending. Essentially, it was a long time ago.

With all the success the Seminoles are having, let’s delve into why Florida State isn’t being talked about.

The seniors have never made it to the dance

This senior class has consistently “missed it by that much” and they have yet to partake in the tournament. In 2012, the Seminoles lost to Cincinnati in the third round. After that class graduated, there hasn’t been much excitement.

This senior class made it to the NIT their freshman and junior years. I probably should not mention their sophomore year when they neglected to go further than the regular season.

However, that has been part of their success. They have a younger team and there are only two seniors on the team: Michael Ojo and Jarquez Smith. The older two are playing an average of 13 minutes a game. The young guys are the ones putting up big numbers to lead the charge against respectable ball clubs like Duke and Louisville.

Seminoles have Young personnel

Let’s start with Dwayne Bacon. Yes, his last name is Bacon, which automatically makes him special. The sophomore is averaging 17.4 points per game for the Seminoles and a few rebounds.

If young guns are going to be mentioned, then freshman Jonathan Isaac needs to get some credit. His specialty is shooting without question. The kid is shooting 54 percent from the field, 38.5 percent from three-point land, and 82.4 percent from the free throw line. Let’s not forget he is averaging 7.8 rebounds per game and 13.3 points per game. Those are a lot of stats, and good ones for a freshman.

Junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes leads the team with 4.7 assists per game and provides some leadership on the court. Michael Ojo also adds experience on the court and contributed 10 points in the win over Louisville this past weekend.

In addition, Terrance Mann is a crafty guard who really does it all. He is shooting 60 percent from the field and grabbing 4.6 rebounds per game (second on the team). He also uses his great ball-handling skills to take players to the rim.

Deep bench

Head coach Leonard Hamilton does it differently than most Division I college basketball teams. He rotates 12 players throughout the game and utilizes his bench well.

PJ Savoy of Floria State Seminoles (Photo Courtesy of Seminoles.com)

He has four players averaging over 20 minutes a game, but pulls other players into rotation. Jarquez Smith is averaging less minutes and points per game than in past years, but contributes more than just stats. He is a senior that provides composure on the court when Coach Hamilton needs it. Braian Angola-Rodas is also coming off the bench and adding decent minutes.

Earlier this year in their win over Notre Dame, the bench came up big to beat Notre Dame by three in the final minute.

Two of the Seminoles’ starters struggled throughout the game. Terrance Mann was held scoreless and Michael Ojo added just two points (the opening dunk). Sophomore PJ Savoy scored 12 points. Overall, the bench scored 39 points (just under half of their points) in the victory.

tournament hopes and what is to come

The tournament is within reach for the Seminoles for the first time in awhile. The upperclassmen have ownership on their lack of performance in the past. The young guys are adapting well to the pace of college basketball and knocking off good teams in the process.

Florida State has notable wins, but they still have a tough schedule ahead. They are 6-1 in conference play right now, but the second time around is always tougher. Notre Dame will be looking for revenge after a close loss. Duke will also be hungry for a win after losing to the Seminoles by a margin of 16 points when Rathan-Mayes scored 21 points.

Georgia Tech, Syracuse, and Miami will not be easy games either. Regardless, Florida State has set themselves up well to make a tournament appearance this year and possibly make a run. They have the young guys to make it happen if they can keep getting quality wins until March (which is still asking a lot, but manageable).

 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Orange Bowl

The Orange Bowl features two of the teams with the most NFL-ready talent in college football. Jim Harbaugh has the Michigan defense filled with prospects, while Florida State is always loaded with good players. Here are the best prospects from the Orange Bowl:

Michigan Wolverines

Jabrill Peppers, LB/CB/S

Projected Draft Range: Top 15

Peppers is the most versatile player in college football. He has played linebacker, corner back, safety, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and returner. Peppers is great at the fundamentals and has good speed. The only question with him is his ball skills, as he only has one interception in his college career. He is also a “tweener”, player without a true position, which may scare teams away.

Taco Charlton, DE

Projected Draft Range: First round-third round

Charlton is a great pass rusher with 8.5 sacks on the season. He has great size, at six feet six inches and 272, and athletic ability to go with it. Charlton isn’t the greatest at stopping the run, so he needs to show he can do that against Florida State.

Jake Butt, TE

Projected Draft Range: First round-third round

Orange Bowl

Jake Butt

Butt has great size at six feet six inches tall and 250 pounds. He isn’t the fastest, but is a secure target. His average of 12 yards per catch is a testament to him getting open over the middle. His blocking is good for a tight end and should improve with time in the NFL. Teams will like him as a good, solid receiver.

Chris Wormley, DT

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

If a team runs a 4-3 scheme and needs a defensive tackle, Wormley will fit right in. He has good size at six feet six inches and 302 pounds. Wormley is great at defending the run, but is also a decent pass rusher for a defensive tackle. He has six sacks on the season. His interior play makes the players around him better.

Florida State Seminoles

Dalvin Cook, RB

Projected Draft Range: First round-second round

Orange Bowl

Dalvin Cook (Photo courtesy: bostonherald.com)

Cook is a great speed back. He uses his vision to find the right hole, then uses his lightning speed to hit the hole hard and leave defenders in the dust. His moves are also good and he gets good tacklers to miss often. Cook is a good receiver out of the backfield making him a threat in many ways. He has been plagued by injuries, which he played through as a sophomore, which could hurt his stock.

Demarcus Walker, DE

Projected Draft Range: Second round-third round

Walker is one of the premier pass rushers in college football with 15 sacks. He uses his speed and strength to get by blockers. In the NFL he can probably play in just about any scheme. Walker needs to work on his run support as he doesn’t always show good gap integrity.

Roderick Johnson, OT

Projected Draft Range: Second round-third round

Johnson had the capability to be the first tackle to be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the best season pass-blocking so he will move down a lot of teams’ boards. Fortunately, Johnson is a great run blocker. He can play either tackle spot, increasing his value. His hands will be full, as he takes on a very tough Michigan defensive front.

 

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2016 Capital One Orange Bowl Preview

Michigan was a couple seconds and a Big Ten Championship Game away from going to the College Football Playoff. Florida State had a few tough losses, but rebounded well. These two teams meet in an interesting and exciting game for the 2016 Capital One Orange Bowl.

Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines won their first nine games, but lost two of their last three to finish at 10-2. They lost to Iowa and Ohio State, who are both solid teams. Michigan beat seven bowl eligible teams, including wins over Colorado, Penn State and Wisconsin.

Orange Bowl

Jabrill Peppers (Photo courtesy: bleacher report)

Wilton Speight had a decent season as the starting quarterback for the Wolverines. He has 2,375 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. He isn’t the reason Michigan wins many games, but also doesn’t lose games for them either.

Wide receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson provide good outside threats for Speight. They have combined for almost 1,300 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. The Wolverines also have one of the best tight ends in all of college football in Jake Butt. He has 518 yards receiving and four receiving touchdowns, but always provides a good target.

De’Veon Smith is one of the best power running backs in college football. He has 810 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. They have five other players with over 20 carries and all but one have average yards per rush of over five.

Michigan’s defense is what makes them great. They allow just 117 rushing yards per game and 136 passing yards per game. The Wolverines likely wouldn’t trade their defense for any other college football team’s.

Taco Charlton has 8.5 sacks on the season and teams up with Chris Wormley to create a great front. They have one of the best athletes in college football behind them in Jabrill Peppers. He is a great tackler who has great fundamentals. Jourdan Lewis is a great shut down corner behind them.

Florida State Seminoles

The Seminoles were thought to be National Championship contenders, but finished 9-3. They only lost to the class of the ACC in UNC, Clemson and Louisville. Their solid wins include USF, Miami, Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College and Florida.

Deondre Francois had a terrific freshman season for the Seminoles, despite not always having the greatest protection. He threw for 3,128 yards, 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. His mobility is also a factor with four rushing touchdowns. Francois is a play-maker who will just improve with time.

Orange Bowl

Dalvin Cook (Photo courtesy: espn.com)

For the passing game, wide receiver Travis Rudolph is the only player who has stepped up in a big way this season. Rudolph finished the regular season with 807 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

Running back Dalvin Cook is one of the most dynamic play-makers in all of college football. He finished the season with 1,620 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Cook is fast and has good moves. In addition to rushing the football, he also is good in the receiving game with 426 yards and another touchdown.

The Seminoles are good at run defense with only 131 yards per game given up. The pass defense is average allowing 226 yards per game.

Demarcus Walker is one of the best pass rushers in the country and has 15 sacks in just 12 games. Tarvarus McFadden has the most interceptions in the country with eight. These two players have to step up in order for Florida State to win.

Prediction

Michigan’s defense will shut down Cook and the Florida State offense, while the Michigan offense will score just enough to win.

 

Michigan Wolverines 28 Florida State Seminoles 24

 

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ACC Basketball Preview 2016-17: Old And New Collide

The ACC will be the most power-packed conference in college basketball in 2016-17. There are even analysts saying that the conference could send 10 teams to the NCAA tournament next March. With that much confidence in the teams’ abilities to dominate the national scene, let’s take a look at how the conference itself will shake out.

Regular Season Champion: Duke Blue Devils

This should not be a surprise to anyone, especially after ACC media day. The Blue Devils are a hot pick to be in Phoenix during the Final Four festivities, let alone win the conference. There is good reason for this speculation, though. The Blue Devils have a lot to like about their roster.

Returning is a multi-faceted scoring weapon in Grayson Allen. Allen averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.  His coming out party was the 2015 National Championship against Wisconsin when he essentially led the Blue Devils to the title with a spectacular second half performance.  He spent most of the year overshadowed by three current NBA players: Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones.

Harry Giles injury status is key to the Blue Devils outlook. (Photo courtesy of foxsports.com)

Harry Giles injury status is key to the Blue Devils outlook. (Photo courtesy of foxsports.com)

Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for Duke, this year may bring more of the same.  Duke’s class includes several possible first round draft picks in Jayson Tatum, Frank Jackson and the top recruit of the class Harry Giles. The only negative is the injury history for Giles and Tatum.  Each have shared their own knee problems and much of the same happened this offseason.  Giles will be out five to seven weeks after the beginning of the season. Tatum recently had a foot injury but should be ready to go around tip off.

Additional key returnees are Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones. Matt Jones provides key defensive minutes for the Blue Devils but last year he added 10.4 points per game. With a deep offensive team he will return to his previous role as a defensive and three point specialist. Jefferson averaged 11.4 points and 10.3 rebounds through nine games before being sidelined for the year. The team ended up in the Sweet 16 despite the loss of Jefferson.  The only key loss from the team is Lakers draft pick Brandon Ingram. The 2016-17 Blue Devils are nothing to be messed with and will win the conference as a start to what they should accomplish.

Other teams to watch: North Carolina, Virginia, Louisville, North Carolina State

 

Coach of the Year: Mark Gottfried

ACC coach checklist: Hall of fame coach Jim Boeheim? Nope. Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams? Negative. Possible national champion Mike Krzyzewski. Not him either.  It will be one Mark Gottfried of the below .500 North Carolina State Wolfpack in 2015-16.  Gottfried turned in a historic recruiting class for the Pack. five star point guard Dennis Smith is projected to be one of the best players in the conference despite the overwhelming amount of talent.

Mark Gottfried gathered one of the best recruiting classes in NC State history in 2016. (Photo courtesy of al.com)

Mark Gottfried gathered one of the best recruiting classes in NC State history in 2016. (Photo courtesy of al.com)

Additionally the Wolfpack add five star Turkish recruit Omer Yurtseven. The seven foot center possesses soft hands and touch to go along with his length and athleticism.  Perhaps the next Kristaps Porzingis? Even if he turns out to be another misfire in the European obsession and is not one of the best players nationally he is sure to provide length that the pack have lacked. Between big men returnees Beejay Anya and Abdul-Malik Abu in conjunction with Yurtseven there should be enough size to dominate other teams. As a note Yurtseven comes from the same team as Enes Kanter, who was ruled ineligible. However, like other European players he will likely miss a few games and then be ready to go.

What NC State will miss is the play-making of Anthony “Cat” Barber who decided to forgo the remainder of his college career for a shot at the pros. Dennis Smith should make up for this. As point guard, Smith will have the ball in his hands to begin most possessions.  This is good because most of his talent exudes when he has the ball. Smith will have plenty of one on one opportunities with the other players on the floor, both in the front court and back court. Smith has great shot creation with the ball but will need to work on movement throughout the offense off the ball.

Gottfried will face a challenge with this much roster overhaul. The Pack missed the tournament for the first time since he stepped on campus in 2011. With this much talent there is no way it is not the first 25-win season for him in Raleigh. That big of a turnaround leads him to be the ACC Coach of the year.

Other coaches to watch: Leonard Hamilton, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams

Player of the year: Jonathan Isaac

The ACC is packed with players that could exceed just winning the conference award and win National Honors. There is a laundry list of players: Grayson Allen is a lethal scorer who is back, Jaron Blossomgame decided to come back for a senior campaign, and a plethora of new faces enter the fray.

With all of the talent available to choose from what makes a player stand out most is the situation that they are in.  There is no denying that several players possess the talent or capability to win but not all are in the ideal situation to do so. Some could end up buried amongst the talent on their own team. Grayson Allen’s talent did not show until his predecessors gave him the space to do so.  If there is not enough talent around a player then all of the defensive efforts can be concentrated on them. This neutralizes their effectiveness. Five star Florida State recruit Jonathan Isaac finds himself in a happy medium of these two extremes and possesses the raw athletic talent to complete the task.

Jonathan Isaac's frame could use some work but his handling skill is excellent for his size. (Photo courtesy of sbnation.com)

Jonathan Isaac’s frame could use some work but his handling skill is excellent for his size. (Photo courtesy of sbnation.com)

To begin with the player, Isaac is a long, athletic wing with great shooting ability. Isaac can handle the ball well for his size, not unlike Kevin Durant. Most of what he does happens with the ball in his hands whether it is shooting off the dribble or using his ball handling to get around less agile defenders. Isaac lacks strength and does not defend well as of yet. However, his athleticism should help him grow into that role.

Wait, is this a broken record? Did we not see this last year with Brandon Ingram? The difference here is that Ingram had to be one of his team’s leading scorers. Grayson Allen cannot score 40 plus points per game and there was not another scorer on the team far enough in their development to make a difference. Luke Kennard just was not ready to be that yet. That left Ingram in a high pressure situation and catapulted him to a team lead situation. Isaac will not be in the same situation.

He will have experienced help in Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Dwayne Bacon. Bacon surprised many with his return to the Seminoles. The team’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game was expected by many to follow Malik Beasley in a jump to the NBA. Electing not to do so, Bacon’s abilities will attract attention and clear space for Isaac as well as preventing him from drawing double teams.  Rathan-Mayes provides the ability to dish Isaac the ball after leading the team with 4.4 assists per game. There is enough talent to help Isaac grow but not too much to bury him on the roster.

Other players to watch: Grayson Allen, Jaron Blossomgame, London Perrantes

 

Week Nine College Football Picks

Away Home Location Rob Joe
#25 Virginia Tech Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Akron Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Akron Akron
Ohio Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Appalachian State Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA GSU App St
California USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
#22 Navy South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF Navy
San Diego State Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT San Diego St SDSU
Air Force Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Air Force AF
Kent State Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI CMU CMU
UCF Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Connecticut East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC Uconn Uconn
Duke Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA GT Ga Tech
#5 Louisville Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Louisville Louisville
Kentucky Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Kentucky UK
Wagner Massachusetts Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, MA Umass Umass
Kansas State Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Kansas St KSU
#10 West Virginia Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK West Virginia Ok St
Minnesota Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Minnesota Minnesota
#2 Michigan Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Michigan Michigan
#24 Penn State Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Penn St Penn State
Boston College NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Cincinnati Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple UC
Western Kentucky Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL WKU WKU
#14 Florida Georgia EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL Florida Florida
#8 Baylor Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Baylor Baylor
Army Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC Wake Wake
Miami Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN Notre Dame Miami
Samford Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Mississippi State Miss St
#4 Washington #17 Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Washington Washington
Maryland Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana Indiana
Texas Tech TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TTU
Northwestern #6 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St OSU
Miami (OH) Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI E Michigan Miami
SMU Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA SMU SMU
Georgia State South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Arizona State Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Arizona St Oregon
#13 Boise State Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Boise St Boise
Rice Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA LT LT
Marshall Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS Southern Miss So miss
North Texas Texas San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
Middle Tennessee Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL MTSU MTSU
Louisiana Monroe Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Arkansas St Ark St
Kansas #16 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma OU
Margin of Victory 33 40
#7 Nebraska #11 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
#15 Auburn Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss Auburn
#18 Tennessee South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC Tennessee Tennessee
New Mexico State #9 Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Texas A&M TAMU
Old Dominion UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX UTEP UTEP
Tulsa Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
#3 Clemson #12 Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL Clemson Clemson
UNLV San José State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA San Jose St SJSU
Washington State Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Washington St WAZZU
Stanford Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Stanford Arizona
New Mexico Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawaii Hawaii
Gameday Guest Picker (Salt Lake City) Keith Van Horn Michael Doleac
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