Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Wide Receivers

Wide receiver was a position that was highly sought after in the 2017 NFL Draft, but there are some good players in the upcoming class too. Here are guys who will be at the top of draft boards at the wide receiver position come next April:

Deon Cain, Clemson

Deon Cain (Photo by: zimbio.com)

Cain has been overshadowed by all of the great Clemson receivers of the past few years, but it is now his time to shine. Mike Williams and Artavis Scott are gone and Cain will be the primary outside receiver for the Tigers.

Last season Cain had 724 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, but will likely see that increase when he is the primary target this season. He will have to deal with an unproven quarterback this season, but his talent should show through no matter who the starting quarterback ends up being. At 6′ 1″ tall and 210 pounds Cain has good size, but will likely not be taken until the second round.

Cain has flashed potential, but he needs to have a solid and consistent season of production to prove he is worth of an early pick. The big games for Cain to prove himself are: Auburn, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

The favorite to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2018 NFL Draft is Christian Kirk. He has dealt with a lot of different quarterbacks during his time at Texas A&M and will have to again this season.

With Trevor Knight completing around 50% of his passes, Kirk still put up good numbers last season. He had 928 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. One of his biggest things he needs to work on is consistency, but that is partially on the quarterback. He’s 5’11”, which isn’t great, but he uses his athleticism well, making him capable of playing on the outside.

Kirk is looking to maintain his draft stock going into this season. The Aggies will play some big games this season to allow Kirk to show off his skills. They play UCLA, Alabama, Florida, Auburn and LSU.

Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Ridley is also in contention to be the first wide receiver taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has been a key on Alabama’s offense, even though they run the ball a lot, with 161 catches in two years.

In 2016, Ridley caught 72 passes for 769 yards and seven touchdowns with freshman Jalen Hurts as his quarterback. Hurts is not known as a thrower and Ridley will likely be catching passes from him this season. His best game last season was against Kentucky, when he caught 11 passes for 174 yards and two scores. He creates great separation and has good speed, but like other receivers in this class, needs more consistency.

Ridley will be going up against some good secondaries this season and doing well in these games could push him to the top of draft boards at the wide receiver position. The Crimson Tide play Florida State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn, which gives Ridley some great competition to go against.

Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame

Equanimeous St. Brown (Photo by: usatoday.com)

St. Brown isn’t on a lot of peoples’ radars, but he should be. He only played a little bit his freshman season, but came on strong last year.

He finished the 2016 season with 961 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. St. Brown has great size for an outside receiver, but needs to add some strength to his 6’4″ frame. He adds a big play threat and averaged 16.6 yards per reception. He will have a new quarterback to work with this season, but should be able to have a solid season.With another year of good production, his size and big play ability will entice an NFL team to take him early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Notre Dame is always on television, which will give him the most chances to be seen by NFL executives. The Fighting Irish will play Georgia, North Carolina, USC, Miami and Stanford, which all give St. Brown some top level competition to play against.

Courtland Sutton, SMU

Sutton is another receiver that, had he come out for the 2017 NFL Draft, would have been selected early. He has an interesting story and started his career at SMU as a defensive back before emerging as a great receiving threat.

Like St. Brown, Sutton has great size which entices NFL minds. He’s 6’4″ and 215 pounds and has dominated his competition in the AAC. He totaled 1,246 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016 and saw his draft stock rise continually throughout the year. His redshirt junior year promises to be one filled with good stats and success.

SMU doesn’t have the luxury of playing too many great defenses so Sutton will need to make the most of his chances in 2017. The Mustangs play TCU, Cincinnati, Houston and Memphis.

James Washington, Oklahoma State

James Washington (Photo by: tulsaworld.com)

While everyone else on this list are dealing with some sort of quarterback issue, Washington doesn’t have to worry about that. His partner in crime Mason Rudolph decided to come back to school and they should both put up great numbers this season.

Washington has gotten better every season he has been in Stillwater. Last season he had 1,380 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. His most notable game from 2016 was against Pittsburgh. He finished that game with 296 receiving yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions.

The dynamic duo will have a few opportunities to prove themselves against good competition this season with games against Pittsburgh, TCU, Oklahoma and Texas.

 

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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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National Signing Day 2017: Big 12

The Big 12 was locked out of the College Football Playoff last season, but the way to get back is through recruiting. This page will be updated today for National Signing Day. Here are how the classes in the Big 12 are looking:

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Signees: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 17, 3*: 10, Other: 0

The Sooners have leveraged all of their recent success to gain another great recruiting class. Corner back Justin Broiles enrolled early and could help a secondary that isn’t great. Athlete Ryan Jones Should also be able to create an impact early in his career. There will be more good signings for the Sooners throughout the day.

Top Prospects Signed: CB Justin Broiles (4*), RB Trey Sermon (4*)

2. Texas Longhorns

Commitments: 18, 5*: 0, 4*: 7, 3*:11, Other: 0

Texas has the second best class in the Big 12, but it is good, not great nationally. They will need to get some key signees to move up the ranks. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger impressed enough to be invited to the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Toneil Carter could see playing time at the wide receiver position early in his career. Tom Herman has a solid recruiting class to build off of.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Toneil Carter (4*), QB Sam Ehlinger (4*)

3. TCU Horned Frogs

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 8, Other: 4

Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs were a trendy pick to win the Big 12 last season, but fell short. Fortunately TCU has some recruits to look forward to. Shawn Robinson is a good dual threat quarterback that should be a good fit for TCU’s offense. Jalen Raegor is an exciting wide receiver prospect, who can help recreate the high-powered offense that the Horned Frogs used to have.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Jalen Raegor (4*), OG Wes Harris (4*)

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 4, 3*: 15, Other: 2

Oklahoma State was a few games away from a College Football Playoff appearance. They have a solid recruiting class that should help them maintain their current level of success. Wide receivers Tylan Wallace and Shamond Greenwood are a pair of four star receivers that will catch passes next season. It is an offensive-loaded class for the Cowboys, so Mike Gundy will need to figure a way to outscore all of their opponents, because the defense needs work.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Tylan Wallace (4*), RB Chuba Hubbard (4*)

5. Baylor Bears

Commitments: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 24, Other: 0

Matt Rhule has done a fantastic job of turning nothing into something with this recruiting class. Wide receivers are the main coup for the Bears in this class. They have Trestan Ebner and R.J. Snead should both see the field at some point in their careers. Offensive line prospect Xavier Newman is one of the best interior linemen in the class.

Top Prospects Signed: WR R.J. Snead (4*), WR Trestan Ebner (4*)

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Commitments: 18, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 16, Other: 0

The Red Raiders are known for their offensive skill positions, but they have a class of good defensive players and offensive linemen. Offensive guard Jack Anderson is a top five guard in the class. Two JuCo corners in Octavious Morgan and Jaylon Lane are great finds for Texas Tech and can help out their bad defense.

Top Prospects Signed: OG Jack Anderson (4*), CB Octavious Morgan (4*)

7. Iowa State Cyclones

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 19, Other: 3

Iowa State targeted a lot of JuCo players for their class. Their class is headed by wide receivers Matthew Eaton and Joshua Johnson, who should have an impact soon after arriving to Aimes.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Matthew Eaton (4*), WR Joshua Johnson (4*)

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*:0, 3*: 20, Other: 1

Dana Holgorsen doesn’t have a talented recruiting class, but has a knack for findins diamonds in the rough. Kelby Wickline is an offensive tackle from JuCo who should get a chance to play. Wide receiver Reggie Roberson is their best skill position prospect.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Kelby Wickline (3*), WR Reggie Roberson (3*)

9. Kansas State Wildcats

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 14, Other: 5

Bill Snyder has lost his grasp on recruiting. The Wildcats have a couple of defensive ends leading the class in Anthony Payne and Wyatt Hubert. Safety Elijah Walker is a good JuCo safety prospect for the Wildcats. They will need to have some of these players outdo expectations.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Anthony Payne (3*), S Elijah Walker (3*)

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 17, Other: 2

The Jayhawks are at the bottom of the Big 12 again. They, with some other struggling teams, have to target a lot of JuCo prospects. Quarterback Peyton Bender is a JuCo guy that they hope pans out. A lot of these three stars will need to be great to help Kansas hop out of the bottom of the Big 12.

Top Prospects: QB Peyton Bender (3*), RB Octavious Matthews (4*)

 

ACC Signing Day- Here

Big Ten Signing Day- Here

Pac-12 Signing Day- Here

SEC Signing Day- Here

 

 

 

Tyreek Hill’s Journey to the NFL

His name is not Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott, but this rookie has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2016 NFL draft. Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has really burst on to the scene this year with incredible speed and versatility.

Projected to go undrafted by many, it was a surprise that the Chiefs took Hill in the fifth round. His numbers at West Alabama, a NCAA Division II school, were not impressive. He is on probation for a domestic violence incident that lead to him being kicked out of Oklahoma State. At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, he is not very big either.

Kansas City really took a gamble by drafting Hill and it has definitely paid off. Here is a look at Hill’s crazy road to the NFL.

High School

Hill competed at Coffee High School in Georgia and was actually more of a standout on the track than the football field. Hill won both the 100 and 200-meter dash at the 2012 Georgia 5A state meet.

Courtesy of ESPN

He also put up an incredible performance at the Golden South Classic in Orlando, Florida. He finished the 200 in 20.14 seconds, which was good for second all-time. To give perspective on how fast Hill was, that time would have been the fastest time in the NCAA that year. It also would have been good for sixth place in the 2012 London Olympics. He also finished the 100 in a blazing 10.19 seconds.

Hill was a beast on the track, but make no mistake, he was also a fantastic football player. He was not only fast, but also incredibly strong. He could run the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds and bench press 345 pounds. Hill only had competed in track for a couple years, but has played football from a young age. His skill on the track and football field caught the attention of a lot of big schools. 

Hill was receiving track scholarships from schools like LSU and Florida State. Georgia offered him a scholarship to run track and play football. He nearly chose Georgia’s offer, but his grades prevented him from doing so. He decided to sign with Garden City Community College in Kansas to play both football and run track.

College

Hill did football and track at Garden City. Hill got to show his versatility his sophomore year on the football field, rushing for 638 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught 35 passes for 557 yards and six touchdowns. The production made him one of the top JUCO recruits for the next season. It seemed that almost every top school wanted him, including Alabama, Florida State, USC, Oklahoma and Texas.

Courtesy of USA Today

Hill ended up choosing to play at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys’ fast-pace offense and top-notch facilities drew Hill to the program. His head coach at Garden City, Matt Miller, also had family members who attended the university. Miller did not push Hill towards OSU, but told him to choose a program he felt comfortable in.

Hill had an impressive first year with the Cowboys. He immediately got started running track and set the school record for the 60 and 200-meter dashes. He also helped OSU win their first Big 12 indoor championship.

Hill also made an impact on the Cowboys football team. As a junior, Hill rushed for 534 yards and a touchdown while also catching 31 passes for 281 yards and another touchdown. Hill played a big part in the return game as well, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns and one punt for a touchdown.

Oklahoma State finished the year 6-6 and ended the regular season with a thrilling overtime victory over rival No. 20 Oklahoma. Hill had a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown that tied the game with 45 seconds left and sent it to overtime. The Cowboys kicked a field goal to win 38-35. It was announced the next day that Hill and the Cowboys would be taking on Washington in the Cactus Bowl. Not a bad first season at Oklahoma State for Hill. However, everything was about to come crashing down for Hill.

Dismissed

About a week after the victory over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State announced Hill was dismissed from the football and track teams after he was arrested for domestic assault and battery.

An OSU press release stated: “Oklahoma State University does not tolerate domestic abuse or violence. Based on the evidence and the serious allegations that have been made, Head Football Coach Mike Gundy has announced that Tyreek Hill has been dismissed from the OSU football team. He also has been dismissed from the track team. The allegations are under investigation by Stillwater Police and by the OSU Office of Student Conduct. Those processes will proceed independently.”

Hill ended up pleading guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation. It was found that Hill got into a fight with his pregnant girlfriend and punched her in the stomach and choked her (the baby boy was born healthy). Hill ended up receiving three years of probation and was required to attend an anger-management course and a year-long batterer’s program.

A Second Chance

Hill still wanted to play football, but no one was willing to give him a chance. West Alabama, a NCAA Division II school, was willing to take a chance on Hill, but not right away. Head coach Brett Gilliland warmed up to the idea of taking Hill after speaking with people at Oklahoma State, Garden City, and one of his high school mentors. Ultimately, Gilliland was swayed by the plea requirement that Hill needed to remain either a full-time college student or be employed full-time. Otherwise, he would need to serve jail time.

Courtesy of Great American Sports Network

Hill completed his college football career at West Alabama in 2015 and put up some decent numbers. Hill rushed for 237 yards and a touchdown and also caught 27 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. He also returned two kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns.

Not a bad way to end a football career, but nothing impressive. Hill was only his team’s fourth leading rusher and the second highest receiver. He was his team’s leading return man, but you have to be able to do more than that to get drafted in the NFL. Not to mention Hill’s small size and the fact that West Alabama had not had an NFL draft pick since 1974. It seemed unlikely he would play in the NFL.

Hill was not invited to the NFL combine so his last chance to impress NFL scouts was at West Alabama’s pro day. Hill ran the 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds, which would have tied Chris Johnson for the fastest time in NFL combine history.

Hill’s strength is definitely his speed. His ability to score long touchdowns and return kicks and punts were highlighted as his strengths in his NFL draft profile. His weaknesses were that he was not a very tough runner and went down really easily and danced around too much waiting for a hole to open up. Not to mention he had been kicked out of Oklahoma State for domestic violence and was on probation. Hill was projected to go undrafted, but his punt return ability and speed could potentially intrigue a team to invite him to camp.

NFL

The 2016 NFL draft began April 28 and to the surprise of everyone, the Kansas City Chiefs took Hill in the fifth round with the 165th pick. Not only was Hill’s talent a question mark, but also his past. The NFL has really cracked down on domestic violence incidents ever since Ray Rice had his incident in 2014. Not to mention back in 2012, Chiefs’ linebacker Javon Belcher committed a murder-suicide, something that was still fresh in the mind of Chiefs fans.

Courtesy of Kansas City Star

Andy Reid has also shown compassion to players like Hill in the past. Back in Philadelphia, Reid gave Michael Vick a chance after he served time in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring. Vick was not disappointing on or off the field for the Eagles.

The Chiefs’ front office spent time with coaches from Oklahoma State and West Alabama as well as Hill’s family, friends, and even Hill’s prosecutor. After discussing it with everyone, the Chiefs determined Hill was on the right path and had been handling himself well. 

Hill has continued to show the Chiefs made the right decision by drafting him. Right now Hill has 56 catches for 547 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. He has also made an impact in the ground game, rushing for 252 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 carries. Hill also has a kick and punt return for a touchdown, putting him at the top of the team for total touchdowns with 11. His performance earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl this year as a return specialist.

With blazing speed and ability to make big plays, it is going to be exciting to see what Hill can do in the future. He has definitely made the Chiefs proud on and off the field. He has been going to counseling and says he wants to become a better person from doing so. He has learned from his past mistakes and is really making the most of his second chance at football. 

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Alamo Bowl

There are a lot of prospects in the 2016 Alamo Bowl. Oklahoma State and Colorado both have a lot of players who will get a shot at the NFL. With the game being so loaded it would be too hard to mention all the athletes who will get a chance at the next level. Here are the most notable draft prospects in this bowl game:

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Vincent Taylor, DT

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Alamo Bowl

Vincent Taylor (Photo courtesy: mysanantonio.com)

Taylor has great size for a defensive tackle at six foot three inches tall and 310 pounds. He is a great pass rusher from the interior of the defensive line with 6.5 sacks. Not too many guys who play his position can produce a lot of sacks. Thomas is also good at stopping the run with 12 tackles for loss on the season. Not a lot of people are talking about Thomas now, but with those stats and a good performance at the combine, he could shoot up draft boards.

Jordan Sterns, S

Projected Draft Range: Fourth round-sixth round

Sterns is great in run support for a safety. He uses his great tackling ability to come up and stop the ball carrier after he gets past the second line of defense. Sterns has done this time after time and even had 19 total tackles against rival Oklahoma. He needs to work on his ball skills, but is good at the fundamentals. At six feet and 200 pounds he has a good starting point for an NFL body.

Colorado Buffaloes

 Chidobe Awuzie, CB

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Awuzie is the best prospect in this game. With eleven passes defended, Awuzie makes great plays on the ball, but needs to work on converting some of those to interceptions. He only has one interception on the season. When Colorado needs him to blitz, he is effective, with four sacks on the season. He also had 12 tackles for loss in 2015, making him good at stopping the run as well. Awuzie gets a bowl match-up with a great quarterback, Mason Rudolph, to prove he can play with the best possible players. His draft stock can drop or rise due to his performance in this game.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB

Projected Draft Range: Fourth round-sixth round

Witherspoon is a shut down corner on the opposite side of the field from Awuzie. He isn’t as good as Awuzie at blitzing or stopping the run, which are areas he needs to work on. Witherspoon has great height for a corner back at six feet three inches tall. With the NFL preferring bigger corners, he will have a good chance of sticking around on a roster. Like Awuzie this game presents a big opportunity to improve his draft stock.

Tedric Thompson, S

Projected Draft Range: Third round-fifth round

Alamo Bowl

Tedric Thompson

With this many prospects in the secondary, it is apparent why Colorado has an elite pass defense. Thompson might be the best ball-hawking safety in the draft with seven interceptions. He had a great game against Utah, possibly the biggest game of the regular season with the Pac-12 championship appearance on the line, Thompson had two interceptions and four passes defended. He has a lot of solo tackles on the season and isn’t afraid to make tackles alone on running backs.

 

 

 

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2016 Valero Alamo Bowl Preview

There is a former match-up seen in the Big 12 happening in the 2016 Valero Alamo Bowl, where the Colorado Buffaloes take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys went 9-3 on the season, even if Mike Gundy doesn’t recognize one loss. They only lost to bowl eligible teams, but one of them was the controversial loss to Central Michigan. With wins over TCU, Kansas State, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State have beaten a lot of really good teams.

Alamo Bowl

Mason Rudolph (Photo courtesy: cowboysrideforfree.com)

Mason Rudolph has been one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football with 3,777 yards passing. He also threw for 25 touchdowns, but the most impressive things is that he has only thrown four interceptions. His ability to protect the football, while putting up so many good numbers makes him efficient.

Wide receiver James Washington is his best target. Washington has 1,209 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches. He is a pro prospect that rips off big plays with a long touchdown catch of 91 yards and a 19 yard per catch average. Jalen McCleskey is the possession receiver with 69 catches on the season.

The passing game is lethal, but the running game still had room to have a 1,000 yard rusher. Justice Hill was able to rush for 1,042 yards and five touchdowns. Chris Carson gets a lot of carries in the red zone with eight touchdown runs.

Defense isn’t the specialty of the Cowboys, as they allow 204 rushing yards per game and 253 yards passing per game.

Jordan Sterns, a defensive back, has helped slow opposing offenses down with 62 solo tackles on the season. He also has five tackles for loss, three interceptions and five passes defended.

Colorado Buffaloes

There a lot of coach of the year awards, but Mike MacIntyre should win all of them. He led the Buffaloes to a 10-3 record, with their only losses coming to Michigan, Washington and USC (all three teams will play in New Year’s Six Bowl Games). Their four solid wins are over Colorado State, Stanford, Washington State and Utah.

Sefo Liufau hasn’t had the greatest season numbers-wise, but its hard to fault a quarterback too much for numbers when his team has ten wins. He has 2,171 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has added 496 yards and seven touchdowns in the running game.

Alamo Bowl

Jimmie Gilbert (Photo courtesy: Denver Post)

The Buffaloes have a lot of good targets, but Shay Fields and Devin Ross have been the best. Fields comes up with the big plays while Ross helps move the chains. Fields has nine touchdowns on 845 receiving yards. Ross has 66 catches on the season for 765 receiving yards.

Running back Phillip Lindsey has had a great season with 1,189 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He is also an excellent target out of the backfield with 47 catches for 390 yards and one touchdown. He is the guy that Oklahoma State’s defense has to focus on stopping.

Colorado has an above average run defense that gives up 146 yards per game. The pass defense is elite, allowing 183 yards per game.

Defensive lineman Jimmie Gilbert has 10 sacks on the season, which has helped the great pass defense of Colorado. When Gilbert can’t get to the quarterback defensive back Tedric Thompson makes plays on the ball with seven interceptions on the season.

Prediction

Something has to give in this game. Either it’s Colorado’s pass defense or the Oklahoma State offense. Mason Rudolph has played against good defenses before and come up with wins and he will do so again. This is one of the most entertaining non-New Year’s Six Bowl Games and should go down to the wire.

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys 34 Colorado Buffaloes 30

 

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2017 College Football Playoff Bracketology November 28

Four Playoff Teams

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0)

This is the obvious choice yet again for the CFP committee. They haven’t lost and won a big rivalry game against No. 13 Auburn on Saturday. Alabama is most likely in the CFP even if they lose in the SEC Championship Game.

This Week: vs. Florida Gators (Atlanta, GA)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

(Photo Courtesy: Buckeye Extra- The Columbus Dispatch)

(Photo Courtesy: Buckeye Extra- The Columbus Dispatch)

A lot will be made of the fact that the Buckeyes aren’t conference champions, but they have the best case for the committee to include them in the playoff, as of now, other than Alabama. Ohio State beat the No. 3 team in the country this weekend, the Michigan Wolverines, but also have wins against Wisconsin (No. 6), Oklahoma (No. 8) and Nebraska (No. 16). If Penn State wins the Big Ten Championship, there will be some doubt about Penn State vs. Ohio State, which may happen even if Wisconsin wins the Big Ten Championship, but for now the Buckeyes are the number two team in the rankings.

This Week: N/A

3. Clemson Tigers (11-1)

Clemson moves back up to third after the Michigan loss. If they win the ACC Championship game, they will make the playoff. Their wins over Louisville, Florida State and Auburn are all solid enough that they only need to worry about winning their last game.

This Week: vs. Virginia Tech (Orlando, FL)

4. Washington Huskies (11-1)

Their out of conference schedule is really holding Washington back. Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State are all cake-walks, which will cost them. Washington’s wins aren’t that great either. The only team that they have beaten who will be ranked in the committee’s top 25 will be Stanford. They will come in at four in these rankings, but may be jumped by a Big Ten Champ for the CFP.

This Week: vs. Colorado (Santa Clara, CA)

First Four Out

5. Michigan Wolverines (10-2)

With wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, it would be hard to put Michigan behind those teams in the rankings. The Wolverines are a long shot to make the CFP with the loss to Ohio State, but it is still possible. They need Clemson and Washington to lose and need the committee to value their win over the eventual Big Ten Champion.

This Week: N/A

6. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2)

(Photo courtesy: gambling911.com)

(Photo courtesy: gambling911.com)

The Badgers have only lost to Ohio State and Michigan, and now find themselves in the Big Ten Championship Game against another Eastern Division power. Wisconsin’s victories over LSU and Nebraska are both solid. Winning the Big Ten Championship Game may not get the Badgers into the playoff, but they need to take care of business in case it does get them into the CFP.

This Week: vs. Penn State (Indianapolis, IN)

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (10-2)

Penn State’s win over Ohio State won them the Big Ten East and has them in playoff contention. Their next best win is Iowa, which doesn’t help them that much. They are in the same situation as Wisconsin and need to win and hope what they have done is good enough for the committee.

8. Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)

The Sooners may get jumped by Colorado, but they hold position and have the best win out of the two with their victory over West Virginia. They also scheduled tough out of conference games, and even though they lost, it will look good in the eyes of the committee. Oklahoma has a chance to become Big 12 Champions with a win this weekend. For the Sooners to make the CFP, they will need to have a lot of teams lose who are ahead of them and need the committee to value a conference championship

This Week: vs. Oklahoma (Home game)

Next Two Out

9. Colorado Buffaloes (10-2)

(Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

(Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

Colorado has had a surprising season and now finds itself in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Their best win was over Stanford, but they have some solid wins over Utah and Washington State also. The Buffaloes will face their biggest test in the Pac-12 Championship Game against No. 5 Washington. If they win they will likely need Oklahoma and Clemson to lose as well to have a chance at the CFP.

This Week: vs. Washington (Santa Clara, CA)

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2)

Oklahoma State lost to Central Michigan with the referees making mistakes, costing the Cowboys the game. That extra loss on the season is really holding the Cowboys’ CFP chances back. Wins over Pitt and West Virginia are good notches for the committee to look at. They need to beat Oklahoma and get the same type of help and generosity from the committee as the teams ahead of them in the rankings.

This Week: at Oklahoma (Away game)

 

 

College Football Playoff Bracketology 11/20/16

Four Playoff Teams

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0)

It was an unimpressive performance for the Crimson Tide against FCS team Chattanooga. The good news for Alabama is that they are the only power five conference team that is still undefeated. They are in the CFP if they win out. If they lose to Auburn and win the SEC Championship, they might still get in.

This Week: vs. #15 Auburn

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-1)

(courtesy oregonlive.com)

(courtesy oregonlive.com)

The Buckeyes were at number two in the committee’s rankings last week, but struggled against Michigan State. Michigan had the same struggles, as the Spartans get up for big games. There is no reason to drop Ohio State in the rankings at this point. Their wins over Oklahoma and Wisconsin are looking really good now that both are solidly in the top ten. The win over Nebraska is an added bonus and their loss to Penn State isn’t that bad. If Penn State is able to win the Big Ten Championship even if Ohio State wins this week, the Buckeyes will have to hope that their resume speaks for itself. A lot will be decided in “The Game”.

This Week: vs. #3 Michigan

3. Michigan Wolverines (10-1)

Michigan has more big wins than anyone in the top four, but they lost to an average Iowa team. They have wins over three current top ten teams in Wisconsin, Penn State and Colorado. The Wolverines struggled to beat Indiana with starting quarterback Wilton Speight out, so that is something to watch in the coming weeks. If Michigan can beat Ohio State this week they will go to the Big Ten Championship Game. Ultimately the Maiz and Blue control their own destiny.

This Week: at #2 Ohio State

4. Clemson Tigers (10-1)

The Tigers got back on track, beating Wake Forest this week. Unfortunately for them, none of the teams ahead of them lost, but they are in the driver’s seat in the ACC and should be favored heavily in their next two games. Their next two weeks should be a lot easier than any other team in contention for the CFP. Win out and they are in.

This Week: vs. South Carolina

First Four Out

5. Washington Huskies (10-1)

USC’s upset of Washington may not have been much of an upset at all. The Huskies’ biggest win this season was over Utah and the Utes’ loss to Oregon this week really hurts them. The wins over Utah and Stanford are still decent wins, but they are not marquee. Now Washington plays Washington State, who will likely be out of the top 25 when the rankings come out, after their loss to Colorado. The winner of this game does however go to the Pac-12 Championship.

This Week: at #22 Washington State

6. Wisconsin Badgers (9-2)

(Courtesy dailytribune.com)

(Courtesy dailytribune.com)

If Wisconsin beats Minnesota this week, they represent the Big Ten West in the Championship Game. The week one win over LSU is solid and a win over Nebraskas helps out too. Their only losses are to Ohio State and Michigan. Ultimately, if the Badgers win out the lowest they can be is the first team left out of the CFP.

This Week: vs. Minnesota

7. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-2)

To be honest, the Nittany Lions’ win over Ohio State is completely carrying them, but the committee seems to like that win enough to keep Penn State this highly ranked. Penn State has the two losses to Pitt and Michigan, which aren’t as “good” of losses as Wisconsin’s. All Penn State fans will be rooting hard for Ohio State to beat Michigan and that their team will beat Michigan State, so that they can play in the Big Ten Championship Game.

This Week: vs. Michigan State

8. Oklahoma Sooners (9-2)

Oklahoma is surging up the rankings after losing two of their first three games. They scheduled tough, which gets the committee’s attention, but they failed by losing to Houston and Ohio State. The Sooners have flown through the Big 12 schedule, but picked up their best win this weekend on the road at West Virginia. They need a lot to happen ahead of them, but their is still a slight chance they can get into the CFP.

This Week: BYE, Next Week: vs. #11 Oklahoma State

Next Four Out

9. Louisville Cardinals (9-2)

Houston has shook up the playoff more than a lot of teams and they aren’t even in consideration to make it. The Cardinals lost to the Cougars on Thursday night, which leaves their chances at making the CFP a long shot. Their win over FSU helps their case a lot, as they don’t have a win over a top 15 team. Louisville needs to win their last game and hope for complete chaos.

This Week: vs. Kentucky

10. Colorado Buffaloes (9-2)

The Buffaloes may have gotten a big win this week over a ranked Washington State team, but their overall case to the committee is pretty weak. They only have three wins against teams with winning records. They need to get into the Pac-12 Championship Game by winning this weekend and then hope that the teams ahead of them fall by the wayside.

This Week: vs. #12 Utah

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-2)

The loss to Central Michigan, which shouldn’t have been allowed, is really hurting the Cowboys right now. They also lost to Baylor, making them a long shot to make the CFP. They do have a win over West Virginia and have a chance to win the Big 12 with a win over Oklahoma.

This Week: Bye, Next Week: at #9 Oklahoma

12. USC Trojans (8-3)

(courtesy espn.com)

(courtesy espn.com)

USC is on a roll and have wins over Colorado and Washington. The best thing that happened to the Trojans this weekend, other than their win over UCLA, was Utah losing to Oregon. Now if Utah beats Colorado next week, USC will be in the Pac-12 Championship Game. They are going to need a few upsets each week to make the CFP, but anything is possible.

 

College Football Playoff Bracketology 11/13/16

With upsets this weekend, the College Football Playoff Committee’s job has just gotten harder. Here is how they should rank the teams:

Top Four Teams

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (10-0)

(courtesy cbssports.com)

(courtesy cbssports.com)

This is the easiest pick the committee will have this weekend. Alabama is the only undefeated power five conference team. They may even be able to afford a loss as long as it isn’t in the SEC Championship Game. With wins over USC, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee there is no doubt that the committee will put Alabama at number one.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Chattanooga, at Auburn

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)

Michigan’s loss may hurt the Buckeyes down the road because of the possibility of it knocking Ohio State out of the Big Ten Championship Game, but for now that is still hypothetical. The good news for the Buckeyes is that their resume is very impressive. They have beaten Wisconsin, Nebraska and Oklahoma, all of whom are likely to be in the committee’s top 15 teams on Tuesday. Their one loss to Penn State looks a lot better now that the Nittany Lions will be in the top eight this week.

Remaining Schedule: at Michigan State, vs. Michigan

3. Clemson Tigers (9-1)

The loss to Pittsburgh this week doesn’t hurt Clemson that much. If they win out, they should still make the College Football Playoff. The reason they are ranked third? They were ranked second last week, so Michigan won’t be able to jump them with their loss, and they beat Louisville in their head to head match-up. If they lose in one of the last two regular season games they could be in real trouble.

Remaining Schedule: at Wake Forest, vs. South Carolina

4. Michigan Wolverines (9-1)

Michigan lost to an average Iowa team, but it was a road game, and they still control their own destiny. With their wins over Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado, all of whom should be in the top ten this week, their case to be in the playoff is still strong. Win out and the Wolverines will be in the College Football Playoffs.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Indiana, at Ohio State

First Four Out

5. Louisville Cardinals (9-1)

(courtesy nytimes.com)

(courtesy nytimes.com)

Louisville moves up to number five, but can’t move up into the four playoff teams because of their loss to Clemson. If the committee values the head to head match-up the Cardinals will still be on the outside looking in. Their only big win this season is over Florida State, who is 7-3. The Cardinals have been trying to blow out teams to help their case, but they might need someone in the top four to lose to make it into the CFP.

Remaining Schedule: at Houston, vs. Kentucky

6. Wisconsin Badgers (8-2)

The only two losses for the Badgers on the season are to Michigan and Ohio State. They got screwed in the intra-division cross over games. More importantly for Wisconsin they have wins over LSU and Nebraska, who should both be in the top twenty when the committee releases their rankings. They have played five teams this year when they were ranked in the AP top ten and won three of those games. Wisconsin likely controls their own destiny to win the Big Ten Championship and would likely get in the CFP if that happens.

Remaining Schedule: at Purdue, vs. Minnesota

7. Washington Huskies (9-1)

The Huskies were hurt badly by their loss to USC. USC is a quality team, but the rest of their schedule hasn’t been great. Their non-conference schedule as awful (Rutgers, Portland State and Idaho). Washington has a big win over a great Utah team who will most likely be in the top 15 in the committee rankings this week. Their next best win is over the under-performing Stanford, who sits at 7-3.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Arizona State, at Washington State

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (8-2)

Beating Ohio State gets them up to number eight, with teams ahead of them losing. Their losses are against highly-ranked Michigan and Pitt, which looks a lot better after they were able to knock off Clemson. The rest of their games are wins, but against teams that aren’t very competitive. Iowa is their next best win. They need to make the Big Ten Championship Game and win to make the CFP.

Remaining Schedule: at Rutgers, vs. Michigan State

Next Four Out

9. Oklahoma Sooners (8-2)

Many people were ruling Oklahoma out after they lost two out of their first three games, but their is still a way they can make the CFP. They need some chaos to happen, but it is possible. The losses to Ohio State and Houston aren’t terrible. Their wins aren’t great, but their two biggest games of the Big 12 season are the next two weeks. Oklahoma doesn’t have the luxury of a conference championship game, but they will play a tough Oklahoma State team the weekend of other conferences’ championship games.

Remaining Schedule: at West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma State

10. Colorado Buffaloes (8-2)

Colorado in the top ten? The committee had them at 12 last week, so they have to move up due to the teams losing in front of them. The bad news for the Buffaloes? They only have one average win, over Stanford. They lost to USC and Michigan in their opportunities for big wins. The good news? They play tough teams the rest of the season, which will provide them with opportunities to soar up this list.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Washington State, vs. Utah

11. Utah Utes (8-2)

(courtesy sltrib.com)

(courtesy sltrib.com)

The Utes are in the same position as Colorado. They have no great wins, but can still make a run at the playoffs. They did beat USC this season, which looks a lot better after the Trojans’ recent stretch of play. They, like Colorado, need to win the Pac-12 to have a shot at the CFP.

Remaining Schedule: vs. Oregon, at Colorado

12. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-2)

The losses to Central Michigan and Baylor are really hurting the Cowboys’ chances right now. There may have been controversy in their loss to Central Michigan, but they still should have won that game. They have a win over West Virginia, which will put them in the top twelve for now over the Mountaineers. In addition to that win, Oklahoma State’s win over Pittsburgh is looking pretty good now much like it does for Penn State.

Remaining Schedule: at TCU, at Oklahoma

 

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“From Our House to Yours”

College Football Week Two Recap

Week two of college football is in the books and so much more is known now than a few short weeks ago. Here are four takeaways from this weekend’s action:

1. The Holy War is a very underrated rivalry.

BYU versus Utah always provides great drama and this year was no exception. The Cougars traveled down the field and scored a late touchdown to put themselves within one point of their rivals. Head Coach Kalani Sitake elected to go for a two point conversion after the touchdown to potentially win the game in regulation. A quarterback draw play was called and Taysom Hill was stopped short of the goal line, which sealed a Utah victory. This series was so intense and violent that the schools discontinued the annual game for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The football gods wanted them to play so bad, that they met in the 2015 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and the annual series was continued this season. Since 2012 all of the games have been decided by one possession. This rivalry is definitely one to keep an eye on into the future, as BYU will be looking for revenge after losing the last six match-ups.

Kalen Ballage had a historic game against Texas Tech. (Courtesy of azfamily.com)

2. Kalen Ballage is a star.

How many people knew the name Kalen Ballage before this weekend? Ballage is the running back for Arizona State who scored eight touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ win over Texas Tech. No defense was played in this game (the final score was 68-55), but Ballage almost outscored the Red Raiders by himself. The eight touchdowns were school and Pac-12 records, but sadly his performance only tied the NCAA record for touchdowns in a game. The most impressive thing about the eight touchdowns is that he only touched the ball fifteen times. After the game Ballage showed his class by bringing his offensive line to the press conference to show the press who helped him achieve such a feat. BWatch out for him to break more records this season, based on his great performance in this game.

Central Michigan pulled off an improbably upset. (Photo courtesy cbssports.com)

3. The Big 12 needs to step up fast.

Oklahoma lost to Houston, who is a good team, but that is not a loss that should happen for a team that was supposed to win the Big 12 and return to the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma State lost to a MAC school, Central Michigan, in a controversial fashion. Even if they should have won, they should have also played better against a team from the MAC. TCU, who was picked by some to make the CFP, lost to Arkansas. Texas Tech just lost a big game on the road too. If the Big 12 wants to have a team represent them in the CFP, they need to have some team step up.

The Broncos aren’t quite ready to leave the national scene. (Courtesy ktvb.com)

4. Don’t sleep on the Mountain West.

The Mountain West notched two big wins this weekend over Pac-12 schools. Boise State defeated Washington State 31-28. The Broncos have a solid team and look to be one of the best group of five conference teams. Washington State was thought to have a breakout year in the Pac-12, and still might, but fell just short of collecting a big win in Boise. San Diego State now has twelve straight wins after beating California this weekend. Cal isn’t the most talented team in the Pac-12, but it is still a big win for SDSU. The Aztecs may be in store for a New Year’s Six Bowl. The only big threat for these teams are each other, in a possible Mountain West Conference Championship Game. Watch out for these two teams to rise in the rankings as the season goes on.