Each week, the scouting department at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will examine some of the top performances in college football by potential pro prospects who we are keeping an eye on.
Javon McKinley, WR, Notre Dame
On Saturday against Syracuse, fifth-year wide receiver Javon McKinley found the end zone, not just for the first time this season but for the first three times, en route to his fifth-consecutive game with five-plus receptions, hauling in seven catches for 111 yards. The Southern California native – who was a highly acclaimed recruit coming out of Centennial High School – is having the most productive season of his career, recording four 100-yard games this season (Chase Claypool, for context, had three such outings last year for the Irish). With prototypical X-receiver size, McKinley has routinely displayed an ability to play big-boy football this year while coming down with a disproportionate amount of 50/50 balls. In addition to being a reliable target in the pass game, the 6-2, 215 pounder is one of the top blocking receivers in this year’s draft class, something that NFL coaches pay close attention to.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) December 6, 2020
Aaron Hansford, LB, Texas A&M
To say that Texas A&M linebacker Aaron Hansford is fast would be an understatement. A member of his high school’s track team and the son of two track athletes, Hansford initially went to the Aggies as a wide receiver before making the transition to tight end. After two seasons derailed by injury, the Washington, D.C. product made the switch to defense and has been lighting up opposing offenses ever since. Saturday versus Auburn, Hansford lived in the backfield while recording a team-leading eight total tackles, including 1.5 for loss and one sack. With the Aggies on a six-game winning streak, look for Hansford’s stock to continue to soar as he becomes all the more comfortable in his role and utilizes his speed to menace the opposition.
Lots of reasons for Aggies to be excited for the 2020 season, but seeing guys like Devin Morris, Aaron Hansford, and Ainias Smith stepping into bigger roles has to be near the top of the list. (1/4)
— colton chumbley (@chumbleycolton) May 11, 2020
Rico Bussey, WR, Hawaii
For the first time this season, wide receiver Rico Bussey found the endzone for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in their Week 13 loss to San Jose State. Though the outcome for the team was disappointing, Bussey continues to show glimpses of what made him such a prolific receiver during his prior stint at North Texas, leading the Warriors on Saturday with eight receptions for 69 yards. At 6-2, 190 pounds, the Lawton, OK native is a true vertical threat with outstanding speed and ball skills who made a living in 2018 to the tune of 12 receiving touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards receiving. A knee injury cut short his 2019 campaign after five games but Bussey is remaining busy this year while looking to add to his touchdown total in the season finale vs UNLV.
Chevan Cordeiro hits Rico Bussey for an 11 yard TD as Hawaii (+3) cuts their deficit to 21-17
— Bet The Pigskin (@betthepigskin) December 6, 2020
Dwayne Johnson Jr., S, San Diego State
We highlighted San Diego State safety Dwayne Johnson Jr. in the fall when the Mountain West announced its return to play, and the hard-hitting, fifth-year senior has demonstrated why with his performance this season. This past week against Colorado State, the “Aztec” safety in SDSU’s 3-3-5 defense made his presence felt while recording six tackles and a quarterback hurry. Despite missing one game this season, the local Southern California product ranks second on the team in tackles (36) and pass breakups (3), but it’s his relentless pursuit of the football and omnipresent nature that make him so valuable as a football player. Built like a hybrid linebacker/safety, the 6-2, 215-pound Johnson is not shy coming downhill versus the run and is a physical force in the secondary that receivers need to know about when dropping into pass coverage. With a skillset that screams special teams captain for the next level, don’t be surprised if your favorite NFL team calls his name on Day 3 of the draft!
Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers
Rutgers hasn’t had many primetime games this season, so it’s understandable if you’ve never heard of linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi. If you have watched a Scarlet Knights’ game, however, there’s no excuse. The second-year starting weakside linebacker is the leading tackler in the Big Ten Conference and on Saturday against Penn State, he had just another strong day at the office – 17 tackles, including one for loss, and a pass breakup, giving him a remarkable 92 tackles (10 for a loss) through just seven games. At his present rate, Fatukasi is on pace to challenge the prestigious conference’s all-time tackle mark and is a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, which is given annually to the nation’s best linebacker. With a frame built for speed and a reckless desire to run through ball carriers, the younger brother of Jets starting defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi is an ascending player everyone will soon know about.
.@RFootball is chopping it’s way into the weekly awards scene in Week 1.
— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) October 26, 2020