Each week, the scouting department at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl will provide insight into some of the top prospect performances from around the nation! Be sure to keep up with our latest game announcements on Twitter @NFLPABowl.
Cincinnati dual-threat quarterback Desmond Ridder proved why he is considered one of the top senior prospects in the nation, leading the Bearcats to their biggest win in school history over Notre Dame. Ridder did it through the air, delivering two touchdown passes, and then beat the Fighting Irish defense into submission via the ground with a key fourth-quarter touchdown run.
“We didn’t just beat a top-10 team, we beat a top-five program,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “That’s the Desmond Ridder factor.” He now has nine passing touchdowns and just two interceptions, to go along with three rushing touchdowns on the season.
One of the most gifted athletic draft-eligible quarterbacks in the Class of 2022, Ridder is expected to test extremely well during the combine and is viewed as an intriguing mid-late round value. Should Cincinnati run the table and make a playoff bid, his stock could continue to rise.
Desmond Ridder with an absolute NFL throw when UC needed it most, to try and put the Irish away in South Bend. pic.twitter.com/18kPSeXgQD
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) October 2, 2021
Prairie View A&M quarterback Jawon Pass is enjoying a ‘remember me’ type season, guiding the Panthers to their fourth win of the season this past week, accounting for 230 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 signal-caller was pegged the heir apparent to Lamar Jackson during his time at Louisville and it started off well, as he threw for 2,900 yards and 14 touchdowns. However, injuries and inconsistent play led Pass in search of a fresh start at Prarie View A&M. His poise and confidence level are at a noticeable all-time high right now.
“I feel like people know what I’m capable of,” Pass told HBCU Sports. “I just have to show it. I feel like yes, I have something to prove but at the same time, I have to just go out and show it.” For the season, Pass is completing 60% of his passes, throwing for 1,244 passing yards, along with 147 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns through five games. “He’s been a tremendous asset to our program,” said Prairie View head coach Eric Dooley. “He’s fit in with the rest of the guys and been a leader for us.”
The newfound maturity level has been evident and pro scouts have taken notice. “I’ve progressed more mentally,” Pass said. “I have a different overall mindset. At the end of the day, nothing is going to be given to you no matter the situation. I still have the mindset to work hard every day as if I’m trying to be the guy.”
Jawon Pass had the tough job of taking over for Lamar Jackson at Louisville.
On this 59-yd TD run the transfer QB sure did look like the former NFL MVP.
Ark Pine-Bluff 3 📺 ESPNU pic.twitter.com/c0Ksa6tnvF
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) September 30, 2021
Hawaii do-it-all weapon Calvin Turner flies under the national radar due to his late kickoff times out on the Islands. However, he has been one of the most consistent skill-position players in college football over the past two seasons. His performance during the Rainbow Warriors win over Fresno State was just the latest example. Turner scored as a receiver with four catches and 41 receiving yards. The former high school quarterback next scored as a runner, carrying the ball 14 times for 59 rushing yards out of the wildcat, as their starting quarterback was ruled out just five minutes prior to kickoff.
Turner also serves as the kick, punt returner, and gunner on special teams, making his NFL Draft stock very appealing. Through the first six games of the season, Turner has 727 all-purpose yards, including six rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns. His skill-set could translate into a Curtis Samuel (WFT) type role at the next level.
#Hawaii makes it a priority to get their playmaker Calvin Turner Jr. the ball. The former #Jacksonville QB takes snaps at wildcat QB, RB and slot wide receiver, and this read option is a perfect example of his versatility. pic.twitter.com/yOzWs8T0OR
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 3, 2021
Virginia senior Noah Taylor continues to lead the Cavaliers defense, as he collected at least six tackles for the fifth consecutive game and registered his team-leading third sack against the Hurricanes this past week. A productive three-year starter, Taylor battled through injuries during 2020 in what was a streaky season. His consistent play this year is an excellent indication to NFL scouts that he is fully healthy.
“I knew my ability as a player and I knew what I could’ve done last season and I didn’t do that obviously, what I think because of injury.” Taylor explained earlier this season. “So really just trying to get healthy and put that injury behind me and just focus on getting better because I know what I can do as a football player.”
The quick, long, athletic linebacker now has 27 career tackles for loss in 36 games played. He projects as an ideal SAM backer at the next level due to his read-and-react diagnostic ability, quickness to get after the quarterback, and ability to drop back in coverage. He also demonstrates very active hands (10 pass deflections and three interceptions for his career). With his size, speed and experience, look for Taylor to hear his name called come April.
UVA’s Noah Taylor with the 85 yard pick-6! Longest INT return by a linebacker in program history 🚨
177 days until college football is back😤 pic.twitter.com/vzZgpxWZ94
— Saturday Gameday (@SaturdayGameday) March 4, 2021
*For more insight on the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl process, including players who have caught our attention, be sure to tune in to ‘The State of Football’ every Thursday at 9:00am eastern time, as executive director Dane Vandernat joins Ric Serritella on Sports Illustrated!