Watch NFLPA Collegiate Bowl director of college scouting Dane Vandernat discuss some of the marquee matchups for college football in Week Two, along with some prospects that the NFLPA Bowl will be keeping tabs on, as he joined Ric Serritella during ‘The State of Football’ show on Sports Illustrated.
Below are some of the highly contested games that NFL scouts will be sure to pay close attention to this weekend:
Featured Game: Pittsburgh at Tennessee, Saturday, September 11th, 12:00pm
A potential shootout in the making, Pittsburgh senior signal-caller Kenny Pickett looks to show off his rifle arm in Knoxville, as they take on Tennessee. Will the cerebral Pickett, who likes to spread the ball around, avoid Tennessee senior Alontae Taylor? The lockdown cornerback continues to build an impressive resume with his blanket-like coverage. This is certain to be one of the more polarizing prospect matchups that pro scouts will be keeping an eye on.
Featured Game: Appalachian State at Miami, Saturday, September 11th, 7:00pm
The Hurricanes look to avenge a week one loss to Alabama, as they host Appalachian State, featuring the dynamic senior duo of quarterback Chase Brice and wide receiver Thomas Hennigan. For the Hurricanes, senior quarterback D’Eriq King looks to rebound and help state his case as a next-level signal-caller. On defense, Miami senior safety Bubba Bolden has been a sponge to his current mentor Ed Reed and is one prospect whose draft stock is on the rise.
Featured Game: Missouri at Kentucky, Saturday, September 11th, 7:30pm
Sliding under the radar is Missouri senior linebacker Blaze Alldredge, who racked up 10.5 tackles, including three and a half sacks in week one. His counterpart Akayleb Evans, a transfer from Tulsa, also got off to a good start, coming up with a big interception. For Kentucky, gamebreaker Josh Ali will attempt to duplicate last week’s magic, as the senior wideout hauled in five balls for 136 receiving yards and a score.
Featured Game: Louisiana at Nicholls State, Saturday, September 11th, 7:00pm
One of the best kept secrets in college football is DaiJean Dixon of Nicholls State, who brings pro size, a big catch radius, and tremendous body control. Look for the senior wide receiver to have a bust-out season. However, he’ll face a daunting opponent in the Rajun Cajuns stellar defense, which features a handful of potential prospects. Senior cornerback Eric Garror and safeties Percy Butler and Bralen Trahan will have plenty of opportunities to impress NFL evaluators.
It’s sure to be an exciting season, so check back for frequent updates throughout the season as we update you on which players are rising, sliding, and surprising. Follow us on Twitter @NFLPABowl for the latest news and announcements!
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.
Western Kentucky senior signal-caller Bailey Zappe made good on his Hilltoppers debut, tossing for 424 passing yards, along with seven touchdowns during their win over UT-Martin in week one. The record-setting transfer quarterback from Houston Baptist played an efficient game, completing 80% of his passes, while connecting with 11 different wide receivers, including five different targets for scores.
“It felt great,” Zappe said of his night. “To be honest, that stuff doesn’t happen without receivers like we have and the offensive front. To be able to come out clean, with no sacks or pressures, is big. . . . It was a great start, great start to the season. I love it, it’s awesome, look forward to doing it more.”
With over 10,000 career passing yards at the FCS level, Zappe continues to try and convert scouts into believers. He has showcased the ability to make all the throws and has tremendous poise in the pocket. The graduate senior has had a prolific collegiate career, as the accolades continue to pile up. The NFL will have no choice but to pay attention.
— WKU Football (@WKUFootball) September 3, 2021
UNLV super senior running back Charles Williams turned in a resilient performance in week one, despite a devastating double overtime loss to Eastern Washington. The elusive and explosive runner toted the rock 27 times for 172 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a fourth quarter score to help tie the game. The wins have been hard to come by during his Rebels career but Williams remained positive after the game stating, “We can’t look at this loss and hang on to it all season. We’ve got 11 more games to go, so we’ve got to focus on those 11 games.”
The Fresno native has now surpassed 3,000 rushing yards for his career and has an excellent opportunity to improve his draft stock next week against a pro-coached Arizona State defense. Keep an eye on this backfield dart who blends spend and power, as he could ultimately land on the NFL Draft radar.
#UNLV RB Charles Williams has accounted for 154 (145 yards rushing, 9 receiving) of 252 total yards of the team’s total offense. Showcases great vision to find the hole on the backside and find pay dirt.
Tie game late in the 4th now. pic.twitter.com/VLK1FBhEdH
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) September 3, 2021
Appalachian State senior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan reminded NFL scouts of his explosive game-breaker speed with a big performance in a rout over East Carolina, nabbing four balls for 114 receiving yards, including one receiving touchdown and a key 68-yard catch over the middle to help set up another score. A team captain and academic All-American, Hennigan has been known to set the tone.
“I’m going to do whatever I got to do, along with all the other ten guys on the field, to do whatever it takes to win,” Hennigan said. “I’ve always been a ‘lead by example’ kind of guy, so (if I) do the right things on and off the field, naturally I think the younger guys will follow.”
He possesses a muscular-built frame, runs crisp routes, knows how to create separation and can scoot after the catch. With a strong opening week performance in the books and 11 games remaining, Henningan needs 1,003 receiving yards to break the school’s all-time record held by Brian Quick (3,418).
— CFB Kings (@CFBKings) September 3, 2021
Playing in his hometown of Charlotte, disruptive Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis seized the moment during the Bulldogs week one win over Clemson. It was a stymied defense, led by the mammoth man in the middle, which constantly kept the Tigers offense in check with constant pressure in the backfield. In fact, Davis absorbed two and three bodies regularly, which resulted in seven sacks on the evening for the Georgia defense, including one himself. His strength and burst off the line of scrimmage is a force to be reckoned with and Davis has finally developed into a three down player.
“He’s elite at pocket push, elite power, one of the strongest kids I’ve ever been around,” stated Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “He helps you the way he’s able to run games and things because he’s just different. There’s nobody quite like him in terms of the volume and the reps.”
With a rare combination of size and speed, Davis could be first round bound, so long that he keeps his weight in check. Currently listed at 350 pounds, the agile big man has been listed as much as 380 in the past. Otherwise, the former three-star recruit has firmly entrenched himself as one of the top defensive line prospects in the nation.
— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) September 5, 2021
No stranger to adversity on or off the field, Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker turned in a valiant effort in week one, producing a game-sealing interception on a clutch fourth and goal play to help guide the Nittany Lions over Wisconsin. Known to be a brilliant football mind who spends countless hours in the film room, Brisker was not surprised by the end result stating, “I knew that they loved No. 84, so I figured I’d favor his side. Once he threw it, I made the play.”
He would finish with four tackles, including one tackle for loss and also had a fumble recovery early in the game that was eventually reversed. The gutsy performance was commendable, as Brisker was subbed in and out throughout the game, while he battled various ailments.
“It’s a testament to who he is as a football player,” teammate PJ Mustipher said. “He battled through injuries and got a pick. That’s just the type of player Brizzy is.”
He made a handful of short-yardage stops on the day and was constantly around the football when he was in the game. Brisker carries on the memory of his late brother Tale’ who was murdered at the age of 19 in Prairie View, Texas with a tattoo on his bicep. His brother would have been proud of this gutsy performance, no doubt. Be on the lookout for this defensive star whose draft stock is ascending.
JAQUAN BRISKER ARE YOU KIDDING ME???! pic.twitter.com/IPxaNudv15
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 4, 2021
Fordham football has had just two players drafted since 1955 (John Skelton in 2010 and Chase Edmonds in 2018) but there could be a third on the horizon. Make sure you store the name Ryan Greenhagen in the memory bank. A silver lining during the Rams 52-7 defeat by Nebraska, Greenhagen played as if he were shot out of a cannon in week one, registering a modern day D-1 record 30 tackles. It was the most tackles by any player against an FBS opponent since the NCAA began keeping records.
“47, he made every tackle. He’s nice for real,” Nebraska running back Markese Stepp was quoted after the game. “30!?Wow. 30 tackles…that’s a lot, he’s a monster, not gonna lie.”
A certified film junkie known for his great work ethic, Greenhagen prepares like a pro, according to the coaching staff. His relentless tenacity, diagnostic ability to read-and-react, in addition to his toughness will offer mass appeal to pro scouts.
“Even I noticed from the sideline he was all over the place,” Fordham head coach Joe Conlin said. “I would be more surprised if it was someone other than Ryan. That’s the kind of player he is. He’s the leader of our defense, a great kid. That’s how he prepares, that’s the way he plays every game.”
While there may be some athletic limitations for the New Jersey native, he clearly possesses the intangibles and size needed to stick at the next level.
Fordham LB Ryan Greenhagen tied the NCAA D1 record for tackles in a single game with 30 (!!) during their loss to Nebraska last night
This tied Rick Razzano (VT – 1977) & Josh Cain (Chattanooga – 2001) for D1 athletes
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) September 5, 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!
Watch NFLPA Collegiate Bowl director of college scouting Dane Vandernat discuss some of the marquee matchups for college football in Week One, along with some prospects that the NFLPA Bowl will be keeping tabs on, as he joined Ric Serritella during ‘The State of Football’ show on Sports Illustrated.
Below are some of the highly contested games that NFL scouts will be sure to pay close attention to this weekend:
Featured Game: Alabama at Miami, Saturday, September 4th, 3:30pm
Two storied programs square off in this week one battle, highlighted by numerous players on the NFL radar, including Hurricanes signal-caller D’Eriq King. The athletic, dual-threat quarterback looks to state his case as a bonafide prospect at the most important position in football. A strong game against the defending champions would certainly help propel his momentum to kick off the season. However, lockdown cornerback Josh Jobe will be doing his best to keep King in check in what should be a fun game of mental chess.
Featured Game: Georgia at Clemson, Saturday, September 4th, 7:30pm
A whopping 24 players were named to the initial NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Watch List between these two schools. One key matchup worth monitoring is highly touted Clemson cornerback Derion Kendrick, who could find himself assigned to Georgia playmaking wideout Demetris Robertson, two players who are expected to be playing on Sunday. Bulldogs linebacker Adam Anderson is one prospect who could hear his name called on Day One come April.
Featured Game: LSU at UCLA, Saturday, September 4th, 8:30pm
Another great meeting amongst two powerhouse programs to start the season, the Rose Bowl, which is home to the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is sure to be rocking. Tantalizing quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson seemed to be working off some rust during the Bruins week zero rout over Hawaii. He will attempt to take advantage of the heavy contingent of NFL scouts expected to be in attendance for this contest. One player flying under the radar for the Tigers is center Liam Shanahan, who transferred a season ago from UMass and went on to earn the starting job.
Featured Game: Fresno State at Oregon, Saturday, September 4th, 2:00pm
It was an exhilarating victory for Fresno State, as they began the season on a high note by taking care of business with a big win over UConn. The backfield duo of quarterback Jake Haener and running back Ronnie Rivers accounted for a bulk of the Bulldogs’ offensive gains. They now look to prove their worth against a top-ranked Oregon program, which featured nine players on the initial NFLPA Bowl Watch List. In fact, the Ducks boast a dynamic backfield duo in their own right with the running back tandem of CJ Verdell and Travis Dye, both of whom have caught the attention of pro evaluators.
It’s sure to be an exciting season, so check back for frequent updates throughout the season as we update you on which players are rising, sliding, and surprising. Follow us on Twitter @NFLPABowl for the latest news and announcements!
Last but not least, we have our list of featured Big Board players from the special teams’ position. Here are just three of the guys to look out for:
Jake Camarda – Georgia – Punter
Since his true freshman season, Bulldogs punter Jake Camarda has shown great promise while developing into one of the nation’s top punting prospects. With touch-to-toe times in the low-to-mid 1.3s and hang times typically in the 4.2s or higher, it’s no wonder why the Norcross, Georgia product was a Ray Guy Award Finalist last season. Also impressive among Camarda’s career production are his 49 punts of 50+ yards with only 23 touchbacks. But what truly stands out to NFLPA Bowl scouts are his 53 career punts inside the 20-yard line – a true testament to the 2020 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year’s control and accuracy with the football.
Cameron Dicker – Texas – Placekicker
As a three-year starter for the Longhorns, Cameron Dicker has played in some big games. For a field goal kicker, NFL scouts want to see their ability to convert kicks when the game is on the line or in high-pressure situations, and Dicker has consistently delivered. In 2019, the 2021 Lou Groza Award preseason watch listee converted game-winning kicks against Big 12 rivals Kansas and Kansas State, and kicked a go-ahead 40-yard field goal vs border rival Oklahoma with 10 seconds left to play in the Red River Rivalry. As a kickoff specialist, the Lake Travis, Texas product forces a touchback on north of 69% of his attempts, and in 2020 he even punted eight times in a pinch, showing additional versatility and value for NFL teams to evaluate.
Jordan Silver – Arkansas – Long Snapper
As a long snapper, notoriety is not typically what follows. For NFL talent evaluators, consistency among specialists is paramount, especially for snappers who are only called out when they have bad snaps. But Silver has talent for the NFL to see – with easy throws back to the punter that typically time in the high 0.7s to low 0.8s and with good athleticism to get downfield to cover punts. For the past three seasons in the SEC, in fact, the Missouri native has short snapped for field goals/PATs as well as deep snapped for punts, giving him outstanding experience for scouts to judge.
That concludes our list of featured players; check back tomorrow August 27th for the reveal of the entire Big Board.
The Big Board is almost full, and today we’re highlighting key defensive backs that we expect to have strong seasons in 2021-22.
Montaric Brown – Arkansas – CB
As a 2.5-year starter for Arkansas, cornerback Montaric Brown has played and produced against some of college football’s top competition. Standing at 6-1, 190 pounds and in possession of near 32” arms, Brown has the physical measurables press-man NFL teams covet and then plays with an urgent demeanor as he gets to the football. With his long arms, the “Natural State” native has been productive in his career to the tune of 12 passes defended (including a pair of interceptions) and displays his toughness routinely while showing versus the run. With the speed to carry wide receivers vertically, expect another productive season for this Razorback amid yet another tough slate of opponents.
Juanyeh Thomas – Georgia Tech – Saf
For the past three years, safety Juanyeh Thomas has been producing for the Yellow Jackets, initially as a kickoff returner and special teams coverage specialist and then as an imposing last line of defense the past couple of seasons. While typically roaming on the field-side of the formation, the 6-2, 218-pounder owns impressive speed and ability to close on ball carriers, and then the play strength and length to secure his tackle attempts. In fact, over the past two seasons on defense, the Florida native has been extremely productive while racking up 119 tackles, 2 INTs and seven passes defended. With this type of production coupled with his vast special teams experience, NFL teams will be taking a hard look at the soon-to-be three-year starter.
Damarcus Fields – Texas Tech – CB
Entering year #5 as a starting cornerback, Taylor, Texas native Damarcus Fields has played a lot of football – and it shows. With excellent field vision and superb ability to both anticipate and relate to routes, the super senior with 43 games played under his belt is frequently seen calling out plays and alerting teammates to what’s to come. Standing 5’-11 ½” and with 31 ¼” arms, Fields has been very productive in his career breaking up passes, leading or coming in second on the team every year he’s played, including leading the Big 12 Conference in 2020 with 11. With the speed to carry receivers vertically and rare experience for the position, draftniks can expect to hear a lot more of Fields’ name leading up to next April.
Sterling Weatherford – Miami (OH) – Saf
The Redhawks may only have played three total games last year, but it was plenty for safety Sterling Weatherford to showcase his elite talents. Standing at nearly 6-4 and 220 pounds with 31 ½” arms, the Hoosier State product towers over most defensive backs and takes on blockers and ball carriers alike like a throwback linebacker. More than just a box safety at the next level, Weatherford possesses the range and COD quickness to be effective in deep coverage while utilizing his length and athleticism to match up with tight ends. To boot, the redshirt senior is a legit blitz threat off the edge who flashes the technique to rival any outside linebacker.
Come back tomorrow as we feature our final four players ahead of the entire Big Board release on Friday.
The Big Board is filling up every day and this time we’re featuring the linebackers. These are just four of the players that we’re suggesting you take a look at this season:
Lakia Henry — Mississippi
A tremendous athlete with plenty of speed and burst, Henry is the quintessential run and chase linebacker. The smoothness of his overall game will draw mass appeal for NFL scouts, as Henry is a flexible athlete who is able to flip his hips and is an effective cover man when dropping back in zone. In fact, Henry brings an unordinary amount of speed to the position, as he can come downhill in a hurry and is dangerous on the blitz. With great range and physicality in coverage, the Vidalia, Georgia product possesses the skills required to be a high-level defender.
Merlin Robertson — Arizona State
Four-year Aztec starter Merlin Robertson possesses the size, length, and versatility that many NFL defenses covet. An active linebacker that packs a punch at the point of attack, the California native flashes the ability to rush from the outside, plug rush lanes up the middle, and is more than capable in pass coverage. He is learning from some great mentors playing under Sun Devils defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce and linebackers coach Chris Claiborne on Herm Edwards’ staff; coaches have praised his maturity heading into 2021. In addition, Robertson has been named a candidate for the Polynesian Player of the Year.
Jack Sanborn — Wisconsin
The heart and soul of the Badgers defense, Jack Sanborn is a throwback linebacker. He is a sure-tackler in the open field while his play recognition is off the charts. In the passing game, Sanborn is often used as a blitzer where his physical toughness, feisty passion and good snap-timing shine through. The Deer Park, Illinois native has also shown a propensity to utilize his advantageous ball skills to come up with the occasional interception, totaling four during his career. Sanborn is a highly competitive player, brings a non-stop motor and is often praised for his high character, making him one to watch for this upcoming college football season.
Willie Eubanks — Citadel
Looking to build off the momentum of his stellar season a year ago, Eubanks, a fifth-year senior, is poised to keep pro scouts flocking to The Citadel. The FCS standout possesses NFL-level size and plays with a high level of physicality. He can be a thumper against the run and demonstrates tremendous range laterally along with the savvy to defend the pass. Cited by his coaches as an outstanding leader, Eubanks owns experience on special teams, which could be his ticket onto a 53-man roster at the next level.
Take a look back at the featured players who have already been announced as a part of the Big Board before the full release on Friday!
Defenses have the ability to change the tide of games and there are a number of linemen that consistently make big plays for their teams. These are just four of the guys that are going to lead their squads:
Phidarian Mathis – Alabama – DT
When it comes to stuffing the run, few defensive linemen are as impactful as Crimson Tide DT/NT Phidarian Mathis. With exceptional size at 6-4, 320 pounds and length with his 34 1/2” arms, the Louisiana native routinely displays elite ability to stack offensive linemen, create separation to key & diagnose, and then shed to make the tackle. But Mathis is more than just a cog in the middle of the LOS – with rare speed and range for his size, the redshirt senior regularly demonstrates great effort pursuing ball carriers out of the stack, and flashes the ability to be an upfield penetrator with his initial quickness and getoff. Unsuspecting quarterbacks also fall prey to his long wingspan’s ability to affect passes at the LOS — something he successfully accomplished three times in 2020.
Chauncey Manac — Louisiana – DE
In the NFL, versatility is key, and Ragin’ Cajun Chauncey Manac has demonstrated for multiple years now his ability to perform a number of roles defensively. After beginning his collegiate career at Georgia, the 6-3, 251-pounder found a home at Louisiana where he has wreaked havoc on Sun Belt opponents while aligning at outside linebacker, defensive end, and even as a stand-up rusher over the guards in sub-packages. One of the best assets of this slippery defender is his ability to play with his near 34” arm length, keeping blockers from getting latched onto his body and providing separation as a rusher to execute a rush move. Coupled with his strength to hold up against the run and it’s no wonder why Manac is squarely in the sites of NFL talent evaluators.
Zach VanValkenburg – Iowa – DE
As a first-year transfer in 2019, Zach VanValkenburg flashed for the Hawkeyes some of the ability that got him named 2018 Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. But in 2020 the former Hillsdale College star really ascended while starting every game for Iowa and showcasing his rare motor and stamina. What sets VanValkenburg apart from some other defensive ends is his rush plan along with counter moves primed in the event his initial move is stymied. His variety of moves was on full display against a good Minnesota OL last year when the super senior practically lived in the offensive backfield while recording three sacks, numerous pressures and factoring against the run. And he hardly left the field that day, a testament to his endurance and training, and a nightmare for the Gophers.
Jordan Jackson – Air Force – DL
Jordan Jackson is fun to watch. The Jacksonville, Florida native is a versatile defensive lineman with excellent size and length who goes 100 mph every snap. Prior to sitting out the 2020 season, Jackson recorded a whopping 17 career tackles for loss and eight sacks – a testament to his initial quickness, instincts, physicality, and non-stop motor. In the Falcons’ rivalry games versus fellow service academies in 2019, Jackson was at his best while recording a season-high eight tackles against Navy and then besting that feat with a nine-tackle performance versus Army, adding a sack in both games.
Just a few more days to go until the release of the full Big Board!
A strong offensive line is the heart of any winning team, and there are a number of players we expect to contribute to the strength of their respective offenses this season. These are four of the guys that we suggest you keep an eye out for:
Myron Cunningham – Arkansas
On an offensive line unit that returns five starters, super senior Myron Cunningham is the leader of the unit, something echoed by the entire Razorbacks coaching staff. Long-limbed and athletic, Cunningham looks the part of an NFL left tackle. He can mirror with the best of them, maintaining proper positioning against even the quickest of edge rushers. Cunningham possesses the size, athleticism and pass blocking ability sure to grab the attention of NFL scouts. After stops at Western Illinois and Central Community College, Cunningham will be coming to a city near you on Sundays soon.
Vederian Lowe – Illinois
With 34 consecutive starts at left tackle under his belt, Vederian Lowe has become one of the most decorated offensive linemen in Illini history. A staple of consistency and durability, he does an exceptional job protecting the edge, utilizing his strength while creating leverage and is capable in motion. Off the field, Lowe has had to grow up very fast, as he lost his mom, became a dad and assumed legal guardianship of his younger brother Vydalis during the past year—he is mature beyond his age. On the field, Lowe possesses a frame for the next level, brings a strong understanding of schemes and understands angles on how to seal defenders off from the ball carrier.
Zion Johnson – Boston College
Big, strong, and physical, Boston College senior Zion Johnson is a transfer from Davidson where he spent two seasons playing in a triple-option offense. It didn’t take Johnson long to acclimate himself to his new surroundings on Chestnut Hill, however, proving to be a menacing blocker in the run game while also improving vastly in pass protection. He has played in a power-run scheme offense under previous head coach Steve Addazio and in an up-tempo spread attack with current coach Jeff Hafley. His versatility, athleticism, strength, and tenacity provide ultimate value.
Matt Allen — Michigan State
A four-year starter and team captain, Matt Allen is relied upon as a coach on the field with his experience and high football intelligence. He possesses excellent posture, knee bend, plus a sound base, which gives him a solid foundation to build upon as he continues to develop. The Illinois native demonstrates solid core strength and the ability to keep his head on a swivel, constantly looking for work in pass protection. A three-time all-state selection in wrestling during his high school days, Allen shows great grappling ability and well-coached hand usage. There is no doubt that pedigree is on his side, having two brothers who have played in the NFL. He appears set to achieve the trifecta with another solid season in East Lansing.
We’re just five days away from the release of the full Big Board, so make sure you keep checking back as it fills out.
Every year, college football fans can count on pass catchers to make memorable contributions to the highlight reel. Here are a number of the guys we anticipate making big plays:
Charleston Rambo – Miami – WR
As a three-year producer for the Oklahoma Sooners, new Hurricane wide receiver Charleston Rambo brings a ton of experience playing in big-time games along with a very well-rounded skill set. Boasting a tall, athletic frame and the speed to take the ball to the house, the Cedar Hill, Texas product has proven to be dangerous at all three levels of the field and even factors into the run game with his block effort. With impressive ability to track and adjust to the flight of the ball, Rambo catches the ball easily while providing quarterback D’Eriq King and co. another explosive weapon for NFL evaluators to keep track of.
Austin Williams – Mississippi State – WR
After two seasons as a part-time offensive contributor, Austin Williams exploded in 2020 under new head coach Mike Leach’s tutelage, starting nine games and quadrupling his reception total from the preceding year. In this Mississippi State system, the redshirt senior Williams typically aligns in the Slot while playing a hybrid WR/TE position that takes advantage of his 6-3, 200-pound frame and his willingness to do the dirty work as a blocker. In the pass game, the Ocean Springs, Mississippi native provides reliable hands, has a knack for finding the open spots in zone, and threatens defenses vertically with his size.
Cade Otton – Washington – TE
With a very competent ability to block inline, align across the formation, catch the ball outside of his frame, and drive a defender into the dirt, Cade Otton is the modern tight end. With 63 receptions and eight touchdowns in his career entering his senior season, the 2020 John Mackey Award Semifinalist is very productive in the pass game where his advanced understanding of route running and subtle moves enable him to regularly separate from defenders. And at 6-5, 250 pounds, Otton possesses the frame to align at either ‘Y’ or ‘F’ in the NFL with the demeanor and quickness to latch and win as a blocker.
Daniel Bellinger – San Diego State – TE
For the second consecutive year, San Diego State’s Daniel Bellinger was named to the John Mackey Award Watch List, which annually recognizes the nation’s most outstanding tight end. Also for the second consecutive year, Collegiate Bowl scouts are anxious to evaluate the 6-6, 255 pounder after the Las Vegas native stood out with his impressive blend of blocking and receiving production. In the mold of a traditional “Y” tight end who typically aligns inline and is asked to block defensive linemen, Bellinger is an excellent blocker who the Aztecs enjoy running behind due to his ability to latch onto targets and sustain his blocks with his proficient footwork and bend. No slouch in the receiving game, the 24-consecutive game starter provides a very reliable target for the quarterback due to his soft hands and then knows how to pick up extra yardage after the catch with his athleticism and physical playstyle.
The Big Board is filling up every day! Make sure you keep checking our website and social channels to see more featured players before the full release on August 27th.
Where would football be without the explosive running backs that we have grown to love throughout the years? Read on to see who we expect to have breakout seasons this year:
Shaun Shivers — Auburn
As a true senior, Shaun Shivers has been an offensive and special teams contributor all three years at Auburn. While playing running back in the vaunted Southeastern Conference is no easy task, the shorter-statured and nimble-footed rusher from Fort Lauderdale utilizes his lack of size as an asset, escaping both defenders’ vision and grasp. With natural hands to catch the ball away from his frame and the willingness to face-up blitzers in pass protection, Shivers projects as a third-down back at the next level, and his added value as a kickoff returner won’t be overlooked by NFL talent evaluators.
Stephen Carr — Indiana
After earning his degree and participating for four seasons with USC, Stephen Carr took the COVID exemption and transferred to Indiana for his final season of college eligibility. Transferring with him to the Hoosiers is a well-rounded skillset that saw the now graduate student rush for over 1300 yards and catch 57 passes during his time with the Trojans. With a patient running style, Carr runs with very good vision to find open rushing lanes, maintains great body-lean to keep his pads low, and finishes his runs physically, typically by lowering his shoulder on a defender while churning his legs. With production as a rusher, pass catcher, pass protector, and kickoff returner, the Gardena, California product is a true three-down prospect who NFL clubs will be sure to pay attention to this Fall.
Hassan Haskins — Michigan
With rare size and excellent strength for the position, Hassan Haskins is a load to bring down. The 6-1, 223-pound bruiser from St. Louis played in three games as a freshman but truly burst onto the scene as a sophomore when he averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. During the shortened 2020 season and while splitting time in the deep Wolverine backfield, Haskins displayed his foot quickness and ability to break tackles to the tune of 6.1 yards per carry and a team-leading six rushing touchdowns. While NFL scouts would like to see him more involved in the passing game in 2021, Haskins’ eagerness to play on special teams the past couple of years speaks to his toughness and unselfish nature – two aspects NFL teams covet from the running back position.
Pierre Strong — South Dakota State
The play of Pierre Strong Jr. is a big reason for South Dakota State’s success over the past three seasons and a catalyst for their 2020-21 trip to the FCS national championship game. At 5-11, 204 pounds, the 2020 FCS first-team All-American is a great combination of size and speed, and routinely exploits creases with his vision, balance and foot quickness. What’s more, the Little Rock, Arkansas product demonstrates his football intelligence by flanking out wide to factor in the passing game – one of the many reasons why Strong has caught the attention of NFL evaluators.
That’s just the beginning! Keep checking back all week to see more of our Big Board featured players, leading up to the full release on Friday, August 27th.