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.
In their second season under head coach Dave Aranda, Baylor won their first Big12 championship since 2013. Coming into the conference as a defensive coach, some had raised their eyebrows and questioned if Aranda could be successful. On Saturday, it was the Bears’ defensive performance that saw them hold off an Oklahoma State team that was mounting a comeback after Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen suffered an injury.
While he was not the one who made the fourth down stop, it was Jalen Pitre playing another outstanding game. The defensive back was all over the field, embodying what Aranda’s defense is all about: instincts, discipline, physicality and versatility. Pitre recorded seven tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Furthermore, he deflected two passes. The Texas native was the only player sticking to their commitment to Baylor in wake of the horrendous scandal in 2016. After joining the program at its lowest point, Pitre can now leave as a champion.
#Baylor DB Jalen Pitre is one of MY GUYS because of his elite athleticism, violence as a blitzer, aggressiveness vs the run and dependability as a tackler.
— Jordan (@Texans_Thoughts) November 20, 2021
When the Pittsburgh Panthers announced in 2011 that they would join the ACC, few expected that they would compete for the conference championship. On Saturday night they did just that, as their defense shut out the high-flying Wake Forest passing attack through the final three quarters. The defense had always been the Panthers calling card since Pat Narduzzi took over as head coach in 2015, after previously serving as defensive coordinator for Michigan State.
But it was the offense for so many years that prevented them from getting over the hump. This year that changed, as quarterback Kenny Pickett was finally healthy and had the pieces around him to dominate in his fourth year as the starter. In the ACC championship game, he not only showed off his precision passing and sound decision-making but also had an exciting touchdown run, including a fake slide.
Pitt QB Kenny Pickett is officially on the ballot for the 2021 @HeismanTrophy 🏆
Fan vote for this year’s award will help select the four finalists and winner.
Help @KennyPickett10 get to New York!
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 29, 2021
Finishing the season at 12-1 including a Sun Belt Championship wraps up another impressive regular season for the Louisiana football program. The Ragin’ Cajuns grabbed an early lead over Appalachian State in the first half and relied on their defense to close it out, winning 16-24. Senior outside linebacker Chauncey Manac was a big part of this, as he has been all season.
Finishing the game with six tackles, two and a half for loss, including a strip-sack as well as a fumble recovery, he was truly everywhere at Cajun Field. The strip-sack was crucial as Appalachian State was still within a shot of tying the game when Manac’s clutch play effectively ended the contest.
— PFN Draft (@PFNDraft) December 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 9:00 am eastern time, as executive director Dane Vandernat joins Ric Serritella and Lorenz Leinweber on Sports Illustrated!