Florida State 23, Miami 19
There was a time roughly 10 years ago that the Florida State versus Miami game was the college game that featured the most future NFL talent. Unfortunately for both programs, they are not what they used to be. For that matter the entire state of Florida has seen their collegiate football programs fall into the unranked legion this year. Still there were some future NFL starters in the rivalry game between the Seminoles and Hurricanes.
The player who could be selected first next April from this game is Florida State defensive end Brandon Jenkins. After recording 13.5 sacks last season, he has seen his sack production fall dramatically but has been playing good football on a weekly basis. Jenkins has seen extra blocking attention and has had more pressure on the quarterback than his sack total indicates. He entered the game with 3.5 sacks on the season.
Jenkins set the tone for his game when he had a good pressure on Miami's first possession. Left tackle Brandon Washington had to reach out and hold Jenkins to prevent a sack, and Washington got away with the penalty. Early in the second quarter, Jenkins beat Washington with a speed rush around the edge. He almost sacked quarterback Jacory Harris, but instead the pressure forced Harris to step up in the pocket where he was tackled at the line of scrimmage.
Just before halftime, Jenkins got in the sack column when he burned Washington with a speed rush to the outside. He ran down Harris to tackle him from behind. Harris had to be helped off the field by the training staff after the hit.
A few plays later, Jenkins helped cause a fumble in run support. He fought off Washington to start the tackle on running back Lamar Miller. Jenkins slowed him up and a teammate was able to come over and knock the ball out.
In the third quarter, Jenkins came around the edge and beat a hold attempt and a hit from the guard to put a big hit on Harris just after he threw the ball. Throughout the game, the Hurricanes were sending extra help to block Jenkins. He had the left guard doubling him regularly and on other plays got chipped from the back.
Jenkins played an excellent game and was applying steady heat on the quarterback. He finished the game with three tackles and a sack. It was a really good tape from Jenkins that shows why he is a early-round pick. Washington will be happy to not have to go against him again.
Behind Jenkins, the draft prospect who stood out the most in this game was Miami linebacker Sean Spence. The potential second-day pick was his usual self. When you watch the Hurricanes, you can't not notice Spence flying around the football field and being around the football. He did that again against the Seminoles.
On the first drive, Spence had a good tackle on a short third-down attempt to force a punt. He had another good tackle for only a gain of two yards on the sideline. There was a lot of open grass behind Spence, so if he missed the tackle the play could have gone for a huge gain and maybe a score.
In the third quarter, Spence made a clutch tackle of quarterback E.J. Manuel on third-and-goal. Spence did a great job of diagnosing the play and getting in position to make a tackle for no gain and force a field goal. On the next drive, he tracked down Manuel and stopped him on a run for no gain.
Against Florida State, Spence finished with six tackles and a tackle for a loss. Like Jenkins, he had a much bigger presence than the stats indicate. This was a good tape for Spence and confirms his second-day status.
Another linebacker in the game who could go on the second day of the draft is Florida State�s Nigel Bradham. He is working to become the first Seminole since Marvin Jones to lead the team in tackles for three straight seasons. Bradham had a huge game against Miami.
In the first half, the senior had a number of nice tackles on Miller. Bradham had a nice open field tackle of Harris to prevent a touchdown as Bradham was the last defender who could stop him short of the goal line.
On the play that Jenkins helped force the fumble, Bradham recovered the loose ball just before halftime. In the second half, he had a nice forced fumble on the ball carrier and was active in stopping the run. Bradham finished the game with 10 tackles, one pass break up, .5 tackles for a loss, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and a fumble return of four yards.
Bradham has been a late third-rounder but in this game he made the case to go higher on the third day.
A player who has helped his draft stock this year is Seminoles offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders. He has been at right tackle the past three seasons and switched to left tackle this year after Andrew Datko went out with a season-ending injury. Sanders entered the game playing well at left tackle and was showing NFL teams the ability for him to serve as a swing tackle on game days.
Miami's speedy right defensive ends gave Sanders some problems. He got beat on a speed rush around the outside for a bad sack-fumble in the first half. Sanders was lucky that Florida State recovered the loose ball because it could have been Miami�s at the Seminoles five-yard line.
Sanders had some struggles with Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon. It was a game that demonstrated why Sanders is a right tackle who can occasionally fill in at left tackle, but shouldn't be viewed as a player who is a starter at left tackle. He looks like a third-round pick.
Some other draft prospects had notable games. Miami senior cornerback Michael Williams had a good game. He is a transfer from Wake Forest who hasn't recorded an interception, but showed tight coverage against the Seminoles. Williams could be sleeper on the third day of the draft or the undrafted free agent ranks.
Redshirt sophomore running back Miller has had a great season for the Hurricanes. Florida State did a good job of keeping him from a big game. He ran for 92 yards on 22 carries with that fumble.
Junior cornerback Greg Reid has had a mixed season. He helped himself with an 83-yard punt return in the second quarter. Reid went straight down the middle of the field and ran away from the coverage unit. He finished with four tackles in the game. Reid looks like a third-day prospect.
Another future draft pick is Miami safety Ray Ray Armstrong. He was suspended for the game after having dinner with a marketing representative.
Oregon 53, Stanford 30
The No. 1 prospect for the 2012 NFL Draft, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, had his roughest game of the season against one of his best opponents. However, he showed heart and leadership in the first loss for the Cardinal in 2011.
Partway through the first quarter, Luck made a bad decision when he tossed a ball into the flat for a receiver. It looks like he didn't see the defender who undercut his receiver to make the catch. Luck didn't quit on the play and made the tackle, but the turnover set up Oregon deep in Stanford territory.
Luck answered his turnover by leading his team down the field for a touchdown. He threw a strike into the end zone for wide receiver Griff Whalen. The 16-yard rope came from a clean pocket, and he got open running a slant. It was a perfect throw from the Stanford signal caller.
On the next drive, Luck made a nice play by buying time and moving around before finding a target downfield for a good gain. His mobility and accuracy while throwing on the run are very rare. Before halftime, Luck and his top target, tight end Coby Fleener, hooked up for a great catch-and-throw downfield. Fleener had a defender all over him, but Luck put the ball on his back shoulder. Fleener did a good job of spinning around to get in position to make the catch.
With seconds remaining in the first half, Luck capped the drive with a frozen rope into a tight window between a few defenders for Whalen to get in the end zone from 13-yards out. It was an NFL throw that showed accuracy and arm strength.
In the third quarter, Luck was off the mark leading Fleener on a deep pass. He was open with separation, but Luck overthrew him. An accurate pass likely would have been a touchdown. It got worse for Luck as he was sacked and fumbled the ball away. That led to Oregon opening up a commanding lead. There were a few times where Luck was throwing too high for his receivers. It could have been the poor footing that was affecting the field. The soggy field caused a lot of players to fall during the game.
Luck led another scoring drive that he finished with a roll-out touchdown pass from a couple of yards out. The senior kept coming at the Ducks and moved the ball downfield with passes to Fleener and Whalen. That led to a short touchdown run.
Late in the fourth quarter, Luck was victimized by a dropped pass that turned into a pick-six. The ball bounced off his receivers' hands and fell right into the lap of a linebacker. After the play, Luck showed his leadership skills when he came to the sideline and picked up his freshman receiver by patting him on the helmet and giving some words of encouragement.
It wasn't a bad or good game from Luck. He battled but his team came up short and all of that had to do with his defense and turnovers. For the game, Luck completed 27-of-41 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. The game shouldn't have any real impact on his draft stock.
Luck's blind side protector, Jonathan Martin, had a quality game for Stanford. He had some phenomenal blocks in the ground game. Martin really has special strength to bully defensive ends. A team that lines up a smaller speed-rushing defensive end against Martin can expect to get gashed on the ground through that gap. At the same time, smaller speed rushers can give him some challenges in pass protection.
In the first quarter, Martin made a big play to help his team. He prevented an interception when a blitzing cornerback hit Luck as he threw, and the ball went flying up in the air. Martin showed great awareness to move into position and leap into the air to slap the ball to the ground.
Martin was playing very well throughout the first half and into the third quarter. In the third quarter, he allowed a sack-fumble. It looked like a miscommunication between him and the left guard. Martin released from the defensive and the guard to check the edge for any blitzers. Oregon was blitzing a lot off the edge and Stanford had to make some adjustments to account for that. The guard didn't pick up the end who got to Luck and smacked the ball free. It was a costly turnover as Oregon scored a touchdown to go up by 20 with about a quarter and half left in the game.
Martin's defensive end got in on a tackle for a loss later. On the play, Luck had good time to throw the ball and Martin had his man blocked, but the coverage was good downfield, so Luck started to run up towards the line of scrimmage. The end broke off of Martin and cut over across the line to tackle Luck with a teammate.
Overall, Martin played a solid game for Stanford and his draft stock shouldn't see an impact up or down. He looks like a top-10 pick next April.
Another potential first-rounder from Stanford is junior guard David DeCastro. Once again, he had a good game blocking on the ground. Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor had 99 yards rushing and a lot of that came behind DeCastro. He blasted open some running lanes and was sound in pass protection. DeCastro is incredibly consistent. His ability to get to the second level and hit blocks is truly outstanding.
DeCastro is a dominant guard who is NFL ready. He looks like the rare guard who could go in the first-round, if not in the top-20 picks. There isn't anything left for DeCastro to accomplish at the collegiate level, and with Luck highly likely to enter the 2012 draft DeCastro should also.
Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas spent his night chasing Oregon's speedy ball carriers. The senior had some good tackles in run support including a tackle for a loss and, in combination with a couple of teammates, recorded two other tackles for a loss. He finished the game with eight tackles and two tackles for a loss.
Thomas is a good pass rusher, but Oregon didn't throw many passes in the game so he didn't get the chance to rush off the edge like in a normal game. Thomas is better suited to go against pro-style offenses. His stock should hold steady in the second-day of the draft.
One of the stars of the game was Oregon senior running back LaMichael James. He used his speed to race through the Stanford defense and put points on the board. Early in the second quarter, James broke off a 58-yard touchdown run. He started to run up the middle and paused before cutting to the outside to race downfield, untouched, for the score. Cardinal safety Delano Howell took a terrible angle that let James get into the open field.
Howell made up for it by forcing a fumble on a tackle later in the second quarter. He dove and punched the ball out with his casted hand. Howell finished with five tackles. The senior looks like he is on the bubble between the second and third-day of the draft.
In the third quarter, James put the ball on the ground when he dropped a punt. It was a clean, easy, fair-catch attempt that he simply muffed, and the turnover was recovered by Stanford. James came back to score a four-yard touchdown later in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, he scored his third touchdown with a one-yard plunge.
In the second half, James started ripping off yards in chunks. The Stanford defense was worn out and his speed was too much for them. James had great blocking from his offensive line. His speed and cutting ability are excellent and he was one of the few players that overcame the wet turf. In the game, James ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He is holding steady as a second-day pick.
TCU 36, Boise State 35
There was some quality future NFL talent on display in the game between TCU and Boise State. It was a good game to look at both teams. Their regular season schedules don't often feature elite opponents, so seeing how they play against each other would provide one of the better barometers for their draft prospects. One future draft pick, Broncos running back Doug Martin, was out with a foot injury.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore is a potential third-day pick and has had a prolific collegiate career. The 6-foot, 194-pounder is undersized and does not have superior arm strength, but generally he is an accurate and intelligent.
Early in the game, Moore had all day to throw and laced a pass to the back of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. The veteran signal caller did a good job of leading his receiver with the pass and putting it where either only he would make the catch or it would fall incomplete.
In the first half, there were a few plays where Moore had receivers running open down the field but he missed them with inaccurate throws. That was very uncharacteristic for him and his typical play on Saturdays. That led to TCU being up by six at halftime.
In the third quarter, Moore made a bunch of good throws to move the ball downfield and get the Broncos in position for a short touchdown run. Later, he launched a 54-yard touchdown pass. It lofted up in the air and dropped in perfectly to wide receiver Dallas Burroughs running into the end zone.
Late in the game, the Horned Frogs took a one-point lead. Boise State had time and great field position. Moore threw a bunch of incompletions but was aided by some TCU penalties. He connected on a few short passes to move the ball in for an easy field goal, but it was missed, and the Horned Frogs pulled off the road upset.
For the game, Moore completed 28-of-38 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't have many incompletions, but they were poorly timed and significant. Moore should be holding steady as a third-day pick.
A potential second-day pick is Moore's blind side protector, left tackle Nate Potter. The Broncos senior tackle is very experienced and is a dependable pass protector. Potter made a nice block to seal a running lane for a receiver on an end around .That led to a 17-yard touchdown run.
Overall, Potter was excellent in pass protection. He mirrored defenders well and had no issues getting back in his drop to neutralize speed rushes. Potter's pass blocking is technically sound, and he looks he has the feet to stay as a left tackle in the NFL.
Potter is going to need to add some power for run blocking in the NFL. He uses his mobility and quickness to get out in front on runs, but Potter needs to add some power so he can blast someone off the line of scrimmage.
Potter looks like he is a good fit as a second-round pick. He is one of the few natural left tackles who could be available after the first round.
Defensive tackle Billy Winn is another second-day pick from Boise State. He is a tough run defender and can be a load for offensive linemen. Winn played TCU tough with some good plays in run defense and some plays where he pushed the pocket.
Winn only finished with one tackle, but it wasn't a horrible tape from the senior. He looks as if he would be best as 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, and a second-day pick.
Another potential second-day pick is Broncos defensive end Shea McClellin. He fits as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Boise State stands him up and has him rush from outside linebacker at times.
McClellin caused a fumble in the first quarter. He burst into the backfield and slapped a pitch out of the air. The ball rolled away and the Horned Frogs recovered the ball, but it was a loss of 22 yards on the play.
At times, McClellin would flash with a big rush, and after that he would be quiet for stretches. It wasn't all his fault as TCU was moving the pocket away from him at times. McClellin had huge hit on the quarterback on one play. He finished the game with three tackles, a tackle for a loss and a forced fumble. If anything, this game should help McClellin's draft stock.
Horned Frogs linebacker Tank Carder is on the bubble between the second and third-day of the draft. He made a tough tackle for a gain of only a yard. Carder worked his way through the trash to meet the back in the hole and force a third-and-nine. Just after that play, he made an open-field tackle in zone coverage on the tight end. It was a good tackle that almost stopped him short of third-down yardage.
In the second quarter, Carder made a good tackle to snuff out a screen. He made a nice read and moved around the blockers to make the tackle right after the catch was made.
On a similar play, Carder whiffed on the tackle and let the back get a gain out of the play. A few plays after that, he had a good blitz and hit on a halfback, but Moore got the ball off for a long touchdown pass. Carder came back with a good tackle in run defense on the next drive and an open field tackle on third down that forced a punt. He finished the game with seven tackles.
Carder showed good instincts and was around the ball. His draft stock should stay the same from the Boise State game.
USC 40, Washington 17
There were a lot of good pro prospects on display in the PAC-12 game between USC and Washington. There were potentially three players who could go highly next April, led by Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley and left tackle Matt Kalil.
A week ago, Barkley set a school record with six touchdown passes against Colorado. He got things going against the Huskies in the first quarter with a big pass downfield by laying out a good pass for his wide receiver, who made a big catch along the sideline for 36 yards. The junior quarterback finished the drive with a quarterback sneak to dive into the end zone.
There were stretches where the Washington defense did a good job of defending against Barkley in the first half. A big fake punt turned the tide to help set up USC�s offense, and he finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown strike in the middle of the field.
Barkley played better as the game progressed, but he didn't have to provide a big game. The Trojans� running game, special teams and defense won their battles. In the game, Barkley completed 18-of-28 passes for 174 yards and a score. This game shouldn't hurt his draft stock.
Overall Kalil was solid in pass protection. He really can do it all as a pass protector with getting back quickly in his drop. Kalil has extremely quick, light feet to get back and defend the edge. He also does well against bull rushes. It wasn't all good for Kalil since he made a bone-headed play with a late hit, well after a play was over and the whistle was blown.
Kalil is going to need to add some strength and bulk to help his run blocking in the NFL. He is much more effective as a pass blocker than run blocker. Kalil moves well and gets in good position, but he could use more power to overwhelm defenders at the point of attack.
Kalil and the offensive line did their job for a big rushing day by USC. Junior running back Curtis McNeal (5-7, 185) ran for 148 yards on 18 carries including a 79-yard run. Senior running back Marc Tyler (5-11, 230) had 50 yards on seven carries. Kalil's draft stock is secure in the top five. Tyler looks like a third-day pick, but one who could turn into a steal. McNeal should return for his senior season.
It was a solid game for USC safety T.J. McDonald. He is a big, fast and hard-hitting safety who could be the top safety in the draft next year. McDonald was solid in pass coverage and did not let players get behind him downfield. He also did a good job of contributing to run defense and recorded six tackles in the game. The junior McDonald looks like he is on the bubble between the first or second round.
Another potential first-rounder in the game was Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu. He hass put together a strong senior season, and is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation. The Trojans did a good job of going away from him.
Ta'amu was playing tough at the line of scrimmage. The Trojans offensive linemen struggled to move him, and he plugged up the middle of the line. Ta'amu had a nice tackle where he swallowed up McNeal when he came up the middle. Ta'amu had a couple of plays where he flushed Barkley out of the pocket. Ta'amu pushed linemen out of the way and burst into the backfield.
The 6-foot-3, 337-pounder had a quality game even though his team struggled overall. His stock as a late first-round pick looks stable right now.
It was a quiet game for Huskies running back Chris Polk. He shouldn't be knocked too bad as his blocking was poor and the massive deficit caused the Huskies to throw the ball. Polk was quiet in the first half as Washington couldn't get their ground game going. In the third quarter, he powered his way into the end zone with a short touchdown run.
Polk finished the game with 37 yards on nine carries and a score. The junior is one of the better halfbacks in the nation with his combination of size and speed. Polk looks steady as a second-day pick if he enters the draft.
One of the stars of the game was USC junior defensive end Nick Perry. The Detroit, Michigan product dominated the Huskies offensive linemen. Perry is really putting together a strong season and has improved his draft stock, if he decides to forego his senior season.
Just before halftime Perry had a sack of quarterback Keith Price after beating the left tackle with a spin move. Perry got pressure on the next play and blasted a halfback almost into Price. Perry had some nice tackles in run defense. In the fourth quarter, he got in a coverage sack after quarterback Nick Montana had nothing open downfield. He scrambled up towards the line of scrimmage and Perry ran him down.
For the game, the junior recorded five tackles with 2.5 sacks. If Perry stays in school, adds some weight (6-3, 250) and has a big senior season, he could be a first-round pick. Right now, Perry looks like a second-day prospect for the 2012 draft.
Another potential early entry junior who should stay for their senior season is Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant. He had five tackles against USC with a nice pass breakup where he came off his man to get into a passing lane and break up a pass. Trufant did a good job in coverage when he matched up against star sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods.
Trufant could be the top senior corner in the nation if he returns for school. If Trufant enters the 2012 draft, he would be behind LSU's Morris Claiborne and Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick. Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard could also be ahead of Trufant. That puts Trufant as a late first or second-round pick if he comes out.
Nebraska 17, Penn State 14
A couple of excellent draft prospects were on display in the game between Nebraska and Penn State. The game was overshadowed by the scandal rocking Happy Valley, but two future NFL starters had strong games.
Nittany Lions defensive tackle Devon Still is having a spectacular season. He has been a disruptive force who has recorded at least one tackle for a loss in every game this year. Still got the game started with a nice tackle for a loss of three yards on a quarterback draw. He bull rushed the guard with great leverage to get to Martinez, swallowing him up for the loss.
Later in the first quarter, Still had some phenomenal pass rushes where he was rocked the guard and pushed him aside with impressive strength. He is quick and closes on the quarterback in an instant. Still made another tackle for a loss in the first quarter after shedding a double team and exploding into the hole to stop the back for a loss of one.
After that ,the Nebraska offensive line had more success blocking the senior. In the third quarter, he made a good tackle for no gain on a passing play. Martinez had nothing to throw to and scrambled up the middle. Still shed his block to stop him at the line of scrimmage.
In the fourth quarter, Still busted into the backfield to force a fumble at mid-field. He penetrated the line off the snap and tackled Martinez as he was trying to hand the ball off. The loose ball was recovered by Penn State.
The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Still is making the case to get consideration as a first-round pick. Right now, he looks like he is on the bubble as first or second-round pick. One thing that helps Still is a weak class of defensive tackles. There are always tackle-needy teams and that could help get him into the first round.
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is a projected first-round pick next April, even without having recorded an interception this season. In large part this is because he maintains tight coverage and teams don't throw the ball his direction.
Dennard made a tackle in the first quarter. A few plays later, he hit the back and didn't make the tackle but helped the defense to catch up and make the stop. Later in the second quarter, Dennard had a nice pass breakup. Playing in zone coverage, he made a good read to cut in front of the receiver and knock the pass away to force a punt on fourth down.
On a slant route, Dennard broke to the ball and broke up a third-down pass to force a punt. In the third quarter, he came flying up to make a tackle from zone coverage. That happened later in the fourth quarter where Dennard ran across the field to make a tackle.
The senior corner had a good game with tight coverage. Right now, Dennard looks pro-ready and could step in immediately and contribute. He showed great instincts and the intelligence of how to time his pass breakups. Dennard's solid and consistent play is solidifying his stock as a first-rounder.
A potential second-day pick is Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David. The speedy linebacker is a good athlete who set the Cornhuskers� record for tackles in a season last year. This year, he has had a good senior season at Will (weakside) linebacker in the Nebraska 4-3 defense.
To start the game, David had a solid tackle in run support. Late in the first quarter, he had a ball carrier in his arms and had the tackle broken. It wasn't a great game from David until late in the fourth quarter when he stepped up and made three huge tackles in short-yardage situations.
David came back to record a huge series late in the fourth quarter. On second down, he made a nice tackle for no gain. On the next play, David jetted into the hole and got low to tackle the ankles of the back for no gain on third-and-1. On fourth-and-1, he came up to stop the back cold just short of a first down. He went high and put his shoulder into the chest of the ball carrier. It was a massive series to help seal Nebraska's road win.
David showed some special run-stuffing ability in that series. He is a speedy, undersized linebacker who really is only a fit in a Cover-2 defense. David is an ideal Will linebacker for that system and could go in the second round.
Some other prospects were in the game. Nebraska junior defensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler was held in check for most of the game. He should stay in school and improve. Penn State senior wide receiver Derrick Moye made a big catch downfield where he cut in front of two defenders to come down with the ball at the five-yard line. The gain went for 40 yards. Otherwise Moye was quiet. He looks like a third-day pick for the upcoming draft.
South Carolina 17, Florida 12
There were a few good prospects for the 2012 draft in the game between Florida and South Carolina. The Gamecocks feature a few players who are likely to be selected in the first three rounds of the next draft.
South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has first-round ability, but has been hurt by terrible quarterback play all season. That was once again the case against the Gators as the Gamecocks struggled to move the ball through the air.
Jeffery got a 14-yard reception on the first drive of the game. Later in the first quarter, a pass thrown to him was undercut and intercepted. Jeffery made another short catch where he ran through a cornerback and was tackled by two defenders. That was his last catch of the game, finishing with just two receptions for 17 yards.
While the victim of terrible quarterback play, Jeffery is giving some concern whether he has enough speed to get separation. Florida has a fast secondary, and they prevented him from getting open. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, who is so big that he can be considered open even with a defender close, did not get the chance to make catches over defenders.
Jeffery looks like a first-rounder, but the separation speed concerns could push him towards the middle of the round.
A solid second-day pick is South Carolina defensive end/tackle Melvin Ingram. He started out the season extremely strong but has been hampered by injuries of late. Ingram was having a quiet game for the Gamecocks in the first half. Late in the third quarter, he made a good tackle in run support but had a few players fall on him. Ingram left the game briefly with a shoulder stinger, but he did return to the game.
When Ingram did, he made his presence felt early in the fourth quarter. Ingram shot around the center and tracked down quarterback John Brantley. Shortly afterward, Ingram ran downfield and missed an ankle tackle on running back Chris Rainey. The extremely agile back was able to almost score after getting away from Ingram.
Later in the fourth quarter, the senior had a good pass pressure to help force an incompletion on third down. It was a very good game for Ingram after his big second half performance. He was giving the Florida offensive line fits with his speed, athleticism and strength. Ingram made the case for him to be a second-rounder.
South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore looks like a second-round pick right now. He made a huge play to start the game. Gilmore came on a corner blitz from Brantley's blind side. Gilmore turned the corner and cut upfield to hit Brantley's arm as he reared back to throw. Brantley fumbled the ball and the Gamecocks recovered.
In the third quarter, Gilmore had a good tackle on a quick pass to the wide receiver. He stopped him for no gain and held on to his ankles until help arrived. Early in the fourth quarter on a big run from Rainey, Gilmore made a touchdown saving tackle on him.
Overall, the junior corner had good coverage in the game, and he showed the ability to make plays on a corner blitz. Gilmore would probably be best in a zone system in the NFL as opposed to a man corner.
Florida senior running back Chris Rainey has had a mixed season. He's had some huge games and also dealt with injuries. Rainey has exceled against lesser competition, but he stepped up and played very well against South Carolina.
Rainey had an impressive 17-yard run where he was stopped in the backfield but spun away from a few defenders to get further up field. A 47-yard run by Rainey set up Florida's only touchdown of the game. The undersized senior came around the right side and avoided a few defenders as he slashed across the field heading for the end zone. Gilmore stopped him, but it was huge gain
Against the Gamecocks, Rainey had a good game and did well to help move the ball for the Gators. For the game, he totaled 132 yards on 17 carries. Rainey also caught three passes for 30 yards. He needs to finish the season well in order to be a late-round pick.
Virginia Tech 37, Georgia Tech 26
The ACC grudge match between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech featured some solid pro prospects on display. Virginia Tech has been a steady producer of a quality NFL talent, and the team has at least four players who are likely to get drafted next April.
Hokies wide receiver Jarrett Boykin has been consistent the past two seasons with 835 yards in 2009 and 847 yards last year. This year, he is likely to fall short of those numbers. The senior entered the game with 38 receptions for 481 yards and three touchdowns. Boykin looks like he is missing Tyrod Taylor, and the Virginia Tech has been leaning on its ground game this season.
That was the case against Georgia Tech. Early in the game, Boykin made a big catch along the sideline for a gain of 33 yards. He didn't have much separation but made a nice reception for a good gain. Just before halftime, Boykin caught a nine-yard touchdown pass. He started out running a crossing route and then slanted behind a few defenders to get open for the score.
In the third quarter, Boykin dropped an easy slant pass. It was surprising since he has good hands and rarely drops passes. Boykin didn't have any other receptions and finished the game with two catches for 42 yards and a score. The 6-foot-2, 218-pounder has a decent skill set, and it would be interesting to see how he would do with more opportunities. Boykin looks like a fourth or fifth-round pick.
The player who could drafted first from the Hokies next April is cornerback Jayron Hosley. He led college football in interceptions last season with nine. This year, Hosley hasn't been as big a playmaker. The junior corner has three interceptions on the season thus far. He didn't look good against Georgia Tech either. Early in the game, Hosley (5-10, 171) ran over to make a tackle and was carried by a wide receiver for a few yards.
Just before halftime, Hosley allowed a 41-yard reception. The wide receiver got zero separation as he ran a go route downfield. The pass was thrown up for grabs and Hosley didn't get turned around to see the pass. The ball was caught just above his head on a leaping reception. If Hosley did a better job of reading the hands of the receiver, he could have spun around to break up the pass.
Late in the fourth quarter, Hosley got called for a pass interference on a ball thrown downfield. He was holding his receiver to keep him from running by him or getting his arms free to make a leaping catch. Hosley has been dealing with a hamstring injury for some time and that could be impacting his play. Right now, his stock has slid from the first round into the second day of the draft.
Another Virginia Tech defender who has had their stock slide is safety Eddie Whitley. There have been a few games where the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder struggled in run support, especially against Miami and running back Lamar Miller. Whitley had the opportunity to ease those concerns going against the Georgia Tech ground game and their option offense. Unfortunately for him, he was unable to show better.
In the third quarter, Whitley made a touchdown-saving tackle on Tevin Washington. He broke off a block from a wide out before getting Washington down. It took Whitley some time to shed that block. A short time later, the same scenario played out where he prevented a touchdown but took too long getting off a block from a wide receiver.
As a safety, Whitley should have no issues shedding blocks from wide receivers. They were able to ride him for a time before he could disengage. Whitley didn't get thoroughly tested through the air, but he definitely is a safety who is not going to be big asset in run defense. Entering the game, Whitley had 47 tackles on the season with two interceptions and zero forced fumbles. If he has the speed and agility, he might be better off switching to cornerback in the NFL. Then at least his size would make him unique. Right now, the senior Whitley looks like a third-day pick.
The star of the game was the bell cow for the Hokies, junior running back David Wilson. He entered the game as the third-leading rusher in college football, and had an impressive night against the Yellow Jackets.
Wilson has excellent quick twitch athleticism. He cuts on a dime and has a superb spin move to get away from tacklers. Wilson had a nice run just before halftime where he spun out of the arms of a defender and ran for another 10 yards before being tackled. There is no doubt that Wilson has very good speed but showed that he is a balanced back. Wilson powered his way through tackles and showed great burst to hit the hole while getting into the second level quickly. His ability to break tackles and get yards after contact with his speed is special.
Late in the second quarter, Wilson had a dropped pass. He made another mistake in the third quarter, fumbling the ball deep in Georgia Tech territory. The Yellow Jackets fell on the ball at the 16-yard line. It was his fourth fumble of the season.
On the next possession, Wilson made a bad read on a run. He was stuffed about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Wilson turned and ran backwards and was tackled for a loss of nine yards. He has to make a better decision to take the smaller loss rather than running backwards and thinking his speed will be able to turn that play into a gain.
Wilson rebounded with a run of 43 yards around the right side. He did a good job of setting up his blocks and getting some yards after contact. In the fourth quarter, Wilson had a 25-yard run where he juked a safety about 10 yards downfield. He carried a defender for the next 10 yards before finally being dragged down. That carry put Wilson over 170 yards on the night, a new career high. It was the seventh straight game in which he went over 100 yards.
Against Georgia Tech, Wilson finished with 175 yards rushing on 23 carries. The 5-foot-10, 201-pounder looks like a second-day pick if he declares for the 2012 draft. He has good speed and runs hard. If Wilson can add another 10-15 pounds of muscle to hold up for the pounding of the NFL while maintaining his speed, that would be ideal. It might be a good idea for him to declare. As a senior, he may not be able to improve his stock significantly and would be taking an injury risk.
Temple 24, Miami of Ohio 21
The game between Temple and Miami of Ohio had a few late-round prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, Owls star junior running back Bernard Pierce was out of the game because of a concussion he suffered a week earlier against Ohio. Pierce has been one of the most productive running backs in college football this season.
A solid player for the third day of the draft is Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez. He entered the game with 30 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns. Rodriguez has been the Owls� top receiving threat this season. To start the game, he made a nice 14-yard catch on Temple's first possession of the game. On the next play, Rodriguez had a good block to spring a run of over 20 yards. He had a good catch for about 15 yards running an out route.
Temple used Rodriguez well, and he resembled former Florida Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez in the Owls� offense. Temple coach Steve Addazio runs the same offense that Florida ran with Hernandez. That makes sense, given that Addazio was an assistant on Florida's coaching staff during Hernandez's collegiate career.
Rodriguez finished with six receptions for 74 yards. He is quick and works the sideline well. Rodriguez also looks like he could be a good weapon to attack the middle seam of the defense. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder is a quality blocker. Rodriguez will need to be coached up some for the NFL, but he has the tools to be a good well-rounded tight end. Rodriguez is a developmental project with potential. He looks like a fourth-round pick.
An interesting player for teams to consider is Owls senior defensive end Morkeith Brown. He had a good game with an impressive sack. Brown has four sacks on the season thus far. He is probably an undrafted free agent prospect. Brown is 26 years old and is an army veteran. The 6-foot-6, 260-pounder has a nice skill set and could be a good signing after the draft who makes a team and has an impact as a rotational player.
Miami of Ohio has a wide receiver to keep an eye on over the next season or two. Sophomore wide receiver Nick Harwell has emerged as prospect for the 2013 or 2014 draft. He entered the game with 895 yards on 53 receptions this season. Harwell added to his impressive campaign with a huge night against Temple. He caught 15 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Both the receptions and yards were single-game school records.
Harwell was all over the field, making short, intermediate and long receptions. He has quality size (6-1, 187) to go along with quickness. Harwell has the potential to develop into a potential second-day pick if he can continue to produce.
Interesting comparison. If the excuses are true then I'd say this could definitely be the next Jay Cutler. Like a lot of athletes with talent and a drive to win, they can forget that they play on a team with egos/emotions and that it only takes one comment to throw shadow on dedication to one's task at hand. Comments about team or based in criticism can undermine the most heart-felt warrior and actually distract you with doing the two things they all strive for: improving and winning.