Riley Nelson, QB, BYU: Nelson ultimately forced Jake Heaps, a talented young quarterback, to transfer to Kansas. I personally prefer Heaps to Nelson but I will admit that I don’t know much about the decision to make the move from Heaps to the older, and in my opinion, less talented Nelson. However, Nelson is listed at 6’0”, 196 pounds and was an efficient passer for BYU this year. However, against Tulsa he demonstrated a lack of arm strength, regularly threw with a poor, wobbly spiral and struggled with accuracy. Cody Hoffman regularly bailed him out with impressive catches but he threw a few terrible passes that led to interceptions or missed opportunities. He doesn’t have a NFL future in my opinion, but he did enough late in the game to ultimately win the game for BYU.
Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU: Hoffman is a stud. I love watching this kid play, and earlier today on Twitter I made a bold comparison saying that Hoffman was such a smooth athlete and he made so many catches look routine that he reminded me of Randy Moss in that respect. Certainly Hoffman isn’t the freak athlete that Moss was but he stands at 6’3”, 208 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.63. His 40 time doesn’t reflect how much separation he is able to create, but his size, hands and body control are what set him apart. He finished with 8 receptions, 122 yards (15.3 average) and THREE touchdowns against Tulsa including the game-winning reception with 11 seconds left. He’s a special talent even if he doesn’t run a 4.4 flat in the 40 yard dash. He has some of the best hands in the country and also has great body control as evidenced by his fantastic effort on a poorly thrown ball near the sideline in this game. Hoffman went up, high pointed the ball and somehow stretched his foot and nearly got it down in-bounds. For whatever reason it was ruled an incompletion after a review, but it was still fantastic evidence of his hands, athleticism and body control. His NFL Draft stock is definitely going to move up as a junior next year and it will be interesting to see if he leaves after his junior year or not. My gut feeling is that he will, but that’s just my own opinion. This kid is special so read up on him if you haven’t seen him play. Keep in mind that he has been making big plays in bowl games since he was a freshman. I covered BYU’s bowl game last year and he had a terrific day then as well.
Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU: I’m not a fan of Matt Reynolds at all and I think he has to move inside to guard at the next level. He looks slow out of his stance, doesn’t anchor that well versus the bull-rush, bends at the waist at times, and simply doesn’t have the athleticism to stick at tackle in my opinion. He did have one of the more memorable plays of the game though. Late in the 1st half with BYU driving he attempted a cut block on an Iowa State defender. He struggles with these and didn’t inhibit the defender much. As Nelson scrambled out to his left the defender continued his pursuit, but Reynolds got up despite losing his helmet when attempting the cut block, chased after him and leveled the defender to help buy Nelson enough time to throw his first of three touchdowns to Cody Hoffman. It was a memorable play and it was fun to watch, but I’m still not a fan of Reynolds as far as the NFL is concerned.
Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU: Van Noy was EVERYWHERE in this game for BYU. He is easily their best defensive player despite only being a sophomore. He is listed at 6’3”, 235 pounds and was highly productive this year with 58 total tackles (41 solo), 10.0 TFL, 4.0 Sacks, 2 FF’s, 3 INT’s and 3 pass break-ups on the year coming into the bowl game against Tulsa. He was consistently disruptive today and impressed me quite a bit. Keep an eye on Van Noy next year because according to the announcers of this game opposing coaches ranted and raved not only about his ability but about how frustrating it is trying to block and neutralize him.
G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa: Kinne had a solid game today and has had an impressive career for Tulsa but I don’t think he has much draftable ability at quarterback. He was too quick to drop his eyes and look to leave the pocket today after only one read, he missed some throws on the run and seemed to struggle to find throwing lanes at times. He’s an undersized quarterback at 6’1”, 234 pounds but I would not be surprised if he measured between 6’0” and 6’1” personally. He has a chance to be a late-round pick, but I expect him to be an undrafted free agent when it is all said and done.
Tyler Holmes, OT, Tulsa: Tyler Holmes is a lesser known OT prospect but he had a solid game today. I didn’t watch him specifically but I have heard good things and has NFL size at 6’4”, 302 pounds. It will be interesting to evaluate him further to see if he can stick at left tackle or if he may have to move to right tackle or offensive guard.
Cornelius Arnick, ILB, Tulsa: Arnick is an undersized linebacker who is listed at 6’0”, 230 pounds and has a 4.78 40 yard dash but he was insanely productive for Tulsa this year. He totaled 142 total tackles (91 solo, unreal), 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 4 pass break-ups and 1 interception. He isn’t a freak athlete but he has been so productive for Tulsa and he definitely improved his draft stock this year. Here’s hoping he gets an East-West Shrine Game invite!
Dexter McCloin, S, Tulsa: McCloin was a penalty away from having three interceptions in this game if I remember correctly. He had two interceptions anyways giving him 6 for the season (one returned for a TD) along with 74 total tackles (47 solo), 2.5 TFL, and 6 pass break-ups. He’s only a junior so he will likely be back for his senior season, but at 6’4”, 222 pounds he definitely has some potential as a strong safety in the NFL thanks to his range and athleticism. He’s not a stud in coverage and one of his interceptions today was thrown right to him by Riley Nelson. I like him as a player and he is a good tackler, but he still has room to improve as a NFL prospect.