Category: NCAA Football News


Oklahoma finally managed to win a big game, even though it was against a significantly less talented UCONN team. Will they be able to win a National Title?

1. Oklahoma- It’s hard to put anyone but Oklahoma at the top. Obviously the quarterback position is integral in college football, and while they lost talent at running back in Demarco Murray they are returning Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles and 15 other starters. The way Jones and Broyles were playing last year, you have to think they are going to be pretty lethal again this year. Jones has tons of starting experience and while his decision making is questionable at times, he knows how to win and should give Oklahoma a good shot to get to the National Championship in what may be his final college season.

2. LSU- I really like LSU’s chances this year. They might not be returning a ton of talent (I think a lot of people underrate Terrance Tolliver, plus they lost star corner/return man Patrick Peterson) but Jordan Jefferson may be ready to take the next step in his progression, and their defense should be fierce as usual. If Jefferson can improve as a passer he has already proven he can win without consistently passing accurately, which could make LSU very dangerous. He has a lot of starting experience too, which I don’t think he gets enough credit for. I also have to give both LSU and Oregon a ton of credit for opening the season playing each other, even though a loss will dash the respective teams’ hopes at a National Title (most likely). A lot of teams will be playing schools like Apple Valley State Technical College of the Arts and other pathetic teams for a free win and tune-up, so it is absolutely imperative that we give LSU and Oregon the credit they deserve for “manning up” so to speak and playing a legitimate out of conference opponent, especially one ranked so high.

Darron Thomas led Oregon to the National Championship last year, but it will be harder to get out of the Pac-12 with Stanford and USC both returning a lot of talent.

3. Oregon- Oregon gets props for scheduling LSU as well, though it is funny that both Oregon and LSU are being investigated by the NCAA currently. Regardless, Oregon is returning a lot of talent including Quarterback Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and a talented secondary (especially if Cliff Harris stays out of any more trouble) and should make a run at a Pac-12 title. Their main opposition, Stanford, will be right on their heels however.

4. Stanford- Stanford fans everywhere were finally able to exhale when Andrew Luck announced he would return for his redshirt junior season at Stanford and if they are REALLY lucky he may even stay for his senior year, but that is obviously getting ahead of ourselves. After his fantastic season last year when he helped resurrect Stanford from a downtrodden program to a Pac-10 title contender the expectations will be high for him individually and for the team. I expect him to meet expectations with another very impressive season, but it won’t be as easy with the bulls-eye on their back this time around.

5. Arkansas- I am very high on Arkansas and I think they are going to be a dynamic team this year, especially on offense. Tyler Wilson showed flashes of greatness leading a comeback against the future National Champion Auburn Tigers, and will have a bevy of talent to work with as a first year starter. Knile Davis, one of the best running backs in the country, should continue to be very effective, and the Razorbacks return their four best wide receivers from last season (Greg Childs, Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton. Hamilton is the youngest and he is a junior this year) who should form a very dynamic passing game. Arkansas can usually sling the ball around the field, but what made their offense truly dominant last season was their ability to run the ball effectively to set up play-action, and that was largely thanks to Knile Davis. With him back, and Wilson ready to step in and sling the ball around like he did against Auburn after Mallett left the game, Arkansas’ offense shouldn’t miss a beat. They also have some talent on defense, especially at defensive end. They should have a pretty good pass rush, but it remains to be seen how good their secondary will be. It could very well be a weakness for their team, but their offense will be loaded enough to win them games even if they get in the occasional shootout.

Thanks for reading the last of my preseason ranking installments! Hopefully you enjoyed them. In the coming days I will be getting back to scouting and writing up preseason scouting reports, etc. So look out for those!

–Tom

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E.J. Manuel's performance this year will either be the reason Florida State climbs back to the top of the ACC or the reason they have a mediocre season. If he plays well, the old FSU could be back. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

6. Florida State- Florida State lost quarterback Christian Ponder but outside of that they return a LOT of starters, key starters too. Jermaine Thomas at RB will be huge for them, they have talent at receiver, and they return a quality offensive line (especially their tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders). They also have one of the best pass rushers in the country in Brandon Jenkins, who should draw considerable attention this year as he attempts to mimic his incredible success from last year. Florida State’s saving grace will be E.J. Manuel’s considerable playing experience considering he was the back-up to Ponder all this time, but because of Ponder’s injuries he not only has regular season experience but bowl game experience. While he wasn’t dominant or spectacular in all of his playing time, he definitely showcased ability and should play well enough to give Florida State a good shot at an ACC title. If he plays really well then they may have a shot at a great bowl game or even a chance to win the National Championship.

7. South Carolina- South Carolina is returning a lot of talent and has a great recruiting class coming in. They have a number of players ready to emerge, and if Stephen Garcia can finally get his act together (and keep it together, which is usually the tricky part) South Carolina should have a great season. Garcia, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey will make the offense viable provided the offensive line helps them out, and South Carolina should have a fierce pass rush if Devin Taylor emerges like I expect him to. South Carolina definitely has a lot of talent, and this may be the ole ball coach’s best chance to win a SEC title in a long time, with Alabama, Auburn and Florida all in a significant transition stage.

Trent Richardson has incredible upside and should help carry the Crimson Tide offense while A.J. McCarron adjusts to his new role as the starter. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

8. Alabama- It’s tough to ever count Alabama out of the top 5 or 10, but if there was a year to do it this would probably be the year. They lost a quarterback who is apparently allergic to losing in Greg McElroy, a Heisman winner and future NFL stud in Mark Ingram, a dynamic wide receiver in Julio Jones, multiple offensive linemen (most notably James Carpenter, who I might have had an interview with had I not projected him to go in the 3rd round) and Marcell Dareus, just to name a few. Losing four first round draft picks plus a quarterback who lost less times in his college career than I do when I play a full NCAA Football on Xbox is about as bad as it gets for a college program, but Alabama is an elite program now and like USC used to do they aren’t going to rebuild, they are going to reload. The problem with that is, while they can reload at most positions and they return a LOT of talent on defense, QB is going to be a question mark. A.J. McCarron is expected to be the starter, but he has little playing experience and will only be a redshirt sophomore. The QB position is incredibly important, especially for a possible national title run, and while I expect ‘Bama to be formidable because of their defense and a very dynamic running back in Trent Richardson and a receiver I am high on in Marquis Maze, if McCarron doesn’t step up in a big way they will lose at least a couple games even with a favorable schedule for a SEC school.

9. Oklahoma State- Oklahoma State had a fantastic season last year and they return some key starters this year, specifically Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, two of the key cogs in what may have been the most explosive offense in the country last year. They lost Kendall Hunter though, a very effective RB who really was the final piece to their explosive offense puzzle, so replacing him with another effective player will be critical if they want to have similar success on offense again this year. On defense they have some talent, but it will be a question mark until they step up in my opinion. They haven’t had much on that side of the ball in a while but it has been overshadowed by their high octane offenses. If their defense can step up then Oklahoma State has a chance to give Oklahoma a run for their money.

Russell Wilson may not have played for Wisconsin last year, but this year he could be the key to unlocking the potential of multiple players on offense, most notably wide receiver Nick Toon.

10. Wisconsin- Wisconsin is returning a lot of quality players, such as Montee Ball, James White, Nick Toon, Ricky Wagner, Peter Konz, Kevin Zeitler, Louis Nzegwu, Chris Borland (coming back from injury), Antonio Fenelus, Devin Smith and Aaron Henry, to name a few. They will still have a very good offensive line as they return three good starters and already have a replacement for Carimi in place at LT in Wagner. RT will be an area of concern, as well as the DE spot opposite Nzegwu, previously occupied by the #11 overall draft pick J.J. Watt. They do have a significant upgrade on the way at QB though, and Russell Wilson’s transfer to Wisconsin makes them a favorite to win the Big-10 this year. Their pass defense is concerning to me though, because they lost two established starters in J.J. Watt and Niles Brinkley and while they might have solid replacements for them Wisconsin’s pass defense was an issue before they even lost them (see Rose Bowl game against TCU). If they can generate a quality pass rush and play better pass defense then Wisconsin could go a long way, but that back end is concerning to me.

Thanks for reading my most recent installment of my Preseason Top 25 Rankings! The top five teams will be unveiled tomorrow!

–Tom

Logan Thomas will be filling Tyrod Taylor's shoes at quarterback, and I have high expectations for him. He has a ton of upside.

11. Virginia Tech- A lot of people might be surprised to see VT this high, but even though they don’t often come away victorious against the best teams they are incredibly consistent and they are definitely a program that finds a way to reload versus rebuild, and that is exactly what they will be doing in lieu of losing Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams, Darren Evans and Rashad Carmichael to the NFL draft. David Wilson is ready to be the man at RB now that Williams and Evans have departed, and the word explosive might be an understatement for him. He compiled 619 rushing yards (5 TD’s), 234 receiving yards (4 TD’s) and 584 kickoff return yards (2 TD’s) on only 150 touches! That’s over 1,300 total yards on exactly 150 touches, which is pretty impressive especially in a rotational role. He will be the man now though, and Logan Thomas looked very impressive in spring ball from what I heard, and I am excited to watch him play. He looked good to me when I saw him sling the ball a couple times last year, but this will be his first season as a starter. At a listed height and weight of 6’6”, 242 pounds plus mobility he is going to be one to watch I’m sure. VT always has a fast defense and they have a few guys ready to emerge as quality pass rushers this year. J.R. Collins (a sophomore in 2011) had 5 sacks last year and apparently looked very good this spring, and I expect him to emerge as the best pass rusher on the team. Additionally, Chris Drager has shown some ability but I’m not sure whether or not he will start as a senior. And finally, James Gayle (a sophomore in 2011) had 4 sacks in limited playing time last year and should get more snaps as a part of VT’s rotation. VT also has a talented secondary, led by Jayron Hosley, a cornerback with 1st round NFL draft potential. VT is a team to watch this year, as they should contend with Florida State, Miami and hopefully North Carolina to be the top dog in the ACC.

12. Miami- I have been saying for months that I think Miami is going to be very tough this year and now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. They just have so much talent! It all comes down to quarterback though. I realize this might feel high, especially considering my very low opinion of Jacory Harris, but I can’t imagine that Al Golden will leave him in there too long unless he plays well. So either he plays bad for a few games, gets yanked, and Morris steps in or Harris recovers his sophomore year form and Miami immediately becomes a contender for the ACC title. But outside of QB they have a load of talent. Headlining that group are guys like Lamar Miller, Travis Benjamin, LaRon Byrd, Blake Ayles (a transfer from USC), Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojomo, Sam Spence, Vaughn Telemaque and Ray Ray Armstrong, among others. Their defensive line is going to be incredibly scary if they can all mesh together, because I had three or four of their defensive linemen on my list of potential breakout players this year. Vernon, Forston and Ojomo alone should guarantee a good run defense and a FIERCE pass rush, so I am very excited to see how this team does this year. They have a ton of potential, I just hope they live up to it.

I have been a Kirk Cousins fan since he was splitting time with Keith Nichol as a sophomore. Now it seems everyone is realizing what kind of a QB he is. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

13. Michigan State- Michigan State is coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Crimson Tide in their bowl game and I think they will be hungry after barely missing out on the Big-10 Championship (even though they beat the eventual winner, Wisconsin, handing them their only loss before they lost to TCU in the Rose Bowl). They return a ton of talent such as Kirk Cousins at quarterback, and three quality running backs led by Edwin Baker with Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper providing quality touches when Baker is rotated out. They also have a game breaker in Keshawn Martin, a dangerous slot receiver and kick return man, plus B.J. Cunningham is returning. That means they will have two experienced receivers for Cousins to throw to. If their offensive line holds up they should have another very balanced attack that runs the ball effectively which opens up the play action pass, which makes them very tough to stop. On defense they will have a lot of talent up front as they started three sophomores and a freshman last year (headlined by Jerel Worthy and Tyler Hoover), and they have a huge sophomore William Gholston who is ready to step up for some playing time as well. They all have a lot of experience up front and they are young, and I think they will have no problem stuffing the run like they did last year and they should get after the passer as well. Their DL is the strength of their defensive unit, and it should make things easier for their LB’s (I believe they lost all three of their starting LB’s) and their defensive backs. Michigan State is definitely one of my favorites to win the Big-10, right up there with Wisconsin and Nebraska.

14. Nebraska- Nebraska has officially joined the Big-10 (which now has 12 teams) after leaving the Big-12 (which now has 11 teams… I think. Sometimes I can’t keep up). However, their playing style meshes perfectly with the Big-10 as they play great defense, they are physical and they love to run the ball. They are immediately contenders for the Big-10 title, but they aren’t as familiar with the conference as other teams are, so it’s hard for me to anoint them the front-runners for the conference title over teams like Wisconsin and Michigan State, who are both returning a lot of significant talent. Nebraska will be dangerous though, even without Roy Helu and Niles Paul on offense. They also have a good deal of talent on defense, headlined by Jared Crick, Lavonte David and Alfonso Dennard. They will be a fun team to watch this year, especially if Taylor Martinez can figure out how to throw the ball accurately.

Kellen Moore has one last chance to lead Boise State to a National Title or elite bowl game, but it won't be as easy as in past years.

15. Boise State- I have Boise State lower then some people do, but I have my reasons. First, they start out their season with a tough game against Georgia. Georgia may not be a powerhouse, but they are consistently competitive and even without a lot of RB help they still have a good quarterback in Aaron Murray, the best TE in the country in Orson Charles, and like all good SEC teams do they recruit well and have some nice incoming talent. With Boise State losing some of their best weapons on offense (Titus Young and Austin Pettis in particular) along with their offensive coordinator (who went to Texas) it isn’t unrealistic to expect them to be in a dog fight (pun intended) with Georgia in week one. But major props to Boise State for scheduling a legitimate out of conference opponent, because most teams don’t have the cojones to do that, especially teams from non-AQ conferences that are out of the title and elite bowl game race with just one loss. If they can get past Georgia, though, they have a shot to make it to the title game if they win out. But every year there is a scare or two, even for teams with as much experience as Boise, but Boise has the talent and they have done this enough times with Kellen Moore at the helm that I think they have a good shot at ending the season with one or no losses. I can’t wait to see the game against Georgia, I really have no idea what way that will go.

Thanks for reading my third installment of the top 25! The top 10 will be unveiled over the next two days, so check in soon!

–Tom

Will West Virginia's coaching drama distract the team? Or will it provide motivation to keep everyone together?

16. West Virginia- I have West Virginia pretty high even in spite of all the problems they have been having. Sometimes those can be distractions, but other times they can provide you with a chance to escape from the off field circus and focus on football. I think it is easier to do this when you have an established coach who has weathered the storm before instead of a new guy (whose hiring started the whole fiasco in the first place), but I won’t write them off yet. They have a lot of talent, headlined by Geno Smith at quarterback (who some have mentioned as a Heisman candidate) and they have a lot of pass rushing potential on their defensive line, which makes every defense better. They might not win the Big East, but you have to remember… it’s the Big East. Anyone can win the Big East.

17. USC- Southern Cal is loaded with talent as usual, and even if they can’t go to a bowl game this year (which I think is stupid, for the record. Punishing kids who didn’t do anything wrong, at least for what they are being punished for, is wrong. And upholding it for two years instead of letting these guys play in a bowl game if they earn it… I can’t get behind that) they should be dangerous. I don’t think they have it in them to win the Pac-12 because Oregon and Stanford are both great teams, but they will definitely make it interesting. Matt Barkley is ready for a break-out season I believe and he has so much talent around him. I am one of the biggest Robert Woods fans in the world I think, because it just baffles me how he can be so good at running routes, have such great hands and just overall be so polished and impressive at receiver as a freshman. It blows my mind. Their defense was a problem for them last year, so it will be interesting to see if their pass rush gets ramped up (it should, Nick Perry has been ready to blow up for two years now) because without a pass rush their defense just doesn’t function correctly. I like USC’s chances this year, and that just makes it all the more unfortunate that they can’t play in a bowl game.

Bryn Renner is in charge of running the Tar Heels offense now, but he shouldn't have a ton of pressure on him thanks to the Tar Heels' talented defense.

18. North Carolina- North Carolina is one of the most talented teams in the country, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but between suspensions and poor coaching (at times in my opinion) they don’t seem to live up to their potential. Now they have a new QB in Bryn Rynner, a guy who almost took the starting job from T.J. Yates last spring as a freshman, but he should have some talent to work with. Not a lot of dynamic talent at RB, but he has quality receivers to throw to plus an extremely talented defense that should help keep points off the board. Quentin Coples, Donte Paige-Moss and Zach Brown are all very good players with lots of upside, and I’m sure more will emerge over the course of the year.

19. Texas A&M- With Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller on offense the Aggies are going to be potent on that side of the ball, especially if Tannehill can continue to progress at the same rate he did when he took over for Jerrod Johnson last year when he led the Aggies on a late season tear culminating in a bowl game loss to LSU. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, steps up to try to replace Von Miller’s substantial impact as a pass rusher for the Aggies.

Aaron Murray (left) and Orson Charles (right) were lethal last year, and with one more year of experience together they should be even more lethal this year.

20. Georgia- Georgia is a bit of a sleeper this year, though they were a bit more formidable before they lost both Washaun Ealey AND Caleb King (Ealey transferred to Jacksonville State and Caleb King declared for the NFL Supplemental Draft after being declared academically ineligible for the 2011 season). Now their rushing attack relies on a freshman. He might be an incredibly talented freshman, but he is a freshman none-the-less so you never know exactly how he will transition, plus that is a lot of pressure to put on an 18 or 19 year old kid. However, Aaron Murray, Orson Charles and Tavarres King should help take some of the pressure off of him, and if he can give the running game a boost Georgia’s offense could be relatively formidable. Their defense is a question mark after losing sack artist Justin Houston and middle linebacker Akeem Dent but I am very high on Christian Robinson (his replacement at MLB), I like Brandon Boykin and they have a fierce SS in Bacarri Rambo. Cornelius Washington will probably be the one expected to step up and replace Justin Houston at 3-4 OLB and nickel defensive end, and while he had limited production last year he is only a junior this year and he has some edge speed, so I am looking forward to seeing how he develops.

Hopefully you are enjoying my rankings so far! I’ll have the top 15 teams coming right up in the next couple of days, so keep an eye out! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

I have put together a top 25 list that I will post over the next few days in incriments of five teams. Tomorrow will be #16-20 and so on. Enjoy!

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and should help keep Tennessee relevant this year.

21. Tennessee- I am a huge Tyler Bray fan and that alone makes me think that Tennessee is ready to surprise some people. They may not be returning an abundance of elite SEC talent but I think they have enough talent on offense and on defense to compete in the SEC. They might not end up in the top 25 by the end of the season, but no one thought they would end up in a bowl game after their awful start last year either, and Bray was having none of that. A good or great QB can reverse the fortunes of even the worst teams, and Bray is living proof of that for Tennessee. This is his first full season as a starter, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the success he had late in the year last year, but if I had to pick I would anticipate him to continue to play well, even if he has a bit of a sophomore slump.

22. Baylor- I may not be a fan of Robert Griffin’s NFL prospects, but he has the upside to be a very good college quarterback and he has a chance to lead a Baylor team that is returning most of their talent (if not almost all of it). They have a lot of quality players on offense, led by Josh Gordon, a big, physical receiver with a listed 40 time of 4.42 (who I am very high on). They should have a very productive offense if Griffin can pass more accurately than he did at times last year, but he should be 100% healthy by now and won’t be as rusty as he was at the beginning of last season which should help the Baylor Bears prospects. Additionally, Baylor has some talent on defense worth noting and could have a pretty nice pass rush this season.

23. Mississippi State- The Bulldogs took the SEC by surprise last year and walloped Michigan in their bowl game last year thanks to a brutally effective rushing attack predicated on power. They lose some talent to the draft but they return talent on both sides of the ball, so it will be interesting to see if they can string two good seasons together in a row, or whether they won’t live up to expectations now that they have been raised. If they can get the ball out to Chris Smith (who I think is poised for a break-out season) they could have a more significant passing attack than they did at times last year.

Gilbert had his struggles last year, but we all saw flashes of potential in him against Alabama two years ago. If he can recapture that then Texas could be a dark-horse in the Big-12.

24. Texas- Texas is always good with recruiting and they have a lot of returning talent, but like so many teams their quarterback will make or break their season. Garrett Gilbert didn’t have a very good season last year (260/441, 59% completion, 2744 yards and 10 TD’s with an out of control 17 interceptions, plus 380 yards and 5 rushing TD’s) and if Texas is going to legitimize themselves as a contender they are going to need him to step it up. The flashes of greatness he showed against Alabama were nowhere to be found last year, and if he doesn’t recapture the poise and accuracy he flashed in that game two years ago then Texas is going to be in trouble, regardless of how much talent they are bringing in.

25. BYU- BYU has definite upside because even though they may not be a powerhouse they have a quality quarterback in Jake Heaps, who as a true freshman managed to complete 219 of 384 passes (57% completion) for 2,316 yards, and 15 TD’s with only 9 interceptions. Those are impressive numbers for a freshman, and he really stepped up against UTEP in their bowl game when he had his best game of the season with his 2nd highest career total in completions and he tied his career high for touchdowns with four. Heaps may not be a big guy, but even though he’s about 6’0” 195 he can sling the pigskin and he will give BYU a chance to remain competitive for the next three years if he stays healthy.

Look out for more rankings in the coming days! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jackson is arguably the top safety eligible for the 2012 Draft, so it is great news that he has been reinstated by Tennessee.

About 12 minutes ago I learned from an ESPN alert that Janzen Jackson, arguably the best player on Tennessee’s football roster who left the team in February to deal with personal issues, will be back with the team this season and has been reinstated. I don’t know any details yet and I’m sure they will be announced soon, but this is huge for Tenneseee football as well as the NFL Draft in general. Jackson is widely considered the best draft eligible safety in the 2012 NFL Draft Class and despite some legal troubles early in his career he has incredible potential. He may not be as good as Eric Berry, but he is close and the imapct he will have on Tennessee this year (versus not playing this year) will be very substantial. I can’t wait to watch him play and even though I was not sure that he would be back I still listed him as my top safety in my rankings (which I linked above) because if he came back he was automatically going to be at the top. Now he seems to be back, and I for one am incredibly excited to watch him play. Welcome back Janzen!

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

By deciding to attend Wisconsin for his senior season Russell Wilson has given Wisconsin's offense the potential to be one of the best in the country.

Russell Wilson, the former NC State quarterback, has announced (according to ESPN) that he will transfer to Wisconsin this upcoming season. He will be eligible immediately in 2011 and should give Wisconsin a dynamic talent at quarterback that they haven’t had at the position in years. Normally the Badgers have an average quarterback who avoids mistakes and usually hands the ball off to a talented stable of running backs and executes play-action fakes once the running game is working. However, Wilson has the ability to take over the game with his arm, plus he has enough mobility to extend plays and gain yards with his legs. When he suits up in Badger colors in week one of the college football season he will be the most talented quarterback to start a game for the Badgers since I started watching college football when Brooks Bollinger was Wisconsin’s starter, and Wilson puts Bollinger to shame.

Wilson might be a smaller quarterback at only 5’11”, 206 pounds (I would actually be surprised if he wasn’t 5’10”) he definitely has an arm. He doesn’t have elite arm strength, but he has good arm strength and accuracy and when his talented arm is combined with his athletic ability it forms a potent combination that should benefit Wisconsin’s offense immediately as soon as he is comfortable. Take a look at some of the numbers Wilson has put up at NC State, a program that is far from a national power and is not nearly as well stocked with talent as Wisconsin regularly is. As a freshman Wilson was 150/275 (54.5% completion) for 1,955 yards and an incredible 17 touchdowns and only ONE interception. As a freshman starter. As a sophomore he was 224/378 (59.3% completion), 3027 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Then last season as a junior he passed for 3,563 yards while completing 308 out of an incredible 527 pass attempts (58.4% completion). He finished the season with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, a very good year by any standard but remarkably it was his least efficient season of his career.

Now, some might criticize his height, or say that his stats won’t translate to the Big-10, or say that he won’t be comfortable enough at Wisconsin to give them a realistic chance at a second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl. I say that is all BS. Wilson’s freshman season at a wayward NC State program when he threw 17 touchdowns and only 1 interception proves what he can do even without a lot of talent around him. The year before he arrived at NC State the team was 5-7. His freshman year they were 6-7, losing a seventh time to Rutgers in their bowl game at the end of the season (before which they won four consecutive games in order to be bowl eligible). Then last year the turnaround had been completed as the team finished 9-4 and defeated #22 ranked West Virginia 23-7 in their bowl game.

I'm sure Montee Ball and James White will be celebrating now that they won't be facing as many 8 man boxes from opposing defenses.

Wilson has proven that he can step in and make an immediate impact, and I expect him to do just that at Wisconsin in 2011. He has a lot of talent and should give Wisconsin’s passing game a significant boost, one that they haven’t seen in probably a decade and may not see for another decade after this season. One thing you have to consider is the dramatic disparity between NC State’s supporting cast and Wisconsin’s supporting cast. NC State might have better receivers which helped Wilson produce a lot of yardage through the air, but comparing the Wolfpack’s running game to Wisconsin is quite alarming:
NC State- 2008: 442 attempts, 1,601 yards rushing (3.6 yard per carry average), 14 touchdowns
Wisconsin- 2008: 567 attempts, 2,745 yards rushing (4.8 yard per carry average), 31 touchdowns
NC State- 2009: 419 attempts, 1,451 yards rushing (3.5 yard per carry average), 15 touchdowns
Wisconsin- 2009: 581 attempts, 2,650 yards rushing (4.6 yard per carry average), 33 touchdowns
NC State- 2010: 461 attempts, 1,603 yards rushing (3.5 yard per carry average), 17 touchdowns
Wisconsin- 2010: 584 attempts, 3,194 yards rushing (5.5 yard per carry average), 48 touchdowns

Here are the averages for the two teams over the last three years:

NC State: 440.66 attempts, 1551.66 yards rushing (3.52 yard per carry average), 15.33 touchdowns
Wisconsin: 577.33 attempts, 2863 yards rushing (4.96 yard per carry average), 37.3 touchdowns

Just take in those numbers for a bit. Wisconsin, on average, rushes 137 more times a season, produces 1,312 more rushing yards (at a rate of 1.44 yards per carry better than NC State) and averages a whopping 22 more touchdowns per season on the ground. Yet, despite the pressure that was on Wilson to throw the ball even 250 times as a freshman, he still produced incredible numbers through the air. In two seasons as a starter for Wisconsin Scott Tolzien only threw the ball 594 times (328 as a junior, 266 as a senior), while Wilson threw 527 passes last season alone!

My point is, the burden of the offense is going to be on Wisconsin’s running game as it always is. However, instead of a game manager at quarterback (no offense to the last decade of Wisconsin quarterbacks) they will have a dynamic player at the position who can carve up defenses through the air at an alarming rate even without a running game that EVER averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry for an entire season. Not only that, but Wilson is a scrambling quarterback and he himself produced 1,089 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons at NC State. That is an average of 363 yards per season. I won’t even bother subtracting 363 yards from all of the season averages for NC State, but on average without Wilson they would be averaging about 1,200 yards per season and 11 or so touchdowns, a pathetic total. Now, imagine Wisconsin’s rushing numbers with a quarterback who can stretch the field vertically with his arm and his legs.

I don't think anyone stands to benefit more individually from Wilson's presence on offense than senior receiver Nick Toon.

The point of all of this statistical analysis is to show the impact Wilson was able to have without a running game. With a running game as dominant as Wisconsin’s he isn’t going to face a lot of intricate coverages meant to stop the passing game. If defenses try to take away the pass against Wisconsin (I’m not sure anyone has ever considered such a thing) then Wisconsin’s running game is going to demolish you for 60 straight minutes and control the clock with ease. But now if you try to stack the box against the Badgers you will be facing a quarterback with 8,545 career passing yards, 76 career touchdowns (with only 26 interceptions) and 1,089 career rushing yards and 17 more touchdowns. So, fair warning to all the team’s on Wisconsin’s schedule this season: Their offense just got even more dangerous.

Now, while the upside for Wilson’s addition to Wisconsin’s offense is very high, we can’t expect him to step in and throw 40 touchdowns and 4 interceptions this year like this is a NCAA video game on the easiest setting. There are going to be growing pains the first few weeks as Wilson continues to adjust to Wisconsin’s largely ball-control offense versus the wide open passing attack he played in at NC State. However, with four weeks to work out the kinks before they play Nebraska at home I think Wilson and the Badgers will be able to get on the same page. Therefore, even if he has a rough couple of games at the beginning of the season, I expect Wilson to hit his stride and show the world what he could have done at NC State if he had a running game.

Sorry about the length of this post. I started doing some research and it just led to more and more things I wanted to look into and compare and contrast. Wilson has a lot of ability and I can’t wait to watch him carve teams up on play action for the Badgers this year. I look forward to seeing at least two of these games in person this season and as usual, thanks for reading.

–Tom

I just found this out from an ESPN alert but it is not up on the website yet, but it is being reported that a group of 11 UNC Football players received 395 parking citations totaling about $13,185 from 3/07 to 8/10 by this ACC Blog. I can’t really believe this is happening two years in a row, but it sounds like UNC is going to have NCAA investigators sniffing around and leveling sanctions and suspensions against my favorite team for a second year in a row. Hopefully most of the players involved in this group of 11 players have graduated or moved on to the NFL, but I don’t know if my luck is good enough for that to be the case. This is obviously just being reported, so I’m sure I’ll be shaking my head frequently as more details come out about this. I can’t imagine how a group of individuals would go about getting that many tickets, but apparently it is possible. I’m hoping for the best, but it’s not looking good for UNC again this year. Let’s hope we can persevere again.

I also want to give my thoughts on Terrelle Pryor. I have not been very hard on him in the past, but it is pretty clear he has some off-field character concerns and the impression I have gotten from everyone I have heard and talked to is that he is fairly arrogant. Obviously I don’t know him and I have never talked to him, but that is the impression I have gotten. I don’t think there is any way he will get selected in the 1st round of the NFL Supplemental Draft should it actually occur, and I’m even more sure that he will never develop into a “great NFL Quarterback” like his agent Drew Rosenhaus proclaimed he will. He survived largely on his athleticism in college and did not progress nearly enough as a passer during his three years as a starter at Ohio State as he would have needed to to be picked in the first three rounds strictly as a Quarterback. He has potential because of his intriguing size and athleticism, but his arm strength and accuracy is nothing special and his mechanics need significant development still. Obviously he can work and improve on all of this, but his college statistics and winning percentage won’t mean much in the NFL, especially because his athleticism won’t get him nearly as far in the NFL as it did in college. I think he could be a Wildcat quarterback in the right scheme, but I am willing to say that he will never be a quality NFL starter in the NFL without incredible improvement as an overall passer, and I don’t think that will ever happen. If he was drafted before the 4th round in the Supplemental Draft I would be quite surprised. However, if he runs a fast enough 40 at a workout maybe the Raiders will waste a 3rd rounder on him.

I’ll post my thoughts on these stories and others throughout the summer, so keep an eye out for those and for more rankings and pre-season scouting reports in the coming days, weeks and months! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

Jenkins has a lot of potential and athletic ability so I am excited to see how he progresses as a sophomore.

Jelani Jenkins, LB, Florida:

Measurables: 6’1”, 223 pounds, #43

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 76 tackles (41 solo), 4.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 1 pass break up

Analysis: Jenkins was one of the most productive freshman linebackers in the country last year as he managed 75+ tackles, 4.5 TFL and 2.0 sacks. I expect him to improve on those statistics as a sophomore, and I think he is on the fast track to leaving as a junior if he continues to improve and get bigger and stronger. I am very much looking forward to seeing how much he improves as a sophomore because he has a lot of upside.

Robinson really impressed me when I saw him get limited playing time behind Dent last year, and I think he will emerge as a consistnt playmaker this year.

Christian Robinson, LB, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’2”, 226 pounds, #45

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 45 tackles (27 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks

Analysis: Robinson should be one of the starting ILB’s in Georgia’s 3-4 defense this year. He will be replacing Akeem Dent and I think he has the instincts and tackling ability to do so. He strikes me as a potentially impressive linebacker and I think he has the mentality to be a very good player for Georgia. He’s fearless and I watched him dive over an offensive lineman’s cut block to tackle a running back. It was pretty epic, so I expect him to be an impact player the next two years for Georgia.

Banks has rare size for a cornerback and if he shows ability in man coverage he will be a hot commodity when he leaves for the draft.

Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State:

Measurables: 6’2”, 180 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 54 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 7 pass break ups, 1 FF

Analysis: Banks showed me some ability to turn and run and an ability to locate the ball in the air and make a play on it when I was watching him. He had 3 INT’s and 7 pass break ups last year which is pretty good for a sophomore corner. His size is going to be very intriguing, especially for a corner, but if he has good hips and speed then he’s going to shoot up draft boards. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays this year as a junior, I think he has a lot of potential.

Buchanan has a lot of potential because of his size and speed so I am looking for a serious bump in production as a junior.

Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois:

Measurables: 6’6”, 225 pounds, #99

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 40 tackles (18 solo), 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups

Analysis: Buchanan has great size and speed off the edge and I think he has a bunch of potential. He might not have filled out his frame yet but I think that if he can get stronger and continue to develop he could easily hit 8 sacks this season. I am very interested to see how he plays this year because I think he has a high ceiling based off of what I saw of him as a sophomore. He was reportedly arrested for underage consumption of alcohol and for driving under the influence last September, so it will be interesting to see if he learned from that incident or if he struggles with off field issues in the future. Hopefully he stays out of trouble from here on out.

Tress Way is definitely going to get drafted if he maintains his impressive production as a punter before he leaves.

Tress Way, P, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 6’1”, 200 pounds, #36

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 73 punts, 3,212 yards (44 yard average), 70 kick offs, 4,400 yards (62.99 average), 9 touchbacks

Analysis: I know having a punter on this list might seem strange, but Tress Way is a pretty insane punter. Every time I see him punt it’s a great punt, so I am interested to see if he can have an even better year than last year punting. Plus he has a very strong leg for kick offs, so once he enters the draft he is going to be a draftable prospect because of his ability to impact games punting and kicking off.

Fleming (pictured as #14) seems to have impressive ball skills and I’m excited to see him play as a Senior.

Jamell Fleming, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 191 pounds, #32

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 71 tackles (49 solo), 8.5 TFL, 5 INT (1 TD), 1.0 sacks, 14 pass break ups

Analysis: Fleming impressed me when I was watching Oklahoma’s defense this season and I checked out his stat line and it was also impressive. 70+ tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5 INT’s with a touchdown plus 14 pass break ups? That’s very impressive production for a defensive back. I am looking forward to seeing where he lines up this year (probably corner) and if he continues to play well there he could be a top 100 pick without a doubt, especially if he turns and runs well. It’s pretty evident he has good ball skills by his 14 pass break ups and 5 INT’s. I’m excited to see him play this year.

Benjamin might not be the biggest receiver, but I love his potential as a slot receiver. I’d just like to see him improve his hands.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami:

Measurables: 5’10”, 176 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 43 receptions, 743 yards, 3 TD’s. 3 rushes, 44 yards. PR: 23 returns, 106 yards, 1 TD.

Analysis: Benjamin was a guy that I thought might break out last year but Hankerson drew most of the attention. I think Benjamin has a lot of potential as a slot receiver in the NFL and I think he’s going to surpass all of the stats he had last year with 50+ receptions, 800+ yards, 5+ TD’s and potentially more effectiveness as a punt returner. He doesn’t have impressive size but he is fast and I think he has pretty reliable hands. I think he has a lot of explosiveness and if Stephen Morris can spread the ball around amongst all of his talent (LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson…) then Benjamin could have a very big year. I worry a bit about him body catching so I will be looking to see how well he catches the ball away from his body with his hands this year.

Jefferson was quite impressive as a freshman, but his offseason arrest is a bit concerning.

Tony Jefferson, DB, Oklahoma:

Measurables: 5’11”, 198 pounds, #1

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 65 tackles (44 solo), 7.0 TFL, 2 INT (1 TD), 1 FR, 2.0 sacks, 7 pass break ups

Analysis: Jefferson had an impressive freshman year and I imagine he will be opposite Jamell Fleming at corner. I will definitely be tuning in to see how he progresses as a sophomore. If he has another year like he did as a freshman he could be on the fast track to leaving as a junior for the NFL draft. However, he was arrested on interference with the official process of Kenny Stills being arrested for suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence. These charges don’t seem particularly serious to me, but hopefully it doesn’t become a pattern.

Wilber has a very intriguing combination of size and athletic ability. If he can get stronger then he could produce 10 sacks next year.

Kyle Wilber, DE, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’5”, 235 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 65 tackles (33 solo), 14.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 4 pass break ups, 3 FF’s, 1 kick/punt blocked

Analysis: Wilber strikes me as a major sleeper because he has great size, has already showed the ability to be productive, plus he has impressive speed off the edge from what I have seen. He just needs to get stronger to fill out his frame. I don’t know a ton about his game yet, but he showed up whenever I was watching Wake Forest’s defense, so I have high expectations for him as a senior. He could very well hit 15.0 TFL and 10.0 sacks next year, he has that upside.


Okoro has an intriguing combination of size, athletic ability and ball skills.

Kenny Okoro, CB, Wake Forest:

Measurables: 6’0”, 195 pounds, #6

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 39 tackles (32 solo), 1.0 TFL, 2 INT, 5 pass break ups

Analysis: Okoro impressed me almost as much as Wilber did when I watched Wake Forest. I think he is probably the best corner they’ve had since Alphonso Smith. He has good size for a corner as well and seems to have good ball skills. I am very much looking forward to see how he progresses as a junior. I want to see how he does in man coverage because if he plays man well then he will be in serious demand because he has good size for a corner and seems to have reliable hands. I don’t know how well he supports the run, but if he has a good year this year he might consider leaving for the NFL Draft after this season.

Elliot has a lot of speed off the edge and I think he should be a very effective pass rusher when he cracks the starting line-up.

Tevin Elliot, DE/LB, Baylor:

Measurables: 6’2”, 245 pounds, #18

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 36 tackles (24), 9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 2 pass break ups, 2 FF’s

Analysis: Tevin Elliot was a freshman last year and in a rotational role he managed 9.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has a lot of speed off the edge and while he doesn’t have ideal size I think he is going to be a fierce 4-3 RE or 3-4 OLB prospect in two years. I think with more consistent playing time he will improve on all of these stats because with his edge speed he has the potential to get 8.0 sacks a year.

Adams has a ton of potential and I love him as a slot receiver, but he is kind of a hot head and he body catches too much for my liking.

Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’11”, 190 pounds, #3

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 50 receptions, 813 yards, 6 TD’s. 6 rushes, 32 yards. 16 PR, 249 yards (15.56 avg) 1 TD

Analysis: I think that Adams is going to have another very good year this year, but I think he has the potential to break 1,000 yards because I think he will be one of the go-to guys on Arkansas. He has a ton of potential as he has solid size, he plays hard and he is very dangerous after the catch. He body-catches more than I would like to see though, and he also tends to be a hot-head which can get him in trouble and draw unnecessary penalties. So he is a bit of a risky player, but I love how he plays the game and if he can improve his hands to catch passes away from his body then he could be an extremely dangerous slot receiver in the NFL.

I don’t think Wilson will have any problems stepping in to replace Mallett at QB next year.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 215 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 34/51, 66.7% comp, 453 yards, 4 TD’s/3 INT’s

Analysis: I think Wilson is going to surprise everyone that is expecting Arkansas to have a drop-off at quarterback with Mallett leaving. Wilson came in after Mallett got hurt against Auburn and almost won that game. Obviously his inexperience plagued him as he made a couple of costly turnovers, but that’s bound to happen in your first meaningful playing time when you aren’t expected to be the starter (plus they were playing from behind). However, he has good arm strength, accuracy and solid size. I expect him to take over the starting job and have an incredible year because he is stepping into an ideal situation with Knile Davis, a very dynamic running back, returning for his junior season, plus he will have three seniors and a junior to throw the ball to in Greg Childs, Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Cobi Hamilton. That’s a plethora of weapons to spread the ball around to, so I think that Arkansas’ offense could be just as potent as it was last year, if not more potent. Wilson will have everything to do with that.

Wright has definite potential as a slot receiver and I think he will have a great senior season with Wilson at QB.

Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 5’10”, 180 pounds, #4

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 42 receptions, 788 yards, 5 TD’s.

Analysis: Jarius Wright is going to be a part of one of the best group of college receivers in my recent memory next year with Greg Childs, Joe Adams and Cobi Hamilton. They are all very experienced, they all have the ability to stretch defenses vertically and they all have ability after the catch. Wright should be a slot receiver with Joe Adams, and I look for him to improve on his numbers from a year ago because I think Tyler Wilson will be slinging the ball around a lot this year.

I think Cobi Hamilton has the upside to be one of the best receivers in the SEC.

Cobi Hamilton, WR, Arkansas:

Measurables: 6’3”, 209, #11

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 32 catches, 630 yards, 6 TD’s.

Analysis: I have been high on Cobi Hamilton since I saw him play as a freshman and nothing he did as a sophomore could have dissuaded me from thinking this way. He has impressive size, he has great leaping ability, he attacks the ball in the air, and he has a knack for big plays. I am very excited to see how he progresses as a junior with Tyler Wilson throwing him the ball. If he gets the ball enough he could very well leave for the NFL draft and join the rest of Arkansas’ receivers in this receiver class. I think it would be great if he came back for Wilson’s senior season because I think they could be one of the best QB-WR tandems in the country, but obviously that is looking a bit too far forward. Hamilton has the potential to be one of the best WR’s in the SEC, he just needs opportunities to prove it.

Malik Jackson has a lot of potential and I think his senior season may be the year he puts it all together.

Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 265 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 48 tackles (29 solo), 11.0 TFL, 5.0 Sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF, 4 pass break ups

Analysis: Jackson transferred from USC to Tennessee after their problems with the NCAA and he hasn’t done a ton thus far but he showed some definite potential as a junior with 11.0 TFL and 5.0 sacks. He has great size and he is an impressive athlete though I haven’t been able to properly assess his burst and edge speed yet. However, I am looking for a pretty big boost in production as a senior and I am definitely going to be checking in to see how he does this year.

Janzen Jackson is an incredible player and he may be the best safety in the country.

Janzen Jackson, S, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’0”, 187 pounds, #15

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 69 tackles (40 solo), 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks, 5 INT’s, 6 pass break ups

Analysis: Janzen Jackson may be the best DB in the SEC right now and that is saying a hell of a lot because the SEC has as much talent in the secondary as I have ever seen right now. Jackson is incredibly athletic and I think he is going to have an insane junior season and leave for the draft. He is one of my favorite players in the country right now even though he definitely had off-field issues as a freshman when Kiffin was still around. He had the chance to learn from Eric Berry so it will be interesting to see how he does this year with all the focus on him. I imagine teams will be throwing away from him, but he will probably still get his numbers like Berry did because he is one of the best, if not the best, safeties in the entire country.

Bray is one of the best young NFL quarterbacks in the country and the best part is he runs a pro-style so he will be easier to project to the NFL.

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’5”, 210 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 125/224, 55.8% comp, 1,849, 18 TD’s/10 INT’s

Analysis: Bray really impressed me last year when he stepped in as a true freshman and rallied Tennessee’s season as it seemed to be circling the drain and led them to a bowl game. It was an epic game against UNC and while it was controversial I was still very impressed with how Bray handled himself and how he played. He seems to be very poised and he has a strong arm, good accuracy and impressive size. I am very excited to see how he progresses over the next two years because I think he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the 2013 NFL Draft class if he continues to develop and work hard to improve. I am very high on him.

Hunter is one of my favorite young wide receivers in the country and I think he is going to step up in a big way for Tennessee this year.


Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee:

Measurables: 6’4”, 183 pounds, #87

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 16 receptions, 415 yards, 7 TD’s

Analysis: Hunter is a guy that I have been high on since his freshman year and I am looking for him to absolutely blow up this year. Tennessee’s top two receivers both graduated this year and now it will be up to him to step up to help them replace him. He has impressive size, leaping ability and I really like his hands. I am excited to see how he deveopls this season.

Martin has a lot of speed and playmaking ability and he should have an increased role in Michigan State’s offense this year.

Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State:

Measurables: 5’11”, 185 pounds, #82

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 32 receptions, 394 yards, 1 TD. 18 rushes, 157 yards (8.72 ypc). 16 PR, 228 yards (14.25 avg), 1 TD

Analysis: Martin should be targeted a lot more as a senior now that Mark Dell graduated and he has great speed and quickness which should allow him to get over the top of defenses. I think he has the potential to get 50+ catches, 750+ yards and 5 TD’s, plus still have an impact on the running game and as a punt returner. He brings a lot of value and I am excited to see how he steps up to replace Dell and how explosive he is this year.

Thanks for reading!! There is more to come!

–Tom

This post was so long even after I split up the break-out players and the potential sleepers that I had to split it up again. So here is part one, and I’ll post part two later today. Enjoy!

Vernon has as much upside as any DE in the country in my opinion, and I can't wait to see how his junior season turns out.

Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 250 pounds, #35

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 39 tackles (25 solo), 10.5 TFL, 6.0 sacks

Analysis: Vernon is an explosive athlete. He has a great combination of size and athletic ability. He has an impressive burst off the line, very impressive strength and he flashes the ability to stand up at the point of attack against the run. He showed some explosive ability last year as a pass rusher and I think he has the potential to get 10 sacks this year as a starting RE on the Hurricanes. He has a very high ceiling and I can’t wait to see how he produces as a junior this year.

Mathieu was incredibly impressive to me as a freshman and I think he will be a game-changing defensive back whether he is at corner or safety.

Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU:

Measurables: 5’9”, 180 pounds, #14

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 57 tackles (34 solo), 8.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 INT’s, 5 FF’s, 2 FR’s, 7 pass break ups.

Analysis: Mathieu made himself known every single time I watched LSU last year. Seeing a defensive back impact games like this, especially as a freshman, is something that I have rarely (if ever) seen. He’s got great instincts, a lot of athletic ability and he was incredibly productive. I honestly don’t see him lasting past his junior season. He may be undersized, but I think he can be a great corner or safety for LSU. Hell, he may already be.

Kendricks really caught my attention when I was scouting Cameron Jordan and I think he will be on a lot of NFL Draft radars by the end of his Senior year.

Mychal Kendricks, OLB, California:

Measurables: 6’0”, 241 pounds, #30

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 65 tackles (39 solo), 14.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 1 INT

Analysis: Kendricks was very productive as a junior as he flashed a lot of potential. He showed good speed off the edge, good bend/flexibility and also good instincts. I think he has the potential to match or exceed the production he had as a junior. He might not have elite height for the 3-4 OLB position but too many people get wrapped up in the height of players at times, and I think it would be a grave mistake to underestimate Kendricks because he isn’t 6’3″. He has a lot of ability and I expect him to demonstrate that all season.

Allen has as much upside as any receiver in the Pac-10 and it won't be long before he is considered one of the best receivers in the country.

Keenan Allen, WR, California:

Measurables: 6’3”, 195 pounds, #21

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 47 receptions, 496 yards, 5 TD’s. 18 attempts, 136 yards, 1 TD. 18 KR, 406 yards (22.56 avg)

Analysis: Allen really impressed me when I watched tape of him and I think he is going to be the next superstar receiver in the Pac-10. He has good size, impressive speed, very reliable hands and even as a freshman he was one of Cal’s go-to-guys on offense. I think he will break out even more as a true sophomore, and if he has a good sophomore year I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he left after his junior year.

Minnifield has an intriguing combination of size, athletic ability and ball skills.

Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia:

Measurables: 6’0”, 185 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 48 tackles (34 solo), 3.0 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 6 INT’s, 4 pass break ups. 13 PR, 84 yards (6.46 avg)

Analysis: Minnifield impressed me in the limited time I was able to watch him play. He has pretty solid stats for a corner along with good size and seemingly good hips and speed. He seems to have good ball skills and I think that makes him an intriguing candidate to watch. I don’t think a lot of people know him, but I readily expect him to become more popular as the season progresses. If he turns and runs well with receivers and plays good man coverage (which I have the impression that he does) then he will be a hot commodity come draft day due to his size and ball skills. He has top 50 pick potential at corner in my opinion, and I think a lot of people will be tuning in to watch Virginia just to see him play.


Jenkins has a lot of upside and his game reminds me of Mike Williams, the former Syracuse WR.

A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois:

Measurables: 6’0”, 185 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 56 receptions, 746 yards, 7 TD’s

Analysis: Jenkins impressed me when I was watching him because he is a fluid athlete with good speed, good hands and he seems to run pretty good routes. He creates good separation and was easily the go-to guy in Illinois’ passing game. Now that he won’t be dealing with a raw freshman quarterback I think Jenkins has the chance to hit 70 receptions, 1,000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns as a senior. He may not be as tall and I don’t know what he runs in the 40 yard dash, but his playing style reminds me of Mike Williams, the controversial former Syracuse receiver. I was very high on Williams, so I am excited to see if Jenkins lives up to this comparison.

Nick Perry has a ton of upside and from what I am hearing it sounds like he is ready to live up to all of his potential this year.

Nick Perry, DE, Southern Cal:

Measurables: 6’3”, 250 pounds, #8

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 25 tackles (15 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 FF’s, 1 FR and 3 pass break ups

Analysis: I thought Perry might break out as a sophomore but he didn’t end up doing that as he was still a rotational end. This year is the year for him to break out though, and I honestly think he has 8-10 sack potential this year. He is very fast off the ball, has a lot of athleticism and he has good size and strength. I am excited to see if he lives up to some of the potential that he has this year. He has apparently looked great in spring ball, so I am looking forward to a great year from him.

Robert Woods is probably the most impressive freshman receiver I've ever seen, and I am extremely excited to see how he progresses.

Robert Woods, WR, Southern Cal:

Measurables: 6’1”, 185 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 64 receptions, 786 yards, 6 TD’s. 7 attempts, 56 yards (8.0 ypc). 38 KR, 971 yards (25.55 avg), 1 TD

Analysis: Woods is one of the most gifted freshmen WR’s I have ever seen. He runs great routes, he has very reliable hands, he makes great catches in traffic, he is dangerous after the catch, and he is a very reliable return man. You can’t really say enough about the things he was doing last year, and I honestly hope USC’s bowl game ban is lifted for this year just so I can see this kid for an extra game. That’s how good he is. He has a ton of potential and I think he is going to be the next superstar receiver at USC.

Gordon is a big, physical receiver with deceptive deep speed and good hands. He has a lot of upside.

Josh Gordon, WR, Baylor:

Measurables: 6’3”, 220 pounds, #12

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 42 receptions, 714 yards, 7 TD’s. 3 KR, 74 yards (24.67 avg)

Analysis: Gordon is a big possession receiver. He is a long strider so he has deceptive deep speed, but I’d be surprised if he ran much faster than a 4.5 in the 40. He has reliable hands and makes catches well away from his body and was pretty productive as a junior. With Griffin III healthy for a second year in a row I think Gordon will have much better chemistry with him, so 60+ catches, 900+ yards and 8-10 TD’s is definitely a realistic expectation for his junior season.

Wright is definitely the big play guy for Baylor and he projects very nicely to the slot in the NFL.

Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor:

Measurables: 5’10”, 190 pounds, #1

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 78 receptions, 952 yards, 7 TD’s. 8 rushes, 53 yards (6.63 avg).

Analysis: Wright is the big play guy on Baylor and I think he projects nicely as a slot receiver in the NFL. He has less than ideal size for the position but he impressive speed, probably 4.45 if not a bit faster, and he has very reliable hands and catches the ball well in traffic. He is tougher than his size would indicate too, and I think he has a great shot at being picked in the top 75-90 picks if he has another good senior season. 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 8 TD’s is definitely a realistic expectation.

Shackelford was everywhere when I was watching Ole Miss and I like his instincts and quality tackling a whole lot.

D.T. Shackelford, LB, Mississippi:

Measurables: 6’1”, 235 pounds, #42

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 48 tackles (27 solo), 9.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR

Analysis: Shackelford seems to have impressive instincts and he fills run versus the run. I like his potential and upside and if he is healthy when the season starts I expect him to surpass all of the numbers he put up as a sophomore last season. That is a bit of a question mark, but hopefully he will be healthy because I think he has a lot of potential. He might be the best linebacker that Ole Miss has had since Patrick Willis. Hopefully I’m not anointing him or hyping him up too much, but that is what I thought when I was watching him last year.


Devin Taylor has Julius Peppers upside, that is how impressive he was to me when I saw him last year.

Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina:

Measurables: 6’7”, 249 pounds, #98

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 46 tackles (33 solo), 13.0 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 INT (1 TD), 1 FR, 8 Pass break ups

Analysis: Devin Taylor has incredible potential and he actually reminds me of Julius Peppers. His combination of size, athleticism and his ability to impact games from the defensive end position is rare, and he did this all as a sophomore in the SEC. I think he has the potential to get 55 tackles, 15+ TFL and 10+ sacks, plus a consistent number of pass break ups and forced fumbles as a junior. If he has a season anything like what he had as a sophomore I expect him to be long gone for the NFL because he has such great size, speed and length that he will be an ideal 4-3 DE in the NFL. This kid has the potential to be a top five pick in the NFL with a good season next year, he is that good. I just want to see how well he bends and how good his hand usage is, but the size and athletic ability is all there.

I think Nickoe Whitley has ball-hawk written all over him, and I can't wait to see how he progresses.

Nickoe Whitley, S, Mississippi State:

Measurables: 6’0”, 200 pounds, #31

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 52 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 TFL, 3 INTs, 1.5 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 1 FF

Analysis: Whitley has a lot of potential because as a freshman in the SEC he managed 50+ tackles, 3 INT’s, 3 pass break-ups and a forced fumble. That’s not easy to come by in such a talented conference, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does as a sophomore. I see no reason why he shouldn’t improve on all of the numbers he put up as a freshman.

Marcus Forston has a lot of disruptive potential and I think he will have a great season on a talented Miami defense.

Marcus Forston, DT, Miami:

Measurables: 6’3”, 305 pounds, #99

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 37 tackles (16 solo), 12.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks

Analysis: I was honestly surprised to see Forston’s stat line when I looked at it because I expected it to be more filled out than it was. That’s not a knock on him, I am only saying that whenever I watched Miami he was a disruptive force at DT, and I didn’t feel that the stats did that justice despite his impressive 12.0 TFL’s as a sophomore. I expect more of that as a junior as I think he could very well get 50 tackles, 15 TFL’s and 5+ sacks as a junior. He will be on an incredibly talented Miami team, but the front seven he will be playing on is going to be incredibly talented so I would be surprised if he didn’t improve on these statistics unless they go down just because there are only so many TFL’s and sacks to go around.


Ojomo could be a dominant force at LE for Miami this year especially considering the talent on that defensive line.

Adewale Ojomo, DE, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 260 pounds, #97

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 38 tackles (21 solo), 7.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 1 pass break up

Analysis: Ojomo is not very well known on Miami’s defensive line but he clearly demonstrated the potential he has given his 7.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks as a junior. I don’t know for sure, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t starting opposite Olivier Vernon on Miami’s defensive line with Marcus Robinson rotating in. Ojomo seemed to have good edge speed and he has perfect 4-3 DE size, and if he gets off the ball well and has good edge speed he’s going to be a hot commodity if he maintains or improves on his junior year production. He should do that if he gets a starting job.

Armstrong has a great combination of size and athletic ability and he should continue to be a play-maker in Miami's secondary.

Ray-Ray Armstrong, SS, Miami:

Measurables: 6’4”, 220 pounds, #26

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 79 tackles (44 solo), 4.5 TFL, 3 INT (1 TD), 3 pass break ups

Analysis: Armstrong is a physical freak for the safety position at 6’4”, 220 pounds and he was productive as a sophomore with almost 80 tackles and some plays on the ball with 3 INT’s and 3 pass break ups. I am really looking forward to how he does as a junior and I think his numbers could go way up considering the amount of talent that will be around him on defense, especially in the front four and seven. This Miami defense has so much talent that I am high on that I think they could be one of the best defenses in the country next year. They have a ton of talent along the front seven and they have two very talented defensive backs with Telemaque and Armstrong. If they can get a solid performance from Stephen Morris and replace the three corners they lost to graduation and the draft then they could run away with the ACC.

I have been high on Boykin for a year now and he really stepped up last year. I think he has another great year left in him.

Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’2”, 215 pounds, #81

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 53 receptions, 847 yards, 6 TD’s

Analysis: I have been high on Boykin since last June and I identified him as the #1 WR on Virginia Tech before his Junior season and he proved me right by becoming one of the go-to guys on the offense. His production speaks for itself, but he has very reliable hands and rarely drops passes even in traffic. He hasn’t turned the corner on making the huge, crucial catch when his team needs it most yet, but he has shown the ability to make catches under pressure. I think he definitely has a NFL future even if he doesn’t have elite size, speed or hands. He is a well-rounded receiver and I see him being a nice mid-round selection in the NFL draft with another good senior season.

Davis has a lot of upside and he has looked great in Spring Ball from what I have heard, so watch out for him.


Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’4”, 229 pounds, #7

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 19 receptions, 239 yards, 2 TD’s. 1 rush, 12 yards.

Analysis: I thought Davis was a TE he was so big but he is a WR and he moves well for his size. He gets behind coverage surprisingly well and was a couple overthrown passes from Tyrod Taylor from having 25 catches and well over 300 yards and a couple more touchdowns last year. I have heard he looked great in the spring game though I haven’t seen it myself, and I think he could really blow up this year.

Collins flashed some potential last year also and he has been fantastic in Spring Ball from what I have heard, I am very excited to see what he can do with more playing time.

J.R. Collins, DE, Virginia Tech:

Measurables: 6’2”, 254 pounds, #42

Year in 2011: Sophomore

Stats: 25 tackles (12 solo), 6.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks

Analysis: Collins is another guy that I think could blow up this year, especially on a defensive line that doesn’t have a lot of returning starters. He was disruptive in a rotational role last season as you can see from his 6.5 TFL and 5.0 sacks, but he was very disruptive in the spring game with two sacks in that game, not to mention a couple of sacks and 4 TFL in a scrimmage before that from what I am told. I think he has the potential to blow up this year with more consistent playing time, and his performance in spring ball did nothing to dissuade me from thinking this.

Bradham has definite upside and I can't wait to get a better look at him during his Senior season.

Nigel Bradham, LB, Florida State:

Measurables: 6’2”, 241 pounds, #13

Year in 2011: Senior

Stats: 97 tackles (53 solo), 5.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks, 5 pass break ups, 1 kick/punt blocked

Analysis: Bradham was very productive as a junior for Florida State but I think he can do even better than that as a Senior. 100 tackles, 8 TFL and 5 sacks is a realistic expectation for him. I want to see how good he is in coverage though, because it was pretty apparent that he can defend the run, but I want to assess his instincts as a run defender and in coverage to see how good of a NFL prospect he is. However, I definitely think he could blow up as a senior and improve his stock.


Rambo really packs a punch as a hitter and I think he can be an enforcer for Georgia, I just wish he had better hands.

Bacarri Rambo, SS, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’0”, 211 pounds, #18

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 82 tackles (58 solo), 5.0 TFL, 3 INTs (1 TD), 3 pass break ups

Analysis: Rambo was impressive as a sophomore but I really think he could blow up as a junior because he has good size, speed and he hits like a freight train. He really laid some people out as a sophomore, and while he does that a bit too much (going for the big hit instead of wrapping up) he still is a pretty good tackler and run defender. I want to see more from him in coverage, as I am not sold on him in coverage and his ball skills are lacking despite his 3 INT’s and pass break-ups. He could have had one or more interceptions if his hands were better just in the games I saw.

Orson Charles may very well be my favorite TE in the country right now, I can't wait to see him progress with a more seasoned Aaron Murray this year.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia:

Measurables: 6’3”, 240 pounds, #7

Year in 2011: Junior

Stats: 26 receptions, 422 yards, 2 TD’s

Analysis: I am an absolutely huge fan of Orson Charles. I think he is going to double all of his statistics from last season. If he has anything less than 50+ catches, 700+ yards and 6+ touchdowns then I would be absolutely shocked. He is going to be one of Murray’s go-to guys as the Bulldogs seek to replace A.J. Green’s unreal production but Charles is definitely up to the challenge. He has good size, he has impressive speed to stretch the field form the TE position, not to mention very reliable hands and great chemistry with Murray. I think if Charles has a good enough year this year he could leave as a junior, but I think there is a pretty good chance he returns for another year with Murray as a junior when they could make a strong run at a National Title if they return enough starters. Regardless, I expect Charles to blow his sophomore year numbers out of the water this year, he is extremely talented and may very well be my favorite tight end in the country.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed part one of my preview! There is a lot more to come!

–Tom