Zach's Draft Corner: How Balanced is the Talent Among Conferences?/What to Watch

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.

If I'm here for anything, it's to show you how college football can be weird yet expected all at the same time. This holds true in almost every aspect of the game. You'll get a challenge from an Oregon, a Michigan State, or even a UCF, but Alabama and Clemson are going to be in the playoffs almost perennially. Powerhouses are going to whip the cupcakes, but every once in a while, an Appalachian State will beat a Michigan.

This week, we are going to see if the expected results are actually the true results when it comes to conference talent. The current AP top ten has four teams from the SEC, three from the Big Ten, one from each of the ACC and the Big 12, no PAC 12 schools, no "next five" schools (i.e., schools that are considered FBS schools but not in the "power five" conferences), and Notre Dame as an independent. Does this mean that the SEC has better draft prospects than the PAC 12? Let's find out.

8. FCS Schools

Stars - 1/10

Depth - 1/10

Top 5

1. Jeremy Chinn, Safety, University of Southern Illinois

2. Dante Olson, Linebacker, University of Montana

3. Manny Patterson, Cornerback, University of Maine

4. Josh Pearson, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville State University

5. James Robinson, Running Back, Illinois State University

FCS schools are usually pretty barren with talent. There will always be a couple that are drafted each year, but there's rarely a Carson Wentz-type story. In actuality, at least one of these players in the top five will not get drafted in April, and there's a very good chance two or more go undrafted. There's a reason why everyone rallies behind the Cinderella story here: the clock usually strikes midnight pretty early.

7. Next Five

Stars - 3/10

Depth - 4/10

Top 5

1. Curtis Weaver, Defensive End, Boise State University

2. Jordan Love, Quarterback, Utah State University

3. Netane Muti, Guard/Center, Fresno State University

4. David Woodward, Linebacker, Utah State University

5. Mitchell Wilcox, Tight End, University of South Florida

Each player in the top five here is likely a day two pick, meaning the star value is just not there for the prospects coming from these conferences. While the "next five" group has produced plenty of NFL stars (such as Joe Staley, Antonio Brown, Khalil Mack, and Ben Roethlisberger), it is certainly tougher to weed those players out. Day two and three will be littered with these players, so the depth is decent, but the lack of star power this year brings them in at number seven.

6. Independent

Stars - 5/10

Depth - 3/10

Top 5

1. Julian Okwara, Defensive End, Notre Dame

2. Khalid Kareem, Defensive End, Notre Dame

3. Liam Eichenberg, Tackle, Notre Dame

4. Troy Pride, Cornerback, Notre Dame

5. Antonio Gandy-Golden, Wide Receiver, Liberty University

Can you say "Notre Dame"? Because that seems to be synonymous with the "independents" these days. Gandy-Golden keeps it from being a clean sweep, and we finally get some first round talent in Julian Okwara. The "stars" rating is boosted slightly by the pure lack of schools that fall into this category (six in 2019), but I won't let that change my depth ranking.

5. PAC 12 Stars - 6/10

Depth - 4/10

Top 5

1. Justin Herbert, Quarterback, University of Oregon

2. Paulson Adebo, Cornerback, Stanford University

3. Laviska Shenault, Wide Receiver, University of Colorado

4. Jacob Eason, Quarterback, University of Washington

5. Trey Adams, Tackle, University of Washington

Now we are finally getting some consistent first round talent in this ranking. The PAC 12 boasts three first round locks this year with Herbert, Adebo, and Shenault. Eason could play his way into the first round, especially with how teams over-value the position and vie for that fifth-year option. Trey Adams is another first round hopeful, but likely more of a second round pick. However, the depth is not there for the PAC 12. The talents into the later parts of day two and day three become fewer and further in between, likely due to the cratering of USC, UCLA, and Stanford as prospect hot beds.

4. Big 12

Stars - 5/10

Depth - 7/10

Top 5

1. CeeDee Lamb, Wide Receiver, University of Oklahoma

2. Creed Humphrey, Guard/Center, University of Oklahoma

3. Lucas Niang, Tackle, Texas Christian University

4. Jalen Reagor, Wide Receiver, Texas Christian University

5. Tylan Wallace, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State University

The PAC 12 has more star power than the Big 12, and I wouldn't be opposed to you switching these two conferences. Lamb and Humphrey are the only first round locks, with Niang and Reagor on the outside looking in. However, the depth is much greater in this conference, with speed and skill being found all throughout the draft.

3. ACC

Stars - 7/10

Depth - 7/10

Top 5

1. Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker/Safety, Clemson University

2. Bryce Hall, Cornerback, University of Virginia

3. Travis Etienne, Running Back, Clemson University

4. Alton Robinson, Defensive End, Syracuse University

5. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Safety, Florida State University

There is a clear cut top three in most seasons, and those same three schools find themselves in the top three yet again. However, even in the top three, there is usually a top two, and the ACC is usually not included. The ACC, as usual, has the necessary star power, with each of the top five prospects having likely first round grades from me at this point in the process. The ACC also has good depth. However, they simply can't compete with the top two conferences.

2. Big Ten

Stars - 9/10

Depth - 10/10

Top 5

1. Chase Young, Defensive End, Ohio State

2. A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End, University of Iowa

3. Tristan Wirfs, Offensive Tackle, University of Iowa

4. Jeffrey Okudah, Cornerback, Ohio State University

5. Tyler Biadasz, Guard/Center, University of Wisconsin

The ACC may have an all-first-round top five, but the Big Ten has five players in the top sixteen, with Wirfs and Epenesa being top ten prospects and Young being the first overall talent in the class. The star power in this conference is second only to one, and the depth is tough to match. Go through any big board, and you'll be hard pressed to go five spots and not run into a player from the Big Ten. There is something to be said about the level of coaching and the competition faced each week in this conference. It is evident whenever they play outside of the conference, and NFL scouts notice.

1. SEC

Stars - 10/10

Depth - 10/10

Top 5

1. Tua Tagovailoa, Quarterback, University of Alabama

2. Jerry Jeudy, Wide Receiver, University of Alabama

3. Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle, University of Georgia

4. Grant Delpit, Safety, Louisiana State University

5. Kristian Fulton, Cornerback, Louisiana State University

We all knew it was ending up this way, right? The SEC's top five are all likely top ten picks, and could even be top seven picks (with Young and Epenesa sprinkled in there). Walk through the rest of the first round, day two, day three, wherever, and one out of every three or four prospects will probably be from the SEC. The SEC is a powerhouse, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

TV Guide

The sheer amount of college games on at any given time can be completely overwhelming. Every week, in the TV Guide section of my column, I will choose the top two games at any given time slot and outline the various prospects you can watch in those games. That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and hit the “Previous Channel” button on your remote to toggle between games chock full of pro prospects. Here is your guide for week eight (all times Eastern, rankings in parentheses).

As a reminder, we have a new format for the TV Guide this season. I’m going to list all of the draft eligible players that will impact the games themselves, meaning the lists will be pretty long. Then, I'll summarize each team by showing the players seriously in contention to be drafted at this point in time. However, it's important to know that one exceptional season can cause an impactful player to become a draftable player, so these names are still good to monitor.

Friday, October 18

University of Pittsburgh at Syracuse University, 7:00 PM, ESPN

Pitt

Kenny Pickett, Junior Quarterback, #8

Taysir Mack, Junior Wide Receiver, #11

Maurice Ffrench, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Nolan Ulizio, Senior Tackle, #70

Jalen Twyman, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #97

Saleem Brightwell, Senior Linebacker, #9

Kylan Johnson, Senior Linebacker, #28

Dane Jackson, Senior Cornerback, #11

Jason Pinnock, Junior Cornerback, #15

Damar Hamlin, Senior Safety, #3

We have a new team to watch! This late into the season, it’s going to be more and more rare that we get new teams on the TV Guide. However, I’m going to shoot you straight. This is not a great weekend for college football. There’s just nothing all that exciting from a scouting standpoint, as watching talented players crush bad teams doesn’t really tell you much. In weeks like this, it’s a prime opportunity to watch some players on the more middling teams.

So in comes Pitt! After doing the nation a favor and knocking off undefeated UCF a few weeks ago, Pitt goes into Syracuse with some intriguing players to watch. Ffrench is a big play waiting to happen, and is the best player on the Pitt offense. On defense, Jackson and Hamlin will get themselves drafted out of this Panther secondary, and Twyman is getting there. Being a redshirt sophomore, Twyman might do well to return to school.

Syracuse

Abdul Adams, Junior Running Back, #23

Moe Neal, Senior Running Back, #21

Otto Zaccardo, Senior Running Back, #29

Sean Riley, Senior Wide Receiver, #1

Evan Adams, Senior Guard, #63

Kenneth Ruff, Senior Defensive Tackle, #45

McKinley Williams, Senior Defensive Tackle, #98

Alton Robinson, Senior Defensive End, #94

Kendall Coleman, Senior Defensive End, #55

Scoop Bradshaw, Senior Cornerback, #18

Christopher Fredrick, Senior Cornerback, #3

Evan Foster, Senior Safety, #9

Syracuse has one potential first rounder in Alton Robinson, and then a solid group of day three prospects in Neal, Coleman, Fredrick, and Foster. Pitt doesn’t have any prospects on the offensive line for this season, but they are still playing solid football. If Robinson can return to his 2018 ways of dominating opposing teams, it will go a long way towards cementing his first round status.

Ohio State University (4) at Northwestern University, 8:30 PM, FS1

Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins, Junior Running Back, #2

Demario McCall, Junior Running Back, #30

K.J. Hill, Senior Wide Receiver, #14

Austin Mack, Senior Wide Receiver, #11

Binjimen Victor, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

Luke Farrell, Junior Tight End, #89

Rashod Berry, Senior Tight End, #13

Thayer Munford, Junior Tackle, #75

Jonah Jackson, Senior Guard, #73

Robert Landers, Senior Defensive Tackle, #67

Davon Hamilton, Senior Defensive Tackle, #53

Chase Young, Junior Defensive End, #2

Jonathon Cooper, Senior Defensive End, #18

Jashon Cornell, Senior Defensive End, #9

Malik Harrison, Senior Linebacker, #39

Pete Werner, Junior Linebacker, #20

Baron Browning, Junior Linebacker, #5

Tuf Borland, Junior Linebacker, #32

Jeffrey Okudah, Junior Cornerback, #1

Shaun Wade, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #24

Damon Arnette, Senior Cornerback, #3

Jordan Fuller, Senior Safety, #4

Jahsen Wint, Junior Safety, #23

Big Ten football on a Friday? You betcha! Really, you have no excuse for not watching this Ohio State football team with loads of talent. In the first round alone, Ohio State will likely send Chase Young, Jeffrey Okuda, Shawn Wade, and maybe even Jordan Fuller. Landers, Harrison, Borland, Browning, Arnette round out a defense that will likely see all nine drafted next spring. On offense, Dobbins, Hill, Victor, Mack, Farrell, and Munford could all find teams during the draft. That’s four potential first round players and a whopping fifteen potential draft picks playing for Ohio State.

Northwestern

Hunter Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore, Quarterback, #15

Ben Skowronek, Senior Wide Receiver, #88

Jared Thomas, Senior Guard, #65

Trent Goens, Senior Defensive End, #83

Joe Gaziano, Senior Defensive End, #97

Paddy Fisher, Junior Linebacker, #42

Blake Gallagher, Junior Linebacker, #51

Trae Williams, Senior Cornerback, #3

With Gaziano and Fisher being the only prospects likely to hear their name called in April, there is a clear talent disparity here. Ohio State is probably going to win this game, but good games by either of these players could drastically raise their stock.

University of Nevada - Las Vegas at Fresno State University, 10:00 PM, CBS Sports Network

UNLV

Armani Rogers, Junior Quarterback, #1

Justin Polu, Senior Guard, #78

Gabe McCoy, Senior Defensive End, #25

Jericho Flowers, Senior Cornerback, #7

Evan Austrie, Senior Safety, #17

UNLV has some guys. They’re just guys, though. They might find teams in the post-draft process, but none of these players are likely to end up in the top-300 after the season.

Fresno State

Ronnie Rivers, Junior Running Back, #20

Jordan Mims, Junior Running Back, #22

Jared Rice, Senior Tight End, #16

Netane Muti, Junior Guard, #52

Mykal Walker, Senior Linebacker, #3

Jaron Bryant, Senior Cornerback, #14

JuJu Hughes, Senior Cornerback, #23

Fresno State, on the other hand, has quite a few players that might hear their name called in April. The best of the bunch is Muti, the strong interior lineman. Jared Rice is a good receiver, but needs work as a blocker. On defense, the strength for the Bulldogs is the secondary, led by Bryant and Hughes.

Saturday, October 19

Clemson University (3) at University of Louisville, 12:00 PM, ABC

Clemson

Trevor Lawrence, Sophomore Quarterback, #16

Travis Etienne, Junior Running Back, #9

Darien Rencher, Junior Running Back, #21

Tee Higgins, Junior Wide Receiver, #5

Justyn Ross, Sophomore Wide Receiver, #8

Diondre Overton, Senior Wide Receiver, #14

Amari Rodgers, Junior Wide Receiver, #3

Tremayne Anchrum, Senior Tackle, #73

John Simpson, Senior Guard, #74

Sean Pollard, Senior Guard, #76

Gage Cervenka, Senior Center, #59

Nyles Pinckney, Junior Defensive Tackle, #44

Xavier Kelly, Junior Defensive Tackle, #22

Jordan Williams, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #59

Justin Foster, Junior Defensive End, #35

Isaiah Simmons, Junior Linebacker/Safety, #11

A.J. Terrell, Junior Cornerback, #8

K'Von Wallace, Senior Safety, #12

Denzel Johnson, Senior Safety, #14

Tanner Muse, Senior Safety, #19

They aren’t draft eligible, but the best prospects on Clemson are Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross. I would not be surprised if both are top ten picks in 2021. For the more immediate future, the first round talents include Simmons, Etienne, Higgins, and potentially Terrell. Simpson and Pollard give Clemson one of the best interior lines in the ACC. On defense, Clemson has tried to replenish the dominant defensive line class from 2019 with Williams and Foster, to modest results. Wallace and Muse are day three picks for the time being, but could see a rise.

Louisville

Tobias Little, Junior Running Back, #27

Seth Dawkins, Senior Wide Receiver, #5

Dez Fitzpatrick, Junior Wide Receiver, #7

Jordan Davis, Senior Tight End, #85

Mekhi Becton, Junior Tackle, #73

T.J. McCoy, Senior Center, #59

G.G. Robinson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #34

Ty Tyler, Senior Defensive End, #18

Amonte Caban, Senior Defensive End, #53

T.J. Holl, Senior Linebacker, #35

Dorian Etheridge, Junior Linebacker, #17

P.J. Mbanasor, Senior Cornerback, #1

Cornelius Sturghill, Senior Cornerback, #6

Khane Pass, Senior Safety, #30

Rodjay Burns, Junior Safety, #10

Louisville has seen a downturn in talent as of late, and likely won’t have many top picks from this roster. Fitzpatrick, Dawkins, and Becton have a chance to make a roster on offense, and Tyler, Etheridge, and Burns are the hopeful defenders. A strong performance against a top team like Clemson could solidify the value of any of these prospects.

West Virginia University at University of Oklahoma, 12:00 PM, FOX

West Virginia

Austin Kendall, Junior Quarterback, #12

Kennedy McKoy, Senior Running Back, #6

Martell Pettaway, Senior Running Back, #32

George Campbell, Senior Wide Receiver, #15

Colton McKivitz, Senior Tackle, #53

VanDarius Cowan, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #32

Reese Donahue, Senior Defensive End, #46

Keith Washington, Senior Cornerback, #28

We haven’t seen much of West Virginia this season, mainly due to the amount of outgoing talent from last season. Austin Kendall was a highly touted recruit in high school who transferred to Morgantown after losing out to Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma. You know he wants to show Lincoln Riley that he let the wrong quarterback win that job. Helping him out will be McKivitz on offense and Cowan on defense.

Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts, Senior Quarterback, #1

Trey Sermon, Junior Running Back, #4

Kennedy Brooks, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #26

CeeDee Lamb, Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Lee Morris, Senior Wide Receiver, #84

Grant Calcaterra, Junior Tight End, #80

Marquis Hayes, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #54

Creed Humphrey, Redshirt Sophomore Center, #56

Neville Gallimore, Senior Defensive Tackle, #90

LaRon Stokes, Junior Defensive End, #96

Kenneth Mann, Senior Defensive End, #55

Kenneth Murray, Junior Linebacker, #9

Caleb Kelly, Senior Linebacker, #19

Mark Jackson Jr., Senior Linebacker, #42

Tre Brown, Junior Cornerback, #6

Parnell Motley, Senior Cornerback, #11

As long as Lincoln Riley remains at Oklahoma, you can just write in “Oklahoma Quarterback” for Heisman consideration and for draft consideration. Hurts was a terrible passer at Alabama, but has turned into a real quarterback for the Sooners. Sermon and Brooks are a deadly running back combination, although Brooks might wait for a full season of being the lead back before declaring. Lamb is a first round lock at receiver, and Calcaterra is making waves at tight end. Humphrey is another first round lock along the offensive line. Hayes is good, but will likely stay in school. Gallimore and Murray are decent prospects on defense, but Oklahoma doesn’t have “D” as their logo for a reason.

University of Oregon (12) at University of Washington (25), 3:30 PM, ABC

Oregon

Justin Herbert, Senior Quarterback, #10

C.J. Verdell, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #7

Juwan Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #6

Jacob Breeland, Senior Tight End, #27

Calvin Throckmorton, Senior Tackle, #54

Brady Aiello, Senior Tackle, #66

Shane Lemieux, Senior Guard, #68

Dallas Warmack, Senior Guard, #75

Jake Hanson, Senior Center, #55

Jordon Scott, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34

Austin Faoliu, Junior Defensive Tackle, #52

La'Mar Winston Jr., Senior Linebacker, #32

Isaac Slade-Matautia, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #41

Troy Dye, Senior Linebacker, #35

Deommodore Lenoir, Junior Cornerback, #6

Thomas Graham Jr., Junior Cornerback, #4

The first of only two matchups between ranked opponents this week is the only shoo-in for games to watch this week. Led by Justin Herbert (likely QB2), everyone listed here on offense could get drafted if they declare. The best individual unit potentially in the nation is the Oregon offensive line, led by first round hopeful Shane Lemieux. On defense, Oregon has a bit less, with Slade-Matautia and Dye being the guys to watch.

Washington

Jacob Eason, Junior Quarterback, #10

Salvon Ahmed, Junior Quarterback, #26

Aaron Fuller, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Andre Baccellia, Senior Wide Receiver, #5

Quinten Pounds, Senior Wide Receiver, #21

Hunter Bryant, Junior Tight End, #1

Cade Otton, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #21

Trey Adams, Senior Tackle, #72

Henry Roberts, Senior Guard, #59

Henry Bainivalu, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #66

Nick Harris, Senior Center, #56

Levi Onwuzurike, Junior Defensive Tackle, #95

Josiah Bronson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #90

Benning Potoa'e, Senior Defensive End, #8

Ryan Bowman, Junior Linebacker, #55

Myles Bryant, Senior Cornerback, #5

Elijah Molden, Junior Cornerback, #3

Keith Taylor, Junior Cornerback, #27

Brandon McKinney, Junior Safety, #23

This game is enough to watch just for the quarterback matchup alone. Eason and Herbert will square off for the first of many times, but likely for the only time in college, as Eason is one of the most likely players (along with Joe Burrow) to challenge Herbert for the QB2 slot. Otton, Adams, and Harris are a great offensive line on their own, with Adams as the best of the bunch. On defense, Onwuzurike and Molden are the top prospects, though the rest of the secondary is starting to improve.

Temple University at Southern Methodist University (19), 3:30 PM, ESPN2

Temple

Anthony Russo, Junior Quarterback, #15

Branden Mack, Junior Wide Receiver, #1

Isaiah Wright, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Kenny Yeboah, Junior Tight End, #84

Jovahn Fair, Senior Guard, #70

Matt Hennessy, Junior Center, #58

Karamo Dioubate, Senior Defensive Tackle, #92

Dan Archibong, Junior Defensive Tackle #6

Quincy Roche, Junior Defensive End, #9

Sam Franklin, Senior Linebacker, #4

Shaun Bradley, Senior Linebacker, #5

Chapelle Russell, Senior Linebacker, #3

Isaiah Graham-Mobley, Junior Linebacker, #8

That’s right. With no fantastic matchups, we are going “Next Five” on a Saturday. Temple has plenty of players that impact Saturdays, it’s unknown whether any of these players can impact Sundays. Temple is a very well-coached team, which makes them play better than the sum of their parts.

SMU

Shane Buechele, Junior Quarterback, #7

Ke'Mon Freeman, Senior Running Back, #2

Xavier Jones, Senior Running Back, #5

Reggie Roberson, Junior Wide Receiver, #8

James Proche, Senior Wide Receiver, #3

Delontae Scott, Senior Defensive End, #35

Richard Moore, Senior Linebacker, #14

Rodney Clemons, Senior Safety, #23

Patrick Nelson, Senior Safety, #2

This match was chosen because I really want to see the SMU receivers against a strong Temple team-defense. Roberson is a good outside receiver, but Proche is my favorite slot receiver not named Davonta Smith. This could be the game that gets these two receivers some more notoriety.

University of Michigan (16) at Penn State University (7), 7:30 PM, ABC

Michigan

Shea Patterson, Senior Quarterback, #2

Tru Wilson, Senior Running Back, #13

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Junior Wide Receiver, #9

Nico Collins, Junior Wide Receiver, #4

Tarik Black, Junior Wide Receiver, #7

Sean McKeon, Senior Tight End, #84

Nico Eubanks, Junior Tight End, #82

Ben Bredeson, Senior Guard, #74

Jon Runyan, Senior Guard, #75

Michael Onwenu, Senior Guard, #50

Michael Dwumfour, Senior Defensive Tackle, #50

Josh Uche, Senior Defensive End, #6

Kwity Paye, Junior Defensive End, #19

Khaleke Hudson, Junior Linebacker, #7

Josh Ross, Junior Linebacker, #12

Lavert Hill, Senior Cornerback, #24

Josh Metellus, Senior Safety, #14

Here’s the second matchup between ranked opponents, and this game will likely be quite a bit less exciting than the first. This game will be a defensive slugfest. Outside of the trio of receivers (Peoples-Jones, Collins, and Black), Michigan’s talent lies on defense. Led by Hill, Michigan boasts one of the top defenses in the nation. Uche, Paye, Hudson, and Metellus are all likely draft picks from this group.

Penn State

K.J. Hamler, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #1

Pat Freiermuth, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #87

Will Fries, Junior Tackle, #71

Steven Gonzalez, Senior Guard, #74

Mike Miranda, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #73

Michael Menet, Junior Center, #62

Robert Windsor, Senior Defensive Tackle, #54

Yetur Gross-Matos, Junior Defensive End, #99

Shaka Toney, Junior Defensive End, #16

Shane Simmons, Junior Defensive End, #34

Cameron Brown, Senior Linebacker, #6

Jan Johnson, Senior Linebacker, #36

John Reid, Senior Cornerback, #29

Tariq Castro-Fields, Junior Cornerback, #5

Garrett Taylor, Senior Safety, #17

Jonathan Sutherland, Redshirt Sophomore Safety, #26

Penn State had a pretty easy schedule to start the season, but the way they handled Iowa last week was impressive. With another strong performance against Michigan, Penn State could be seen as an actual challenger to Ohio State in the Big Ten East. Hamler and Freiermuth are playmakers on offense, and Fries, Miranda, and Menet held up well against a strong Iowa defensive line. The stars, though, are Gross-Matos and Toney, who are maybe the top pair of defensive ends in the nation. Castro-Fields had some trouble last week, but still could be drafted in April.

Florida State University at Wake Forest University, 7:30 PM, ACC Network/ESPN 3

Florida State

Cam Akers, Junior Running Back, #3

Tamorrion Terry, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #15

Keith Gavin, Senior Wide Receiver, #89

Tre' McKitty, Junior Tight End, #6

Mike Arnold, Junior Guard, #72

Cole Minshew, Senior Guard, #70

Baveon Johnson, Junior Center, #51

Cory Durden, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #16

Joshua Kaindoh, Junior Defensive End, #13

Janarius Robinson, Junior Defensive End, #11

Dontavious Jackson, Senior Linebacker, #5

Josh Brown, Senior Linebacker, #51

Emmett Rice, Junior Linebacker, #56

Levonta Taylor, Senior Cornerback, #1

Stanford Samuels, Junior Cornerback, #8

Hamsah Nasirildeen, Junior Safety, #23

You know it’s bad when we make it to week eight before seeing Florida State in the TV Guide. While the team is not great, they still have a lot of talent, led by potential first-round safety Nasirildeen. The Seminole secondary as a whole is strong, as Taylor is one of the fastest players in the country and Samuels has the size and skill to succeed on the outside in the pros. On offense, Akers might be the most underrated prospect in the class after coming to Florida State as a five-star recruit and running behind a porous offensive line. Terry is a playmaker on the outside, and Johnson has the athletic profile to do well as a zone-scheme center.

Wake Forest

Cade Carney, Senior Running Back, #36

Steven Claude, Senior Wide Receiver, #5

Sage Suratt, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #14

Scotty Washington, Senior Wide Receiver, #7

Jack Freudenthal, Senior Tight End, #86

Nathan Gilliam, Senior Tackle, #71

Justin Herron, Senior Tackle, #75

Jake Benzinger, Senior Tackle, #75

Carlos Basham, Junior Defensive End, #9

Justin Strnad, Senior Linebacker, #23

Essang Bassey, Senior Cornerback, #21

Amari Henderson, Senior Cornerback, #4

One of the most surprising teams in the nation, this is a prime opportunity to watch some good Wake Forest players. Suratt is my favorite receiver you’ve never heard of, so keep an eye on him. Gilliam and Herron are middle round bookends for Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons also boast some strong defensive talent, with Basham, Strnad, and Bassey all likely to hear their names called in April.

University of Nevada at Utah State University, 10:15 PM, ESPN U

Nevada

Malik Henry, Junior Quarterback, #16

Kelton Moore, Senior Running Back, #23

Kaleb Fossum, Senior Wide Receiver, #3

Jake Nelson, Senior Tackle, #71

Gabe Sewell, Senior Linebacker, #7

Daniel Brown, Senior Cornerback, #25

The late night slate leaves a bit to be desired, so feel free to go to bed early if you want to be rested for an early 49ers game Sunday. If you want to watch, there is an interesting storyline here. You might remember Malik Henry from his time on the Netflix show “Last Chance U” as the hot-headed, ultra-talented quarterback. After a revolving door at the position to start the season, Henry has wrestled the job away and is going to start this game against Utah State. It will be a ton of fun watching him play a full game against one of the most talented “Next Five” teams in the country in Utah State.

Utah State

Jordan Love, Junior Quarterback, #10

Gerold Bright, Senior Running Back, #1

Caden Anderson, Junior Defensive Tackle, #94

Tipa Galeai, Senior Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, #10

David Woodward, Junior Linebacker, #9

D.J. Williams, Senior Cornerback, #7

The obvious name to watch is Jordan Love, who hopes to get back on track after some lackluster performances against Power Five teams. The names you are less likely to know are Galeai, a speedy pass rusher, and Woodward, the potential best linebacker in the country depending on what Alabama’s Dylan Moses decides to do. This may be the most fun game of the day, if you can stay up this late.

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