Zach's Draft Corner: Breaking Down the Heisman Hopefuls/What to Watch
Image Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
It’s one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports. The Heisman. The winner of this award is cemented in football history, regardless of whether they accomplish anything in the pros. An entire gala is planned for the award presentation. Every player in college football wants this honor, but only one will get it. This week, we’re taking a look at the top contenders for this year’s Heisman. However, in order to best predict the winner this year, we first need to look at trends in past winners.
1. Examine only pre-Bowl stats.
The Heisman votes are gathered after the conference championships and before the bowl games. So this one is simple.
2. Be a Quarterback
Since 2000, 16 of the 19 Heisman trophy winners have been quarterbacks. The other three were running backs (Reggie Bush on the 2005 USC Trojans, Mark Ingram on the 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide, and Derrick Henry on the 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide). It has been since 1997 that a defensive player won the Heisman (Charles Woodson), and since 1991 that a wide receiver won the Heisman.
3. Compete for a National Championship
Again, since 2000, 14 of the 19 Heisman trophy winners have played on a team with one loss or less at the end of the regular season. The other five had only two losses (Carson Palmer on the 2002 USC Trojans and Johnny Manziel on the 2012 Texas A&M Aggies) or three losses (Tim Tebow on the 2007 Florida Gators, Robert Griffin III on the 2011 Baylor Bears, and Lamar Jackson on the 2016 Louisville Cardinals).
4. Satisfy one of 2 or 3 and have a markedly better season than anyone else
Let's look at the eight exceptions to the "Quarterback competing for a National Championship".
Carson Palmer, 2002 USC Trojans
288 for 458 (62.9%), 3639 yards, 32 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Second place was Brad Banks out of Iowa, who had only one loss. However, he also threw for over 1,000 less yards than Palmer, while adding only 435 rushing yards. Larry Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards this season, but a running back for a 3-loss Penn State team was out of luck.
Reggie Bush, 2005 USC Trojans
187 rushes for 1658 yards (8.9 YPC), 16 touchdowns, 31 catches for 383 yards and 2 touchdowns, 1 punt return touchdown
Vince Young was the runnerup in 2005, in what is probably the best challenge for my three criteria. Young led Texas to a National Championship and was the quarterback, so he obviously satisfied the firs two. It's also arguable that Reggie Bush was not markedly better than Young. Texas defeated USC in the National Championship, but Young threw for almost 3,000 yards and ran for almost 1,000 in a tremendous 2005 campaign. Reggie Bush, however, was electric and had a lot more highlight plays than Young did, likely leading to his since-vacated victory.
Tim Tebow, 2007 Florida Gators
217 for 317 (68.5%), 3132 yards, 29 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 194 rushes for 838 yards and 23 touchdowns
This was a two-person race between Tebow and Darren McFadden of Arkansas. McFadden had 1,725 rushing yards in the regular season for 15 touchdowns, but Arkansas ended the regular season with an 8-4 record. In this case, the elite quarterback season was always going to top the elite running back season.
Mark Ingram, 2009 Alabama Crimson Tide
249 rushes for 1542 yards (6.2 YPC), 17 touchdowns, 30 catches for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns
Alabama won the National Championship this season, so Ingram satisfies the second item. Ingram's biggest competition for this season was Toby Gerhart out of Stanford, who ran for 1,736 yards, 26 touchdowns, and added 10 catches for 149 yards. The next biggest competition was Colt McCoy, who had 3,512 yards for 27 touchdowns passing for the undefeated (in the regular season) Texas Longhorns. What ruined McCoy were his low points. Texas barely squeaked out games against Oklahoma and Nebraska, with McCoy throwing for 184 yards and 3 interceptions in the Big 12 Championship Game against Nebraska. This likely left a bad taste in the mouths of the voters, especially when compared to Ingram's 3 touchdown, 189 total yard performance against Florida in the SEC Championship Game.
Robert Griffin III, 2011 Baylor Bears
267 for 369 (72.4%), 36 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 3998 yards, 161 rushes for 644 yards and 9 touchdowns
I remember the battle between Andrew Luck and RGIII for the top spot in the draft, and they also battled for the top spot in college football in 2011. Luck's Stanford Cardinal went 11-1 on the regular season, with Luck having the stats what would have easily won him the Heisman in any other year. Luck's 3,170 yards for 35 touchdowns and 9 interceptions was elite, but RGIII was historically good in 2011. No player in college football history had shown the combination of accuracy, arm strength, and mobility that RGIII put on display, making him the easy winner here.
Johnny Manziel, 2012 Texas A&M Aggies
273 for 400 (68.3%), 3419 yards, 24 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 184 rushes for 1181 yards and 19 touchdowns
This was a very down year for elite college football players. The third place vote getter was quarterback Collin Klein of Kansas State. Kansas State finished the regular season with only a single loss, which elevated Klein to Heisman status, but a paltry 2,490 yards and a 15:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio kept him from really challenging Manziel. The second place finisher was Manti Te'o, a linebacker for the then-undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Te'o finished the regular season with 103 tackles, 7 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 very fake dead girlfriend. That wasn't enough to take away the Heisman from Money Manziel.
Derrick Henry, 2015 Alabama Crimson Tide
359 rushes for 2061 yards (5.7 YPC), 25 touchdowns, 11 catches for 93 yards
This was a two-man race between Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Henry. McCaffrey was just as impressive as Henry, if not moreso, rushing for 1,847 yards and 8 touchdowns while also racking up 540 yards receiving and 4 additional rushing touchdowns. Add in McCaffrey's 1,052 kickoff return yards and 67 punt return yards (and a kickoff return for a touchdown), and McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders's record for all-purpose yards in a single season before even playing in the Rose Bowl. However, the Rose Bowl was not the National Championship, and Henry had the advantage in touchdowns. Henry wins because he satisfied the National Championship criteria, even though he wasn't "markedly" better than McCaffrey.
Lamar Jackson, 2016 Louisville Cardinals
220 for 384 (57.3%), 3390 yards, 30 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 234 rushes for 1538 yards, 21 touchdowns
2016 was the battle of the sophomore quarterbacks, as the Heisman race came down to Jackson and Baker Mayfield, quarterback of the 2-loss Oklahoma Sooners. Mayfield had the advantage in the air, throwing for 3,669 yards and 38 touchdowns with only 8 interceptions. However, Jackson kept it close enough in the air that his drastic advantage on the ground (Mayfield only had 74 rushes for 143 yards and 6 touchdowns) gave him the win.
Only one season (2005) where a quarterback with exceptional stats that kept his team in contention for a National Championship lost the Heisman trophy.
Given this criteria, here are the contenders for this year's Heisman:
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, University of Alabama
145 for 194 (74.7%), 2166 yards, 27 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Pro – Quarterback of the current favorites for the National Championship.
Con - Will miss 1-2 weeks due to ankle injury sustained last week, hurting his overall stats.
Joe Burrow, QB, Louisiana State University
173 for 218 (79.4%), 2484 yards, 29 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
Pro – Arguably having the best and most efficient production of any player in college football.
Con - Will LSU finally break through and make it to the Playoffs? Burrow’s chance will hinge on that given the level of talent in this year’s field.
Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State University
116 for 164 (70.7%), 1492 yards, 22 touchdowns, 1 interception, 63 rushes for 291 yards and 8 touchdowns
Pro –Ohio State has the clearest path to the Playoffs, and Fields has been a great quarterback.
Con - Will additional production on the ground make up for lesser production through the air?
Jalen Hurts, QB, University of Oklahoma
114 for 154 (74.0%), 2074 yards, 20 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 84 rushes for 705 yards and 10 touchdowns
Pro – Hurts absolutely has the most impressive numbers as a whole.
Con - Do we have Oklahoma fatigue? Never has a school won three Heisman trophies in a row, let alone with three different players.
Justin Herbert, QB, University of Oregon
158 for 232 (68.1%), 1882 yards, 21 touchdowns, 1 interception
Pro – Herbert has been in the national conversation as a draft darling for years, and the Heisman committee isn’t afraid of giving lifetime achievement awards.
Con - In a season with such strong quarterback play, does Herbert get dinged for playing in the weaker PAC 12? Additionally, one more loss and Oregon is out of the National Championship conversation.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, University of Wisconsin
157 rushes for 957 yards (6.1 YPC), 15 touchdowns
Pro – Taylor has been the most productive running back in college football over the past two+ seasons, and Taylor doesn’t look to be slowing down.
Con –As a running back, Wisconsin will need to win out and make the Playoffs for Taylor to have a chance. That means the Badgers will have to beat Ohio State twice. That’s a tall task for anyone.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State University
194 rushes for 1265 yards (6.5 YPC), 15 touchdowns
Pro – In 2019, no running back has looked better than Hubbard. He is on pace for a monstrous season.
Con –A running back for a 4-3 Oklahoma State team with no chance for sustained success would need a lot of help to get the Heisman. I’m talking injuries, losses, or complete self-destruction of every quarterback on this list.
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 nine (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 25
University of Southern California at University of Colorado, 9:00 PM, ESPN2
Vavae Malepeai, Junior Running Back, #29
Stephen Carr, Junior Running Back, #7
Michael Pittman, Senior Wide Receiver, #6
Velus Jones Jr., Junior Wide Receiver, #1
Tyler Vaughns, Junior Wide Receiver, #21
Josh Falo, Junior Tight End, #83
Drew Richmond, Senior Tackle, #53
Austin Jackson, Junior Tackle, #73
Marlon Tuipulotu, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #51
Jay Tufele, Redhsirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #78
Brandon Pili, Junior Defensive Tackle, #91
Christian Rector, Senior Defensive End, #89
Jordan Iosefa, Senior Linebacker, #56
John Houston Jr., Senior Linebacker, #10
Dominic Davis, Senior Cornerback, #16
This Friday slate is a little light. As in this is literally the only Division I game this Friday night. While Pittman was the star player for most of the season, Stephen Carr and Tyler Vaughns have been making headway in recent weeks and are starting to garner late round looks. Tufele has been impressive on defense, joining Rector as a draftable defender for the Trojans.
Steven Montez, Senior Quarterback, #12
Laviska Shenault Jr., Junior Wide Receiver, #2
Tim Lynott, Senior Guard, #56
Mustafa Johnson, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34
Nate Landman, Junior Linebacker, #53
Davion Taylor, Senior Linebacker, #20
Delrick Abrams Jr., Senior Cornerback, #1
MikialOnu, Senior Safety, #2
As always, Laviska is the star of the show for Colorado. However, there are some newcomers to the table for the Buffalos. Steven Montez is showing enough that someone will likely take a late round flyer on him. On defense, Nate Landman is taking advantage of the weaker linebacker class to work his way into the mid-round conversation.
Saturday, October 26
University of Wisconsin (13) at Ohio State University (3), 12:00 PM, FOX
Jonathan Taylor, Junior Running Back, #23
Bradrick Shaw, Senior Running Back, #7
Quintez Cephus, Senior Wide Receiver, #87
A.J. Taylor, Senior Wide Receiver, #4
Danny Davis III, Junior Wide Receiver, #6
Jake Ferguson, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #84
David Moorman, Senior Tackle, #68
Cole Van Lanen, Junior Tackle, #71
Tyler Biadasz, Junior Center, #61
Isaiah Loudermilk, Junior Defensive Tackle, #97
Zack Baun, Senior Defensive End, #56
Chris Orr, Senior Linebacker, #54
Last week, Wisconsin fell into the classic trap of looking ahead to a huge game and forgetting about the team in front of them when they fell to Big Ten punching bag Illinois. While that hurts the team, the players are still in good shape. It should come as no surprise that a team like Wisconsin features studs at running back and the offensive line. Taylor and Biadasz are first round talents, but the rest of the offensive line will get drafted whenever they enter the process. Cephus is the rare Wisconsin receiver that has some talent. On defense, Baun and Orr have been impressive, and should both get drafted. Loudermilk has had a quieter season than expected, but still has a chance to get drafted.
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
JahsenWint, Junior Safety, #23
Ohio State has been cruising through this season, but they will face their toughest test of the year when they square off against the Badgers. They bring plenty of firepower into this matchup, with Young, Okudah, Wade, and maybe even Arnette and Fuller being first round picks in that ferocious Buckeye defense. Landers, Harrison, and Borland round out the Buckeye defense that is shaping up to be one of the most talented in the country.The offense is full of speed, including Dobbins, Hill, and Farrell. The offensive line is the weak spot, if there is one, on this Buckeye team, but Munford should be able to make a team.
University of Oklahoma (5) at Kansas State University, 12:00 PM, ABC
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
Jalen Hurts is officially locked in the middle of the Heisman battle, and I really don’t know what it’s going to take to stifle Lincoln Riley. This offense is running on all cylinders, led by CeeDee Lamb and Creed Humphrey as first round locks. Sermon, Brooks, Calcaterra, and Hayes all are draftable prospects on day two or three. On defense, Gallimore and Murray are the only hopefuls, but they are looking better and better as time goes on.
James Gilbert, Senior Running Back, #34
Dalton Schoen, Senior Wide Receiver, #83
Scott Frantz, Senior Tackle, #74
Tyler Mitchell, Senior Guard, #62
Adam Holtorf, Senior Center, #79
Wyatt Hubert, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #56
Reggie Walker, Senior Defensive End, #51
Elijah Sullivan, Senior Linebacker, #3
Da'Quan Patton, Senior Linebacker, #5
Justin Hughes, Senior Linebacker, #32
Denzel Goolsby, Senior Safety, #20
The best thing about the Big 12 are that there are a couple of teams thrown in there that play such a different style of football that it really makes their opponents work for a victory. Even better, the pro-style of game that Kansas State employs will really show what the Oklahoma players can do at the next level when facing real defenses. That defense is led by Hubert, Sullivan, and Patton. The best prospect on the team is likely Frantz, with linemates Mitchell and Holtorf giving Kansas State one of the best offensive line units in the conference.
Auburn University (9) at Louisiana State University (2), 3:30 PM, CBS
Kam Martin, Senior Running Back, #9
Jay Jay Wilson, Senior Fullback, #42
JaTarvarious Whitlow, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #28
Will Hastings, Senior Wide Receiver, #33
Sal Cannella, Senior Tight End, #80
Jack Driscoll, Senior Tackle, #71
Prince TegaWanogho, Senior Tackle, #76
Marquel Harrell, Senior Guard, #77
Mike Horton, Senior Guard, #64
Kaleb Kim, Senior Center, #54
Derrick Brown, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5
Nick Coe, Senior Defensive Tackle, #91
Marlon Davidson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #3
Big Kat Bryant, Junior Defensive End, #1
Javaris Davis, Senior Cornerback, #13
Noah Igbinoghene, Junior Cornerback, #4
Daniel Thomas, Senior Safety, #24
Jeremiah Dinson, Senior Safety, #20
Auburn is building along the lines, and doing it very well. Outside of Martin,all of the draftable talent is on the lines. Wanogho and Driscoll combine to form one of the best bookend pairs in the nation. Derrick Brown is elite and in the running for the top defensive tackle in the class, while the rest of that defensive line is full of day two or day three prospects.
Joe Burrow, Senior Quarterback, #9
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Junior Running Back, #22
Lanard Fournette, Senior Running Back, #27
Derrick Dillon, Senior Wide Receiver, #19
Dee Anderson, Senior Wide Receiver, #11
Justin Jefferson, Junior Wide Receiver, #2
Stephen Sullivan, Senior Tight End, #10
Jamal Pettigrew, Junior Tight End, #80
Thaddeus Moss, Junior Tight End, #81
Saahdiq Charles, Junior Tackle, #77
Badara Traore, Senior Tackle, #74
Adrian MaGee, Senior Guard, #73
Damian Lewis, Senior Guard, #68
Lloyd Cushenberry, Junior Center, #79
BreidenFehoko, Senior Defensive Tackle, #91
Tyler Shelvin, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #72
Rashard Lawrence, Senior Defensive Tackle, #90
K'LavonChaisson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #18
Andre Anthony, Junior Defensive End, #46
Justin Thomas, Junior Defensive End, #93
Jacob Phillips, Junior Linebacker, #6
Patrick Queen, Junior Linebacker, #8
Michael Divinity, Senior Linebacker, #45
Kristian Fulton, Senior Cornerback, #1
Grant Delpit, Junior Safety, #7
Todd Harris, Jr., Junior Safety, #33
For years, I’ve been wondering what LSU, a team that always recruites extremely well and consistently has one of the best defenses in the country, would look like if they had a quarterback that was actually worth anything. It looks like I am finally getting my wish now that Joe Burrow,a highly recruited transfer from Ohio State that finally is living up to his potential. He is getting help on offense from Jefferson and Charles. As always, the LSU defense is stacked with first round prospects in Lawrence, Chaisson, Fulton, and Delpit, with a trio of day three linebackers in Phillips, Queen, and Divinity.
University of Texas (15) at Texas Christian University, 3:30 PM, FOX
Sam Ehlinger, Junior Quarterback, #11
Collin Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #9
John Burt, Senior Wide Receiver, #1
Devin Duvernay, Senior Wide Receiver, #6
Parker Braun, Senior Guard, #73
Zach Shackelford, Senior Center, #56
Gerald Wilbon, Senior Defensive Tackle, #94
Malcolm Roach, Senior Defensive Tackle, #32
Jeffrey McCulloch, Senior Linebacker, #23
Brandon Jones, Senior Safety, #19
Ehlinger looked like he was poised for a big season, but something is missing. He might do well to return to school, but losing his top targets in Johnson and Duvernay to the NFL also might hurt him even more next year. He’d also lose out on Braun and Shackelford protecting the interior. Texas has one of the better defenses in the Big 12, led by Jones and Roach in the secondary.
SewoOlonilua, Senior Running Back, #33
Darius Anderson, Senior Running Back, #6
Jalen Reagor, Junior Wide Receiver, #1
Anthony McKinney, Senior Tackle, #68
Lucas Niang, Senior Tackle, #77
CordelIwuagwu, Senior Guard, #70
Ross Blalock, Junior Defensive Tackle, #90
George Ellis III, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #93
Corey Bethley, Junior Defensive Tackle, #94
Shameik Blackshear, Senior Defensive End, #91
Montrel Wilson, Senior Linebacker, #18
Garret Wallow, Junior Linebacker, #30
Jeff Gladney, Senior Cornerback, #12
Julius Lewis, Senior Cornerback, #24
Innis Gaines, Senior Safety, #6
I say Texas has one of the best defenses in the Big 12, because it’s very likely that TCU has the best. That defense is led by one of the best senior cornerbacks in the nation in Jeff Gladney. Blalock anchors the defensive line. Don’t think that TCU is all defense, though. Reagor and Niang are pushing for first round statuses, with Olonilua and Anderson forming a thunder and lightning combination of day three running backs.
University of Arkansas at University of Alabama (1), 7:00 PM, ESPN
Rakeem Boyd, Junior Running Back, #5
Chase Hayden, Junior Running Back, #2
Devwah Whaley, Senior Running Back, #21
Cheyenne O'Grady, Senior Tight End, #85
Colton Jackson, Senior Tackle, #74
Shane Clenin, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #57
Austin Capps, Senior Guard, #54
McTelvinAgim, Senior Defensive Tackle, #3
T.J. Smith, Senior Defensive Tackle, #52
De'Jon Harris, Senior Linebacker, #8
Say what you want about Last Chance U, but they really are putting a lot of kids into big-time programs. For Arkansas, that comes in the form of Rakeem Boyd, the star running back from Independence Community College. Elsewhere, the troubled but talented O'Grady is worth the risk. On defense, Agim and Harris are decent prospects, but a matchup against the juggernaut Crimson Tide will be a big test of just how good they are.
TuaTagovailoa, Junior Quarterback, #13
Brian Robinson, Junior Running Back, #24
Najee Harris, Junior Running Back, #22
Jerry Jeudy, Junior Wide Receiver, #4
Henry Ruggs III, Junior Wide Receiver, #11
DeVonta Smith, Junior Wide Receiver, #6
Miller Forristall, Junior Tight End, #87
Major Tennison, Junior Tight End, #88
Scott Lashley, Junior Tackle, #76
Matt Womack, Senior Tackle, #77
Alex Leatherwood, Junior Guard, #70
Jedrick Wills, Junior Guard, #74
Deonte Brown, Junior Guard, #65
Chris Owens, Junior Center, #79
LaBryan Ray, Junior Defensive Tackle, #89
Phidarian Mathis, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #48
Raekwon Davis, Senior Defensive Tackle, #99
Anfernee Jennings, Senior Defensive End, #33
Terrell Lewis, Junior Defensive End, #24
Christopher Allen, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #4
Dylan Moses, Junior Linebacker, #32
Ben Davis, Junior Linebacker, #1
Joshua McMillon, Senior Linebacker, #40
Trevon Diggs, Senior Cornerback, #7
Xavier McKinney, Junior Safety, #15
Shyheim Carter, Senior Safety, #5
Jared Mayden, Senior Safety, #21
It’s really amazing just how much talent Alabama gets every season. Everyone on this list will likely matter at some point. This year, in the first round alone, Alabama will likely get Tua, Jeudy, Ruggs, Leatherwood, Davis, Diggs, McKinney, and Carter. That’s literally one-quarter of the first round that could be from the University of Alabama. That’s not even counting Dylan Moses, the injured linebacker who was the unanimous LB1 coming into the season. Harris, Smith, Tennison, Lashley, and Jennings round out the stacked squad.
University of Notre Dame (8) at University of Michigan (19), 7:30 PM, ABC
Ian Book, Junior Quarterback, #12
Chris Finke, Senior Wide Receiver, #10
Chase Claypool, Senior Wide Receiver, #83
Cole Kmet, Junior Tight End, #84
Liam Eichenberg, Junior Tackle, #74
Robert Hainsey, Junior Tackle, #72
Tommy Kraemer, Junior Guard, #78
Aaron Banks, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #69
Trevor Ruhland, Senior Center, #57
Julian Okwara, Senior Defensive End, #42
Khalid Kareem, Senior Defensive End, #53
Daelin Hayes, Senior Defensive End, #9
Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Junior Defensive End, #91
Asmar Bilal, Senior Linebacker, #22
Shaun Crawford, Senior Cornerback, #20
Troy Pride Jr., Senior Cornerback, #5
Donte Vaughn, Senior Cornerback, #8
Alohi Gilman, Junior Safety, #11
Jalen Elliott, Senior Safety, #21
This game is bound to be a slugfest with two powerful defenses. Led by Okwara and Pride, the Fighting Irish will look to stifle the Wolverines. Gilman and Elliott are a great safety tandem and shore up the back end of the defense. When Notre Dame has the ball, the strong offensive line will try to give Ian Book enough time to hit playmakers Claypool and Kmet.
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
KwityPaye, Junior Defensive End, #19
Khaleke Hudson, Junior Linebacker, #7
Josh Ross, Junior Linebacker, #12
Lavert Hill, Senior Cornerback, #24
Josh Metellus, Senior Safety, #14
Peoples-Jones, Collins, and Black have their work cut out for them going against a strong Notre Dame secondary, and I’d probably give the Fighting Irish the advantage. If Michigan wants to stay in this game, they will need a strong performance from their own defensive players in Uche, Paye, Hudson, Hill, and Metellus.
University of California - Berkeley at University of Utah (12), 10:00 PM, FS1
Kekoa Crawford, Junior Wide Receiver, #11
Luc Bequette, Senior Defensive Tackle, #93
Zeandae Johnson, Senior Defensive Tackle, #44
Tevin Paul, Junior Defensive End, #96
Kuony Deng, Junior Linebacker, #8
Evan Weaver, Senior Linebacker, #89
Traveon Beck, Senior Cornerback, #22
Camryn Bynum, Junior Cornerback, #24
Ashtyn Davis, Senior Safety, #27
Jaylinn Hawkins, Senior Safety, #6
PAC 12 after dark is some of my favorite football. This week, we’re lucky enough to get two of these showdowns. The first is Cal vs. Utah, a game where I could easily see the defenses outscoring the offenses. For Cal, those points could be scored by their elite pair of safeties in Davis and Hawkins, as well as their pair of mid-round linebackers in Paul and Weaver.