After some thought, I realized this weekly installment was feeling entirely too repetitive, with the same teams and prospects appearing week to week. So, below you will find many new teams that haven’t previously been featured. As always, you can communicate with me via Twitter with questions, critiques, or opinions.
3:30 pm EST on Big Ten Network
Purdue vs Minnesota
This game is a showdown of two ST prospects, with Purdue’s Kawann Short (#93/6’3/315) drawing most of the attention and praise. Admittedly, I am not Short’s biggest fan. There are flashes there and many will point to his snaps at both tackle and end, but unless he is winning from both spots it cannot be considered versatility. After a few solid performances early in the season, Short has been losing at the point of attack and failing to shed in recent weeks. He, along with junior DT Bruce Gaston (#90/6’2/305), will face off against T Ed Olson (#58/6’7/320) and the Gophers front five. This Minnesota offense has gone through a bit of a change recently, with QB/WR MarQueis Gray (#5/6’4/250) now lining up at receiver after returning from a brutal leg injury. Opposite the formation, WR Brandon Green (#1/6’0/190) will hold down the fort, but the Boilermakers have two stout CBs in Josh Johnson (#28/5’11/195) and junior CB Ricardo Allen (#21/5’9/175).
The Purdue offense is doing some shuffling themselves and continue to rotate QB Caleb TerBush (#19/6’5/225) and QB Robert Marve (#9/6’1/210), although the latter did not play last week. RB Ralph Bolden (#23/5’9/190) has returned from three ACL injuries and has played the last two weeks, but his success is very dependent on C Rick Schmeig (#76/6’3/320) and G Peters Drey (#67/6’6/310). Junior DT Ra’Shede Hageman (#99/6’5/302) may be the Gophers top prospect, and although I may be alone here, he could jump Short with his continued success. He and DE D.L. Wilhite (#95/6’3/245) can keep blockers off ILB Mike Rallis (#26/6’2/245), OLB Spencer Reeves (#8/6’2/225), and OLB Keanon Cooper (#4/6’0/220). Downfield, watch for WR Antavian Edison (#13/5’11/175) to line up against CB Troy Stoudermire (#2/5’10/195) or CB Kyle Henderson (#14/5’11/185).
junior FS Brock Vereen (#21/6’0/195)
3:30 pm EST on ESPN3
Kent St. vs Rutgers
The heart of this game comes down to Kent St.’s offense against Rutgers’ stout defense. QB Spencer Keith (#3/6’3/221) will be under center for the Golden Flashes, and his number one priority should be getting the ball to his playmaker, redshirt junior RB/WR Dri Archer (#1/5’8/175). Archer is one of the least publicized productive players in the country and he does it from a variety of spots: returner, running back, and receiver. Expect excellent OLB Khaseem Greene (#20/6’1/230) to follow him out of the backfield, while junior CB Logan Ryan (#11/6’0/190) should draw the matchup when Archer starts in the slot. Greene has been a revelation this season, taking that next step from good to great. T Brian Winters (#66/6’6/294) is a mauling, gritty prospect that projects best to guard, but will have his hands full against DT Scott Vallone (#94/6’3/278).
There may not be a better duo of redshirt sophomores, offensively, than Rutgers RB Jawan Jamison (#23/5’8/200) and WR Brandon Coleman (#17/6’5/220). Jamison is extremely explosive on his cuts, consistently making tacklers miss at the second level, and could be the top rated running back if he declares. Coleman doesn't have the blazing speed, but his build and sure hands help him make plays in every single game. TE D.C. Jefferson (#10/6’5/258) is another prospect that could be better in the NFL than in college. Kent St. junior OLB Roosevelt Nix (#5/5’11/245) is the only real prospect for the team on that side of the ball, so T RJ Dill (#76/6’7/300) will have his hands full.
ILB Steve Beauharnais (#42/6’2/235)
SS Duron Harmon (#32/6’1/201)
WR Mark Harrison (#81/6’3/230)
CB Brandon Jones (#25/6’0/186)
5:30 pm EST on ESPN
Ohio State vs Penn State
Who would have thought the Nittany Lions would have this kind of success this season? However, with neither program able to qualify for postseason games, this could be considered a mid-season bowl. The Buckeyes offense has sputtered in recent weeks, barely clawing out wins on that side of the ball. Sophomore Braxton Miller has practice problem free after a scary neck injury, and he should be fairly safe behind a overachieving offensive line, led by T Reid Fragel (#77/6’6/298) and junior T Jack Mewhort (#74/6’5/310). After Devon Still graduated to the NFL, DT Jordan Hill (#47/6’1/290) was expected to take the next step, and although he has in some ways, I wouldn't be surprised if G Marcus Hall (#79/6’5/317) and junior G Andrew Norwell (#78/6’5/305) limit his production. Miller loves to leave the pocket, and with a limited rushing attack due to injuries, expect OLB Gerald Hodges (#6/6’2/235) and ILB Michael Mauti (#42/6’2/235) to spy the athletic QB. We preferred Hodges prior to this season, but Mauti has made an incredible return from leg injuries and along with being the soul of the defense, the senior is technically sound and sniffs out misdirection before it happens. As always, keep an eye on TE turned WR Jake Stoneburner (#11/6’5/245).
The Buckeyes continue to deal with injuries along their linebacker spots, so they moved DE Nathan Williams (#43/6’3/250) to outside linebacker, where he struggled in pass coverage, and FB/LB Zach Boren (#44/6’0/245) to inside, which has only added to his versatility due to positive play. Expect the Nittany Lions to try and keep these out of position players on the field on passing downs, either with a fast pace or play action. QB Matt McGloin (#11/6’1/200) has looked better this season, but the rest of the group is quite young. DE John Simon (#54/6’2/260) continues to be relentless off the edge, while junior DT Johnathan Hankins (#52/6’3/320) is still showing tremendous flashes of dominance.
LB Etienne Sabino (#6/6’3/238) out
CB Travis Howard (#7/6’1/196)
CB Bradley Roby (#1/5’11/190)
RB Jordan Hall (#7/5’9/198) out
S Orhian Johnson (#19/6’2/210)
DT Garrett Goebel (#53/6’3/285)
S C.J. Barnett (#4/6’0/202) junior
C Matt Stankiewitch (#54/6’3/300)
DE Pete Massaro (#59/6’4/265)
FB Michael Zordich (#9/6’1/240)
junior G John Urschel (#64/6’3/290)
junior G Miles Dieffenbach (#65/6’3/290)
DE Sean Stanley (#90/6’1/245)
junior OLB Mike Hull (#43/6’0/215)
CB Stephon Morris (#12/5’8/190)
8:30 pm EST on ESPN
Mississippi State vs Alabama
Despite being close in the polls, the Bulldogs are significant underdogs to the Crimson Tide. As always, it is difficult to not start with the Alabama ground and pound attack. Despite the lack of accolades, we consider G Chance Warmack (#65/6’2/323) to be the Tide’s best prospect. C Barrett Jones (#75/6’4/305) and junior T D.J. Fluker(#76/6’6/335) draw more attention, but the entire unit works to create push. After Fletcher Cox departed to the NFL, DT Josh Boyd (#97/6’3/300) has been asked to penetrate on the interior, but has had limited success. OLB Cameron Lawrence (#10/6’2/230) should be seeing a heavy dose of junior RB Eddie Lacy (#42/5’10/220) against the run and underrated inline TE Michael Williams (#89/6’5/272). Junior QB AJ McCarron (#10/6’3/210) has shed the “game manager” label and has been given more freedom in the offense. However, he will square off against the best senior CB in the country in Johnthan Banks (#13/6’1/185). Our own Alen Dumonjic did a report on Banks. Opposite Banks, the Bulldogs will deploy CB Darius Slay (#9/6’1/190), another NFL prospect who started the season red hot.
McCarron isn’t the only quarterback in this game that has surprised this season, as junior QB Tyler Russell (#17/6’4/220) has looked composed, confident, and consistent all year long. Expect S Robert Lester (#37/6’2/212) and junior CB Dee Milliner (#28/6’1/198) to watch Russell’s eyes, since the junior tends to stare down downfield targets. Up front, junior G Gabe Jackson (#61/6’4/320) is one of the top draft-eligible interior linemen, but DT Jesse Williams (#54/6’3/320) is a tough assignment. Also, awaiting at the second level is the interior hammer LB Nico Johnson (#35/6’2/245) and the rangy junior LB C.J. Mosley (#32/6’2/232). Previously, Mosley had only been a passing down type prospect, but he has really come on this season as a more complete player.
CB Corey Broomfield (#25/5’10/180)
junior FS Nickoe Whitley (#5/6’1/205)
junior C Dillon Day (#63/6’4/300)
WR Chad Bumphis (#1/5’10/200)
junior OLB Deontae Skinner (#51/6’2/245)
DE Damion Square (#92/6’3/282)
DE Quinton Dial (#90/6’5/304)
junior H-back Jalston Fowler (#45/6’0/242) out
G Anthony Steen (#61/6’3/303)
WR Kevin Norwood (#83/6’1/195)
DE Ed Stinson (#49/6’4/282)