Pro Football Focus ranks North Carolina senior WR Mack Hollins as the No. 5 draft-eligible receiver.
Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo sees Hollins as a prototypical size/speed prospect. "Hollins gets on cornerbacks quickly with his long strides and he can break down and run the intermediate route or run right by them for big plays," Palazzolo wrote. Hollins posted a superb 24.8 ypr last season. "Hollins needs to do a better job of catching the ball as he dropped six of 36 catchable targets last season," Palazzolo concluded. "If he can be a bigger part of UNC’s offense from a volume standpoint, we could see similar production to Mike Evans in his last year at Texas A&M when he emerged as one of the nation’s top receivers."
Louisville redshirt junior DL DeAsian Richardson (ACL) is fully healthy.
Richardson redshirted in 2013, saw limited action in 2014 and then tore his ACL prior to last season playing basketball. Louisville intends to use Richardson as a 6-foot-3, 320-pound run-stopping end. The former four-star recruit has practiced consistently with the first-team defense and will likely join NT DeAngelo Brown and DE Drew Bailey in the Wk. 1 starting lineup as the Cards attempt to replace departed starting ends Sheldon Rankins and Pio Vatuvei. Richardson has already lost 15 pounds from his listed weight of 335 and intends to lose another 10 pounds.
UNLV coach Tony Sanchez says the quarterback competition between juniors Kurt Palandech and Johnny Stanton will extend into the season.
Palandech was starter Blake Decker's backup last year, but he ended up playing about just as much. Stanton is a former four-star Nebraska recruit who played at Saddleback College in California last year. "It’s one of those deals that if you need to let it play itself out and wait, then you wait. You don’t rush the decision, because the decision’s going to have a major impact on the season," said Sanchez. "I’ll be honest with you, as of today, both guys are going to play in Game 1. I think one guy’s going to be named the starter and he’ll start to get the majority of the reps. But you’re going to see whoever the No. 2 is at some point in the first half."
ESPN's Todd McShay ranks Minnesota redshirt senior QB Mitch Leidner No. 6 among quarterbacks in the 2017 draft.
Apparently McShay and Mel Kiper got a chance to go back and check out the film after their Spring of Leidner hype fest. Back then, Kiper was pushing Leidner as a potential surprise first-rounder and McShay mocked the 6-foot-4, 237-pounder No. 25 overall. McShay now gives Leidner a "62" scouting grade, a Day 3-type grade that placed Leidner just ahead of Baker Mayfield. "Leidner does not have a big arm, but he can improve his ball velocity by getting his lower body more involved in his throws," McShay wrote. "He plays in a zone-read-heavy run offense and is a competitive runner with above-average vision, speed and toughness. Leidner hung tough in the pocket behind an offensive line that struggled to protect. He has elite intangibles."
South Carolina redshirt freshman WR Christian Owens will transfer.
No word as to why Owens has decided to leave the program, nor where he might eventually land as he looks to continue his collegiate career. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound wideout was a four-star recruit for the 2015 cycle by ESPN's grades. Consider this a minor depth blow and little more. South Carolina will begin its quest to rebound from last year's lost campaign when it kicks off against Vanderbilt on Thursday.
Clemson junior QB Deshaun Watson indicated that he is not worried about the NFL Draft at this juncture.
"I'm not focused on it. If a franchise wants me, they'll take me. But I'm trying to win a national championship here," Watson said. Despite the big looming payday, Watson has no plans on playing more conservatively to avoid being hit or potentially injured. OC Jeff Scott noted that the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder "has no concerns or worry at all when we call his number to run the ball," but did add that injury concern is "obviously something we're conscious about." Watson tore his ACL in 2014, wore a knee brace last season and will do so again for the coming campaign.
Washington HC Chris Petersen said that there is "a chance" that junior S Budda Baker could be utilized on offense in the season-opener.
To just what extent Petersen is considering using Baker on offense is unknown, but the Huskies have a digestible early schedule which could be used as something of a sandbox as Petersen tinkers around. Their first three games come against Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. After that they open conference play with a considerably more difficult Arizona-Stanford-Oregon combo. The 5-foot-10, 176-pound Baker played exclusively on the defensive side last season, recording 49 tackles (1.5 for loss) and two interceptions in 11 games. Those numbers have room to rise if he can stay healthy. As a freshman in 2014, he registered 80 tackles.
Mississippi State HC Dan Mullen indicated that he is not set on his starting quarterback for the coming season.
Mullen did let on that the competition had narrowed down to redshirt sophomore Nick Fitzgerald and junior Damian Williams, but he isn't ready to name a starter among the pair and said that the Bulldogs will likely play two quarterbacks against South Alabama. "I’m not trying to be deceptive and I was wanting complete clarity and having a defined No. 1," Mullen explained. "But I don’t think there is one yet so I plan on us playing more than one (quarterback) in the first quarter." They should be able to breeze to a win over South Alabama in the opener regardless of who helms the ship, but LSU shows on their schedule just two weeks later. They play South Carolina in-between those two contests.