Prospect Watch: The Weekend's TV Games

Greg Mastin tells you about the draft prospects playing in this weekend's college football games!


South Florida at Louisville (8:00, ESPN)

Louisville could have a hangover after their heartbreaking loss to the Miami Hurricanes last week, but it shouldn't matter as they should handle South Florida no matter the circumstances. The Cardinals are a surprise team, mainly because they start so many underclassmen. Quarterback Stefan Lefors has quietly put together an outstanding season and a half after replacing Dave Ragone. He is a bit short at 6-0, but could get drafted next spring. Defensively the top player is defensive end Marcus Jones who had 10 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss a year ago. If anyone on the Cardinals will be a top prospect in April, it will be him. The secondary is very young, but senior safeties Brent Johnson and Kerry Rhodes are worth watching.

South Florida doesn't have too many draft prospects. Their best offensive player may be running back Andre Hall who has put up some good numbers both on the ground and catching the ball. He could find a niche at the next level. Defensively they have a sophomore to watch in linebacker Stephen Nicholas. He isn't eligible for the draft, but could be a nice sleeper in a year or two.


Northwestern at #7 Wisconsin (Noon, ESPN)

Running back Anthony Davis is the big name for Wisconsin, having rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in his college career. Three-year starter Jim Leonhard is a talented free safety who can also be very dangerous when returning kicks. If he were a few inches taller he might be a top prospect. As it is, he could be a bargain in the third round or later if teams pass on him because he is 5-8. Defensive end Erasmus James has really emerged as a potential top ten pick. Unfortunately he got hurt in last week's Purdue game and will be out for this game. His partner on the defensive line, Attaj Hawthorne is one of the top defensive tackles in the country and worth watching. The ‘other' defensive end Jonathan Welsh is also a major contributor to the defense. If you want to look at some premier defensive line talent, watch the Badgers.

Iowa at Penn State (Noon, ESPN 2)

Iowa is not as talented as it has been in previous seasons, but features a very talented defensive end in senior Matt Roth. Roth had 10 sacks as a sophomore and 12 as a junior, and seems primed for an excellent senior year. Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway are two junior linebackers to watch with excellent athleticism.

Penn State is suffering through another difficult season. There isn't much talent, at least where the NFL is concerned. Left tackle Levi Brown shows some promise, but he is a red-shirt sophomore and at least a year away.

Boston College at #25 Notre Dame (2:30, NBC)

Notre Dame has had a surprising season. They lost some good prospects last year, and this year are relying on more underclassmen. However they do have two good defensive prospects to watch. Linebacker Derek Curry has good speed and can make plays, and defensive end Justin Tuck opened some eyes with 13.5 sacks as a junior. Both of these guys should get drafted.

B.C. has a couple of underclassmen who could declare if their stock rises high enough (or some agent convinces them it has). Jeremy Trueblood, a huge 6-9, 330 pound left tackle has Ogden size, if not that kind of talent. He's a good one, and if he continues to develop may find himself in the draft. Defensively, junior Mathias Kiwanuka had 11.5 sacks a year ago, and could be one of the top defensive players in the nation this year.

Michigan at Purdue (3:30, ABC)

This should be an outstanding game. Michigan has one of the better wide receiver prospects in Braylon Edwards. Edwards has size, speed, good hands, the works. He should be amongst the top wide receivers in the draft. Typically, Michigan has some quality offensive line prospects, led by the powerful David Baas, who should come off the board early next April. Matt Lentz is also strong and should get drafted. Defensively Marlin Jackson remains one of the top cornerback prospects in college football, and the best player on a good defense.

Any mention of the Boilermakers starts with senior quarterback Kyle Orton. He didn't help himself against Wisconsin. Until the Badgers two starting defensive ends left the game with injuries, Purdue went nowhere, and his fumble late in the game cost them the lead. Still, he is a very good prospect with a lot of talent. Having a tough game against the Badgers is nothing to be ashamed of.

#6 Georgia at Arkansas (7:00, ESPN 2)

Georgia remains in the national championship hunt, and have the prospects to compete for it. David Pollack remains the top prospect from the Bulldogs, one of the top defensive end prospects in the country. Defensive tackle Gerald Anderson is also a solid middle round prospect while safety Thomas Davis is one of the better prospects at his position. Offensively quarterback David Greene has pretty good talent, and looks like a mid-round pick. Wide receivers Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown are also solid prospects who should get drafted.

Arkansas is a young team and won't have much of an impact on the draft next year. Their best prospect is probably defensive tackle Arrion Dixon, and he is rated into the second day.

#9 Texas at #24 Texas Tech (7:00, TBS)

Texas has at least two prospects who should go in the first round. Running back Cedric Benson. Benson has all the athletic skills teams are looking for in a back, but there is always good competition at the position and it seems like backs are always drafted later than they expect. The other top prospect is linebacker Derrick Johnson who could have been the top linebacker drafted in last year's draft, and could be the top LB selected next spring. The Longhorns have a couple of linemen who could figure into the first round also. Junior tackle Jonathon Scott has good footwork and if he gets favorable reviews could come out early. Big defensive tackle Rodrique Wright has the big body that many teams favor to stop the run. Wright is also a junior with a year of eligibility left.

Texas Tech is always tough to gauge when it comes to projecting into the NFL. The offense puts up huge numbers, but generally the talent level isn't as high as the numbers suggest. So while their quarterback and wide receivers are putting up big numbers, their best prospects is probably guard Cody Campbell. A lot of fringe players, who lack either the size or athleticism, but could be late picks or backups at the next level.

#3 Miami at North Carolina State (7:45, ESPN)

Miami is usually a team loaded with NFL-level talent, but last year's bumper crop has left the Hurricanes with a lot of underclassmen, and the jury is still out on many of them. Offensively, the top prospect may have been junior left tackle Eric Winston, but he is out for the year with an injured knee. Guard Chris Myers is worth a look, he is probably the best prospect left now that Winston is out. Junior wide receiver Roscoe Parrish has speed, but at 5-9, isn't likely to be leave school early and be a high pick. Running back Frank Gore has first round talent, but his injury history is a big question mark. Defensively the Hurricanes are trying to replace four first round draft picks, but as usual seem to just be re-loading. Defensive tackles Orien Harris and Santonio Thomas are making the most out of their starting opportunities, and continue to improve their potential draft positions. Certainly cornerback Antrell Rolle is a shutdown cornerback, and should be a top pick.

In what may be a surprise to a lot of people, NC State currently has the number one rated defense in the country. Junior defensive end Manny Lawson has played great, but at his size projects to linebacker, and a small one at that. Andre Maddox is the best in the secondary, which is number one against the pass. Offensively, NC State obviously misses Phillip Rivers. Their two best talents, running back T.A. McClendon and offensive tackle Chris Colmer have battled injuries for much of their career.

Fresno State at Boise State (10:45, ESPN 2)

Fresno State has struggled with a tough schedule, they are 0-2 in the WAC and now get to travel to Idaho to take on the nationally ranked Broncos on the smurf turf. They do have some talent. Defensive tackle Garrett McIntyre came from nowhere as a sophomore to second team all-WAC. If he continues to improve he could make some noise as a senior. On offense, left tackle Logan Mankins was a player to watch last year until a knee injury wiped out his season. He could be a sleeper, and a late round find for some team.

Who is this Boise State team that is ranked in the top 20 and holds the nation's longest winning streak? Well, they're a good football team, but not a great one. They've won four of six at home, haven't really beaten anybody and nearly got beat by a mediocre Tulsa team on the road. Their best player may be cornerback Gabe Franklin. The defense also features some talent in linebacker Andy Avalos and defensive end Julius Roberts. Their most productive offensive player is receiver T.J. Acree who already has six receptions and is averaging over 17 ypc, but at 5-10, 178 faces a long road to the NFL.


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