Prospect Watch: Saturday's Games

Keep an eye on a sleeper offensive tackle in one of the early games...



Northwestern at #9 Michigan (ABC)

Northwestern has been a troublesome team this year, and Michigan will try and avoid an upset in the Big House. The top prospect coming into this year was junior defensive end Loren Howard, but he has struggled with injuries and would be best served returning to school. Senior tailback Noah Herron has emerged as a solid running back prospect with size, good running ability, and good hands. A developing player to watch is junior linebacker Tim McGarigle. He has shown improvement and has been a tackling machine this year.

Michigan is in the top ten and they have the top prospects to go with it. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards has had his ups and downs, but is still considered one of the top prospects at his position. Strong safety Ernest Shazor is having a strong season and should be a first day pick. Cornerback Marlin Jackson has the skill set to be a first round pick. Guard David Baas is one of the top linemen in the country and should be the first true offensive guard off the board. Michigan should be in good shape for a few more years with freshmen Michael Hart and Chad Henne posting terrific seasons.

#13 Boise State at San Jose State (ESPN 2)

Boise State is led by sophomore quarterback Jared Zabransky, he could be a factor in future drafts. Other than Zabransky this team doesn't have any great prospects, they just have a good team that plays very well together. Senior kicker Tyler Jones has a good leg and may find himself in a training camp next summer.

San Jose State doesn't have much in the way of prospects. Junior linebacker Ezekiel Staples is a good player, but at his size would have to project at safety at the next level. A better player to keep an eye on is junior defensive end Tony Ficklin. Ficklin has 13 sacks already this season. He's a little short, but has decent size.

#19 Iowa at Minnesota (ESPN)

Iowa is into the top twenty mainly due to their defense. Linebackers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway are both excellent junior prospects. Senior defensive linemen Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux have seven and six sacks respectively. Roth was expected to put up big numbers, but Babineaux is a surprise and should move up. He has been more disruptive and has 15 tackles for loss already this season.

Minnesota has a few prospects worth watching. Running back Marion Barber has talent, even though he's had to share the spotlight with sophomore Laurence Maroney. Center Greg Eslinger has talent and should be a decent pick in the early to middle rounds.


Pitt at Notre Dame (NBC)

Pitt has a solid record and should give the Irish a good game. They lack in top prospects, however watch offensive tackle Rob Petitti, he's a four year starter at left tackle with very good size. He should be a first day pick.

Notre Dame has one top prospect, junior defensive end Justin Tuck. He has six sacks and thirteen tackles for loss in nine games. They don't have too many other prospects, but they do have some intriguing players. Defensive tackle Greg Pauly has shown improvement and could have a future playing on Sundays. Big linebacker Mike Goolsby has returned from a season-long injury to lead the Irish in tackles, and if he is sound medically, will get a lot of looks.


#5 Georgia at #3 Auburn (CBS)

This is certainly the game of the week. Auburn is trying to win out and get into the BCS championship game, as is Georgia, although the Bulldogs need more help. As befitting a game of this magnitude, both teams have several players whose names could be announced early on draft day.

Georgia is led by quarterback David Greene, and while he may not play every series, he has the skillset the NFL looks for. He will get drafted in the middle of the pack. Receivers Fred Gibson and Reggie Brown are both talented and will get picked fairly early. Defensive end David Pollack is having another outstanding season and looks to carry a first round grade. The Bulldogs also have a few underclassmen who could beef up the talent next April. Defensive tackle Gerald Anderson could be a first round pick, and other defensive talents safety Thomas Davis and linebacker Odell Thurman have first day talent. On offense, junior tackle Max Jean-Gilles also has first day ability.

Auburn is led by their fearsome running attack featuring Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. Williams seems to be a little better than Brown, but both could go in the first two rounds. Cornerback Carlos Rogers has developed as scouts had hoped, and with his length will be in the mix on the first day. Tackle Marcus McNeill is a big bruiser who also might be a first day pick, if he comes out early.

#4 Wisconsin at Michigan State (ABC)

Wisconsin is trying to run the Big Ten table and with help could sneak into the BCS championship game. They are led by their formidable defensive line. Defensive end Erasmus James has exploded as a senior and is considered a viable top pick prospect at this early stage. Defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne should join James in the first round, while the other defensive end Jonathan Welsh has fed off the talent enough that he could go in the middle rounds. Running back Anthony Davis is very talented, but a bit undersized, and could slide further than his talent would indicate.

Michigan State is led defensively by linebacker Ron Stanley. He is a three-year starter and has really stepped up this year to the point he could be a mid-round pick. Free safety Jason Harmon has had a good year and should get drafted. Offensively there isn't a lot to be excited about. The best prospect for this coming draft might be kicker Dave Rayner, who could get some camp invites.

Ohio State at Purdue (ESPN)
Ohio State is a young team, with its top prospects coming from the underclass ranks. Two linebackers who could leave school early with the right grade are AJ Hawk and Anthony Schlegel. Kicker Mike Nugent could be a first day pick if he continues to kick well.

Talk about falling off the map. Once considered as a potential BCS team, the Boilermakers now find themselves unranked. Still, quarterback Kyle Orton has the potential to be a first or second round pick, along with his favorite target, wide receiver Taylor Stubblefield.

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