On the Ole Miss side, quarterback Eli Manning is a fourth-year junior and
rumors abound that he'll leave early and enter the draft. It's not in
keeping with the way his father Archie likes to go about business (see Peyton
Manning) but Eli is scheduled to graduate in May. He's always been something
of a rebel as far as Manning diligence is concerned, but that may be good for
the 6-4, 205-pounder (sorry, all numbers right now are Kiper's). Early reports
have Manning as a possible mid to late first-rounder if he does come out, but my
gut tells me he'd be top 10. See for yourself this afternoon.
Nebraska has an interesting prospect in defensive end Chris Kelsay (6-3 ½,
257), younger brother of former Steelers linebacker Chad Kelsay. Chris has
always been the more highly touted of the two and is expected back for this game
after missing four with a hamstring injury. Possible 3-4 backer? It's probably
not a Steelers first-round need and this guy's a first-rounder.
Prediction off the cuff, Nebraska 27-24.
Two of the best players in the nation are playing in this one – Terence
Newman and Terrell Suggs. Newman (5-11, 185) is a cover corner for Kansas State.
He's a football player who happens to excel on the track. Suggs (6-4 ½, 250)
is a defensive end for Arizona State and the word is he could be a 3-4
linebacker. He's a junior who's expected to leave early, but after breaking
an NCAA record with 22 sacks, he'd again go too early to suit the Steelers'
As for the game, one scout calls this the best Kansas State team ever. My
friend at the Post-Gazette, Terry Shields, is never wrong and he gave me Kansas
State. So it's unanimous, K-State, 42-14.
Well, that's West Virginia, but not Famous Amos. It's Avon Cobourne, the
new West Virginia rushing king, and at 5-8, 181 he's the same height but 22
pounds lighter than the current Steelers halfback.
Cobourne has obviously been productive, but he may not be as fast as Zereoue.
That's the only way he has a chance.
As for Virginia, it's a team to watch. Their last two recruiting classes
are drawing pro raves.
Couple runners here, but Colorado's Chris Brown is the one to watch. If
healthy, this 6-2 ½, 224-pounder reminds scouts of Eddie George (6-3, 240),
only quicker. But there was a question about George that caused him to fall
behind Lawrence Phillips and Tim Biakabatuka to 14th in the 1996
draft, that being his upright running style. Brown takes on the same concern,
and if you're not as strong as George that's a problem. Brown also is rapped
for catching only 11 passes in two seasons. Maybe they don't throw to him.
Maybe he could use another year in college (transferred from Northwestern to
follow Gary Barnett) to get stronger. Maybe he says screw it, comes out early
and falls to, say, 28th. I like this guy a lot. Wanna see more.
As for a prediction, I have Wisconsin plus the touchdown and I don't know
why. Maybe it's because I believe Colorado to be unhappy with its lot in bowl
Music City Bowl – Arkansas vs. Minnesota
Top senior running back for run-oriented Arky is Cedric Cobbs, but he has
character issues. Minnesota has been a killer this year because of great stats
and little heart, but rugged Razorpigs are giving a few too many, Arkansas,
Wake has been a tremendous running dog the last couple of years. They have to
have some pro talent somewhere on that O-line. But neither that nor Oregon
receiver Samie Parker interests a Steelers fan at this time.
Gotta go with Wake here. They've been lovable pups the last few years,
Kimo von Oelhoffen's alma mater averages 52 points per game on the famous
blue rug that will host this game. A 6-0 junior quarterback by the name of Ryan
Dinwiddie runs the show for Boise State.
It's not much of a team, but Iowa State has the game's centerpiece in
quarterback Seneca Wallace. He's not quite 6-0 but scouts love his athletic
ability in much the way they liked Antwaan Randle El last year, but many feel
Wallace can play quarterback in the NFL. He's supposed to be the next Doug
Flutie or something. We'll see. Boise State, 52-45.
Washington quarterback Cody Pickett (6-3, 209) is a junior who set a Pac-10
passing record with 4,186 passing yards this season. He did it without a running
game, and he'll be under fire from Purdue's underrated defense. Washington
has a nice quarterback lineage going with Brunell, Hobert, Tuiasosopo, and now
this guy. Washington, 21-20.
The school that gave the Steelers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans has a good
running back named Cecil Sapp. If you question the validity of WAC/Mountain
rushing stats, look no further than Marshall Faulk. But Sapp (5-11, 222) not
only powered his way through the weak defenses of the WAC, he impressed scouts
in games against UCLA, Louisville and Virginia. Steelers
farm club, 20-17.
Chan Gailey had two of his best players injured this season and it really
hurt the Yellow Jackets, but they were good enough to make a bowl game. The
former Steelers coordinator, who went to the '97 AFC title game with
quarterback Kordell Stewart, is still looking for a mobile quarterback at Tech.
Fresno State, 30-27.
To be continued New Year's Eve.