Quite possibly the number one defensive tackle prospect heading towards the draft, Haloti Ngata was key in Oregon's 27-20 overtime win against California. Ngata had a game high 11 tackles, including one tackle for loss, while also batting away two passes. A large interior lineman with surprising athleticism, Ngata is leaning towards entering the draft and could be a top 12 pick next April.
For 36-consecutive games the Kansas Jayhawks lost to the Nebraska Cornhuskers. That was until Saturday when Kansas upended their Big 12 rival 40-15. Through it all a pair of Jayhawk defenders looked good.
Charlton Keith posted eight tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack from his defensive end position. Those numbers helped pave the way for Keith to earn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. An undersized pass rusher who moved into the starting line-up this year, he leads the team with 18-tackles for loss, also tallying eight sacks this season. It is likely Keith will get late round consideration as either a conventional 4-3 defensive end or possibly at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Jayhawk cornerback Charles Gordon has had an outstanding year on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Named as one of 12 semifinalists for the '05 Jim Thorpe Award, handed annually to college football's top defensive back, Gordon has shut down opponents all season long. Lining up at receiver as well, he's caught 20-passes with two scores this year. Adding to his production, Gordon has averaged 10.6-yards on 35 punt returns. Just a junior, there is a good chance he opts for the draft and becomes a top-45 selection.
The Big Ten also saw several top performances by defensive players.
After recording 13 tackles in the Wildcats one-point victory over Iowa, Tim McGarigle now becomes Northwestern's all-time leader in tackles. An unsung hero- McGarigle has moved into the draft's middle frames.
Ohio State held the Illinois offense scoreless during their 40-2 victory Saturday. Much of the reason had to due with the ten tackle\two sack performance of A.J. Hawk. There is a feeling amongst some NFL scouts that Hawk may have surpassed Iowa's Chad Greenway as the top linebacker in next April's draft.
UAB quarterback Darrell Hackney completed 25-of-42 passes, throwing for 334-yards and four touchdowns as the Blazers beat conference rival Memphis to keep their slim bowl hopes alive. Standing as the league's top signal caller, Hackney is averaging 324-passing yards per game, completing a very impressive 65.5% of his throws. In what was a make-or-break year for him, Hackney is leaving a positive impression on NFL scouts.
Vying for a first ever bowl berth during their initial campaign in the Big East, South Florida won a high-scoring affair over Rutgers. The star of the game was highly rated running back Andre Hall. Named Big East Offensive Player of the Week, Hall rushed for 168 yards on 35 carries and scored three times. In surpassing the 2,000 career yard mark during the game, Hall set a USF record for total touchdowns in a career (23) and tied the school record for career rushing touchdowns (20). Considered by scouts as a situational runner or third down back at the next level, he has solidified himself as a middle round selection in April.
Quite possibly to most underrated receiver in the country, Northern Illinois senior Sam Hurd hauled in 12-catches for a school-record 266 yards during the Huskies crucial 31-28 win over Central Michigan. Included in the total were three touchdown receptions. Thus far on the season Hurd has doubled his reception totals from a year ago, tripled his receiving yardage and increased his touchdown catches almost four-fold. A well sized wide-out with marginal speed, Hurd looks like a solid late round choice who could nicely fit in as a fourth receiver in the NFL.
Were there a bright spot during UCLA's shocking loss to Arizona last Saturday, it was tight end Marcedes Lewis. Posting a season high 11-receptions for 131-receiving yards and two scores, Lewis has already improved his production more than 50% over last season with two games left in 2005. Fast workout times prior to next April's draft will push the talented Lewis into the draft's top 45-selections.