Head 2 Head Spotlight: Hughes vs. Spiller

Scout.com's Chris Steuber profiles two of the top prospects in the country, TCU DE Jerry Hughes and Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, as the two teams prepare to face each other for the first time since 1965. Steuber also tells you what NFL teams will scout Saturday's contest, and ranks the other top prospects playing in this game.

# 15 TCU (2-0) at Clemson (2-1)
Saturday, September 26th at 3:30 p.m.

SCOUTING REPORT


Hughes has 4.5 sacks in two games and is looking for more against Clemson.
TCU Athletics

Jerry Hughes is a tweener who can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up; he's best suited to play OLB in a 3-4 defense at the next level. He has a quick first step and is tough to control off the edge. He plays with great leverage and suddenness, and changes direction fluidly while in pursuit. He possesses a solid repertoire of moves and is able to get off blocks consistently with his high motor and tenacity on the field. He gets good depth on his drops and is able to cover a large area because of his athleticism.

Draft Projection: 1st - 2nd Round

C.J. Spiller is an explosive, big play threat who can impact a game in a variety of ways. He's patient with the ball in his hands, allows blockers to set up in front of him, quickly recognizes a crease and displays a burst that ultimately leads to big gains. He's shifty in the open field and is tough to tackle in space. He's a polished receiver out of the backfield and provides the quarterback with a reliable target who can take it the distance. He's an elusive return specialist and strikes fear into the opposition with his ability to create. With the multitude of ways that Spiller is used, durability will always be an issue, and it has been during his career with the Tigers. But when he's healthy, he's a dangerous weapon.

Draft Projection: 1st - 2nd Round

HEAD 2 HEAD

Not since 1965 have TCU and Clemson faced one another, and it's an interesting battle to say the least, as two of college football's premier prospects get set to face one another.


Spiller has been incredible on special teams in the early going, and is a threat every time he has the ball in his hands.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Hughes, who had a sensational junior campaign where he recorded 52 tackles, 19.5 for a loss, 15 sacks and two interceptions, is off to a dominant start, and through two games he already has 16 tackles, 5.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. Known for his ability as a pass rusher, Hughes has improved his tackling ability, and in TCU's season opener at Virginia, he recorded 11 of his 16 total tackles; he also had 1.5 sacks against Virginia. But last week, against a much lesser opponent in North Texas, Hughes erupted and collected three sacks. With Clemson's starting left tackle, junior Chris Hairston, being a game time decision, it's possible that backup Cory Lambert will have to try and contain Hughes off the edge. But with the way Hughes is playing right now, it won't matter who lines up in front of him; he's on a mission and is out to prove he's a complete defensive end and not just a pass rusher.

For Clemson to be successful against TCU, Spiller has to have an impact on offense and special teams. The best senior runner in the nation and possibly the most electrifying return specialist in the country, Spiller has been amazing in Clemson's first three games on special teams, averaging 36.4 yards on punt returns and 40.2 yards on kick returns, and has returned a punt (77 yards) and kickoff (96 yards) for a touchdown. On offense, Spiller has been good, but he's been bothered by a couple of injuries of late, including turf toe. But even when he isn't at 100-percent, he can still score points from anywhere on the field. Even though he missed the second half of the Middle Tennessee State game with an injury, he's still been productive and has carried the ball 41 times for 188 yards; he also has five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. But it won't be easy for Spiller on Saturday, as TCU's defense is one of the stingiest in the nation and has only allowed 87 yards rushing in two games.

PROSPECTIVE SCOUTING

Scout.com has confirmed that representatives from the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will travel to Death Valley to scout Hughes and Spiller, along with the other top prospects at TCU and Clemson.

PROSPECT WATCH

In addition to Hughes and Spiller, here’s a list of prospects – in ranked order - from each team that scouts will focus on during Saturday’s game:

TCU

Seniors:

1. Daryl Washington, LB
2. Rafael Priest, CB
3. Joseph Turner, RB
4. Nick Sanders, CB
5. Marshall Newhouse, OG

Juniors:

1. Marcus Cannon, OT
2. Andy Dalton, QB
3. Tejay Johnson, FS
4. Jeremy Kerley, WR
5. Bart Johnson, WR
6. Jake Kirkpatrick, C
7. Alex Ibiloye, DB


Clemson

Seniors:

1. Ricky Sapp, DE/OLB
2. Jacoby Ford, WR
3. Crezdon Butler, CB
4. Thomas Austin, OG
5. Chris Chancellor, CB
6. Cory Lambert, OT

Juniors:

1. DeAndre McDaniel, S
2. Jarvis Jenkins, DT
3. Marcus Gilchrist, CB
4. Chris Hairston, OT (game time decision; knee injury)
5. Byron Maxwell, CB



A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.


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