It was an exciting weekend of college football that stretched into the early morning hours on Sunday back east. Several games, which came down to the wire, had national title implications. There were a number of outstanding efforts by next level prospects even in losing efforts. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week three.
Leonard Floyd/OLB/Georgia: I’ve been a proponent of Floyd since his freshman campaign and believe he’s one of the most dominant defenders in the nation when hitting on all cylinders. We got a glimpse of that against South Carolina. Floyd was not only unstoppable up the field (1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and several pressures) but looked nasty in space making plays in coverage or hunting down ball carriers in pursuit. Floyd smartly followed the recommendations of scouts who told him to return to Georgia after a lackluster finish the 2014 season. I’m told family members are presently vetting agents in anticipation of his move into next April’s draft.
Desmond King/CB/Iowa: Naming King as a riser could seem like a contradiction considering the next player on this list but there’s no denying he came out on top when lined up across Tyler Boyd. Except for a few crossing patterns the junior did a terrific job shutting down Boyd and picked off two passes, including one in the end zone as Pittsburgh was driving to take the lead in the first quarter. King also made several nice plays up the field against screen passes and the running plays, totaling eight tackles for the game. While I am concerned about his measurables there’s no doubting King has starting potential on Sunday’s in the proper system.
Tyler Boyd/WR/Pittsburgh: Boyd displayed why so many are high on his next level potential. Against a tough Iowa secondary he accounted for 10 of the 21 receptions Pittsburgh totaled and finished with 131-receiving yards. He caught passes down the flanks, across the middle and even a few receiver screens to make sure the ball got into his hands. Though I wonder about his true computer numbers there’s no doubt Boyd has the ability to impact at the next level.
Cody Core/WR/Mississippi: I could probably fill the risers list with a handful of Ole Miss players after their impressive victory over Alabama for a second straight season, but I’m going with Core. The senior, graded as a late round prospect by scouts, stands in the shadows of teammate LaQuon Treadwell but is very much a next level receiver. Core is faster than Treadwell and displayed speed on Saturday, averaging just under 31 yards on four receptions, one which went 73 yards for a score. He comes with big play ability, better than average size and in the end Core could surprise on draft day.
Andrew Adams/S/Connecticut: UConn performed much better than anyone imagined, holding Missouri’s explosive offense to just 9 points and 291-yards of total offense on the road. Adams exemplified their efficient, heady play on defense despite his team’s loss. Posting just 3 tackles for the afternoon, he was constantly around the action, making plays sideline to sideline in coverage and against the run. He’s a legitimate late round choice that can help at the next level as a dime back/special teamer.
*Sleeper* Steven Daniels/ILB/Boston College: Daniels is another defender who stood out during defeat. The run stopping linebacker totaled 7 tackles with 2 for loss as Boston College held Florida State to just 98 yards rushing. Daniels, who was ignored by scouts entering the season, has enough talent to get consideration as a back-up linebacker in a 3-4 alignment.
*Small School Prospect* Torian White/T/Hampton: White, you may remember, was a standout at UCLA before being dismissed from the program for sexual misconduct. He reappeared last year at Hampton and has looked impressive in the early going this season. This year White looks in better shape and much more dominant. Against rival Howard, he controlled every and anyone he got his hands on. I was not only impressed with the lineman’s build but the mechanics he consistently plays with. White was given a late round grade by scouts but the versatility to play several positions on the offensive line coupled with his upside could push him into the middle rounds.
Jihad Ward/DE/Illinois: Despite pedestrian production in 2014, Ward was viewed by scouts as a solid last day pick but he’s been slow out of the gate. Illinois opened the season against a pair of IAA opponents but Ward has yet to register a sack this year. During Saturday’s loss to North Carolina he finished with just four tackles.
Chaz Elder/S/South Carolina: Early in his college career I put Elder on my watch list. The past two seasons I’ve watch his game regress. During the blowout loss to Georgia he showed little in the way of instincts or overall awareness and finished the game with a single tackle. Elder teases scouts; he looks the part and flashes ability but displays little in the way of consistency.
Keith Lumpkin/T/Rutgers: Some on the outside believe Lumpkin is draftable but against Penn State he looked like nothing more than a street free agent. Lumpkin is a big bodied lineman who does not bend his knees, cannot slide in space and shows little in the way of finishing strength.
We could be seeing the development of the next top defensive line prospect from the Florida Gators program. Red-shirt junior Alex McCalister was a one man wrecking crew against Kentucky, totaling two tackles for loss, two sacks and one quarterback hurry. McCalister, who posted six sacks a year ago, is a long, nimble athlete with the ability to bend off the edge and disrupt the action. The Gators upcoming schedule includes Ole Miss (Laremy Tunsil), LSU (Jerald Hawkins) and Georgia (John Theus) and will be marking points for McCalister’s development.
Scouts out west have been raving about Utah running back Devontae Booker. The senior ran for 156 yards and 2 scores against Fresno State this weekend after 120-yards and 1 touchdown versus Utah State the prior game. He’s an explosive one-cut ball carrier with excellent size. Right now the word on Booker is somewhere in round two.
Kudos to Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, a week one slider who played mistake free football in helping the Cardinal pull an upset over USC. He was on the mark with his decision making and passes, moving Stanford’s offense down the field on almost every drive. Hence therein lies a major part of the problem; for all the arm talent Hogan is very inconsistent as a passer and quarterback. As Stanford moves into the meat of their conference schedule Hogan now has the opportunity to prove the victory over USC was not a one-off performance.