It was a rather blasé weekend of college games before the dam broke open on the west coast. The breaking news out of southern California was the quick end to the coaching career of Steve Sarkisian at USC. In this week’s edition of Risers and Sliders we also have news on the teams signal caller.
Eric Striker/LB/Oklahoma: While Texas got a much needed win at the expense of the Sooners, Striker displayed why so many teams like him. He finished the contest with 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss as well as 1 quarterback hurry and displayed a terrific overall game. Striker plays vicious football and was very good up the field on the blitz but at the same time possesses solid instincts and too his credit showed a lot of discipline in coverage. Size (6-feet/.5 inches tall and under 220lbs) is a limiting factor and will knock Striker off a number of boards but in the proper system he can be a playmaker on Sunday’s.
De’Vondre Campbell/OLB/Minnesota: I’ve stated my affection for Campbell since the summer and he continues to impress. Against a pass oriented Purdue offense Campbell finished with 7 tackles, 1 interception and 1 pass broken up. He presently sits third on the Gophers defense with 32 tackles in six games. Campbell is an athletic 6-foot/3-inches and 240+ pounds, shows exceptional skill playing in space and accords himself well as a three down defender.
Willie Henry/DL/Michigan: The results of interior defensive linemen from the Michigan program have been mixed on the NFL level. Many watched their draft stock plummet in the months leading up to April or never met expectations at the next level. Hopefully neither category applies to Henry over the next few years and when on his game he can be a difference maker, as was displayed against Northwestern. The redshirt junior finished with 2 sacks as well as 2.5 tackles for loss and was omnipresent behind the line of scrimmage. Consistency is key as Henry disappears for stretches but has shown the ability to impact the line of scrimmage.
John Theus/OL/Georgia: For the most part its Georgia’s star running backs who all the attention but the program has placed several good offensive linemen into the NFL and Theus is next in line. The Bulldogs left tackle is an efficient lineman who plays smart, strong football. He’s an outstanding run blocker possessing the power necessary to drive defenders off the line and at the same time uses effective body positioning to seal the edge in pass protection. Theus needs to fine tune his mechanics (he sets with a narrow base) and he may be better off at right tackle or possibly inside at guard on Sunday’s but offers a good amount of upside for the next level.
Eddie Jackson/CB/Alabama: The Tide continues to produce a never-ending stream of talented defensive backs and Jackson will continue the tradition. After missing the ’14 season with a knee injury Jackson returned this year looking stronger and even better. Against Arkansas the junior picked off his third interception of the season, tops on the team, and added 3 tackles (22 for the year). Jackson has solid size, terrific ball skills as well as the versatility to line up at cornerback or safety which will appeal to most every team.
Geronimo Allison/WR/Illinois: Entering the season Allison was graded as a street free agent but his play this season has turned heads. In six games he’s totaled 40 receptions, 601 yards (15.03 yard average) and three scores. His performance against the tough Iowa secondary this weekend was remarkable as Allison totaled 8 receptions for 148 yards and 1 score. He offers nice size (6-feet/3-inches and 200lbs) and is very dependable catching the ball in underneath coverage which will help get him consideration as a number five receiver at the next level.
*Sleeper* Robby Anderson/WR/Temple: Anderson is someone who caught my eye in 2013 when I saw a large, fluid receiver making receptions all over the field. After failing to make grades in the classroom he sat out the 2014 campaign and word was Anderson would play at Florida Tech this season. To his credit he got his grades sorted and is back on the field for the undefeated Owls. Now the teams leading wide out, Anderson totaled 4 receptions for 73 yards during the win over Tulane with 1 score. He’s posted 4 touchdown receptions in five games. After Central Florida the Owls take on East Carolina then Notre Dame, which will be a true challenge for Anderson who’s gone from draft afterthought to potential late round pick.
*Small School Prospect* Jovan Hargrave/NT/South Carolina State: Entering the season scouts viewed Hargrave as a fringe late round pick and he’s doing his best to prove he belongs in the seventh round. At 6-feet/1-inch and 310lbs, Hargrave offers a nice combination of power as well as playmaking ability. After five games he’s third on the team in total tackles (27), first on the squad in tackles for loss (8.5), sacks (3.5) as well as quarterback hurries (5). Hargrave shows the strength necessary to hold the point against blockers and the ability to slide off them altogether then get to the ball. He could line-up on the nose in certain one-gap schemes or handle a traditional defensive tackle position at the next level.
Ufomba Kamalu/DL/Miami-Fl: Kamalu was considered a potential late round pick entering the season primarily based on his physical skills but he’s yet to transfer the natural ability into football production. Five games into the season he’s recorded 13 tackles and a single sack. At 6-feet/5-inches, 290lbs and a sub 5.0 forty time, Kamalu is consistently getting locked at the point by blocks rather than making plays.
Bryson Albright/DE/Miami-Oh: Albright is another defensive lineman that finds himself in the midst of a disappointing season after being labeled a potential late rounder. He’s totaled 15 tackles and just 1 sack during the Redhawks six games. Albright finished with just a single tackle during the team’s 31-point loss to Ohio.
Many were shocked to learn USC head coach Steve Sarkisian was fired a day after it was announced he would take an indefinite leave of absence. And now many may be surprised to find there are a good number of west coast scouts who believe Trojan’s quarterback Cody Kessler could end up as a last day pick.
Scouts ranked Kessler as the top senior quarterback entering the season ahead of Michigan State’s Connor Cook but the more they watch the more they are concerned by the physical limitations Kessler brings.
The feeling is his lack of height (under 6-feet/2-inches), average arm strength and below average foot speed won’t translate well to the next level and the physical skills are unworthy of a top 100 selection. Too his credit Kessler had been playing well up until the teams loss against Washington when he completed 55.1% of his throws for 156 yards including two interceptions. Kessler was also sacked five times during that game.
Will the dismissal of Sarkisian lead to an exodus of underclassmen from the USC program? Its still to early to predict but word circulating is Su’a Cravens will enter the draft and I’m told offensive tackle Zach Banner will bolt for the NFL if he finishes the season strong.