An ACC match-up formerly known as “wide-right” highlights the college football calendar this weekend. As well as the Florida State-Miami game scouts will have a menu of contests which feature highly rated prospects facing off against players rising up draft boards. Here are five games scouts will be watching this weekend.
Highly rated Gabe Jackson versus underrated Kelcy Quarles
Gabe Jackson entered the season as one of the highest rated guards in the nation from any class. Kelcy Quarles came into the year as a developing defensive tackle with a last day grade. Jackson has played well this season while Quarles is in the middle of a career campaign. We highlighted Quarles exploits last week during our Week 9 Risers/Sliders column and spoke of his future intentions during our October 29th podcast. NFL scouts would be further impressed by Jackson if he can stop the athletic Quarles. For Quarles its’ the opportunity to prove he can compete against a big time prospect.
Receiver on the rise: Jeremy Gallon
Gallon entered the season with a grade that put him on the cusp of being a last round pick. Understandable considering the senior barely touches the tape 5-feet, 8-inches. The challenges of height aside, Gallon is a terrific receiver with a nose for the end zone. Seven games into the season he’s totaled 45 receptions with 7 touchdowns as well as a per catch average of 18.5-yards. On Saturday the Wolverines face inter-state rival Michigan State, a defense with one of the best cornerback-safety combos in the nation. Darqueze Dennard is a second day pick and ranked as one of the top six corners in the nation. Junior Kurtis Drummond is a complete player at the safety position and has been often mentioned on this site. Both are aggressive, physical defensive backs who play smart football. The challenge is real for Gallon tomorrow and a productive game will enhance his rising draft stock.
Will Morgan Moses step up to the plate?
I railed against Moses early in the season as the talented offensive tackle looks content getting by on natural ability. His performance in the loss to Ball State was disturbing. Since then Moses has played better but tomorrow faces off against Vic Beasley. Another we spoke about during our podcast of October 29th, Beasley is on a tear this season and expected to enter the draft where he will likely end up a top 25 pick. For Moses, he has a lot to gain this weekend, or a lot to lose depending on your perspective.
Michael Sam against Antonio Richardson: The Battle of David vs Goliath
Entering the season Sam was graded as undraftable by league scouts yet that opinion has since changed after 10 sacks and 16 tackles for loss this season. Tomorrow he lines up against Antonio Richardson, the best blocker Sam has faced all season. Conventional wisdom has Richardson entering the 2014 draft then being selected in the top half of round one. The Tennessee junior struggled at times against South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney two weeks ago and there’s little room for error against Sam, who’s taken advantage of every opportunity afforded him this season.
Khyri Thornton; One of the few positives in Hattiesburg
Southern Mississippi is in the midst of another miserable, winless season. It probably won’t get any better against Marshall, a program fighting for a post-season invitation. The Thundering Herd brings the top offense in Conference USA to the field and they mainly do it through the air. Enter Thronton, the only Southern Miss player that’ll get a sniff in next years draft. He’s considered more of a gap occupier than play maker (25 tackles this season) and Thornton is not known as a skilled pass rusher (.5 sacks). He faces a stiff test against Marshall’s athletic signal caller Rakeem Cato, who beats opponents with his arm and legs.