A calm week on the college football schedule saw few upsets and little change in the BCS rankings. Despite that there were several outstanding performances by a number of running backs who improved their draft stocks as well as a pair of sleepers from the Sun Belt Conference. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week ten.
Andre Williams/RB/Boston College: For all their offensive woes in 2013, Virginia Tech still had one of the better defenses in the ACC. In fact they fielded the stiffest run defense in the conference, allowing a paltry 91-yards rushing per game. Someone forget to tell Andre Williams. The senior ball carrier pounded the Hokie defense, putting up 166-yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns over 33 carries. Williams ran angry on the inside, breaking tackles or carrying the pile on a number of runs. He scored what turned out to be the game winning touchdown on a 62-yard dash late in the fourth quarter. Williams showed uncanny speed and change of direction skills all game. He’s proving to be more than a downhill road grader and deserves consideration in the middle rounds.
Charles Sims/RB/West Virginia: Sims once again proved why he’s considered one of the better running backs prospects in the nation during the Mountaineers victory over TCU. The senior registered 154-yards on the ground with 1 score on 24 carries (6.4-yard average) against the Big Twelve’s second rated rush defense. He also added 3 receptions for 35-yards and another touchdown. Sims is a well sized ball carrier (6-foot/210-pounds) with a quick, elusive style and he will surely be in the conversation as top sixty pick in May’s draft.
Shilique Calhoun/DE/Michigan State: During our Big Ten preview last August we described Calhoun as a prospect whose game “could take off” in 2013. The third year sophomore has not let us down and turned in one of his best performances of the season on Saturday. Against the Michigan tandem of Taylor Lewan (top 10 pick) and Mike Schofield (last day choice) Calhoun registered 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a pair of quarterback hurries. His season totals now stand at 11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 17 quarterback pressures. Slightly undersized yet athletic, Calhoun offers natural pass rushing skills and shows the ability to be a disruptive force. He’s moved into the middle rounds and more performances such as the one turned in against the Wolverines will only improve Calhoun’s draft stock.
Justin Britt/T/Missouri: The Tigers defense has been getting most of the headlines recently and deservedly so. Yet Missouri’s offense has barely missed a beat despite a change at quarterback after starter James Franklin was lost to injury. Credit goes to the offensive line and its senior leader Justin Britt. The left tackle came into the season with a late round grade from scouts but has since elevated his game. He’s a wide-bodied blocker with a thick build and a prospect who gets the most from his skill. Britt is better suited for the strong side and has a career at the next level as a spot starter/back-up lineman.
Carl Bradford/LB/Arizona State: With all the attention paid to Will Sutton, Bradford is often the forgotten man on the ASU defense when talking about the next level. Fact is he’s a well rounded defender and a scheme diverse linebacker. Bradford’s numbers after eight games tell the story; 29 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and 4 passes broken up. He lacks classic height for the next level and struggles to touch the tape at 6-feet, 1-inch yet the junior is a tough, smart linebacker who can line-up in a variety of schemes.
Isaiah Newsome/S/Louisiana Monroe: Few mention Newsome despite the fact he’s one of the better safety prospects in the nation. In nine games this year the junior’s totals include 37 tackles and 4 interceptions. He lacks classic safety size yet displays a complete game, giving effort defending the run and skillfully covering the pass. The junior presently grades as a last day pick with possibilities as a dime back/special teams player in the NFL.
Cyril Lemon/G/North Texas: The move to Conference USA has suited North Texas well as the program is bowl eligible with a month still left on the schedule. Their balanced offensive attack is one of the best in the league and starts with Lemon up front. The junior has a perfect guard build, as he’s a squatty blocker who plays with leverage and good movement skills. Lemon displays enough strength to handle opponents at the line of scrimmage as well as the mobility to effectively block on the move. He possesses the ability to line-up in multiple blocking schemes and moves towards 2014 as a draftable player.
Dee Dee Latimore/South Florida: Lattimore entered the season stamped as a late round prospect but his play has been spotty in 2013. On Saturday he registered just 4 assisted tackles in the loss to Houston. Latimore leads the team with 64 tackles in 8 games yet that’s not the type of production scouts want from an undersized linebacker who specializes in defending the run.
Rashaad Reynolds/CB/Oregon State: Welcome back Marqise Lee! The Trojan star receiver made a successful return to the field after missing two games with a knee injury. Reynolds was victimized on a number of receptions from Lee who finished the day with five catches for 105-yards. While he’s flashed skill throughout the season but struggled against the big time talent of Lee.
Notes: Give credit to Morgan Moses, the offensive tackle from Virginia. Just a few weeks after I blasted him for what was a terrible performance against Ball State the senior has shown positive consistency on the field. Saturday he did a terrific job against Vic Beasley of Clemson, despite the drubbing UVA took at the hands of Clemson.
During our podcast of October 29th, I mentioned Kelcy Quarles is leaning towards entering the draft. What I failed to mention are the rave reviews the junior has been receiving as a real leader in the Gamecock locker room.