by Greg Doyle
Another Saturday, another packed schedule in the world of college football. In college football, they don’t cheat and steal signals. Unlike Bill Belichick. In college football, they don’t disgrace the game and their fans. Unlike Bill Belichick. In college football, they don’t murder small puppies and torture kittens. Unlike Bill Belichick. In college football, they don’t single handedly ruin the nation’s economy and prevent a cure for cancer being found. Unlike Bill Belichick.
All kidding aside, there are some good games on tap today. In fact, it’s probably the best schedule so far of the young season. Let’s take a look:
Pittsburgh at Michigan State (12:00 Noon ESPN): Pittsburgh comes in 2-0 after last season’s disappointing 6-6 record. They are a bit head coach challenged, being led by Dave Wannstadt, but there is talent there. Michigan State also comes in 2-0 under Mark Dantonio, who is up and coming in coaching circles. Let’s take a look at some of the players:
Pittsburgh DE Chris McKillop (#41): A big (6’3″ 250 lb) outside linebacker type who would fit the Patriots 3-4 scheme. Has played outside linebacker and has excellent size. Is a leader on defense and can rush the passer.
Pittsburgh DE Joe Clermond (#58): Slightly bigger than McKillop and more productive in college, but more of a defensive end type. Could possibly convert to linebacker. Has an impressive 16.5 career sacks.
Pittsburgh CB Kennard Cox (#5): Not as heralded as last year’s other Pittsburgh corner, Darelle Revis, who was taken in last year’s first round of the NFL draft. Cox definitely has talent and could really blossom as a senior. Had a solid season last year, but needs to make more plays on the ball. Very good size for a corner.
Michigan State TE Kellen Davis (#80): Big, tall tight end who has had some disciplinary problems. Has 5 catches in two games and being more heavily utilized in the new offense Michigan State is running. He runs well and has good hands. Could blossom into one of the better tight ends in the draft next year, which will certainly have the Patriots interested.
Michigan State LB Kaleb Thornhill (#41): A three-year starter and a pure inside linebacker with ideal size, the Patriots very well could be interested in this team leader who has the ability to play inside in a 3-4. I have a hunch this is a guy they’ll like, so keep your eye on him.
Tennessee at Florida (3:30 PM CBS): This is one of the best games so far, as the Volunteers visit the defending National Champs Florida in The Swamp. Look for a surprisingly competitive matchup. Florida is certainly favored, and it coming down to the end between these old rivals. We looked at Tennessee the first week of the season, so we’ll spotlight a few different players this time.
Tennessee RT Eric Young (#54): It can be hard to focus on offensive lineman, but this guy is worth taking a few plays to see how he does against top competition. He’ll be in the draft, though it’s unclear how high. This is his second year as a starter and although solid last year, he needs to become dominant at this level if he is to be a top prospect.
Tennessee S Jarod Parrish (#19): A backup most of his career, he is getting a chance to show what he can do this year, partly due to injuries. Had only 11 career tackles coming into this season. But he has very good size and could get himself a look with a solid season.
Florida WR Andre Caldwell (#5): Far more talented than his brother Reche, the former Patriots receiver now with the Redskins. Came out of high school as the most heavily recruited receiver in the country and has produced with 119 career receptions. Has 4.29/40 speed. Good size and height. He should be a first rounder.
Florida S Tony Joiner (#19): An excellent player on the National Championship team and the backbone of their secondary. This guy is a blue collar hitter with size and smarts. He should be one of the top safeties in the country this year and if his speed tests out good, a high draft pick who could interest the Patriots due to his size, leadership ability, production and Bill Belichick’s ties to Florida head coach Urban Meyer.
Florida S Kyle Jackson (#3): A big recruit coming out of high school, he was an off and on starter his first two years before not starting any games last year. Has his chance again this season. Inconsistent, yet talented. Can make plays and has a knack for the ball, but also gets caught out of position which is why he’s never solidified himself as a starter. Probably a late round or undrafted type who’ll have to make a NFL team on special teams. A solid season could give him a chance, however. Off to a bit of a slow start though and needs a big game here.
Arkansas at Alabama (6:45 PM ESPN): The first big test for new Alabama coach Nick Saban against the powerful running offense of Arkansas.
Arkansas RB Darren McFadden (#5): Although only a junior, he deserves to be talked about and will likely enter next year’s draft. A dominant, break-away runner with great speed and size. Can bowl you over or run around you. One of the best running backs to come out in the last few years, he is simply electrifying. Watch this guy, you’ll enjoy it. Put up over 1,600 yards rushing last year.
Arkansas WR Marcus Monk (#85): A extremely tall receiver at 6’6″ who considered entering the draft last year. Has 122 career catches and is particularly dangerous around the end zone where his big size and physicality allows him to out jump and muscle smaller defensive backs.
Arkansas CB Matterral Richardson (#9): Started since his freshman year, this tall lanky corner can stuff the run, but has not been big on getting interceptions. He’ll be drafted, but needs to show he can make plays to be a top prospect.
Alabama WR DJ Hall (#22): A tall receiver who was second team All-SEC the last two years. Had over 1,000 yards receiving last year and shows really good hands and toughness. Good size. He’ll be a high draft pick and if Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth move on, the Pats may consider this guy high. Watch him, he is good.
Alabama CB Simeon Castille (#2): An excellent corner who should really blossom with Saban’s coaching. He was first team All-SEC last year. Shows good playmaking ability and had 6 INTs last year. Good all around and has a shot to be a first round pick and the direction the Patriots go in if they want a corner. Saban will have input.
Boston College at Georgia Tech (8:00 PM ESPN2): In an ACC battle, these two undefeated squads will be looking to really move up in the rankings with a win here. Boston College should get to 6-0 easily if they can pull this one off.
Boston College QB Matt Ryan (#12): Big, tall and can move around a bit in the pocket. Smart quarterback blessed with excellent size, and a good leader. Has a strong arm. A very good NFL prospect who could be a first round pick. Was 1st Team All-ACC last year despite being banged up all season and looks better this year.
Boston College T Gosder Cherilus (#77): A big, athletic and strong right tackle who could be drafted on the first day. BC has a tradition of producing good NFL linemen. Has had some off the field trouble though, which may keep the Patriots away.
Boston College CB DeJuan Tribble (#27): A playmaking corner with great speed who has a knack for interceptions and big returns. Plays the ball as well as any corner in college football. Off to a flying start this year and should be a first day pick. A bit small.
Georgia Tech FB Mike Cox (#40): A 250 lb. Blocking back who rarely carries the ball but can catch. A late round choice at best, but his blocking gives him a chance to stick.
Georgia Tech C Kevin Tuminello (#60): Anchors the line. Known for being extremely strong. This three-year starter doesn’t dominate, but is solid and could be a late round pick.
Georgia Tech CB Pat Clark (#6): Former wide receiver adjusting to defensive back. His speed gives him a chance to stick as a corner and special teamer in the NFL. But not experienced enough or productive enough to be anything more than a free agent out of school, more than likely.
Others to watch: Over on ESPN2 at noon, check out Purdue reciever Dorien Bryant. He reportedly runs a 4.24/40 and has 167 career catches. Originally committed to Boston College. Has shown he can make the tough catches over the middle and is not just a speed guy. On ABC at 8:00 PM, an excellent matchup to watch will be USC versus a rejuvenated Nebraska team. There are lots of players to watch on USC and we’ll feature them at some point this year, but keep your eye on Nebraska LB Bo Ruud (#51). Ruud has good size and productivity and works hard. His brother is an NFL linebacker and Ruud would seem a good fit as a Tedy Bruschi type in the 3-4 defense. Late night at 10:00 PM on ESPN, you can see Colorado RB Hugh Charles (#2) as his Buffaloes take on Florida State. Charles is small, but productive. Too small to be a full-time back in the NFL, his elusiveness suggests he could be a 3rd down back and kick returner. But he hasn’t shown a great ability to catch the ball yet and needs to demonstrate that to generate NFL interest.