Another week of College Scout and we’ll take a look at two smaller schools, the legendary Harvard vs. Yale game. Or just “The Game” as it is known, as well as a good matchup with bowl implications between Nebraska and Kansas State.
Harvard at Yale (Noon EST Versus):
The 126th meeting between these two storied universities. The 2009 version of “The Game” finds Yale leading the overall series 65-52-8 but with Harvard having won last season at home 10-0 and having won two straight. Harvard checks in this season at 6-3 while Yale is 4-5. But you throw all records out in this series and it should be a good matchup between two well coached teams. There are a couple NFL prospects in the game, including the very good prospect James Williams, so lets take a look:
The 6’5″ 298 lb. Williams, who is from Chestnut Hill, MA, is a very good prospect with clear NFL talent. Probably the premier lineman in the Ivy League, he has started every game at left tackle since he was a Sophomore and was All-Ivy League every year since then as well. He has quick feet, a good frame with long arms, is obviously smart and dominates at his level. Right now he projects as a mid-round choice but his athleticism could put him higher once he tests in the post-season. His ability to get out in space could interest the Patriots, though they will want to be sure football is his number one priority before they invest a draft pick in him. Here is an interesting fact you don’t see from many potential NFL offensive linemen draft picks…..Williams sang in his high school’s glee club. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In any event, Williams has a ton of talent and is a sure fire NFL pick who’ll just have to adjust to the higher level of play in the NFL. It could take a season or two, but whatever team gets him could have a gem once that occurs.
Abare is a 6’1″ 210 lb. solidly built strong safety from Acton, MA. Has been Second Team All-Ivy League twice in his career, in 2006 and 2008. Was injured in 2007 and redshirted. A Boston Globe All-Scholastic player from Acton-Boxboro in both 2003 and 2004. Abare’s father played football at the University of Connecticut. Abare’s twin brother, Bobby, was an All-Ivy League linebacker who graduated last year. He had a tryout with the Chiefs but did not make it. Larry plays a different position but like his brother he is a hard hitter, very aggressive and smart. His speed might be the question, but there is little doubt he can play special teams as he has done that throughout his career at Yale. This may help him at least get a look from the NFL. Abare has had some nagging injuries this year and has missed 3 games with a broken forearm but does have 30 tackles for the Bulldogs and he will be suiting up against Harvard. If he gets a chance in the NFL, it’ll be as an undrafted free agent but a team could do worse than giving a hard-hitting, well-built, smart, productive special teams demon and defensive playmaker like Abare a shot in their camp.
The first punter we’ve profiled this year, Mante has an NFL caliber leg and has been one of the better kickers in the Ivy since he was a freshman. Also kicks field goals and conversions for the Bulldogs. Gets good height on his punts. Made 5 tackles in punt coverage last season. Mante has potential as he has a strong leg and gets good hang time. He is averaging about 41 yards per punt this year and hasn’t had a kick blocked. He also kicks off for Yale which is a plus for his NFL potential. He won’t be drafted, but if he can get a bit stronger physically he has a chance to stick around or eventually kick in the NFL.
Kansas State at Nebraska (7:45 PM EST ESPN):
Nebraska comes in 7-3 and still with a shot a top tier bowl. Kansas State comes in 6-5 and looking to guarantee themselves a bowl game and winning season. We have looked at in the past Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh who is as dominating a defensive player as you’ll see in college football and possible number one overall pick, so we won’t look at him again today, but there are other good prospects in the game.
Thomas came to KSU as a JUCO player who is in his first year with the Wildcats but is a Junior already. He has lit up the playing fields of the midwest so much, he just may jump to the NFL after this season. Originally there was some thought KSU might play Thomas as their starting QB as that is where he played in high school. However, they have made him just a running back instead and the results have been spectacular. They do use him as a “wildcat” formation QB quite a bit, however. Thomas is a powerful 6’2″ 227 lb. back that can run over people, but also has excellent quickness and elusiveness. For the season, he has run for 1,166 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 per carry. He also has completed 3 of 4 passes out of the wildcat, including one for a touchdown. Considering KSU doesn’t throw the ball too much, he also has shown good ability in the passing game with 21 catches and nearly 10 yards per catch. Thomas is a raw talent who has only played one year of major college football. Still, if he did go into the draft he would be among the most talented in it and a possible first round pick.
Another JUCO player who is now a senior for the Wildcats. Last year, his first in major college football, he caught 67 passes for 1,049 yards and 9 touchdowns in establishing himself as among the best receivers in the Big 12. The problem with Banks is his size. He is a little waterbug at 5’7″ 150 lbs. but he is absolutely fearless and a lot of fun to watch with the football. He does have explosive abilities when he carries the pigskin and that translates well to the return game as well. Despite his size, on offense he isn’t afraid to catch any ball, anywhere. Despite his size, he carries some power in his small frame and does break tackles. This season Banks has caught 51 balls for 657 yards but just one touchdown.He is averaging 30 yards per kickoff return and has brought an electrifying 4 kicks back to the house for touchdowns. Given his size, Banks is probably a late round pick at best. But if nothing else, a late round pick will buy a team a speedy, elusive and game breaking kick returner who may even be able to fill in occasionally as a fearless slot receiver with great open field running ability.
An injury-riddled player early in his career who never lived up to the hype as a highly regarded recruit coming to Nebraska, Dillard finally has made his mark this season. He didn’t play in the first two games due to injury and then was a backup in game three, but since that time he switched to Will linebacker and has become a productive, if not excellent, starter. The 6’1″ 240 lb. Dillard has NFL size and everyone always knew he had a lot of ability. For the season, he has racked up 48 tackles including 2 sacks and 8 tackles for losses in 7 games. He had started 8 games in previous seasons with the Cornhuskers, but had been dogged by injuries, including a serious knee injury in 2006. Dillard has struggled also at times with his weight and being in shape. But this season, he really has seemed to turn the corner, losing a lot of excess poundage and getting himself into great shape. He has been rewarded with playing time and is really producing huge results in Bo Pelini’s defense. He’ll need to be thoroughly checked out in terms of his injury history and his lackluster physical shape of the past, but if the NFL believes he has truly turned the corner he has the talent to be a diamond in the rough for some team.