Finally. It's back.
With college football kicking into action, I've got my watchlist set up to track every 2015 NFL Draft-eligible prospect for a couple games every week. My draft stock assessment is totally subjective and based on if the draft were held today, not based on my own guess as to how a prospect will develop over the course of the season.
That being said, here are seven major games from week one:
Thursday, Aug. 28
|Texas A&M at South Carolina (SEC, 6:00pm)|
|Cedric Ogbuehi||LT||RS Sr.||Texas A&M||1st|
|Mike Matthews||C||Jr.||Texas A&M||2nd-3rd|
|Germain Ifedi||OL||RS Soph.||Texas A&M||2nd-4th|
|Deshazor Everett||CB||Sr.||Texas A&M||3rd-5th|
|Jarvis Harrison||G||RS Sr.||Texas A&M||3rd-5th|
|Drew Kaser||P||RS Jr.||Texas A&M||5th-7th|
|Alonzo Williams||DT||Jr.||Texas A&M||5th-UD|
|De'Vante Harris||CB||Jr.||Texas A&M||6th-UD|
|Joseph Cheek||OL||Jr.||Texas A&M||6th-UD|
|Tra Carson||RB||RS Jr.||Texas A&M||6th-UD|
|Julien Obioha||DE||Jr.||Texas A&M||7th-UD|
|A.J. Cann||G||RS Sr.||South Carolina||1st-2nd|
|Mike Davis||RB||Jr.||South Carolina||1st-2nd|
|Corey Robinson||OT||RS Sr.||South Carolina||2nd-4th|
|Brandon Shell||OT||RS Jr.||South Carolina||3rd-5th|
|Shaq Roland||WR||Jr.||South Carolina||3rd-5th|
|J.T. Surratt||DT||RS Sr.||South Carolina||4th-6th|
|Kaiwan Lewis||LB||Jr.||South Carolina||4th-6th|
|Cody Waldrop||C||RS Soph.||South Carolina||4th-6th|
|Rory Anderson||TE||Sr.||South Carolina||4th-7th|
|Chaz Elder||FS||RS Soph.||South Carolina||5th-UD|
|Kadetrix Marcus||FS||Sr.||South Carolina||7th-UD|
With all due respect to Wednesday's Abilene Christian-Georgia State matchup, the 2014 Football Bowl Subdivision kicks off with a bang with this SEC clash.
I've got Ogbuehi as the only round one lock, but that could certainly change over the course of the season. Just like Ogbuehi himself, who continues the tackle pipeline coming out of college station that recently produced Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, Germain Ifedi burst onto the scene last year with a very impressive redshirt freshman year. I wouldn't be surprised if he stays to slide over to left tackle which is exactly what Ogbuehi has done. And yes, that's Jake's brother Mike at center. One day, half of the NFL will be from the Matthews clan. And keep an eye on Tra Carson in the wake of Ben Malena's exit. Could be a big riser this year.
For South Carolina, there's no Jadaveon Clowney this year to lead the way. That's ok for the Ol' Ball Coach. He's got one of the best offensive lines in the country to open things up for Mike Davis. The questions are on the defensive side where Spurrier's starting seven sophomores. Great chance to get a look at massive tackle Corey Robinson who might have to move over to the right side in the NFL.
|Boise St. at Ole Miss* (ESPN, 8:00pm)|
|Jay Ajayi||RB||RS Jr.||Boise St.||2nd-4th|
|Matt Miller||WR||RS Sr.||Boise St.||4th-6th|
|Darian Thompson||FS||RS Jr.||Boise St.||5th-7th|
|Ben Weaver||OLB||RS Soph.||Boise St.||6th-UD|
|Cody Prewitt||FS||Sr.||Ole Miss||2nd-4th|
|C.J. Johnson||DE/OLB||Sr.||Ole Miss||3rd-6th|
|Denzel Nkemdiche||OLB||Jr.||Ole Miss||4th-7th|
|Senquez Golson||CB||Sr.||Ole Miss||5th-7th|
|Serderius Bryant||OLB/S||Sr.||Ole Miss||5th-7th|
|Aaron Morris||G||RS Jr.||Ole Miss||5th-7th|
|Bo Wallace||QB||Sr.||Ole Miss||6th-UD|
* - game to be played at neutral site (Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA)
Interesting game for the Georgia Dome. For the Broncos, it's the first game under new head coach Bryan Harsin following Chris Petersen's incredibly successful tenure. Harsin landed a nice recruiting piece in safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner, so he's already off to a decent start.
Ole Miss, on the other hand, had a head start on the recruiting successes. Their 2013 class was absolutely stacked with now-true sophomores in DT Robert Nkemdiche, WR Laquon Treadwell and OT Laremy Tunsil. If the 2013 season was any indication, they'll have a ton of NFL attention next season. For now though, it's another shot for Dr. Bo to get the Rebels to the next level in the SEC. He'll have the strength of the defense, including standout safety Cody Prewitt, to help him do just that in this key non-conference season opener.
Saturday, Aug. 30
|UCLA at Virginia (ESPN, 12:00pm)|
|Brett Hundley||QB||RS Jr.||UCLA||1st-2nd|
|Eric Kendricks||ILB||RS Sr.||UCLA||2nd|
|Malcolm Bunche||OL||RS Sr.||UCLA||3rd-5th|
|Jake Brendel||C||RS Jr.||UCLA||3rd-5th|
|Owamagbe Odighizuwa||3-4 DE||RS Sr.||UCLA||4th-6th|
|Anthony Jefferson||SS||RS Sr.||UCLA||5th-UD|
|Kevin Parks||RB||RS Sr.||Virginia||4th-6th|
|DreQuan Hoskey||CB||RS Sr.||Virginia||7th-UD|
I think this game's bigger than it seems. On one hand, you've got a top-10 UCLA team travelling across the country with legitimate playoff hopes on the line. They're led by a Heisman contender in QB Brett Hundley who's a hell of an NFL prospect to boot. And you've got Myles Jack, a two-way player who, as a running back and linebacker, receiver both the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year awards in 2013. All of that alone makes UCLA a fun watch in any game this year.
Virginia hit the ground hard in 2013, but I think they can rebound quickly. Mike London's recruiting has been much stronger than their record has reflected the last two years, including landing two top recruits for 2014. In a weak Coastal Division of the ACC, I think Virginia has a chance to be a surprise team this year. UCLA may be too much for them this early, but I think too many people who still have that 2-10 taste in their mouth will be too quick to write off the Cavaliers in 2014.
|West Virginia at Alabama* (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm)|
|Karl Joseph||FS||Jr.||West Virginia||2nd-3rd|
|Rushel Shell||RB||RS Soph.||West Virginia||4th-7th|
|Dreamius Smith||RB||Sr.||West Virginia||6th-UD|
|Mark Glowinski||G||RS Sr.||West Virginia||6th-UD|
|Adam Pankey||OT||RS Soph.||West Virginia||6th-UD|
|Quinton Spain||G||RS Sr.||West Virginia||7th-UD|
|Kevin White||WR||Sr.||West Virginia||7th-UD|
|Arie Kouandjio||OL||RS Sr.||Alabama||2nd-3rd|
|Brandon Ivory||DT||RS Sr.||Alabama||4th-6th|
|Austin Shepherd||RT||RS Sr.||Alabama||4th-6th|
|Jason Fowler||FB||RS Sr.||Alabama||5th-7th|
|Ryan Kelly||C||RS Jr.||Alabama||6th-UD|
|DeAndrew White||WR||RS Sr.||Alabama||7th-UD|
* - game to be played at neutral site (Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA)
With QB Geno Smith and WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Dana Holgorsen's West Virginia was must-watch stuff. But after winning the Orange Bowl two and a half years ago, things eroded pretty quickly and now it looks as if the Big XII may be too tough of company for the Mountaineers. It's a crucial year to stem the bleeding for Holgorsen and get the program back on track.
Unfortunately, that year starts with a neutral ground battle with Alabama who, as the name implies, is still Alabama. The NFL will pick apart this roster come next spring, but for now, it's largely a question of who quarterbacks this team. Regardless of who it is, Nick Saban has a host of weapons at his disposal including standout WR Amari Cooper. Meanwhile true sophomores RB Derrick Henry and TE O.J. Howard are going to make tackling look really, really, really painful.
|Clemson at Georgia (ESPN, 5:30pm)|
|Vic Beasley||OLB||RS Sr.||Clemson||1st|
|Corey Crawford||DE||RS Sr.||Clemson||4th-6th|
|Charone Peake||WR||RS Jr.||Clemson||4th-6th|
|Stanton Seckinger||TE||RS Jr.||Clemson||5th-7th|
|Ryan Norton||C||RS Jr.||Clemson||6th-UD|
|Malcolm Mitchell||WR||RS Jr.||Georgia||3rd-UD|
|Michael Bennett||WR||RS Sr.||Georgia||6th-UD|
|Chris Mayes||DT||RS Jr.||Georgia||6th-UD|
The evening slate is really good, starting with this matchup featuring two ranked teams. Dabo Swinney hasn't been able to quite get Clemson over the hump during his tenure, though last year's Orange Bowl win did excise some of the demons from the loss two years prior. With WR stars like DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins having moved on to the NFL along with QB Tajh Boyd, you could be forgiven for deeming this a rebuild year for them IMO. Still, they've got Vic Beasley who is already in the backfield somehow right now and the game's not until Saturday. Throw in a host of other defensive prospects, and this is not the kind of team during a rebuilding year most other teams want to play against. (NOTE: Blanks tore his ACL at the end of last year and might sit out 2014 on a medical redshirt, so he could well return to Clemson for the 2015 season)
Meanwhile Georgia finally enters the post-Aaron Murray world after...I think he was there 14 seasons. Something like that. It felt like it. Which means Mark Richt's been there 43 years. It feels like that's true too. In any case, they've got Todd Gurley who is part human, part forklift. And WR Malcolm Mitchell has the natural talent to be a first round pick and the injury history to go undrafted. He tore his ACL in this contest last year missing the entire season thereafter. At the end of this July, after finally getting back to 100%, he injured his knee and had to have surgery to repair the cartilage in his knee. His NFL career may have ended before he even finishes his collegiate one.
|Florida St. at Oklahoma St.* (ABC, 8:00pm)|
|Jameis Winston||QB||RS Soph.||Florida St.||1st|
|Cameron Erving||OT||RS Sr.||Florida St.||1st|
|P.J. Williams||CB||Jr.||Florida St.||1st-2nd|
|Mario Edwards, Jr.||DE||Jr.||Florida St.||1st-2nd|
|Ronald Darby||CB||Jr.||Florida St.||2nd|
|Josue Matias||G||Sr.||Florida St.||2nd|
|Rashad Greene||WR||Sr.||Florida St.||2nd-4th|
|Tre' Jackson||G||Sr.||Florida St.||3rd-4th|
|Nick O'Leary||TE||Sr.||Florida St.||3rd-4th|
|Karlos Williams||RB||Sr.||Florida St.||3rd-5th|
|Terrance Smith||LB||RS Jr.||Florida St.||3rd-5th|
|Tyler Hunter||SS||Sr.||Florida St.||4th-7th|
|Eddie Goldman||DT||Jr.||Florida St.||5th-7th|
|James Castelman||DT||Sr.||Oklahoma St.||4th-7th|
|Emmanuel Ogbah||DE||RS Soph.||Oklahoma St.||5th-7th|
|Kevin Peterson||CB||Jr.||Oklahoma St.||5th-UD|
|Jimmy Bean||DE||RS Jr.||Oklahoma St.||6th-UD|
* - game to be played at neutral site (AT&T Stadium - Arlington, TX)
Florida St. was the last to win a BCS Championship. Good riddance. To the BCS, I mean, not to Florida St. What's interesting here is that the Seminoles bring back the overwhelming amount of talent that helped them to the national crown last season, including obviously star QB Jameis Winston. It'll take a special upset for this Florida St. team not to make the inaugural college football playoff.
And who knows, maybe Oklahoma St. can provide that upset. It's college football; crazier things have happened. The Cowboys can throw everything here with Missouri St. and Texas-San Antonio their next two contests. Despite the lack of NFL-ready talent, they're coming off of a solid 10-3 season and have a QB in J.W. Walsh with some starting experience.
|Wisconsin at LSU (ESPN, 9:00pm)|
|Melvin Gordon||RB||RS Jr.||Wisconsin||1st-2nd|
|Warren Herring||DT||RS Sr.||Wisconsin||2nd-4th|
|Rob Havenstein||RT||RS Sr.||Wisconsin||2nd-5th|
|Tyler Marz||OT||RS Jr.||Wisconsin||3rd-4th|
|Dan Voltz||C||RS Soph.||Wisconsin||3rd-4th|
|Vince Biegel||OLB||RS Soph.||Wisconsin||4th-6th|
|Dallas Lewallen||OL||RS Sr.||Wisconsin||5th-7th|
|Michael Caputo||SS||RS Jr.||Wisconsin||6th-UD|
|Jerald Hawkins||OT||RS Soph.||LSU||2nd|
|Jalen Collins||CB||RS Jr.||LSU||4th-6th|
The capper comes here in another doubly ranked matchup, this one to be played down in Houston.
Wisconsin have a powerful offensive line and a very talented running back. LSU has a very talented offensive line and powerful running backs. This is not a game for the pass-happy technicians out there.