West Virginia QB Pat White
Last week we were loaded with top football games matching some of college’s best programs in marquee games. This week, not so much, but there are still a few games worth watching, if not for the entertainment value, then for the sheer talent that will be on display. Read on the see which players to watch this weekend and who might be a good fit on Seattle’s roster in the future…
No.8 West Virginia at East Carolina
Prediction: West Virginia 28 – East Carolina 23
There are some really talented players on the Mountaineer roster, but East Carolina has their fair share of prospects as well. Here are the players to watch…
West Virginia QB Patrick White – He’s a stud and a great athlete, however he probably won’t end up playing quarterback at the next level. He’s got incredible vision and the quicks to make defenders miss in the open field. White’s skills will translate nicely to the pro game at wide receiver and I’ve seen projects of him being taken at some point in rounds two or three. He’d be an ideal slot receiver with his toughness and he’d probably have more speed than most of the NFL slots. He could also make a name for himself as a punt returner as well.
West Virginia LB Mortty Ivy – When you talk about a prototype middle linebacker, Ivy fits that bill perfectly. He plays faster than his 40 time, but I just don’t see him staying at outside linebacker at the next level. He’d fit perfectly in the middle with his 6-1, 240 pound frame and because he doesn’t get caught in the “trash” as much, he can pursue sideline to sideline. He’s a heavy hitter when he arrives at the ball and he’s a sure-tackler – notching 89 tackles to finish second on last year’s Mountaineer squad. He’s definitely a guy teams will look at on day two of the draft at this point.
West Virginia OG Greg Isdaner – Isdaner is a physical presence and he just mauls guys inside. For a man his size (6-4, 322) he’s surprisingly nimble and able to reach the second level on running plays. He can pull, but he’s at his best blocking straight ahead or on double-teams. I don’t think he’s mastered the art of the reach block, but that’s something that can be taught. He’s a mid second-round selection at this point.
East Carolina TE Davon Drew – He made some huge catches in the Pirates’ stunning 27-22 victory last week over Virginia Tech. He’s got a big frame (6-5, 260) and he runs pretty well. He’s got a reputation for being soft at times and he’s lacked consistency, but he’s a big target for QB Patrick Pinkney. Watch for him to move up draft boards this year with what should be a solid season and he could sneak into the fifth round if he shows enough potential and has some good workouts after the season.
East Carolina DE C.J. Wilson – He’s only a junior, but this guy can play some ball. He constantly harassed the Virginia Tech quarterback all day and he’s got a motor that never stops. As a sophomore in 2007, Wilson posted seven sacks and was named second-team All-CUSA. Wilson has sound fundamentals, outstanding athleticism and the necessary attitude to be successful every time he steps on the field. Keep an eye on him, he could be steal on day two of the draft should he decide to leave early. However, I expect him to stay for one more season to help boost his draft stock as well as help continue the growth of the ECU program.
East Carolina S Van Eskridge – Aggressive, hard-hitting safety who led the Pirates in 2008 with 104 tackles. Van Eskridge is tough for a man his size (6-0, 200). He’s at his best playing closer to the line and supporting the run, but he’s gotten better in coverage and he has the range to make plays on the ball when it’s in the air. Look for him to be a special teams demon early on in his NFL career while he learns the intricacies of playing safety in the pros, but when he comes off the board somewhere in the fifth round a team will be happy he fell to them.
Other players to watch: WVU OT Ryan Stanchek; WVU S Quinton Andrews; WVU WR Dorrell Jalloh; ECU OG Doug Palmer; ECU DT Jay Ross.
Miami at No. 5 Florida
Prediction: Florida 38 – Miami 24
When these two teams take the field, there is always a lot of future NFL talent on display.
First and foremost is Gators QB Tim Tebow, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, who could leave after this season. He’s big and strong and he’s got outstanding athleticism. However, remember what has happened to another Urban Meyer quarterback when he was the number one overall draft choice – San Francisco QB Alex Smith. Tebow has some work to do, but according to many he has the smarts and work-ethic to move past the stigma of being a spread quarterback.
LB Brandon Spikes is a guy who can run and hit and he just loves to inflict pain whenever he gets the chance. He missed last week’s game against Hawaii because of a sprained toe, but he’ll be ready to strap it on when the Gators and Hurricanes hit the field on Saturday.
Along the line, OT Jason Watkins holds down the left tackle position for the Gators. He’s got prototype size for a bookend tackle, but he’s struggled with consistency. The thought is he’s ramped things up a bit this year and he could sneak into the late second round with a big season.
You have to love the skill guys on Florida’s roster, but the one who doesn’t get as much pub is WR Louis Murphy. All he did in 10 starts last season was post 37 receptions for 548 yards and five touchdowns. He’s got outstanding speed (4.35) and quickness, but what he lacks is strength. He isn’t very physical, so he could struggle against press coverage at the next level, but if you get him in space, look out.
With so much talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Gators, the Hurricanes had better have some defenders who can bring it and that’s definitely the case with this year’s team.
Tops on the list is CB Bruce Johnson. He’s built a lot like former Hurricane and current Seahawks CB Kelly Jennings, but he’s probably faster than his predecessor. He’s not going to be physical with receivers, but he’ll be in their hip pocket the whole game and when asked, he can be effective supporting the run.
S Randy Phillips packs a wallop when he arrives at the ball. He’s physical for a guy his size (6-0, 205), but he isn’t very good in coverage. Phillips, along with six other players, was suspended for Miami’s first game last weekend against Charleston Southern. We’ll see how he responds to the disciplinary action.
On offense, RB Jarvis James is a good runner who has good vision and he can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He’s only a junior, so he’s got some time, but he should be one of the better backs in the country before he leaves Coral Gables.
Other players to watch: UM LB Darryl Sharpton; UM DE Eric Moncur; UM OT Jason Fox; UM LB Spencer Adkins; UF WR Percy Harvin; UF DE Jermaine Cunningham; UF OT Phil Trautwein.
California at Washington State
Prediction: Cal 34 – Washington State 21
The Cougars got off to a tough start last week as they lost to Oklahoma State by 26 points, but with head coach Paul Wulff at the helm he should be able to point them in the right direction as the season progresses. Cal is full of talented playmakers on offense and now that head coach Jeff Tedford has decided to stick with Kevin Riley at quarterback, you should see the Bears be more consistent on the offensive side of the ball.
At linebacker, the Bears have three guys who will likely end up on pro rosters in the very near future. Zach Follett is the top linebacker on the team and he’s a leader both on and off the field. He can cover or stuff the run. He’s projected as a third rounder.
Anthony Felder and Worrell Williams are both solid and both are draft worthy, but Follett is the playmaker from the position.
At center, Alex Mack could be the top pivot man in the country. He’s big (6-4, 315) and very powerful. He’s also very smart, having started 25 straight games. He’s likely a second-rounder and should be the first center taken in next year’s draft.
Washington State might not be the most talented team in the Pac 10, but they have one of the best receivers in the country in Brandon Gibson. The playmaker from Puyallup, Wa. can do it all. He has sticky hands and he runs good routes. He needs to get stronger and be more physical and he can drop some passes that he should catch, but he’s got the skills to be a solid number two wideout on an NFL team.
Tight end Devin Frischknecht won’t wow you with his physical skills, but he gets the job done as both a blocker and a receiver. He won’t be featured in Washington State’s spread attack very much, but he’s got the skills to be a good one at the next level. He’s probably a late-rounder or even a free agent type, but make no mistake, he can play in the pros.
Other players to watch: Cal DE Tyson Alualu; Cal Mike Tepper; Cal TE Cameron Morrah; WSU QB Gary Rogers; WSU DE Andy Mattingly; WSU C Kenny Alfred.
Some other games to keep an eye: No. 17 South Florida at Central Florida; Houston at Oklahoma State; No. 12 Texas Tech at Nevada; Stanford at No. 15 Arizona State; Cincinnati at No. 4 Oklahoma.
Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.