College Football really kicked off this weekend with the ACC and the Big 12 starting play. In years’ past, my weekly articles contained evaluations of 3 risers, 3 fallers, and 1 small-school prospect highlighted in a draft stock watch for their performances over the past weekend, as well as previews of the 3 biggest games for the next weekend. Due to everything that is going on in college football with the pandemic, I’ve decided to change things this year.
Instead, I will be highlighting anywhere from 5-10 prospects who had great weekends, and I will not be listing prospects who had bad games. College football has been turned on its head this season, with COVID testing, prospect opt outs, and everything else contributed to the pandemic. Scouting a prospect is never boiled down to one game, and, as usual, I won’t be viewing even just this entire season to make my scouting reports. Some prospects may have bad seasons, but there are too many distractions in the world right now to make this season the end-all-be-all for any prospect.
This weekend was a good start for college football, and I’m excited to get the SEC in play in two weeks. A majority of the players at the top of my rankings had great first games, as well as some guys who aren’t in my top 100 at this point.
Jonathan Adams Jr, WR, Arkansas State
Adams had a phenomenal game with 8 catches, 98 yards, and 3 touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with 38 seconds left. He dominated Kansas State’s defense with his 6’3” frame. Adams uses his height to attack the ball at its highest point and win 50/50 balls. He is also excellent in the short game with quick and sudden movements, surprising for someone of his size. Before the season, Adams was viewed as more of a Day 3 pick, but if he can keep up this performance and continue to grow, I think we can see him enter Day 2 talk.
Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
The son of a Pro Bowl cornerback, Asante Samuel Jr. put on a show in Tallahassee this weekend. He finished the game with 2 interceptions and 2 pass deflections, and he was even more disruptive than those numbers indicate. Samuel is an aggressive cornerback who stays sticky on his receivers. He is also very intelligent and rarely makes mental mistakes. Samuel has a chance to be a top 40 pick in the upcoming draft.
Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
Wilson simply dominated the Georgia Tech offensive line all game on Saturday. He didn’t put up great stats, but he was double teamed almost the entire game. His biggest contribution in the game fame in the form of 2 blocked field goals in the first half. Wilson has a large body with a low center of gravity that makes it nearly impossible to push him around. He’s also mobile and his movement are very fluid. Wilson is currently my 11th ranked player and I recently mocked him to the Miami Dolphins at 10 overall.
Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Syracuse defense contained the North Carolina offense for 3 quarters before heir offense went off in the 4th quarter, but Cisco was a huge part of that effort in the first 3 quarters. Cisco made a big interception early in the 3rd quarter when the score was still 7-3, setting up the Syracuse offense in a great position. Cisco is a playmaking ballhawk, and this interception marks the 13th in his college career. He had fantastic range and any deep ball against him stands a chance to be picked off. Rangy, playmaking, ballhawk free safeties are valued very high, part of the reason Cisco is currently my 26th ranked player in the upcoming draft.
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
We know what kind of playmaker Etienne is, and it was mildly surprising to hear he was coming back for his senior year instead of declaring for the draft. I wasn’t sure what Etienne had left to prove, but he picked things up on Saturday where he left them last year. He had 17 carries for 107 yards (6.3 ypc), and 1 touchdown. Etienne is just so good in open space. He has great speed, balance, and change of direction. If he continues to prove that he’s only getting better, I think he can see him drafted in the first round this year.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
After being one of the most highly touted incoming college football players in recent memory, Lawrence had a phenomenal freshman year, and then a lackluster sophomore campaign. He was still the favorite to be selected first overall in the upcoming draft for most (including me) over the summer, but the consensus was that he needed to show more of what we saw in 2018, and less of 2019. And Lawrence kicked off the 2020 season doing just that. He really looked great, throwing for 351 yards and 1 touchdown with a 79% completion rate. He also added 2 touchdowns on the ground. I’m not looking for Lawrence to throw for 400 yards and 5 touchdowns every game; I’m looking for him to control the Clemson offense and improve his mechanics. He fully displayed that growth in the season opener, and at this point, I’d be shocked if he isn’t the first player selected in the draft.
Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC
The star of the North Carolina defense did not disappoint in the season opener. Surratt was all over the place on defense, racking up 9 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Surratt has one of the highest potentials out of anyone in college football this season. He is currently just outside my top 50 prospects, but if he builds upon his performance in week one throughout the season, I could see him being a first round pick. He is very physical and is a great off-ball pass rusher, but he is also very good in pass coverage. I’m very excited to watch his growth this season.