Saturday was a weird day in college football, and the SEC was mainly responsible. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; honestly, I’d say it’s a good thing. A couple of months ago we were praying that there would be a college football season, and now we’re not only just getting college football, but insanely entertaining games.
Ole Miss scored 48 points on 647 yards against Alabama, something we haven’t seen with this Alabama defense under Nick Saban; after launching the Air Raid on the SEC to the tune of 44 points against LSU in Week One, Mississippi State scores only 2 points today against Kentucky, not even notching a single offensive point; the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas did not disappoint with a 4OT instant classic, LSU scored 41 points against Missouri and still lost; and Florida’s explosive offense led by Kyle Trask put up 38 points, but their defense gave up 41 points and 543 yards to Texas A&M in their upset loss.
It was an offensive explosion around college football today and many draft-eligible prospects were big parts of that. I try to not mention prospects on these weekly prospects recap articles multiple times, so I won’t be writing up guys like Trevor Lawrence, Jaylen Waddle, or the Florida trio of Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, and Kadarius Toney this week, despite excellent games from them.
Week 5 Top Performances:
Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas
Despite the loss to Oklahoma, Ehlinger gave it his all and nearly led Texas to a miraculous victory. He stuffed the stat sheet, throwing for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also rushing for 112 yards and 4 touchdowns. I’ve always seen Ehlinger as someone who was going to go down as a great college QB, but never really making it in the NFL. After watching him this weekend, I’m starting to change my mind. I’m not saying he’s now suddenly a first-round prospect, but what we saw against Oklahoma could end up huge for Ehlinger down the line.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris had a game of pure domination against Ole Miss on Saturday. He had 23 carries for 208 yards and 5 touchdowns. That is not a typo; he had 5 touchdowns. Harris was simply unstoppable in this game, something that is starting to become a trend for him, not just something that happened against a weak Ole Miss defense. He was stiff-arming, running through , and even jumping over defenders. This performance just adds to the surprise that Harris decided to skip the NFL Draft last year and return to Alabama for his senior season. He was ranked inside my pre-season top 25, but he’s certainly earned himself a bump up on my list. I’m not the biggest fan of drafting running backs in the first round, but Harris is someone who I would break that thought for me.
Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Georgia continues to develop really good secondary prospects. I’ve spoken about Georgia CB Tyson Campbell previously, but now it is Stokes’ turn for recognition. He shut down whoever Tennessee out in front of him, recording 0 catches allowed, 2 pass break ups, and 1 interception on 5 targets. Over the course of the season, he has only allowed 2 catches for 24 yards, resulting in a 16.6% completion rate. Obviously that is an insane number that could regress, but opposing QBs don’t even want to throw his way. Stokes is a very strong Day Two draft prospect, that has a chance to be not only an early second round pick, but a great steal in the draft if he is drafted outside of the top 50.
Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
As I’ve noted before, I don’t like repeating prospects on my weekly recap articles. So in order to be repeated, a prospect would need to have a really phenomenal performance. And that’s just what Etienne did on Saturday. He didn’t put up the gaudy stats like Najee Harris, but it was more about how he got the stats he did. He ended the game rushing for 17 carries, 149 yards, and 2 touchdowns, while adding 8 catches for 73 yards. One of Etienne’s run featured a crazy ability of balance, bouncing of a tackle attempt while somehow remaining upright and running in for the score. Etienne is another running back prospect that makes me very excited about his future, and someone who I believe will be a top 40 pick, while being a top 20 talent.
Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
Despite Georgia’s excellent secondary, Palmer put up an incredible performance against them. His stats look average with 4 receptions for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns, but once again, it was how he got those stats that was really impressive. His first touchdown grab was an incredible display of elite body control, adjusting to a poorly thrown ball over the top of the defender, and maintaining his balance to complete the play and run in for the score. Palmer makes 50-50 balls 80-20 in his favor, making him a quarterback’s best friend. There are a lot of really good receivers in this draft class, but Palmer can be one of the best Day Two steals.