With my focus being on the Raiders preseason the last couple weeks, the College Football Season has snuck up on me. That’s right, the College game gets started Thursday night. Hallelfuckinujah, the long wait is over, real football is back.
So with that, the return of a regular column (well as regular as any column here) is warranted. That’s right, it’s “If you only watch one game this weekend”.
As always, I may not pick the best match-up, I watch College football to root for my favorite teams, and to look at guys with NFL potential. So if you read this column I hope to give you an Idea of what players to keep an eye on so that you can bring more to your NFL draft discussion in April than rehashing whatever Mel Kiper has told you.
There is an easy choice this week for everyone to watch, as Tennessee travels to UCLA to take on the Bruins. But that is Monday night, what else are you going to be doing as you digest that big BarBQ meal. Honestly, if you aren’t planning to watch that game, just leave my site. That’s right, go click somewhere else you damn commie.
Ok, if you are still here, it is safe to assume you are watching that game anyway. So lets look at another match up that you should be spending your valuable long weekend watching. If you already have Saturday night plans, well set the TiVo and watch Sunday morning as you nurse your hangover. Because Alabama vs. Clemson bears watching.
I won’t lie to you, there isn’t allot of talent held over here from the pre Saban regime. But there are a couple Jr’s and Sr’s worth watching.
Andre Smith, OT (6-4, 340)
A first team All-SEC selection as a sophomore, Smith should only build on that success in his Jr year. Smith is already projected as a potential 1st round prospect. Keep an eye on the Match-up between Smith and fellow Jr Ricky Sapp, as it will give you a feel for how both of them stack up vs. top competition.
Antoine Caldwell, C (6-3, 305)
Caldwell had an excellent sophomore year, but injuries all over the line cause him to be shuffled around last year. That movement along the line may actually increase his draft stock as NFL scouts now have film on him at both guard positions as well as center. Nasty player, and a team leader, Caldwell should here his name called in the 1st 3 rounds if he continues to build on the last 2 seasons.
Like I said, this is a little thin, but there will be plenty of freshman and Sophomores to peek your interest. I could tell you about Leigh Tiffen (K) but he is a kicker, who cares.
Now here is something to get excited about, when Clemson has the ball the talent is all over the field, and should give you plenty to watch.
Cullen Harper, QB (6-3, 220)
Harper is listed just under the NFL’s desired size for a QB, but his play on the field last year has garnered some 1st round buzz. If you read the football outsiders (and why wouldn’t you, go to their site and buy a ProFootball Prospectus) you know that the best predictor of future success for QB’s is games started and completion percentage. For his 1st season as a starter, Harper was 2nd in the SEC in terms of completion percentage. If he can stay healthy this year, he will be looking at 26 career starts. A repeat of last season’s success will have him high on many boards.
James Davis, RB (5-11, 210)
A two time First Team All-ACC selection, Davis suffered a setback in spring practices with a separated shoulder that required surgery. He is expected to return to form this season, and should be looked at as a potential 1st – 2nd round pick if he does.
C.J. Spiller, RB (5-11, 193)
If Davis isn’t ready to go, Spiller is more than capable of picking up the slack. He is already a dangerous kick returner, and should get more looks coming out of the backfield this season, as he is a better receiver than Davis. Don’t be surprised to see this junior enter the NFL after this season, as he could immediately start many places as a 3rd down back.
Aaron Kelly, WR (6-5, 190) & Jacoby Ford, WR (5-10, 188)
Clemson brings a formidable pair out as their starters at WR, Kelly has been rated as the top WR in the ACC by CollegeFootballNews. He may lack the ideal speed for the NFL, but his size will garner him some long looks. Ford may not have Kelly’s ideal size, but he more than makes up for that with his explosion. His season was ended early due to injury last year, but he should be able to come back from that broken ankle and cause headaches for opposing DC’s. Both currently carry 2nd-3rd round grades.
When ‘Bama has the ball:
Michael Hamlin, SS (6-3, 206)
The Tigers leader on Defense, Hamlin has the size, speed and ball hawking ability that will get the attention of NFL scouts. His speed will be called into question, but even with that concern he should go on the 1st day if he continues to play as he has in the past.
Ricky Sapp, DE (6-4, 242)
Sapp bears some close watching, as the back-up to Gains Adams in 2006 he still was 2nd in sacks on the team. He seemed to take a step back in the 2007 season as a starter at the Tiger’s “bandit” DE position. His numbers were good, but you would expect better based on what he showed in flashes the previous season. If he wants to go pro after this, his junior, season he needs to take his game to the next level. If he does, you are looking at a 1st day pick, with 1st round potential.
There you go, you want to impress your friends with you knowledge of the college game when NFL draft season commences, watch this game and keep an eye on the players listed above. Its not that hard, sit on your couch, turn on the TV, open your beer. Life is good again, football is back.