In the Spotlight
Senior Bowl Update
After 12 acceptances last week, the Senior Bowl announced 16 more official invitations this week, and a 17th name trickled at some point as well. Here's a look at the latest round of prospects who plan to showcase their talents in Mobile, Alabama this January.
Zay Jones WR East Carolina
Jones became the FBS all-time leader in receptions last week, breaking former ECU star Justin Hardy's record set in 2014. This week Jones takes aim at Freddie Barnes' record of 155 catches in a single season, and needs just five to do it. Jones has reached double-digit reception totals in 10 games this season, including 22 against South Carolina.
Dede Westbrook WR Oklahoma
Westbrook arrived at Oklahoma two years ago via Blinn Community College, and has developed into one of the country's most dangerous big-play threats. He's currently second in the FBS in receiving yards, and tied for third with 15 receiving touchdowns.
Trent Taylor WR Louisiana Tech
Taylor is a 5'8" 178-pound slot receiver who currently sits third in the nation in receiving yards, behind Jones and Westbrook. Senior Bowl scouting coordinator Patrick Woo teased this fact a few hours before Monday's round of accepted invites was announced:
I'll guess receiving yards: Zay Jones, Dede Westbrook, Trent Taylor https://t.co/wY6YHECXjs— Justin Higdon (@afc2nfc) November 21, 2016
Jamaal Williams RB BYU
Despite missing the final month of 2014 with a knee injury, and all of last season due to a suspension for violating team rules, the fifth-year senior is still only 21 years old. In eight games this season, Williams has 1034 yards and 10 TDs on the ground this season.
Dan Feeney G Indiana
Feeney missed time earlier this season with a concussion, but he's an experienced, four-year starter, who's seen time at guard and tackle. He projects inside at the pro level.
Freddie Stevenson FB Florida State
Stevenson is the second fullback to accept an invite, and as I mentioned last week, that should cover this year's one-per-team requirement.
Tanzel Smart DL Tulane
Smart has racked up 4.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss this season from his spot on the interior defensive line.
Duke Riley LB LSU
In his first year as a starter, Riley has been in on 85 tackles and has nine tackles for loss
Larry Ogunjobi DL Charlotte
Ogunjobi is an undersized interior lineman who has 27.5 tackles for loss in Charlotte's first two seasons at the FBS level.
Tanoh Kpassagnon DE Villanova
Based on frame alone, the towering 6'7" 290-pound Kpassagnon (pronounced "pass-N-yo) will draw comparisons to Calais Campbell and DeForest Buckner, if he hasn't already. I saw at least one Ziggy Ansah comp earlier this year. I haven't seen Kpassagnon yet, but this will be a terrific opportunity for him to prove he can take on higher-level competition, and that his FCS production (8.5 sacks 19 TFLs in 2016) is no fluke.
Zane Gonzalez K Arizona State
Gonzalez is considered the top kicker in the draft, with an 83.5% success rate on field goals in his four seasons at ASU. This year, he is 23-for-24 on field goals, including seven out of eight from 50 yards or longer, and a season-long 59 yarder against Colorado.
Johnathan "Rudy" Ford S Auburn
Ford has a career-high 4.5 tackles for loss and seven pass breakups so far this season.
Evan Engram TE Ole Miss
Based on his team bio, Engram's weight is up eight pounds this season, but even at 235, he'd still be considered a receiver/tight end "tweener" which might be a hangup for some NFL personnel people. His production, however, is unquestionable. Engram's 65 catches, 926 yards and eight touchdowns are all career highs, and he has averaged over 14 yards per catch throughout his career.
Jessamen Dunker G Tennessee State
Dunker is an experienced, four-year starter who has seen action at left tackle and both guard spots. He originally attended Florida, but transferred after the 2012 season, and a January 2013 arrest for stealing a moped.
Dion Dawkins OT Temple
Dawkins has logged three full seasons worth of starts at left tackle for the Owls.
Vince Biegel LB Wisconsin
After totaling 15.5 sacks in 2014 and 2015, Biegel has been slowed this season by a foot injury.
Ezra Robinson CB Tennessee State
Robinson came to TSU after transferring from Michigan State following the 2013 season. This year, the 6'1" 180-pound corner has five interceptions and eight pass breakups in 11 games.
Box Score of the Week
Courtland Sutton WR SMU
13 REC 252 YDS 2 TD
Sutton is rarely included with Clemson's Mike Williams and Western Michigan's Corey Davis in the conversation for the top "big" receiver in the 2017 draft. Perhaps because Sutton is only a third-year sophomore, some analysts haven't quite caught up to him. He's a smooth athlete whose basketball background shows up when he screens off defensive backs on curls and slants. He reminds me of Josh Gordon as a prospect. After last weekend's dominant performance, Sutton is up to 70 catches for 1186 yards (16.9 AVG) and nine touchdowns on the season, and he's rumored to be leaning toward declaring for the draft.
Hot Takes of the Week
TBH I think stuffing is trash:/ sorry.— meb (@mershady_) November 25, 2016
Mac and cheese is trash.— Sad Dad (@YoungAdolf_) November 24, 2016
All of your Thanksgiving food takes. It's one thing if you don't care for cranberry sauce, or pumpkin pie isn't your cup of tea, but when you start bad-mouthing the classics like stuffing, turkey or mac-and-freaking-cheese on twitter? What the hell is wrong with you? Before social media became prominent, I seriously never knew so many people remained picky eaters as adults. Grow up!
Michigan at Ohio State Saturday Noon ET
Michigan has been teasing that injured quarterback Wilton Speight may play, but I'm not buying it. I'm expecting redshirt junior John O'Korn to get the call against an Ohio State secondary that boasts Marshon Lattimore (four INTs, nine pass breakups), Gareon Conley (three INTs, seven PBUs), and Malik Hooker (five INTs, four PBUs). The winner of this game will be in primo position to secure an FBS playoff berth.
Michigan State at Penn State Saturday 3:30 PM ET
An Ohio State win means the Nittany Lions would earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game by beating the Spartans. Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell has missed the last two games with an injury, and I'm betting he sits out this week too. If so, that leaves PSU receiver Chris Godwin vs the MSU secondary as perhaps the best matchup of draft-eligible talents in the game.
Auburn at Alabama Saturday 3:30 PM ET
The Iron Bowl features Alabama's critically-acclaimed defense. I feel like I put them in this spot every week. Jonathan Allen, Reuben Foster, Tim Williams, Marlon Humphrey etc etc etc. The aforementioned Johnathan Ford, and defensive lineman Montravius Adams are the headliners for the Auburn D.
Notre Dame at USC Saturday 3:30 PM ET
With seven losses, the Irish won't be bowl-eligible, so this may be the last chance to see quarterback DeShone Kizer in a college setting. USC star cornerback Adoree Jackson and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster are likely to declare for the draft after the season, but the Trojans can still get into the Pac 12 Championship Game if Colorado loses to Utah
Utah at Colorado Saturday 7:30 PM ET
Colorado QB Sefo Liufau is coming off a huge game against Washington State, and is having his best season passing and running the football. I'd expect him to get a Senior Bowl invitation in the near future. Utah junior safety Marcus Williams has four interceptions on the year, and is considered a candidate for early entry into the 2017 NFL draft.