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Prospects to know for the 2017 Cotton Bowl: Ohio State Buckeyes vs USC Trojans

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The Trojans and Buckeyes prospects to know for the 2017 Cotton Bowl

UCLA v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

One of the biggest games in the college football bowl season is tonight, as the USC Trojans take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in a classic Rose Bowl matchup... In the Cotton Bowl.

This game is loaded with top end prospects, so get your viewing glasses and notes ready to go.

Cotton Bowl - Friday 8:30 PM ET, ESPN
Southern California vs Ohio State

#14 Sam Darnold QB USC 6’4” 220
Season Stats: 277/435 (63.7%) 3787 YDS 8.7 YPA 26 TD 12 INT 5 rush TD

All season long, the rumor mill has steered me to believe that Darnold will return to USC next season. However, in the press conference leading into this game, the redshirt sophomore left the door open, saying it would be an honor to be drafted first overall.

#25 Ronald Jones II RB USC 6’ 200
Season Stats: 1486 YDS 6.1 AVG 18 TD rushing, 14 REC 187 YDS 13.4 AVG 1 TD

Jones has established new career highs in rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns each season at USC. Despite a slim frame that draws Jamaal Charles comparisons, Jones has impressed me with his toughness as an inside runner, and willingness to block. He has a year of eligibility remaining, but he’s already being projected as a Day Two draft pick, and I expect him to declare.

#80 Deontay Burnett WR USC 6’ 170
Season Stats: 74 REC 975 YDS 13.2 AVG 9 TD

#42 Uchenna Nwosu LB USC 6’2” 240
Season Stats: 71 TKL (43 solo) 9.5 TFL 7.5 SCK 1 INT 13 PBU

Nwosu tied for second on the team in sacks this season, and led the Trojans in pass breakups. At the moment he’s set to be USC’s lone representative at the Senior Bowl next month.

#94 Rasheem Green DL 6’4” 275
Season Stats: 39 TKL (18 solo) 11.5 TFL 9 SCK 1 FF 4 PBU

#12 Denzel Ward CB OSU 5’10” 191
Season Stats: 37 TKL (30 solo) 2 INT 15 PBU 2 kick BLK

#54 Billy Price C OSU 6’4” 312

Price is a former high school defensive lineman who has started games at both guard spots and center. He’s set to tie a school record by playing in his 55th game when this one kicks off.

#17 Jerome Baker LB OSU 6’1” 225
Season Stats: 67 TKL (39 solo) 6.5 TFL 3 SCK 1 FF 3 PBU 1 TD

#59 Tyquan Lewis DE OSU 6’4” 265
Season Stats: 15 TKL (9 solo) 7.5 TFL 6 SCK 1 FF 2 PBU

#6 Sam Hubbard DE OSU 6’5” 265
Season Stats: 38 TKL (24 solo) 10 TFL 4.5 SCK 2 FF

#11 Jalyn Holmes DE OSU 6’5” 270
Season Stats: 25 TKL (14 solo) 2 TFL 1 SCK 2 PBU

#86 Dre’Mont Jones DT OSU 6’3” 295
Season Stats: 20 TKL (10 solo) 5 TFL 1 SCK 2 PBU 1 kick BLK

#25 Mike Weber RB OSU 5’10” 214
Season Stats: 608 YDS 6.3 AVG 10 TD rushing, 9 REC 78 YDS 8.7 AVG receiving

Weber is only a redshirt sophomore, and while he won’t crack 1000 yards as he did last season, he has broken a number of long runs, and thrived as a goal line back while sharing carries with freshman J.K. Dobbins. The Buckeyes would love to have both runners back for 2018, but my hunch is Weber will forgo his final two years of eligibility rather than return to scrape for touches as part of a talented, crowded college backfield.

#74 Jamarco Jones OT OSU 6’5” 310

Jones is a two-year starter at left tackle, and has accepted an invitation to the Shrine Game next month.

#7 Damon Webb S OSU 5’11” 195
Season Stats: 56 TKL (39 solo) 2 TFL 4 INT 3 PBU

#85 Marcus Baugh TE OSU 6’5” 250
Season Stats: 24 REC 264 YDS 11.0 AVG 5 TD

#16 J.T. Barrett QB OSU 6’2” 220
Season Stats: 229/354 (64.7%) 2939 YDS 8.3 YPA 35 TD 9 INT passing, 732 YDS 4.9 AVG 10 TD rushing

Barrett is the Big Ten’s career leader in passing touchdowns and total touchdowns accounted for (passing plus rushing), and he’s a three-time Big Ten Quarterback of the Year. He’s also the Ohio State record-holder in passing yards, total offense, and wins, and he’s set a bevy of other single-season and single-game school standards. Despite the accolades, NFL scouts have never been high on Barrett’s physical talents. His arm strength is average, he doesn’t throw with anticipation, and much of his success is derived from his ability to hide the ball on fakes, and threaten the defense with his running. Barrett will impress NFL personnel people with his poise and leadership, but I think he’ll be a late round pick, or priority free agent. Like Jones, Barrett plans to represent the Buckeyes at the Shrine Game.