Assuming everyone is healthy, we picked five prospects (click pictures for write-ups) to keep an eye on in tomorrow night’s Florida State versus Miami (Fla.) contest in Week 4 of the 2020 college football season. One of the potential key matchups could be between Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and Miami (Fla.) offensive guard D.J. Scaife, Jr. It is a battle that could get grimy between the two talented linemen. In addition, there is a big challenge for FSU safety Hamsah Nasirildeen -if available- versus Hurricanes tight end/H-back Brevin Jordan.
In a weekend full of defensive standouts in college football, Tulane’s bookends -Cameron Sample (6’3, 280) and Patrick Johnson (6’3, 255)- perhaps gave a preview of things to come for the American Athletic Conference in 2020. They were joined by two Sun Belt defenders who thrived in terms of versatility.
5 Cameron Sample
6’3 280 DE-Senior
Most of the Green Wave’s attention from NFL scouts has been centered on defensive line mate Patrick Johnson. On Saturday, Johnson posted two sacks to take his career total to 16.5. However, Sample’s performance in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game versus South Alabama gave credence to the feeling that this will be his breakout year.
In the past, his lower body extremity issues have limited his development. Transformative weight gains have taken him from a 245-pound high school senior into 280-pound behemoth. The Snellville, Georgia native described the process in an interview with www.nola.com back in August 2019 :
“It was just a little bit of everything — God, genetics and hard work,” he said. “Eating, working out and my trainer back home helped me out by getting me working with NFL guys. I started really taking it seriously and just blossomed.”
While he has played some as an inside-shade defensive end, the team is now using him to stand up and rush (as has it has in the past) with his hand in the dirt. His increased feel of influencing the offensive tackle off of his third step up the field now complements his unique combination of power and hand usage.
For his efforts on Saturday, Sample was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week (https://tulanegreenwave.com/news/2020/9/14/football-sample-named-american-athletic-conference-defensive-player-of-the-week.aspx).
7 tackles, 2 QB sacks, 3.5 TFLs, FF
94 Jeffrey Gunter
6’4 260 DE/OLB-Junior
Gunter is yet another defensive lineman/outside linebacker who takes a backseat to a teammate. Gunter plays the Bandit position for the Chanticleers. Fellow DE Tarron Jackson actually set a Coastal Carolina record with 10 quarterback sacks in 2019 and also recorded a quarterback hurry and tackle for loss in Saturday night’s 38-23 win versus Kansas.
It was Gunter, however, who made the types of plays on Saturday that will catch the eyes of scouts. In the second quarter, the team’s Bandit linebacker jumped up to tip a pass to himself off the edge to make an athletic grab for an interception. His linear frame allows him to cloud passing lanes.
Back in 2018, Gunter posted five quarterback sacks and 14 tackles for loss for the Chanticleers before transferring to NC State for the 2019 campaign. The Riverside High School product decided to return to Coastal Carolina in 2020 and got off to a fast start this past weekend. HIs fluidity on line games stands out when filtering inside to slither through gaps.
4 tackles, QB sack, 2 TFLs and INT
10 Traveion Webster
5’11 209 LB-Senior
How could a player who participated in a 37-7 blowout loss versus Army make this list?
It’s easy. He was simply the player with the most energy of any of the Warhawks on Saturday afternoon. Up until this season, his career-high in tackles was just 27 (2019). In fact, he had not been a legitimate starter in any of his previous three years on campus.
HIs ferocity stood out in the second quarter of the game on an outstanding kickoff cover down the field. In Saturday’s contest, he flashed an ability to time delayed blitzes, scraped well to handle some of Army’s triple option schemes and overall flashed explosiveness on contact throughout the contest.
11 tackles, QB hit
After a breakout sophomore season that saw him rush for 890 yards and 12 touchdowns, Brown is continuing to add elements to his game. The Meadville High School (Pa.) is efficient running in-between the tackles and contains the home run speed to stretch defenses. Brown finished the 2019 campaign on a high note, as he was named the 2019 Cotton Bowl MVP. Brown set a Pennsylvania prep level record with a 10.43 time in the 100 meters, besting the mark by former Olympic sprinter and gold medalist Leroy Burrell.
Etienne -the back-to-back ACC Player of the Year (2018-19)- began his senior campaign with a 17-carry, 102-yard performance versus Wake Forest (9-12-20). In typical fashion, the all-purpose playmaker added three receptions for 47 yards. His collegiate production has largely matched the Louisiana native’s high school resume’, when he accounted for 115 total touchdowns at Jennings High School (La.). We break down his versatile skill-set in our highlight feature on Etienne.
Sewell’s entry into the 2021 NFL Draft comes on the heels of a 2019 campaign at Oregon that saw him win the Pac-12’s Morris Trophy (top offensive lineman), earn unanimous All-American honors, the Outland Trophy and Polynesian College Football Co-Player of the Year honors. Perhaps the most dominant offensive lineman in all of college football, the American Samoan native earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 despite missing six games due to injury. His rare combination of power and agility has been evident since his days as a U.S. Army All-American at Desert Hills High School (Utah).
We talked about Blankenship’s ability to disguise last season after he earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors following a two-interception performance against Tennessee State (see below). After a strong start to the 2019 campaign, the senior defensive back went down to an ankle injury in mid-October. Blankenship enters 2020 with over 200 tackles (233), 15.5 tackles for losses, eight interceptions, 18 passed defensed and two blocked kicks. The former West Limestone HS (Ala.) star has a chance to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft.We break down his diverse, well-rounded game in our video feature.
Lenoir, a former four-star recruit as an athlete coming out of Salesian HS (Calif.), brings a fast aggressive approach to the cornerback spot. Not only does he support the run with an element of pizzazz, he works to disrupt the wide receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage. After making the numerical switch from No. 15 to No. 6 in 2019, the AP second-team All-Pac-12 corner finished with 47 tackles and nine passes defensed. In a conference loaded with solid players on the edges, the senior will look to take the next step in 2020 along with running mate Thomas Graham, Jr.
Auburn senior LB K.J. Britt brings the thunder week-to-week in the SEC. In his first year as a starter, Britt earned All-SEC honors after breaking out as a junior with 10 tackles for loss. We take a quick peek at his game in our video spotlight.
Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell has already left his mark with the Cardinals in just two seasons on campus. The speedy 5-foot-9 wideout is perhaps the ACC’s toughest one-on-one tackle in the open field. The former Miami Northwestern High School (Fla.) Miami-Dade County Player of the Year starred as a quarterback at the prep level. His on-field savvy is present when diagnosing either zone or man coverage. Atwell led the ACC in receiving yards in 2019 (1,276) and finished second in receiving touchdowns (12).
Prior to getting selected as the second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Bregman was a three-year standout for the LSU Tigers. A collegiate shortstop, his defensive prowess may have even outmatched his productivity at the plate. Since moving on to the major leagues, Bregman’s power at the plate may rank as a surprise, but his arm strength does not. We take a quick photographic journey into his collegiate days with a couple of videos mixed in-between. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP has turned into one of Major League Baseball’s brightest young stars.