Christopher’s ball handling continues to impress in the open court, and it has actually been an impressive part of his game since his days as a Las Vegas prepster. Early in the second half against Arizona (11-3, 5-3), he used a crossover, kept his balance and then finished at the cup for a bucket while drawing the foul, eventually finishing for a three-point play (2nd Half/16:36, Arizona ’21). The former five-star recruit is averaging 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for a Sun Devils team that has largely disappointed in 2020-21.
Later, he ran the court and just missed an opportunity for a transition shot block due to a goal tend. On the team’s next possession he knocked down a corner three off the catch-and-shoot to tie the score at 48. If it wasn’t enough, he was seen hustling for a loose ball to try and save a ball going out of bounds in-between those sequences.
Christopher contests versus drives to the basket in transition defense without fouling, even when giving up baskets in these instances (2nd half, Arizona ’21). Fouls, however, have been an issue in his first 11 career contests, posting four or more in five games. Becoming a more efficient passer within half court sets is an area that he could also look to improve the rest of the season.
His activity has to be a factor in all phases because he isn’t efficient behind the three-point line (25%), yet shoots 45% from the field and is excellent from the free throw line (85%). As a unit, the Sun Devils have a tendency to play in spurts. After Christopher nailed a three-pointer at the 2:24 mark of the second half to put Arizona State (4-7, 1-4) up 82-77, the Wildcats ran off the last seven points of the game to close out an 84-82 victory.
Petty has been one of the more consistent players in the SEC over the last four seasons and he has rightfully earned his place as one of the most impressive long range artists in the country. Want proof? Over his last three games, the senior guard is connecting at a blistering 65% rate from behind the three-point line.
Aside from just shooting three-point shots at a high rate (698 career attempts as of 1/20/21), he’s been rather efficient, connecting at 39.1% clip for his career. Petty very easily could have joined fellow Crimson Tide guard Kira Lewis in the 2020 NBA Draft if he had chosen to leave school a year early.
Instead, Petty -a former AAU standout with Team Penny dating all the way back to 2016- stayed in school for one more season to increase the chances of hearing his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. The 18th-ranked Crimson Tide currently lead the SEC in three-point field goals per game (11) and rank sixth in the country in that same category (175 three-pointers).
The former five-star recruit stands out from the either the left or right wings off the catch-and-shoot, but he has also displayed his quick release from the corners of the court. He connected on 80% of his 10 three-point shots (made his first seven) to lead an Alabama charge that finished with an SEC-record 23 three-pointers in a resounding 105-75 win over LSU.
The Crimson Tide improved to 7-0 in SEC play and are led by a sharp shooter who plays on both ends of the floor. Aside from his three-point barrage, Petty also contributed three steals versus the Tigers (1/20/21). He has averaged over a steal per game in each of the last two seasons while also attacking the glass with vengeance. He tallied 6.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 and is currently averaging 5.2 rebounds per game. After struggling with turnovers in 2019-20 (nine games with four or more turnovers), he is taking better care of the basketball as a senior (nine games with one or fewer turnovers).
The decision by the NCAA to give everyone an extra year of eligibility gave Werts a new lease on life as a college football player. It is not like he hasn’t produced at Georgia Southern. In fact, prior to announcing on Twitter that he had entered the transfer portal (eventually committed to Louisville), the now former Eagle finished off his career with an MVP performance in the 2020 New Orleans Bowl. In that contest, he sliced up the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a 65-yard touchdown strike that traveled 52 yards in the air. He finished with 126 yards passing and one touchdown, while rushing for 71 yards and three more scores.
Due to the Eagles spread option attack, some felt Werts would look to throw the ball more at another school. However, he has been working at the wide receiver spot in possible hopes of a transition to that spot potentially in the ACC. In four seasons as the team’s starting quarterback, Werts finished with 3,778 yards passing (57%), 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Perhaps just as impressively, he rushed for 3,072 yards (4.4 YPC) and 34 more scores.
Werts has a bevy of highlights, but his two-point conversion spin cycle throw to put the Eagles up by one point against Louisiana in 2020 serves as a true gauge of his multi-purpose capability.
The Texas A&M Aggies finished off a 9-1 campaign with a fourth quarter flurry of scores versus a game North Carolina Tar Heels team that played without a plethora of its offensive firepower. We go inside the action with a photo gallery that describes some of the best action in the Aggies 41-27 victory over the Tar Heels. The game’s ebbs and flows were befitting of a New Year’s Six bowl.
2021 Capital One Orange Bowl halftime show
Hard Rock Stadium was the host for the 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl and the fireworks display at halftime was befitting of a new year.
Isaiah Spiller RB Texas A&M
First-team All-SEC RB Isaiah Spiller scored the first touchdown of the game behind Texas A&M TE Ryan Renick. Spiller went over the 1,000-yard mark (1,036) with 11 carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
DeMarvin Leal makes the tackle
Leal (No. 8 seen tackling UNC RB Josh Henderson) started the game strong and was active throughout the contest. The former U.S. Army All-American finished 2020 with 2.5 QB sacks and seven tackles for losses. He also had a fumble recovery, interception and three pass breakups on the year.
Bobby Brown III vs. Brian Anderson
On the last play of the first half, Texas A&M first-team All-SEC defensive tackle Bobby Brown III beat the block by UNC center Brian Anderson and put his 325 pounds on Tar Heels RB British Brooks.
Dazz Newsome TD catch
Despite excellent coverage by Texas A&M freshman DB Antonio Johnson (No. 27 pictured), UNC WR Dazz Newsome was able to catch the tipped pass for a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Texas A&M WR Chase Lane athletic grab
Texas A&M freshman WR Chase Lane (No. 2 pictured) had a productive season capped off by this twisting 27-yard grab in second quarter of the 2021 Orange Bowl. He finished with 29 receptions for 409 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games.
Fox vs. Hocker
UNC DT Tomari Fox (No. 56 pictured) -the younger brother of UNC OLB Tomon- fights off Aggies RG Jared Hocker (No. 73 pictured) despite giving up nearly 45 pounds.
Fox vs. Moore
Fox (No. 12 pictured) drew this third quarter holding call versus Aggies second-team All-SEC offensive tackle Dan Moore (No. 65 pictured). Fox -who finished the year with seven QB sacks and 10.5 TFLs- made the first two tackles of the game.
Kellen Mond and Isaiah Spiller
Spiller (No. 28 pictured) works downfield to get a block for quarterback Kellen Mond (No. 11 pictured) on this 24-yard run in the third quarter. The play was called back due to a holding call.
Tony Grimes QB sack
On a key third down in the third quarter, UNC freshman CB Tony Grimes chased down Texas A&M's Kellen Mond for a quarterback sack. Grimes finished the contest with three tackles, a quarterback sack and two pass breakups.
Tony Grimes covering Hezekiah Jones
Grimes was also competitive in coverage through the fourth quarter versus the Aggies wide receivers.
Texas A&M P Nik Constantinou
Texas A&M freshman punter Nik Constantinou kicks this ball off the side of his foot in the fourth quarter. Despite the shank to his left, Constantinou averaged 42 yards per punt, landed two punts inside the 20-yard line and posted one punt of 50-plus yards in the Orange Bowl.
Sam Howell QB-UNC
UNC QB Sam Howell was a dual-threat in the 2021 Orange Bowl. Not only did he complete 18-of-31 passes for 234 yards (3 TDs, INT), the sophomore signal-caller rushed for some key first downs. The yardage totals are misleading, due to the fact that he was sacked four times by the Aggies. The team gave up 34 sacks in 2020, which ranked 13th in the ACC.
Devon Achane RB-Texas A&M
Texas A&M freshman RB Devon Achane has the hand-eye coordination to get more involved in the Aggies passing game moving forward.
Eugene Asante squaring up the running back
Having the unenviable task of replacing first-team All-ACC LB Chazz Surratt (opted out of the game) proved to be no problem for UNC sophomore LB Eugene Asante (No. 7 pictured). He was a consistent presence from the onset and finished the game with 10 tackles.
2021 Capital One Orange Bowl MVP Devon Achane
At the end of the game, 2021 Capital One Orange Bowl MVP Devon Achane (pictured on the podium) was throwing oranges to his teammates. Achane -the 2020 Gatorade Texas Boys Track & FIeld Athlete of the Year- finished with 140 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 24 yards.
Johnson will get an opportunity to show what everyone has seen from him in the FCS over the last few years in the 2021 Senior Bowl later this month. The 2019 AP first-team All-American is used on fly sweeps, speed shovels, speed outs, box fades (No.2 slot), slants and even one-step screens from the No. 3 position in bunch formations (back in 2018).
He demonstrates savvy working against off-man coverage in the slot or on the outside. His biggest impact may come in the return game, where he has very good peripheral vision and balance. We had the opportunity to watch him perform in the 2018 FCS playoffs versus Kennesaw State and his hand-eye coordination impressed in that contest.
Other Notes: Attended Bellevue West HS (Neb.) and earned all-state honors after catching 16 TDs and recording 4 INTs • Was a member of a state championship team in basketball • 2017 (1,166 all-purpose yards): 23 receptions for 318 yards (13.8 YPR) and 3 TDs; 28 yds/KR and 2 TDs • 2017: 32 tackles, TFL, 5 PBUs • 2018 (AP All-American): 67 receptions for 1,332 yards and 17 TDs; 27.2 yds/KR • 2019 (AP 1st Team All-American): 72 receptions for 1,222 yards (17 YPR) and 8 TDs; 8 carries for 149 yards; 21.7 yds/KR • Career Stats: 40 games, 162 receptions for 2,872 yards (17.7 YPR) and 28 TDs; 12 carries for 182 yards (15.2 YPC); 26.7 yds/KR ad 2 TDs
2021 NFL Draft prospect Zach Wilson’s 425-yard, five-touchdown performance (3 PASS, 2 RUSH) led the day -and rightfully so- and now we take a look at some of the other pro prospects from BYU’s 49-23 victory over the UCF Knights in the 2020 Boca Raton Bowl.
95 Khyris Tonga 6’4 321 DT-Senior BYU
Tonga’s stat line will never jump off the screen. In today’s NFL, the splash interior defensive line prospects typically are able to work to half a man for quick penetration. This is not Tonga’s game. Where he does flash in the passing game revolves around his timing to cloud passing lanes.
He posted a pass breakup in this contest and recorded three in the team’s final four games of 2020. He finished his career with 12 pass deflections. The former rugby star is strong, runs well in a straight line and projects as a zero-technique in three-man fronts.
5 Dax Milne 6’0 189 WR-Junior BYU
Milne has been a model of consistency all season for the Cougars and this game was no different. There were several games this season where he flashed down the field capability in terms of high-pointing the football (see Houston ’20). The former walk-on uses deception and a quick-footed style to fool defensive backs. It is a big reason he was the team’s second-leading receiver on third downs. One of his better patterns is the stutter-and-go comeback route (see Western Kentucky ’20), but there have been occasions where he’s made deft one-hand grabs from his quarterback down the field in contested situations (TD vs. Sails, USF ’19). Milne recently declared for the 2021 NFL Draft and he could be the program’s first receiver picked since Austin Collie in 2008 (Indianapolis Colts, 4th Round, 127th overall).
67 Brady Christensen 6’6 300 LT-Junior BYU
For the most part, Christensen has been steady. There are some occasions where players get the best of him due to a questionable anchor (see Boyles, USF ’19; Wiley, UTSA ’20). In those instances, he has even been knocked to the ground. Mobility and foot quickness, however, make him a viable option to hear his name called this spring after recently declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. In this contest, he was adept at baiting the opponent up the field, particularly on QB Zach Wilson’s quarterback draw for a touchdown in the first quarter. Christiensen is also agile as a pulling option on the perimeter (1st QTR/0:25, Boca Raton ’20). Can he long-arm the opponent when quick-setting (2nd QTR/5:11, Boca Raton ’20)?
2 Otis Anderson 5’11 174 RB-Ret-Senior UCF
After not playing against USF, Anderson was solid in what may have been his last collegiate game (16 carries, 73 yards). He does have the option of returning for one more season. The former wide receiver finishes with over 90 career receptions and a healthy six yards per carry average.
An adept punt returner who could carve out a niche in that role, he has more than one tool in his skill-set. His foot speed will likely determine whether he can sneak into an NFL training camp.
83 Isaac Rex 6’6 247 TE-Redshirt Freshman BYU
As the season has gone on, Rex continued to work the seams both in the field and the Red Zone. He scored two or more touchdowns in five of the team’s final seven contests. The team will line him up one-on-one for back-shoulder fades (Western Kentucky ’20, 2nd QTR/0:21). And just think what this offense would have looked like had NFL prospect Matt Bushman been available all season. Versus UCF, Rex led the team with five receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns. One of his touchdowns came on a flea-flicker where he was left wide open down the right sidelines.
The former San Clemente High School (Calif.) product was a basketball recruit and part of the 2017 recruiting class. He has already served a mission in Samoa for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Is the future now?
The Mountaineers rolled the Mean Green in the inaugural 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl by a score of 56-28. We take a look at several prospects that we’ve had our eye on this season.
Appalachian State Mountaineers
6 Camerun Peoples 6’2 202 RB-Sophomore
For Peoples it was all about getting downhill over the course of the last year. In 2019, he missed most of the season with a knee injury. How would he return in 2020? The results were a bit up-and-down, as he put the ball on the turf four times (fumbles). In the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl, the game MVP displayed a build speed stride that often outpaced the angles of North Texas’ defense. His upright running style is offset by his quick one-cut ability. He scored on an outside zone late in the second quarter, displaying very good straight-line speed. Continued flexibility gains are in order for the redshirt sophomore.
12 Zac Thomas 6’1 210 QB-Senior
Thomas came into the season as perhaps the Sun Belt’s most ballyhooed quarterback, but his final stanza ended on a bit of a sour note. He struggled with decision-making in the Coastal Carolina contest and -despite a bounce back performance against Troy- ended the final month with the ball largely out of his hands. His impact as a running threat gradually faded over the final month of the year.
70 Cooper Hodges 6’4 295 RT-Sophomore
Hodges works his hands on the outside lanes. On Peoples’ 64-yard touchdown run near the end of the second quarter the sophomore finished a knockdown block by simply running his feet through the long arm of the defensive end. His hinge blocks on the backside of run away are technique-sound. He is a player to keep an eye on moving forward.
51 John “Bear” Hunter 6’3 295 RG-Senior
Hunter’s nickname is appropriate because he runs down the opposition. Hunter won to the spot versus North Texas DT Dion Novil on a reach block and then he flipped his hips to cut him off on the team’s outside zone run schemes (on more than one occasion). The former defensive lineman displays good hip torque on contact. He possesses good vision to pick up linebackers running through his gap control on run action away. The questions on Hunter revolve around length and whether he can transition into the center spot.
9 Demetrius Taylor 6’1 295 DL-Senior
Taylor posted one quarterback hurry and just two tackles in this contest. Taylor’s impact can largely go unnoticed until it doesn’t. He plays bully ball on the edge and has been one of the stronger players in the conference dating back to 2017. He finished his career with 35.5 tackles for losses and at least part of his emergence began with current Kentucky defensive line coach and former CFL standout Anwar Stewart (https://journalnow.com/sports/college/asu/app-states-demetrius-taylor-has-the-talent-to-make-a-big-impact-his-position-coach/article_7bdadc68-9943-5133-bc25-f7bfcb73f097.html).
North Texas Mean Green
97 Dion Novil 6’4 330 NT-Senior
This was a game that Novil needed to put a stamp on what had been a productive senior campaign, but he was reached and scooped by Appalachian State RG John “Bear” Hunter on Peoples’ long touchdown run near the end of the second quarter. His inactivity in this game was evidenced by a final line that included zero tackles. He was moved off of the ball versus double teams due to a tendency of playing on his toes (3rd QTR/0:21). Perhaps more disconcerting was the fact that he was unable to adjust his game versus the Mountaineers angle blocking schemes.
Memphis’ James Wiseman averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in an abbreviated three-game showcase for NBA teams. In addition, he shot over 70-percent from the free throw line while connecting on nearly 77-percent of his shots from the field. His 7-foot-6-inch wingspan allows him to alter shots and get his shot off from a number of body positions. The 7-foot-1, 237-pound Wiseman is looking to follow in the footsteps of his idol, 21-year NBA veteran Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves, Celtics, Nets), as a Top 5 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
The former Georgia Bulldog’s agility can leave offensive tackles grasping for air when aligned in either a two-point stance at outside linebacker or four-point stance at defensive end. He has satisfactory length and enough flexibility to occasionally drop into coverage on some of the team’s zone blitzes. His quick snap-count reactions have enabled him to make a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage over the last two seasons (4th QTR/3:34, Arkansas State ’19). He proved against Iowa State (2020) that he is strong to set the edge versus tight ends and some offensive tackles. At times, however, he tends to lead with his shoulders to hold gap control can be flattened as a result when spiking into inside line gaps (Georgia State ’20). So far this season, Manac has yet to match either his 2018 or 2019 production for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Justus Reed (who now wears No. 9 for Virginia Tech) opened up the 2020 campaign with a solid outing against NC State’s veteran-laden offensive line. He was able to split two blockers (RT Justin Witt and RG Joe Sculthorpe) early in the contest versus turn protection to post the first of his two sacks on the evening. In addition, his right-handed pole move (from the LDE spot) long-armed Witt and got him off-balance a couple of times.
On the downside, he was inconsistent once staying frontal versus a gap-schemed run when having to spill the football versus the pulling guard (1st half, NC State ’20). Reed also lost contain on the quarterback during the first half of the contest.
Nevertheless, his five-tackle, two-sack, two-tackle for loss performance versus the Wolfpack all started with a seventh year of eligibility.
Reed initially signed with Florida as the 285th-ranked player in the ESPN300 Class of 2014. The former Clearwater Central Catholic High School (Fla.) star posted two tackles for loss in 2015 for the Gators (see video above). The two tackles for loss in that season were sandwiched in-between a normal redshirt season in 2014 and a medical redshirt in 2016.
Injuries in Gainesville led him to leave the school for Youngstown State, where he was solid in 2017 (5 QB sacks, 6 TFLs) despite missing four games due to an arm injury (https://www.ysusports.com/sports/fball/2018-19/bios/reed_justus_swjx?view=bio). Reed finished his three-year run for the Penguins with 58 tackles, 17.5 quarterback sacks, 25 tackles for losses, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three pass break-ups.
NFL scouts may be put off by the extensive injury history, but pass rushers find a way to get home. In Reed’s case, getting back on the field was home plate. He broke down his own personal satisfaction after the Penguins win over Illinois State on November 17, 2019:
“Worked really hard this offseason (2019). Shout out to Terry Grossetti (Youngstown State strength and conditioning coach),” Reed said with a smile. “Just came out and did everything I could do. So it feels good.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tb7Geymqq3I)
Now that Reed has gotten this far, the only question is whether or not he will stay on Virginia Tech’s campus for an unprecendented eighth year.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, this season will not count against any player’s eligibility. Reed became just the fifth player to earn a seventh year of eligibility this century when he opened the 2020 season in the ACC. In 2021, he will have yet another opportunity to take advantage of that rare seventh year next fall.
So could the current Hokie actually add another mile to his seven-mile hike?
For now, the 24-year old is attempting to make another lengthy topic take over the headlines.
“I think I have pretty good length, my arms are pretty long. I can’t remember when, but we had scouts come, and they were freaking out because my arms are so long. I’ve been told I’ve been good with my hands. Converting speed to power using my long arms. Doing whatever I have to do to get back there,” Reed said in the aforementioned VTScoop piece (https://247sports.com/college/virginia-tech/Article/Justus-Reeds-Perilous-Journey-leads-to-Virginia-Tech-146165755/).
If he can continue to get to the quarterback in the ACC, then the former Florida Gator may not have to go down the eight-mile road.