Category Archives: NCAA FB

2018 Recruiting Recap: Running Backs

This group has largely proven to be a hit-or-miss proposition for many of the schools who were certain they were getting home runs at each position. Some of them carried the dreaded All-Purpose label, meaning that there was no guarantee they could carry the full-time load at the collegiate level. Others ran into a litany of issues and have found their footing at different schools.

Zamir White RB Georgia
White averaged 5.4 yards per carry for the Bulldogs in 2020.

Zamir White RB-Junior Georgia: Ranked #1 by 247Sports, Rivals, & ESPN

White redshirted in 2018 after suffering a knee injury in preseason practices. However, in 2019 he made 13 appearances with 78 total touches, displaying some of his highly-touted potential. He started all ten games for the Bulldogs this past year, finishing with three 100-yard rushing outings and 11 touchdowns. The rising junior made the most of the opportunity, displaying his abilities as a true workhouse back. If the devasting injuries are behind him, odds are he’ll be taken in the first two rounds of next year’s draft.

Lorenzo Lingard RB-Junior Miami (Fla.): Ranked #2 by 247Sports & Rivals, #4 by ESPN

Lorenzo Lingard RB Miami (Fla.)
Before transferring to Florida, Lingard eight yards per carry for the ‘Canes in 2018 (17 carries).

Lingard spent his first two seasons playing for Miami (Fla.), and appeared in six games as a freshman before a leg injury ended his season. Following his sophomore season, he transferred to the University of Florida. Lingard is known for a good mix of extreme lateral quickness, explosiveness, and bruising running power. He’ll look to expand on only five rushing attempts for the Gators last year as he heads into the 2021 season.

Ricky Slade APB Penn State: Ranked #1 by 247Sports, #2 by Rivals, & #2 by ESPN

Slade was a highly touted five-star recruit coming out of high school. However, he saw limited playing time with the Nittany Lions, grabbing 92 total touches in two seasons. He transferred to Old Dominion following his sophomore season, but it has been reported this year that he is no longer with that program either. Slade dealt with some off the field issues last year and will need to land somewhere and produce mightily on the field to re-establish his football career, if that’s what he still wants.

Jaelen Gill Ohio State
Gill, pictured, had six catches for 104 yards and one TD vs. Virginia Tech in 2020.

Jaelen Gill APB-R-Soph Ohio State: Ranked #2 by 247Sports, #3 by Rivals, & #4 by ESPN

Gill appears to have played primarily receiver while on the collegiate level. He redshirted for the Buckeyes in 2019 and had just seven receptions through two seasons. Following the year, Jaelen transferred to Boston College seeking more playing time. He logged 29 receptions for 435 yards and one touchdown, returned seven punts and had four kickoff returns this past season with the Eagles.

James Cook APB-Senior Georgia: Ranked #3 by 247Sports, #1 by Rivals, & #3 by ESPN

Cook followed top-ranked running back recruit Zamir White to Georgia after an early commitment to Florida State in 2016. He’s amassed 117 carries for 775 yards and seven touchdowns in three years as White’s primary backup. Cook has also shown capabilities out of the backfield with 40 receptions for 446 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Brian Snead RB-R-Soph Ohio State: Ranked #3 by 247Sports, #4 by Rivals, & #12 by ESPN

Brian was dismissed six months after enrolling at OSU due to an investigation (https://saturdaytradition.com/ohio-state-football/report-ex-buckeye-rb-brian-sneads-2018-suspension-stems-from-sexual-assault-accusation/). He appeared in two games with 11 rushing attempts prior to his dismissal. After spending 2019 at a community college, he transferred to Austin Peay State University. He is currently playing for the Governors as they are in midseason. Snead looks to be trying to put his unfortunate situation behind him, coming off a 227-yard, three-touchdown performance last weekend.

T.J. Pledger RB Oklahoma
Pledger caught nine passes in 2020.

T.J. Pledger APB-Junior Oklahoma: Ranked #4 by 247Sports, #5 by Rivals, & #6 by ESPN

Through three seasons with the Sooners, Pledger has had opportunities to display some of his dynamic playmaking ability. After playing in more of a reserve role his first two years, he had 95 rushes for 451 yards and five touchdowns last season. He put up big games against Texas and TCU, rushing for over 100 yards in both contests while also scoring at least one rushing touchdown. Despite a broader role in 2020, Pledger decided to transfer following the season and is now a member of the Utah Utes football team.

Ricky Person RB-Senior NC State: Ranked #4 247Sports & Rivals, & #20 by ESPN

Person has had a productive career since joining the Wolfpack, despite dealing with injuries his first two years. He rushed for 112 carries as a true freshman, and then an ankle injury limited him to only 61 rushes in 2019. Person had 147 carries last season (643 yards, 4 TDs) while starting every game. He’ll look to remain healthy and have a solid senior season. If so, it could land him on some draft boards for next year.

Harold Joiner RB-Junior Auburn: Ranked #5 by 247Sports, # 24 by Rivals, & #10 by ESPN

Joiner saw limited action in two seasons suiting up for the Tigers, posting only 15 carries through two seasons. It led him to enter the transfer portal last year. He is now committed to Michigan State and looks to compete for a starting role with two years of eligibility remaining.

Keaontay Ingram RB-Senior Texas: Ranked #4 by 247Sports, #7 by Rivals, & ESPN

Ingram totaled over 140 carries in each of his first two seasons for the Longhorns. However, this past year (with the emergence of two underclassmen in the backfield), his carries dwindled drastically. Ingram recently announced his transfer to the USC Trojans, where he looks to regain a starting role in his senior campaign.

NOTE: All positional designations were marked according to their projections coming out of high school (see APB-All-purpose back). In addition, we included the class of each player per the NCAA not counting this season as a used year of eligibility. If a player transferred (see Snead), we listed the original school who signed the recruit.

2018 Recruiting Recap: Offensive Line

Tyre Gaines takes a look back at the top offensive line recruits from the 2018 class and how they’ve progressed thus far. Who’s surpassed expectations and who may still have work to do.

77 Cade Mays and 69 Jamaree Salyer at Georgia
Cade Mays (No. 77 pictured, write-up below) and Jamaree Salyer (No. 69 pictured) were teammates at Georgia in 2019.

Jamaree Salyer OG-Junior Georgia: Ranked #1 by 247Sports and Rivals, and #2 by ESPN

Played in a reserve role in 2018, appearing in 13 of 14 games and he then played in 13 contests during the 2019 campaign. This past season, he started the first nine games at left tackle before moving to guard for the 2021 Peach Bowl. Playing in 92% of all offensive snaps for the Bulldogs last season, he showed some promise. Right now, Salyer is slated as a mid-round draft prospect in 2022.

Nicholas Petit-Frere OT-Junior Ohio State: Ranked #1 by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN

Played in all 14 games in 2019 but didn’t start. Off the field, however, he achieved Academic All-Big Ten honors. He is currently the starting right tackle at Ohio State. Petit-Frere’s intriguing reach, length and athleticism make him a legitimate prospect for either the 2022 or 2023 NFL Drafts.

Brey Walker OT-Junior Oklahoma: Ranked #2 by 247Sports, #4 by Rivals, #5 by ESPN

Walker played in 13 of 14 contests during the 2019 campaign, with two of those appearances being starts at the right guard spot. He appeared in three games in 2020, backing up projected 2021 NFL Draft pick Adrian Ealy at right tackle. Walker will compete for a starting job in 2021.

Rasheed Walker OT Penn State
Walker (No. 53 pictured vs. Minnesota in 2019) earned Honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2020.

Rasheed Walker OT Penn State Ranked #3 by 247Sports, #7 by Rivals, & #13 by ESPN:

Walker appeared in four games as a freshman and then became a starter as a redshirt sophomore. In 2019, he started 13 games at the left tackle spot. He again started all nine games for the Nittany Lions in 2020. Walker is already considered to be a surefire tackle at the next level, as he has appeared in 26 games with 22 starts, all at left tackle.

Cade Mays OT-Junior Georgia: Ranked #3 by 247Sports, Rivals, & ESPN

Mays received Freshman All-American honors in 2018, playing in 11 of 14 games with seven starts at Georgia. He saw action at every offensive line position during the 2019 season, when he started 11 of 14 contests. He decided to transfer to Tennessee prior to the 2020 season, as he is from Knoxville. Mays started all seven games for the Vols and was projected as a potential early round pick before deciding to return for the 2021 season.

Justin Dedich OC-R-Soph USC Trojans: Ranked #2 by 247Sports, #1 by Rivals, & #3 by ESPN

Dedich saw brief action as a redshirt in 2018 and was the team’s backup center in 2019 before starting the last two games. He’ll have work to do to solidify his draft position with only eight appearances thus far in his career.

Jackson Carman OT-Clemson

Jackson Carman OT-Junior Clemson Ranked #2 by 247, Rivals, & ESPN

Carman saw action with 209 snaps in 13 games in 2018. Earned third team All-ACC honors in 2019. He started all 12 games at left tackle in 2020, collecting second-team All-American honors and second-team All-ACC accolades. Carman declared for the 2021 NFL draft and is projected to be a starting guard at the next level.

Matthew Jones OC-R-Soph Ohio State: Ranked #1 by 247Sports, #7 by Rivals, & #1 by ESPN

Redshirted in 2018 and backed up All-Big Ten guard Jonah Jackson for most of 2019. Started the 2021 CFP national championship game against Alabama as a redshirt sophomore after helping fill gaps during an unorthodox Big Ten season. With continued reps and progression, Jones could be a prospect in either the 2022 or 2023 NFL Drafts.

William Barnes OT-Junior UNC: Ranked #5 by 247Sports, #2 by Rivals, & #4 by ESPN

Barnes made appearances in 12 games in each of the last two seasons. Known for quick instincts off the line and solid pass protection coming out of high school, he should look to both establish and improve his draft position in 2021. As of now, all five of the starting spots along the UNC offensive front are filled by returning lettermen.

Sewell earned Freshman All-American honors in 2018 despite missing six games due to an ankle injury.

Penei Sewell OG-Junior Oregon: Ranked #2 by 247Sports, #5 by Rivals, & #6 by ESPN

He was the first offensive lineman in Oregon history to earn all-conference honors as a true freshman. Earned various awards and honors during his two seasons with Ducks. Sewell was the first sophomore and Oregon Duck to win the Outland Trophy. Opted out of the 2020 season to focus on the draft, and he is projected as a consensus top five pick in this year’s upcoming draft.

NOTE: All positional designations were marked according to their projections coming out of high school (see Sewell). In addition, we included the class of each player per the NCAA not counting this season as a used year of eligibility. If a player transferred (see Mays), we listed the original school who signed the recruit.

Avery Williams: Walking on to the Blue Turf

Boise State return man Avery Williams went from a walk-on to an indispensable force for the Broncos. In 2019, he was voted the Mountain West Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise after notching weekly honors five times during his career. He also set the NCAA all-time record for punt and kickoff return touchdowns (nine).

Williams averaged 11.6 yards per punt return and 27.4 yards per kick return in his career.

But that’s not all…

Williams can make plays at cornerback. For his career, he had 152 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups. At cornerback, he is quick-footed and can mirror opposing receivers. How does he do it as a return man? The Pasadena, California native possesses the ability to dart, slide and break tackles on a regular basis. The former high school running back impresses on film with his balance.

For a full scouting report on Williams, purchase Corey Chavous’ 2021 NFL Draft Guide this spring.

Tutu Atwell WR-Louisville: 2021 NFL Draft Preview

Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell had 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). While he didn’t repeat the success in 2020, he stills ranks as one of the more electrifying players in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Not Your Average Joe, Tryon

Three-sport athletes that stand 6’5″ 260-plus pounds aren’t your “average Joes.” Washington Huskies edge rusher Joe Tryon looks the part and has a strong build. He matches the physical gifts with an ability to line up as both a defensive end and as an outside linebacker in a two-point stance.

Tryon (pictured) had 8 sacks in 2019.

Despite the athletic gifts, he still has room to work on his technique. He only had one year of high-level production in 2019, and it came after he posted one quarterback sack and 4.5 tackles for losses in 2018. Tryon opted out of the 2020 season but still projects as a prospect with the chops to get after the quarterback. Scheme-fit may determine if the former baseball, basketball and football standout out of Washington state’s Hazen High School translates seamlessly to the NFL.

Is he extraordinary or just an average “Joe”?

Leighton McCarthy OLB-FAU: Nocturnal

McCarthy, a four-year contributor for the Owls, feasted on opposing quarterbacks throughout his career. As a pass rusher, he demonstrated the ability to work around C-USA’s best offensive tackles with regularity in 2020. It was a season befitting of his overall consistency.

McCarthy finished 2020 with 10 quarterback sacks for an Owls defense that finished in the nation’s Top 5 in points allowed.

Former FAU defensive coordinator Chris Kiffin said back in 2017 of McCarthy, “He allows us to be multiple.” Even in that year as a 210-to-215-pound outside linebacker, the former Owl played bigger than his size. He ran the hoop to post a strip-sack versus North Texas and finished off Western Kentucky with a fourth quarter take down of quarterback Mike White. But it was his ability to play defensive end, outside linebacker and drop into coverage that Kiffin was referring to in describing McCarthy.

McCarthy finished his career with 158 tackles, 18.5 quarterback sacks, 34 tackles for losses, an interception and two forced fumbles.

For much of the 2020 season, the FAU defense (led by defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt) was the engine behind the Owls’ path through C-USA opposition. Although the team finished the season 24th in total defense nationally, they ranked ninth in scoring defense (17.4 PPG). McCarthy’s workmanlike approach caught the eyes of Florida Atlantic first-year head coach Willie Taggart.

“He’s serious about his business when here,” Taggart said prior to a scheduled game against MTSU in late November 2020.

The second-team All-C-USA performer has not always been efficient holding the edge at the point of attack (see Southern Miss ’20), but his versatility and width (78 5/8″ wingspan) give him a chance to make it as an off the ball linebacker. McCarthy (6’2, 223) has shown some aptitude in man-to-man coverage. He can drop into zone coverage and exhibit fluidity versus bootlegs when aligned on the edge. In addition, he has lined up as a hold-up guy on the punt return unit and at the left wing on the punt team. Perhaps more importantly, the team referenced that he did not miss a practice all year.

The former Owl contains many of the bird’s characteristics. He hunts his prey in a stealth manner, often surprising opponents with his quick burst to close. McCarthy has flown silently under the radar for most outside of Conference USA, but his upside could be unearthed by NFL teams operating in a nocturnal manner.

Ja’Marr… Chase Me To The End Zone

Not many players in this draft can track the ball down the field as well as LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. Of his 84 receptions in 2019, 24 of them went for 20-plus yards, a nation’s best. He has an ability to carry his pads well despite his running back-esque frame (6’0 227).

Ja’Marr Chase, the 2019 Biletnikoff Award winner, (pictured) hauls in the football.

LSU is known as DBU (Defensive Back University), but lately, with receivers like Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Justin Jefferson, the Tigers have become a home for top receiving talent. Chase looks to be another strong prospect from Baton Rouge. In 2019, he posted 84 receptions for 1,780 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Can Chase be dynamic after the catch like the aforementioned receivers from Louisiana State? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, don’t expect too much time to pass before a team “chases” the card to the commissioner to draft the LSU product.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo Gallery/Practice Notes: National Team, Day 2

We look at Nebraska’s Brenden Jaimes’ technique, as well as many of the National team’s offensive linemen on Day 2 of the 2021 Senior Bowl. A Big Ten linebacker began to stand out with his positional versatility and a Pac-12 linebacker wasn’t too far behind.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo gallery/Practice Notes: National Team, Day 1

The National team had several high profile players on its roster, including Alabama Crimson Tide Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. On Day 1, however, we spotlight disruptive defensive tackles, an FCS slot wideout and a flexible Fighting Irish defender in our Photo Gallery recap.

2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo Gallery/Practice Notes: American Team, Day 2

We spotlight a hard-charging safety, two hybrid defensive line prospects, an underrated SEC wideout and a couple of intriguing tight ends in our breakdown of the American team’s Day 2 practice at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.