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.
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
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
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
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
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
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?
6’4 309 C/G-Junior
Strengths: Held his own against Missouri’s Jordan Elliott (2020 Cleveland Browns 3rd round pick) especially when he lined up in the one-technique DT (Missouri ‘19). Light on his feet. Can seal the backside on outside runs (Tulsa ‘19). Versatile. Has taken game reps at both guard positions as well as his natural center position. Shows the ability to chip- and-climb; and runs his feet once connected (Colorado State ’20). Led Wyoming with over 100 knockdown blocks, per the team’s statistics.
Weaknesses: Not a naturally big guy, came to school at 240 pounds and was thought to be a tackle (https://gowyo.com/news/2020/11/25/football-kevins-commentary-keegan-cryder.aspx). Is he strong enough to block stronger interior lineman at the next level? Loses wrestling matches and can be thrown to the ground (1st QTR/4:40, Boise State ’20). Will have to win with leverage and technique. Not a natural mauler. Can be tricked on games run by the opposing defensive line (Hawaii ‘20).
Other notes: Attended Dakota Ridge (Colo.) and played both offensive tackle and defensive end • Civil engineering major • 2019 Second Team-All Mountain West • 2017: Redshirted • 2018 (12 games, MWC All-Academic): Started all 12 games (3 at left guard, 1 at right guard, 8 at center) • 2019 (13 games): Played over 800 total snaps • 2020: Earned first-team All-MWC honors at center
Summary: Wyoming has had its fair share of NFL offensive linemen, including former Cowboys center Chase Roullier (Washington Football Team), who recently signed a four-extension. Cryder carries some similarities to Roullier, but lacks the same consistent hip roll to stick on defenders. He flashes upside against better athletes and has enough quick strike ability to make up for his lack of mass.
As the 2020 MAC football regular season comes to a close this weekend, we give one player from each team our analysis prior to their final exams.
76 Jaylon Moore 6’5 315 LT-Senior
Moore’s consistency dates back nearly three full seasons. A smooth mover with enough power, he simply needs more consistency with hand placement. He bears a strong resemblance to former Western Michigan tackles Taylor Moton (Carolina Panthers) and Chukwuma Okorafor (Pittsburgh Steelers). Both are former Broncos currently starting at the right tackle position in the NFL.
2 Caleb Huntley 6’2 226 RB-Senior
Scouts are impressed that the 225-plus pound barreling ram has continued to improve his footwork in 2020. A recent rib injury has robbed him of the last two games, but his presence provides balance for quarterback Drew Plitt and the Cardinals (4-1). Prior to the injury, Huntley had posted three 100-yard games in 2020.
8 Troy Brown 6’2 204 LB-Junior
A heat-seeking missile at just 204 pounds, the former safety turned linebacker sifted his way to 16.5 tackles for loss in 2019 (led the MAC). Along the way there was the occasional hiccup (targeting ejection, MAC Championship ’19) but it has not deterred him from continuing to lay the lumber in 2020. He busted loose versus Ball State last weekend (12/5/20) with 12 tackles, 2.5 quarterback sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses.
0 Samuel Womack 5’10 187
One of the most competitive defenders in the conference, Womack overcomes ordinary size with pristine footwork and a glass half empty, glass half full approach. His gambles are often calculated and timely. After defending 17 passes in 2019 (2 INTs, 15 PBUs), he has broken up seven passes so far in 2020. The key for him moving forward comes down to timing his opens to run out of his backpedal or in press-man coverage.
3 Tyrice Richie 6’0 193 WR-Senior
The former JUCO product impresses in the intermediate passing game alongside fellow transfer quarterback Ross Bowers. Richie scored a receiving touchdown last weekend against Toledo, but it was not against the aforementioned Womack. Richie has four 100-yard receiving games in five contests, but may not even reach his listed measurements.
99 Turan Rush 6’2 246 OLB-Senior
The 249-pound Rush posted two sacks against Ball State and his pass rush variety is improving. He has been more steady holding the edge in 2020 as opposed a season ago; particularly versus tight ends. The Charleston, West Virginia native has 11.5 quarterback sacks in his career and would benefit from taking advantage of an extra year if allowed to return to school, as he has slowed down in recent weeks.
49 Taylor Riggins 6’2 255 DE-Senior
While teammate Malcolm Koonce get most of the ink, Riggins’ productivity has arguably been just as noteworthy (13.5 sacks over the 2018-19 campaigns). He has, however, been invisible in all of the Bulls contests in 2020 due to an undisclosed ailment. The former UMass transfer may decide to come back in 2021 to finish on a stronger standing.
7 Dustin Crum 6’3 207 QB-Senior
His ball placement continues to shine, particularly on routes that require touch and arc within three yards of the sideline on nine routes or fades down the field. A deft zone read specialist, Crum leads the nation’s second-ranked offense in scoring, No. 1 offense in yards per game and the second-ranked offense in third down conversion percentage.
Editor’s Note: Crum now wears No. 7 for the Golden Flashes
51 Danny Godlevske 6’3 300 OC-Senior
While not a dominator, Godlevske gets to most of his spots and has even shown the ability to get out in space when the team uses the screen game. Improvement in his pass pro versus stronger defensive linemen should be his focus down the stretch. Godlevske opted for the NFL Draft early before the MAC proceeded with its season this fall. He is not as strong of a prospect as fellow senior offensive line mate, left tackle Tommy Doyle, but he could at the least get into an NFL training camp.
47 Austin Conrad 6’2 245 OLB/DE-Senior
His energy never wavers despite a relative lack of size. He fights relentlessly down-to-down. Coaches also lauded his first step. He’s the personal protector on the punt team, competitive versus the run and has even lined up as the three-technique defensive tackle in some of their packages. The Bobcats have only played three games as of press time (12-9-20), so Conrad’s numbers won’t jump off the page.
Bubba Arslanian 5’9 205 LB-Senior
There are not a lot of 205-pound linebackers that play as if they’re carrying a boulder on their back. Arslanian averaged over 10 tackles a game in 2019 but has picked up the pace, averaging slightly over 11 in 2020. Most impressively, he’s been able to stay injury-free.
Quintin Morris 6’4 251 TE-Senior
The former big wide receiver has transitioned positively to the tight end/H-back position after the staff convinced him of the move. He did so while adding weight. The 2019 second-team All-MAC pick brings flex capabilities to the table, with intriguing run after the catch skills. After a slow start to the season, Morris has posted three consecutive 60-plus yard receiving games.
2021 NFL Draft Preview: Miller Forristall 6’5 244 TE- Senior Alabama
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): One of the better Wham blockers in college football. Shows the ability to come in motion and stonewall bigger defensive lineman and linebackers (UGA ‘20). While he doesn’t look as filled out as other tight ends, the willingness and technique is solid as a blocker. In his few targets, Forristal exhibits the skill to make acrobatic grabs. Large catch radius. Efficiency as a blocker allows him to lull defenders to sleep and then get behind linebackers (TD, Citrus Bowl ‘19).
Weaknesses: The plethora of injuries are a major concern. Two seasons were cut short by knee injuries. (https://www.si.com/college/alabama/bamacentral/coming-off-knee-injury-tight-end-miller-forristall-happy-to-take-a-hit-again-TwwQEARd5U-0q2ppi46O-Q). He also has dealt with throat, ankle, shoulder and groin injuries in consecutive seasons. 14 combined games played in his first four seasons. Lack of production (31 total receptions as of midway through the 2020 campaign).
Other Notes: Attended Cartersville High School (GA) and played alongside Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence • Forristall played QB during his junior season and was rated the No. 11 tight end nationally by Scout.com • Suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017 and in 2018 • 2016 (3 games): 5 receptions, 73 yards • 2017 (1 game): 1 reception, 7 yards • 2019 (8 games): 15 receptions, 167 yards, 4 TDs• 2020 (6 games): 10 receptions, 141 yards, 1 TD
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Alabama has been an NFL factory and they’ve been able to get a number of late round picks onto professional rosters despite a lack of college production. Wide receiver Cam Sims (Washington Football Team) and tight end Hale Hentges (Indianapolis Colts) are some recent names that come to mind. Forristall has the blocking chops to join fellow Crimson Tide tight ends Irv Smith Jr. and O.J. Howard in the NFL. His Wham blocking skills reminds us of former Washington Redskins tight end Don Warren, who was used primarily as a blocker in Joe Gibbs’ offensive schemes, but did end his career with 244 receptions (seven TDs). Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor comes from the Joe Gibbs coaching tree and his single back offense would be attractive for a player with Forristall’s skill-set.
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.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Leader of the Clemson defense. Correctly aligned the front seven in the pre-snap. Lines up late to disguise blitzes and rallies to the football. Frequently seen in every frame of the film (Boston College ‘19). Excellent anticipation. Takes solid angles to the football. Versus inside zone run schemes, he attacks downhill to fit his gap control and will fight OL (offensive linemen) to react back to the action. At his best working off of OL when coming forward on designed run blitzes. Dips underneath climbing OGs to make tackles on the second level (vs. Davis, 2nd QTR, Ohio State ’19). Sifts through inside crossing traffic over the middle to get to the running backs in the flats (Virginia ‘20). Special teams standout. 14 tackles his freshman season on 20 snaps (eight on special teams).
Weaknesses: Showed he can use his hands inside on the neck and sheds offensive linemen (Citadel ‘20), but can he do this consistently at the next level? As a blitzer, he brings the noise but exposes his chest on some of his one-on-one pass rushes vs. RBs. Leads with his shoulders as opposed to leading with his hands to ward off OL. Buys some false keys on split zone action, steps forward and takes a couple of steps to fall back (Dobbins long run, 1st QTR, Fiesta Bowl ’19). Benefited from a strong defensive front and wasn’t forced to hit and shed often. Will have to win with anticipation and film study, due to the fact he lacks natural lateral quickness. Gets his depth in zone coverage but can he roam efficiently from side-to-side? Ejected in the 2020 National Championship game for targeting against LSU. Redshirted in 2018 due to a toe injury. Recent groin injury (2020) forced him to have surgery and will sideline him for a number of games (https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/article246747536.html).
Other Notes: Attended Northgate High School (Ga.) and handled kicking duties for his football team while graduating as an all-state linebacker • Also played soccer at the prep level, often playing day-long soccer tournaments the day after Friday night games (https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/sports/college/clemson/2019/07/30/james-skalski-3-things-you-may-not-know-clemson-football-linebacker/1493033001/) • Sister, Brenna, played softball at Georgia State. Father, John played football at Oklahoma • 2016 (7 games): 11 tackles, 6 solo tackles, QB sack, 2 TFLs • 2017 (12 games): 31 tackles, 16 solo tackles, 0.5 QB sack, 2 TFLs • 2019 (15 games): 90 tackles, 40 solo tackles, 3.5 QB sacks, 6.5 TFLs, 3 PBUs, FF, FR
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Skalski on tape will remind scouts of throwback linebackers from the 1980s and 1990s, as evidenced by his trademark neck roll. However, like the stereotypes surrounding those linebackers of yesteryear, he can be susceptible to sharp lateral movement. In addition, he can be isolated to unfavorable match-ups in the passing game. Improving his pass coverage skills could ultimately determine his pro longevity. Skalski’s competitiveness allows him to fend off larger offensive lineman on occasion but his stack-and-shed capability is inconsistent. Look for him to start his career as a two-down linebacker and special teams contributor.
What makes this player NASTY…(Strengths): Former QB who made a successful transition to the LB spot. Excellent closing speed. Looks like a 4.5 sprinter in lateral pursuit (3rd QTR/14:04, NC State ’19). Fluid hips. DB-like footwork breaking on out routes (PBU vs. Long, 3rd and 6, Boston College ’20). Has the ability to pick up running backs on option routes and/or cover slot receivers in short areas (Clemson ’19). Pushes the accelerator button to go forward when rushing the QB in space. As an edge rusher, he works to counter the OT back inside (1st QTR, Pittsburgh ’19). Shoots gaps with an instinctive feel (TFL, NC State ’19). Hustles to the football and plays through the whistle. Closes air in instant bursts (QB hit, 1st QTR/7:17, Virginia Tech ’20) and reacts favorably to handle bootleg concepts (Flowers, Boston College ’20). Special teams contributor. Plays on the kickoff team as well as the field goal block unit.
Weaknesses: Footwork gets him caught up when OL get up to him. At times, he gets caught in the wrong gap or over-purses. Needs to get more violent with hands in order to get off blocks of bigger players. 30″ arms. Struggles mightily vs. uncovered OGs (3rd and 2, 2nd QTR/15:00, Boston College ’20). Crosses over and the OC moves him laterally (3rd and 5, 4th QTR, Virginia Tech ’20). As he has tracked the ball laterally, he has been lifted off of his feet (Darrishaw, 1st QTR/4:06, Virginia Tech ’20). Can be picked up by backs when blitzing (Clemson ’19). On some of his blitzes, he gets caught and washed with high pad level (looks like a former QB, pancaked to ground, 1st QTR/7:10, Virginia Tech ’20). Fails to wrap tackle vs. slippery WRs (2nd QTR/0:52, Syracuse ’20). As an exchange LB, he overruns some tackle falling back to tackle. He has gotten hurt making contact hitting players (1st QTR/7:47, Syracuse ’20). Played in one game in 2018. One of 13 Tar Heels suspended for selling team issued shoes in 2018 and missed four games (https://www.newsobserver.com/sports/article216175450.html). Missed seven games later that year with a right wrist injury.
Other Notes: Attended East Lincoln High School (NC.) • Named state Gatorade Player of the Year and broke the state record for career total yards (16,593) • First-Team All-ACC (2019) and runner up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year • Passed for eight touchdowns, six interceptions and 1352 yards as a QB in two seasons (10 games) • Brother, Sage, plays wide receiver for Wake Forest • 2017 (9 games): (9 gms, 7 sts): Completed 107-of-183 passes (58.5%) for 1,342 yards, 8 TDs and 3 INTs; 210 yards rushing and 5 TDs • 2018 (One game): 4-of-10 (40%) for 10 yards and 3 INTs; 69 yards rushing and one TD • 17 tackles, QB sack, 2 TFLs vs. Virginia Tech on 10/19/19 • 2019 (1st Team All-ACC): 115 tackles, 6.5 QB sacks, 15 TFLs, FF, INT and 3 PBUs • 2020 (11 sts, 1st Team All-ACC): 91 tackles, 6 QB sacks, 7.5 TFLs,, FF, FR, INT and 3 PBUs • Career stats: 207 tackles, 12.5 QB sacks, 22.5 TFLs, 2 FFs, 2 FRs, 2 INTs, 5 PBUs; Completed 111-of-193 passes (57.5%) for 1,352 yards, 8 TDs and 6 INTs; 95 caries for 279 yards (2.9 YPC) and 6 TDs • 2021 Senior Bowl measurements: 9 1/2″ hands, 30″ arms, 76″ wingspan • 2021 UNC Pro Day: 25 reps-225 lbs, 4.6 40-yd, 31 1/2″ VJ, 7.07 3-cone, 4.2 20-yd SS
Time to get NASTY (Our Summary): Surratt is a converted QB and has limited reps as a linebacker although he did play safety in high school. If you go back and watch the 2019 Clemson tape, Surratt jumps off the screen. Clemson’s offense stresses the eye discipline of opposing linebackers with its formation variety (bunch sets, etc..), which can lead to defenders overthinking and playing a step slow. Surratt didn’t have that problem and arguably played one of his better games. The Tar Heels converted QB will be judged by his ability to learn the intricacies of the position, but in a short time he has shown the raw talent is there.
DN Grade: 5.85 (3rd Round)
Big Board Rank: 132
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.
VTScoop did a piece in April 2020 chronicling the cavernous journey of Reed’s career (https://247sports.com/college/virginia-tech/Article/Justus-Reeds-Perilous-Journey-leads-to-Virginia-Tech-146165755/), which included a medical redshirt for an Achilles injury in 2018.
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.
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.